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SETI@home Becomes Part of BOINC

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the hard-to-choose dept.

Networking 184

Sudoku writes "On December 15th the Seti@home project will stop issuing new work to members and integrate with BOINC, the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. Once members have moved over to the BOINC client they can divide their computing time between such projects as climate prediction, search for gravitational signals emitted by pulsars and yes, you can still look for the aliens."

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FIRST POST! (-1, Offtopic)

woolio (927141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103418)

Let's see them find this one!

Re:FIRST POST! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103519)

Damn. I actually did it... I actually did it!!!!


BOINC blows (4, Interesting)

Mursk (928595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103419)

Does anyone else think this is a bad idea? I've been a SETI@home user for a while now. I tried the BOINC client, and it's much more complicated than the old one. I'm not sure if I will continue when they shut down the old system...

Re:BOINC blows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103438)

Yes...I too found the BOINC client unnecessarily complicated.

Re:BOINC blows (2, Interesting)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103575)

setting it up on a remote machine out of the blue isn't quite natural for me on that thing. the gui is a certain overshot, nobody asked for it, nobody needs it. i liked to run my seti just from the command line, without hassling with command line parameters to identify myself etc.

and i've been using this boinc thingy for like months now to run my seti ... so where exactly is the news here ?

otherwise the cpu time sharing between different tasks and etc. is a good idea , thumbs up, but for the complexity, thumbs down.

Re:BOINC blows (4, Interesting)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103891)

and i've been using this boinc thingy for like months now to run my seti ... so where exactly is the news here ?

The news is that old Seti is finally dying, and not in the silly "netcraft confirms" way, but finally going away.

The comments about the move over the few threads that have talked about it are freaking hilarious. I've never seen so many (reasonably) tech savvy people turn into 85 year old codgers. "My Opteron processes 14 Seti@home classic units to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!"

Seti Classic hasn't been doing anything productive for *years*. The work units you were running were validations and revalidations of already validated workunits. You may as well have created 500 blank word documents and set up a windows task to copy them from one partition to another for all the good it was doing. The "real" work was moved over to BOINC long ago. Classic is dead, remember how cool it was, and move on.

What I can't figure out is how people are having problems figuring out BIONC. Download BIONC. Install. Sign up with whatever @Home project you're interested in using. Go back to BOINC, attach to project using account key that was e-mailed to you (or e-mail address.). Walk away and wait for client to it's thing. Sometimes, especially during /. mentions, the servers at the various projects take a big hit as hordes of users sign up and try to grab the client, resulting in "no work from project" messages, but that's the worst I've seen.

Seti seems to have taken care of their last few bottlenecks, and opening up the old servers to start doing something useful should take care of the rest of any other capacity issues they've had. BOINC has been a huge improvement over classic. You can't fake results to run up your "score", the client is much more responsable when it runs out of work (trying to reconnect at growing random intervals during an outage, instead of constantly hammering away like a screaming toddler), and workunit queueing is handled within BOINC instead of through a third party system. I kinda miss the command line client, but that's about it.

Re:BOINC blows (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103524)

What part is complicated? If you only want to run SETI@Home, you sign up for that (or transfer your existing account), and let it go. It becomes the only program that goes, much like before. BOINC handles non-client program updates, runs datasets according to due dates and priorities, and collects stats.

Re:BOINC blows (2, Informative)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103897)

What part is complicated?

For me, it's the getting it to run part. It doesn't give me enough information to make troubleshooting worth it.
Create projcet account and enter project URL they say? Ah, yes. But apparently there's some proxy issue since after doing so I get the "proxy configuration" screen. Well, isn't that interesting. Username, password, server and port for HHTP and SOCKS. Hmmm!
Gee, I wonder what I should put in there. I don't have anything to put in there. Apparently I'm the only idiot in the world that gets this screen and can't get past this. There's no reason I can think of that would have me get this. But alas, that is what it does.

I'm sure if I want to waste a few more hours with it I'll eventually get it. But this is just crap.

Re:BOINC blows (1)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104028)

I got this today. I was testing a power meter and needed something to bring the CPU load up a bit, and I instantly thought of seti@home. Been years since I used it so all this BOINC stuff is completly new to me.

So I install it, it asks me to enter the Project URL .. odd. I enter the SETI@home URL, and a few seconds later I'm staring at the proxy configuration page - no explination of why. I double check that I'm online, all is working. So I try one of the other projects. It works a little better this time, it's asking me to create an account. So now I've registered it should start working! Nope ... there's nothing happening. After a minute of looking around I notice some red messages in the log telling me I've no disk space to store the work unit! Right ... I've got 2.5Gb free. Somewhere (can't remember exactly now) it tells me to increase the avaliable disk space for the project in the configuration. So I open up the options screen ... nothing even close to disk space anywhere.

So at this point I'm just fed up and uninstall the program, wishing for something like the old SETI@home client that just worked. If they want users they really really gotta improve this program a lot, because yea .. it's just crap!


Re:BOINC blows (1)

Epi-man (59145) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104149)

Create projcet account and enter project URL they say? Ah, yes. But apparently there's some proxy issue since after doing so I get the "proxy configuration" screen.

