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There are many options for 'pay as a service' cloud computing these days. These services are well suited for setting up an on-demand, scalable render farm with Loki.


Amazon Web Services Quickstart

There is a public AMI available that automatically runs Loki grunt. Once you're familiar with the process, you can easily launch as many grunts as you want within a matter of minutes. Follow these steps:

  1. You need an AWS account.
  2. If you're new to AWS, take a little time to get acquainted with terminology, and the basics of creating and running instances. Amazon has a ton of helpful docs to peruse.
  3. Insure that Loki master is up and running, and accessible via the Internet (e.g. port 53914 is forwarded if you're behind a router) Make note of your IP address. (If your behind a router, then you want the WAN side IP)
  4. Login to AWS Console > EC2 > AMIs
  5. Search for the Public AMI 'LokiRenderGrunt', and select the latest version.
  6. Select the LokiRenderGrunt AMI and click 'Launch'.
  7. Select the virtual machine type you want to use. The default is micro. Pick one of the compute intensive machines, depending on what you want.
  8. In 'Instance Details' enter the number of instances (grunts) you want to launch
  9. When editing 'Instance Details' click on 'Advanced Details' below and add the master's IP address to the 'user data' field. Don't add a new line by hitting enter.
  10. Review and launch, etc...

...as your instances come up, if everything is setup correctly, the instances should register with the master and pop up on the grunt list. You're good to go!

This is just one way to setup a render farm. There are many other configurations and setups you could do. For example, you could run the master in the cloud in the same virtual network as the grunts, store your data in S3, or whatever.

NOTE for AWS: multicast doesn't seem to be supported - this means Loki's autodiscovery won't work, so specifying the master's IP address to the grunts via user data, or in some other way is a must.

Note on Security: Be aware that Loki doesn't encrypt data in transit, nor does it use an authentication scheme to verify that the master or grunts are legitimate. This means that if you're passing over an un-trusted network (like the Internet!) it is possible for someone to pickup communication between your master and grunts, and/or connect a rogue grunt, or possibly even redirect the grunts to connect to a rogue master. If these are unacceptable risks for you, then only use Loki on a secured network.

Google Cloud Engine

Loki users have reported successfully setting up a Loki render farm on GCE. Just a matter of adapting the general flow above to Google's way of doing things.

Setting up your own grunt image in the cloud

The LokiGrunt AMI mentioned above is based off of the standard Ubuntu 14.04 AMI.

If you're interested in rolling your own instance for quick and easy instance launching, or just want to see how I setup the AMI, take a look at the AWS-AMI-Howto page.