Creating a Head Node for the Compute Cluster

Applies To: Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003

Head node prerequisites

There are certain prerequisites that must be met before a computer can be configured as a head node. These include:


  • Install on a 64-bit computer — All cluster nodes must be 64-bit computers.

  • Second disk volume — If you plan to add compute nodes to the cluster using the Automated Addition method, you must create a second disk volume (D:\) to store RIS installation images.

  • Sufficient disk space for applications and data — In some cases, you might want to install an application on the head node for licensing or permissions reasons. You should provide sufficient disk space on the head node for any applications and data files required.

Supported network topology

  • Install on a supported network topology — The head node and cluster compute nodes must be installed on one of the five network topologies supported by Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003.

Operating system

  • Supported operating system — You can create a cluster head node on any 64-bit computer that is running a supported operating system. We strongly recommend that you install Windows Server 2003, Compute Cluster Edition on the head node to optimize the performance of the cluster.

Active Directory

Active Directory is required for Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003. This is a central component of the Windows platform that provides the means to manage the identities and relationships that make up network environments.

  • Join the head node to an existing Active Directory domain (recommended).

-- OR --

  • Set up the head node as a new Active Directory domain in a new forest. For more information, see Compute Cluster Network Requirements


    Because of the potential administrative difficulties involved, we do not recommend using the head node as a domain controller unless isolation is required (for example, for test purposes) or no other option exists.

If you are using IPsec on your network, review the Network Requirements topic.

Remote Installation Services (optional)

The Automated Addition method of adding compute nodes to a cluster uses Remote Installation Services (RIS). You do not need to enable RIS or create RIS images if you do not intend to use this method. The Manual Addition method of adding nodes to a cluster does not require RIS.

The Automated Addition method requires a second disk volume on the head node to store RIS installation images. This method also requires that you install the cluster on a topology that includes a private network.

  • Enable Remote Installation Services for Automated Addition of Nodes —RIS is installed from the Compute Cluster Pack. Note that Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 uses a special version of RIS that requires a hotfix.

RIS and ICS hotfixes and Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0

  • Install MMC 3.0 —Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0 must be installed before installing Compute Cluster Pack, as the Compute Cluster Administrator is an MMC 3.0 snap-in.


    MMC 3.0 requires.NET Framework 2.0 in order to install. If you do not have .NET Framework on your system, follow the steps for installing Compute Cluster Pack on a head node. This will install the .NET Framework. You may then install MMC 3.0, and resume installation of the Compute Cluster Pack.

  • Install RIS Hotfix — If you intend to enable the Automated Addition method (available only on a network topology that includes a private cluster network), this update is required for the version of RIS that is installed with the Compute Cluster Pack. The RIS hotfix enables RIS to start only on the private network, not on your organizational (public) network. This ensures that computers on the public network are not accidentally reimaged.

  • Install ICS Hotfix — An update (hotfix) for Internet Communication Sharing (ICS) is required if you intend to enable ICS on the head node. ICS is required for network topology scenarios 1 and 3 and optional for scenarios 2 and 4.


Windows Compute Cluster Pack Setup will install all required prerequisites on the head node. In some circumstances, depending on services running on the head node, a given prerequisite might require restarting the server before other prerequisites or Compute Cluster Pack can be installed. If this occurs, you will have to restart Compute Cluster Pack Setup to install the remaining prerequisites or Compute Cluster Pack. If you install the hotfixes and MMC on the prospective head node prior to running Compute Cluster Pack Setup, the installation program will detect that these prerequisites are installed and no restarts will be required that interrupt installing Compute Cluster Pack on the head node.

Overview of creating a head node

Step Reference

Ensure supported network topology.

Compute Cluster Network Requirements

Install supported operating system.

Create a second disk volume (D:\) to store installation images if you intend to use the Automated Addition method of adding nodes to the cluster.

Installing Compute Cluster Edition

Compute Cluster System Requirements

Join head node to existing Active Directory domain (recommended)


Create a new domain for the cluster by running the Active Directory Installation Wizard and establish required trust relationships between domains as necessary. After you have run the Active Directory Installation Wizard, restart your system before proceeding.

Active Directory Installation Wizard Technical Reference (

  • (Optional step)

  • Install MMC 3.0

  • Install RIS Hotfix (if you plan to use the Automated Addition method of adding compute nodes)

  • Install ICS Hotfix

  • Choosing to install these prerequisites prior to running Compute Cluster Pack Setup is optional.

RIS Hotfix (

ICS Hotfix (

Install Compute Cluster Pack on the server and select the head node option. If you have not installed the prerequisite software shown above, they will be installed at this time.

Installing Compute Cluster Pack on a Head Node

Configure network interfaces on the head node.

Configuring Network Adapters on the Head Node

Enable or disable Windows Firewall

Configuring the Firewall

Enable Remote Installation Services (optional) from the Compute Cluster Pack if you intend to use the Automated Addition method to add compute nodes to your cluster. Then, add one or more installation images and configure the images with valid product keys and identifying descriptions.

Installing Remote Installation Services

Adding a RIS Image

License Management

Add compute nodes (can be done at a later time).

To do this, use the Add Nodes Wizard from the Node Management tile. You can add nodes using either of two methods:

  • Automated Addition — If you have installed RIS on your head node, you can install all operating system and Compute Cluster Pack software required for a compute node by using the Automated Addition method.

  • Manual Addition — If you have a server already configured with a supported operating system and have installed the Compute Cluster Pack software required for a compute node, you can add that node to a cluster using the Manual Addition method.

Using Automated Addition to Add Nodes

Using Manual Addition to Add Nodes

Approve nodes — Compute nodes require approval from the cluster administrator before they can begin accepting jobs.

Managing Compute Nodes

Configure cluster users and administrators. To administer or submit jobs to a compute cluster, users must be added to the cluster user and administrators groups on the cluster nodes. This is accomplished using the Manage Cluster Users and Administrators Wizard.

Adding Cluster Administrators and Users