BCCD - Bootable Cluster CD was created to facilitate instruction of parallel computing aspects and paradigms. Part of the difficulty instructors face is lack of dedicated resources to explore distributed computing aspects lack of time to preconfigure and test the supporting environment.
The BCCD image addresses this problem by providing a non-destructive overlay way to run a full-fledged parallel computing environment on just about any workstation-class system...We're happy to say that this now includes the MAC too!
The BCCD does share similarities with a few diskless solutions for clustering, such as the Warewulf project, the thin-OSCAR approach, Cluster Knoppix (only an openMosix system, no MPI/LAM/PVM build tools, ...), and so on. This is definitely the trend in HPC. But the main differences are that the BCCD will always fit in your pocket, be highly customizable for specific institutions' needs, and will always be geared toward education and not dedicated clusters.
The "gar" build system also sets the BCCD apart from other projects. "gar" is a mix between BSD's "ports" system, Linux from scratch, and gentoo Linux. With gar, you can build an entire BCCD image from net-fetched sources in about two hours (assuming you have a primed ccache!).
The BCCD is also distinctly different from NPACI-Rocks, OSCAR, Cluster in a box or other type of mass-imaging clustering project for two reasons:
1. It's a non-destructive overlay on top of the current hardware. Once a system is rebooted, it reverts back to its original state. It is intended to be booted "over top" of a currently-configured Windows/Linux/BSD/etc. system.
2. It's focus in on educational aspects of High-Performance Computing (HPC) instead of the HPC core. Students will have a much better appreciation and understanding of how to tweak an MTU setting or wire the topology across a cluster if they understand how a distributed computation is laid out! Emphasis is placed upon building, configuring, and running distributed applications.