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Planet Series Project

Project Chaos / CosMos  (The Great Systems)


Cluster platform :: To create a cluster platform capable of large-scale ad-hoc cluster deployment and to be the fastest, most compact, secure and straight-forward openMosix cluster platform available.

Project output should include software mirror, architectural and design documentation and operating instructions where necessary.


This project started as tool development work for the IT Security group at Macquarie University in 2003 - a team that included Rob Dartnell, Ian Latter and Ty Miller. The need there was to demonstrate the weakness in one particular application's security, via its one hashed, network transmitted, password. The openMosix cluster software, at that time, was available via a number of Linux distributions, but these were neither secure nor dynamic enough to support the campus PC environment that the cluster software was to be deployed into.

The CHAOS distribution was created to fill this need, and was developed for almost two years under the GPL to allow the openMosix community members to benefit from the security enhancements employed around the openMosix software (the clustering technology that is added to the Linux kernel). Security improvements made by the team included IPSEC tunnels for all cluster communications, state aware packet filtering for each node, a tiny OS image which allowed for PXE booting to remote PC memory, zero-touch cluster creation, etc.

A presentation was made to the Australian Unix Users Group (AUUG) Security Symposium in February 2004 at about two thirds of the way through CHAOS' two year development cycle.

In mid to late 2004 CHAOS was adapted to the Cooperative Linux (coLinux) framework, allowing openMosix to run as a node on a Windows PC for the first time. This was significant as there was now the ability to run ad-hoc clusters 24x7, and not just out of business hours. The version of CHAOS created for coLinux was dubbed CosMos (Chaos-OS on Microsoft-OS) and was also released under the GPL - complete with Windows installer software.

Later that year work stalled on CHAOS and CosMos when the IT Security team broke up to work for various organisations. Development halted for most of the six months beginning Q4 2004.

There was renewed interest in CHAOS development when both Ian and Ty began work at Pure Hacking in Q2 2005. Pure Hacking could identify a need with the resource that CHAOS provided and offered to sponsor further CHAOS development so that it could remain under the GPL. A package updated version of CHAOS was released at that stage, but Pure Hacking provided no additional development time, leaving the project to grind to a halt again. CHAOS was "Slashdotted" during this time, due to the press that came from Pure Hacking's sponsorship announcement. Unfortunately, Pure Hacking were unable to provide the time needed to develop or maintain CHAOS. Version 1.6 of CHAOS, the only version released in Q1-3 of 2005, was released from development work performed in private time.

In Q4 2005 Ian added CHAOS to the web site (at the location advertised when leaving the University in 2004) - in the hope of better maintaining the project. Improvements desperately needed include code and protocol clean ups, better enterprise management support, operational documentation, and simpler integration with the supporting openMosix distributions (Quantian and ClusterKnoppix).

Many of the code clean-up issues (focused on Init and Tyd, particularly) will be resolved with the integration of the Midnight Code libraries. While currently being developed these libraries already provide better program execution and status management than those currently in CHAOS.

Screen Shots:

The following screen shots show the software or hardware developed for this project, in action;
CHAOS - Slashdot posting at 8 August 2005
Slashdotted - 20050808


The following documents (papers, guides, manuals, etc) have been developed for this project;


The following code (source, binaries, patches, etc) have been developed or mirrored for this project;


The following links have been identified as relevant to this project;


This project was initiated on Wednesday, the 4th of June 2003. Its last recorded activity stamp is Monday, the 8th of August 2005.