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[Condor-users] A few basic questions and a modest suggestion

Hi all.

First, I'm a little bit confused about the roles of the condor_config
and condor_config.local files.  I have set up a 3-node prototype pool,
and only the central manager has data in its condor_config_local file.
 My reading about it in the manual (version 6.6.9) leads me to believe
that it should be the file with machine-specific settings for all
machines.  The condor_config file, on the other hand, is different on
each machine, and seems to be the file that actually contains
machine-specific info.  In particular, this is the file with the START
variable, which I understand to hold that machine's classAd.  I'm not
clear how the two files are supposed to complement each other and work
together.  In fact, I don't see any use for the .local file at all. 
Any insight would be appreciated.

Second, I keep seeing comments about pool-wide configuration settings,
but I can't figure out where these would be stored, or how they would
be used.  Is there some master config file (presumably on the central
manager) that I'm unaware of that sets some basic parameters for use
by all the machines?  I certainly don't see one anywhere.

Third, as I understand it, I can declare any variable I like in
condor_config files, and use them as I see fit in job or machine class
ads.  So, I should use my own variables to determine which machines
have third-party software (say Matlab or Fidap).  Any machines without
the variable explicity defined will return "undefined" as a value for
it when prompted.  (And I should use the =?= and =!= operators to deal
with this possibility.)  Are these fair statments?

Fourth, once I'm using this third party software (specifically, we
will be using Fidap at some point), is there a way to check the
license status before starting a condor job?  We have 2 Fidap licenses
being shared between 5+ machines, several of which I hope to add to
our pool.  I don't want to submit multiple Fidap jobs to Condor only
to have most of them crash due to licensing problems while the first
two run (and even that assumes that both licenses are available, and
not in use by someone in his/her non-condor work).  I'm just wondering
if anyone has found an elegant approach to solving this.

Lastly, I'm wondering if anyone has considered migrating this listserv
to a forum of some sort (like vBulletin).  Threads would stick around
forever in the background, and could be easily referenced when needed.
 Very popular threads could be bolded or kept around at the top,
quesions could be sorted by topic, etc.  I know forums have a bit of a
high-school hang-out reputation, but I think that if we're to be
honest, the content on this list would fit well with the format it
offers.  We'd just have to disallow smilies to preserve some sense of
maturity.  Anyway, it's just a thought.

My apologies if any of this is addressed in the manual, but I haven't
stumbled across it in my searches.