CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

A Low-Cost, Decentralized Distributed Computing Architecture for an Autonomous User Environment

Date of Award

1998

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

John A. Scigliano

Committee Member

Jacques Levin

Committee Member

Marlyn Kemper Littman

Abstract

The focus of this research was the individual or small organization. These organizations include small businesses, community groups, K-12 schools or community colleges, local government, and the individual user, as well as many others. In this work, all of these organizations as well as the individual user were collectively referred to as users. The common element shared by each of these users was that they each have legitimate purposes for access to Internet services or each provides a service or services that could be enhanced if distributed via the connectivity provided by the Internet. However, the costs of establishing a conventional Internet server and the associated connectivity are prohibitive to such small-scale organizations.

The objectives of this research were to:

  1. Establish a definition of a low-cost decentralized distributed computing environment for Intel-based personal computers that will provide users the capability to access the full spectrum of Internet services while enabling them with the ability to retain control of their computing environment.
  2. Develop a replication process to replicate and distribute the defined environment in a modular form so as to facilitate installation on a target system.
  3. Conduct testing and evaluation of the architecture and replication process to validate its ease of configuration and installation, and compliance with the requirements to provide users the capability to access the full spectrum of Internet services while retaining complete control of their computing environment.

This was accomplished in three phases: (a) Phase I - Define an objective architecture, (b) Phase II - Develop a technique for replicating and distributing the architecture, and (c) Phase III - Test and validate the architecture and the replication and distribution processes. Definition of the objective architecture was accomplished through development of a prototype system that successfully demonstrated all of the characteristics required by the objectives of this research. Following the definition of the architecture on the prototype system, development of a technique for replicating and distributing the architecture was undertaken. This was accomplished by developing a group of programs that configured a system to the needs of a target user, captured that configured system on a removable medium, and restored that configured system on the target hardware. Finally the architecture, as well as its replication and distribution processes were evaluated for validity using statistical analysis of data collected from test subjects acting as users. All of these tasks were accomplished within the Linux Operating System environment using only software tools developed by the researcher or tools that are a native component of Linux.

The first objective of this research was satisfied by the researcher's selection of Linux and its suite of associated applications as the operating system that would host the solution system. The second objective of this research was accomplished by the researcher's development of a suite of software tools that replicated the configured environment, moved the replication to an appropriate media and restored the environment on a target system. Inviting a group of Linux users to use the tools and provide feedback via a survey satisfied the third objective of this research.

It was concluded that the three objectives of this research and therefore the overall goal of this research were accomplished. In each measured evaluation of the architecture, procedures and programs developed by the researcher, the resulting data were plotted in the advanced area or the area tending toward the advanced level of maturity as defined by the Boloix and Robillard (1995) evaluation scale.

In a like manner the resulting data were plotted in the exceptionally compliant range or higher on the normal distribution curve survey scale. The trend of results was consistently at the advanced level of maturity on the Boloix and Robillard (1995) evaluation scale or in the exceptionally compliant range of the normal distribution curve survey scale.

The researcher found that the results of testing the defined architecture and replication process revealed users are able to quickly implement a fully configured Linux system with all the capabilities defined in the architecture. This resulting Linux system provided a low cost, decentralized, distributed computing environment for Intel-based personal computers that enabled users to access the full spectrum of Internet services while maintaining control of their computing environment. By accomplishing this objective the researcher's Linux system can provide fiscally constrained individuals or small organizations full access to Internet services without the high costs of establishing a conventional Internet server and associated connectivity, prohibitive to a small-scale organization.

This document is currently not available here.

  Link to NovaCat

Share

COinS