Archive for the ‘Main Page’ Category
Last Thursday I made a presentation about BOINC to the Tidewater Unix Users Group (TWUUG). I had never attended a meeting before, so I figured that the best motivation to get myself out to one was to volunteer to make a presentation. Then I had to go, right?!
Anyway, they are a very friendly group but what surprised me is that nobody had heard of BOINC before. Can you imagine that after all of these years, some folks still don’t know what BOINC is? And these guys are hardcore computer geeks besides!
As you probably guessed, this group consists of Unix/Linux software and hardware enthusiasts, admins and hackers so of course they want to know all of the details about how BOINC works. I did my best to explain, and they also had me execute the TOP command to see how BOINC interacts with the system. They seemed impressed that BOINCs NICE setting was 19 (which means it is a low priority process). In Linux the NICE rating goes from +19 to -20 with a “-” rating indicating higher priority scheduling.
This came up when I was taking them through the Preferences settings and explaining the setting labeled:
“When processor usage is less than [ ] percent (0 means no restriction.)”
Apparently on a Linux system that setting does nothing since it’s the NICE setting that actually determines what priority the application gets. I did not know that.
In the end, the group seemed to approve of the software which is high praise from knowledgeable folks like that. Hopefully we will gain some new crunchers from the encounter. I plan on attending the regular monthly meetings from now on.
Is there a local computer users group in your area? Maybe they would like to hear a presentation about BOINC? An image of the mind map I used for my presentation is here.
I will gladly share the .mm (mind map) file if you have a program that can read it. I use FreeMind which is available from the software repository (GNU/Linux).
The actual .mm file has active hyperlinks to the websites I used in my presentation.
Let’s spread the word about BOINC!
Yesterday evening, I check my email and see the Google Alerts summary shows that someone has asked a question about BOINC on Yahoo Answers. I figure that I know a thing or two about the topic, so I follow the link and answer the question in detail.
Of course, before I can answer the question I have to set up my Yahoo Answers account. Nevermind that I’ve had a Yahoo email account for 10 years, apparently they need more information from me. I follow the links and set up my profile only to find that I can’t navigate back to my answer to finish posting it.
Since my original answer is now gone, I re-type my entire detailed response as I don’t want to leave a fellow cruncher hanging just because I’m irritated with Yahoo.
At the bottom of the form I notice that there is a place to include a reference link. I use the address of my blog so that the gentleman asking the question can use it as a reference. Since you are reading this, you can see that I have several links to various BOINC resources on my sidebar. I have also posted about running BOINC on low-end machines so I figure that my blog is an excellent information source.
This morning, I get an email from Yahoo Answers:
You have posted content to Yahoo! Answers in violation of our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. As a result, your account has been suspended.
If you feel you were not in violation, please contact our Customer Care and tell us why.
Yahoo! Customer Care
As you can see, the email doesn’t contain any specific information and the TOS is longer than the Bible. My best guess is that my blog link flagged my answer and so they suspended my account.
My reply to their email:
I have answered ONE question on Yahoo Answers and already been suspended. Since you have not provided any specific information on why I was suspended, I can only guess that it’s because I included a link to my blog.The blog link was relevent to the post as I am very active in the topic question, and the blog provides several additional resources that would have been helpful to the person asking the original question.Either way, after going through several hoops just to answer a simple question, and now being suspended it seems that your service is certainly not worth the effort.
Your access to other Yahoo services is not affected. However, if your use of your Yahoo! account is brought to our attention again, and we believe that such use violates our Yahoo! Terms of Service, then your account may be terminated without further notice.
Currently the Atlantic Team consists of two members, crunching data on four computers. All of the computers are pretty old, two are dual core machines and the oldest one has 256MB of memory. It might take us a few years just to reach one million credits, but personally I feel that any contribution is better than none.
The two oldest computers are dedicated to crunching BOINC projects and have been optimized for that alone. Any drivers or apps that could clutter the memory have been removed to allow these older machines to handle their assignments.
The team crunches data for 15 projects, but not all machines run every project. I recently added PrimeGrid as a supported project and I’ll monitor the various machines for a while to determine if they can handle it.
Most of the projects we support provide data to medical or scientific research. I like the thought of contributing to raw data that might lead to a cure for cancer, or combat the spread of malaria.
Information on the projects supported by the team can be accessed by clicking the sidebar links. We are always looking for new members, so if you want to join a team where you’ll be a Super Star, join the Atlantic Team!
Those of you who follow the Atlantic Team Facebook page were the first to hear of the recent memory upgrade to my main crunching machine. If you follow the blog, you’ll know that I often encounter issues with resource allocation and have to make decisions on what projects I can support.
Well, I’m happy to say that a recent upgrade from 1GB to 2GB seems to be paying off. As recorded by BOINCStats my daily credit totals underwent a dramatic rise in the first full day of crunching after the upgrade.
