I wanted to stay away from the source and use a packaged version of OpenSSI, so that put the choice down to FC or Debian. Ive never been a big fan of RedHatIve used SuSe for years now, and am comfortable with it. That meant going with Debian.
Go with it here
I did a straightforward Debian install, having it install apache, BIND, NFS, samba, and local mail. No desktop stuff, no surprises for now, since the cluster is going to deprecate some things and modify others. Once the install was complete, the system re-booted, and I was logged in as root at the console, I manually did an apt-get to install sshd, and re-configured the network from the default DHCP setup the installation routine used to a static IP config for the two ethernet interfaces.