PVM doesn't have a built-in facility for running programs at different priorities (as with nice), but you can do it yourself. You can call setpriority() (or perhaps nice()) in your code or replace your program with a shell script wrapper as follows:
cd ~/pvm3/bin/SUN4 mv prog prog- echo 'P=$0"-"; shift; exec nice -10 $P $@' > prog chmod 755 prog
When prog is spawned, the shell script execs prog- at a new priority level.
You could be even more creative and pass an environment variable through PVM to the shell script, to allow varying the priority without editing the script. If you want to have real fun, hack the tasker example to do the work, then you won't have to replace all the programs with wrappers.
One reason for changing the scheduling priority of a task is to allow it to run on a workstation without impacting the performance of the machine for someone sitting at the console. Longer response time seems to feel worse than lower throughput. Response time is affected most by tasks that use a lot of memory, stealing all the physical pages from other programs. When interactive input arrives, it takes the system time to reclaim all the pages. Decreasing the priority of such a task may not help much, because if it's allowed to run for a few seconds, it accumulates pages again. In contrast, cpu bound jobs with small working set sizes may hardly affect the response time at all, unless you have many of them running.