After connecting everything, I decided to compile a kernel. I took the 220.127.116.11-kernel, unpacked it at my workstation, entered the options to make it compile on my 10 terminals, and timed the compile. It took 22 minutes. That was a tad of a dissapointment: the same compile took 6 minutes on my 2000MHz AMD64-3000. While the 10 processors are 200MHz each and the total amount of GHz should be the same, the overhead of the network and OS, combined with the fact that the Geode GX1-architecture of the terminals is more than a few years old, made for a cluster that is 1/4 as fast as my main machine.
People tend to ask me the question why I hack stuff. Sometimes it gives results one can't get by buying off-the-shelf stuff, but most of the time my time could be better invested by going to work and use the extra money to buy a device that can do the same. The reason I do it is not because I don't know that, but because I like doing it, it entertains and educates me. Same with this project: while it can be viewed as a failure (a second hand P3-700 doesn't cost a thing these days and has better specs than my cluster), the way to get there was interesting: I learned stuff about PCI, BIOSses, clustering, etc, and generally I enjoyed doing it. Secondly: while the end-result isn't that interesting, I can boast I'm the first one that has run Linux on these devices, and they do make great small passive little networked units.