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At startup, a pvmd configures itself as a master or slave, depending on its command line arguments. It creates and binds sockets to talk to tasks and other pvmds, and it opens an error log file /tmp/pvml.uid. A master pvmd reads the host file if supplied; otherwise it uses default parameters. A slave pvmd gets its parameters from the master pvmd via the command line and configuration messages.

After configuration, the pvmd enters a loop in function work(). At the core of the work loop is a call to select() that probes all sources of input for the pvmd (local tasks and the network). Packets are received and routed to send queues. Messages to the pvmd are reassembled and passed to the entry points.