During that period, I made no changes to settings in the BOINC Project Manager, or to resource allocation for the projects. So I think it’s safe to say the increase in credits is probably due largely to the upgrade.
There are always a number of underlying factors that can affect daily credit totals, and as you can see there are constant daily fluctuations.
In other news, Elysia has rejoined the team so now I won’t feel so lonely. She dropped out for a while due to resource issues. However I’ve made additional adjustments to her setup, including suspending projects that consume a lot of RAM. So far, things are going smoothly.
On February 26, 2011 I downloaded the BOINC project manager and signed up for my first projects. At the time, one concern of mine was if my old computers could handle the computations involved. But, these are volunteer grid networking projects, and I figured that any help I could offer, was better than no help at all.
In the three months since then, I’ve accumulated over 55,000 credits. Compared to some of the new monster machines, that’s less than one weeks work. I have also had to balance the computational needs of the BOINC projects against my own needs. One of the computers running projects is also my “main” personal computer.
I have two computers currently running the BOINC project manager:
HP NX6310 (main): Intel CPU T2300 @1.66GHz w/0.99GB of RAM
Dell latitude 100L: Intel Celeron CPU 2.40GHx w/640MB RAM
As you can see, both computers are obsolete. I’ve developed a simple set of techniques that keep me crunching projects while performing other work on these systems.
The Dell laptop runs BOINC projects exclusively. Recently I re-formatted the HD, and re-installed Windows with only the essential drivers to increase the memory available to the project manager. The installation of a client utility program allows me to access the Dell from my HP. So the Dell just sits on a bookshelf all by itself, crunching data like a cow chewing cud.
Since the HP is used for all of my daily activities, I’ve had to take a different approach to setting up the project manager, and selecting which projects run during the day. Through trial and error, I’ve come up with these tips on how to manage BOINC projects on older systems.
- Use the Windows un-installer to remove unused program. Also remember that software that is no longer supported may pose a security risk as well, so it’s just good housekeeping to toss the old junk on your HD.
- Remove drivers that support devices that are no longer hooked up to your system. Be careful doing this, make sure you know what you are removing. Drivers may support more than one device
- While the BOINC project manager is running, use the Windows Task manager to view running processes. Make a note of the BOINC projects that use large amounts of memory. If you use the computer for other things during the day, suspend the memory hogs.
If you plan on dedicating your old computer exclusively to BOINC projects you should just set the preferences for memory and CPU usage to maximum (100%). Select the option to leave applications in memory while suspended.
If you notice that the CPU fan in your computer runs excessively, set processor usage to 50%. Laptops tend to run hot so make sure your ventilation fan is not blocked. I found I could lower my laptops CPU temp by propping the back end up. This allowed greater clearance between my desk and the fan intake. It also angled the keyboard which makes it easier to type.
If you will be using the computer for other things while BOINC is running, I suggest setting memory usage to 50% (in use and idle). If you took my advice (step 3) above, you can select the option to leave applications in memory while suspended. However, if you don’t suspend memory hungry projects and are using the computer for other things, you available memory will slowly disappear and your system will become sluggish.
The BOINC project manager also allows you to schedule when your projects will run. This is one way to manage memory, CPU and network usage. You can set the BOINC projects to run only at night, or certain hours of the day. The issue I have with this is that it affects all of your projects. Some projects have a small footprint, so they could run in the background while I’m doing other things. I don’t want to arbitrarily shut all of my projects down during the day, so I’ve had to resort to selectively suspending projects that eat up memory.
My daily routine on the HP includes these steps to help keeping everything running smoothly:
- Morning: Re-set BOINC project manager memory use to 50%.
- Suspend projects that use lots of memory.
- Shut down the BOINC project manager.
- Re-boot computer.
- The computer memory is now cleared, and BOINC is running with a minimum memory footprint.
- Evening: Set memory use to 100%.
- Re-boot computer.
- After the BOINC project manager loads, Resume any suspended projects.
- The computer is now dedicated to the sole execution of BOINC projects until the next morning.
While it may take a bit of finesse to run BOINC projects on an older computer, it is a practical use of extra CPU time. Even though a computer may seem obsolete by today’s standards, these machines are still quite handy for grid networking projects.
I hope you found this information useful. Any comments, suggestions or additional tips are certainly welcome.
I’ve decided to add one more project to the lineup. EDGeS@home seemed to support several interesting research projects so I’ve added it to both computers. I also decided to re-start CPN and Rosetta@home and I’ll see how memory issues work out after loading the new BOINC project manager and adjusting settings.
My old Dell decided to do some HD flip-flops so I ended up re-partitioning it, and re-installing Windows. Now all that it does is run BOINC projects.
Hopefully next month, I’ll be able to purchase some additional memory for my HP, and that will make things run more smoothly while larger project files are crunched.
I’m still looking for folks to join the Atlantic Team! You would be joining a small team, where your efforts are appreciated.