You aren't alone, welcome to my hell. WTF? We don't have a proxy around here, we are on the net.

  Just because your stupid software can't talk to your (apparently overloaded) servers doesn't mean we aren't on the net. Why don't you include some very, very simple tools to check if your stupid software can see anything, a simple ping would be nice since I can ping your damn webserver from the command line! Are you trying to cull your userbase?

Re:BOINC blows (2, Informative)

Epi-man (59145) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103541)

I have managed to waste a couple hours fighting with that pile of dreck. I had it working for a while, then had to reboot, no idea why it can't see the internet (again) now. Not a stellar example of open source software...

Re:BOINC blows (5, Informative)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103804)

I thought the BOINC client was a useability disaster when I tried it. It had numerous technical problems and was very unintiutive. While some may say that people should how to work with its unnecessarily involved configuration, I think this is is an arrogant assumption, especially for people who are DONATING their computers resources, if it isnt easy to install and provide some good graphics to show what it is doing, people will not bother and will give up, and the project will use a lot of users. The reason seti@home was such a success, was due to the fact it didnt require much user configuration to run (but was still configurable) and provide a nice graphics display to show that it was doing something. With BOINC the graphics display seemed to be difficult to access, and the whole thing seemed to involve a lot of configuration to use. I think the seti@home project will lose a large number of users from this.

Re:BOINC blows (3, Informative)

jim_deane (63059) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104183)

Another issue is that BOINC requires fairly modern hardware. I kept some older computers around specifically to crunch Seti@Home packets for a long time, including an overdriven 486 DX/2-66 (nee 5x86/133).

Now, crap, even my daily desktop (built in early 2002) is hardly up to the task. Considering that I started crunching packets in 1999, I'd really [i]like[/i] to continue, but I'm not going to buy hardware just to keep up with Seti@Bloat.


about time... (1)

maxzilla (786061) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103421)

Seti had more users thanit needed as I understood, seems about time...

Re:about time... (1)

drkfce (932602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103444)

Any more information about this? I find it hard to believe that a Distributed Computing project can have too MANY computers...

Re:about time... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103466)

Well, they are processing observational data, so yes, it is possible to have too many people processing it.

Re:about time... (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103480)

While I'm sure it's possible to have 'too many' (i.e. you can process the data faster than it is collected), I doubt SETI was near that kind of size. It was, however, pretty damn big - I think the grandparent meant that it was bigger than it should have been when compared to projects designed to cure diseases and the like - moving its userbase over to a project that lets them work on a selection of causes is a very nice idea.

When we find the aliens (1)

rupp17 (927376) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104011)

Why do we need to find cures to diseases? Don't you know that when we find the aliens the will have all the answers???? I saw it in a show once. they got this book called " To Serve Man " :-)

Re:When we find the aliens (1)

neomunk (913773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104194)

Oh, you should have watched that one all the way through... The ending was just delicious!

Re:about time... (2, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103495)

SETI is a data processing project. You need enough people to process all your data (with some redundancy, to make sure noone lies). Anything over that is wasted- they don't need it, and in fact are giving them busy work. They reached that point several years ago. With this move, instead of giving them busy work, they can give them work on other scientific projects.

Car key edition (3, Funny)

wardk (3037) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103422)

I want it to find my keys. and that sock that I know went into the dryer.

Re:Car key edition (1)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103657)

That's the beauty of this system. All you need to do is write (or hire someone to write) a SWCKS client.

dupe!! (-1, Flamebait)

Richard Allen (213475) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103426)

A dupe from the same day? Wow, I'm really thinking of deleting my bookmark to this place.

Re:dupe!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103446)

from the bottom of the page a grand prediction about slashdot dupes
"You will be Told about it Tomorrow. Go Home and Prepare Thyself."

Flamebait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103468)

Get real people. That isn't flamebait. You WANT dupes on here? You support that? What a joke!

Re:Flamebait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103520)

It isn't the post that is being moderated as flamebait. The moderation is self descriptive. It has indeed succeeded in bating your flame.

Re:Flamebait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103557)

That is idiotic, as apparently this site has become as well.

Gibberish (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103428)

sdlfsdlfjslfdjadlfjaljwerhdfjglajgasljgfalsdfjadsl fjadslfjadslfjasdlfjaldjfdsaljfaslfjsaljfaslfjalfj aslfjaslfjasdlfjasdfljdsjslfdjadlfjaljwerhdfjglajg asljgfalsdfjadslfjadslfjadslfjasdlfjaldjfdsaljfasl fjsaljfaslfjalfjaslfjaslfjasdlfjasdfljdssdlfjslfdj adlfjaljwerhdfjglajgasljgfalsdfjadslfjadslfjadslfj asdlfjaldjfdsaljfaslfjsaljfaslfjalfjaslfjaslfjasdl fjasdfljdssdlfjslfdjadlfjaljwerhdfjglajgasljgfalsd fjadslfjadslfjadslfjasdlfjaldjfdsaljfaslfjsaljfasl fjalfjaslfjaslfjasdlfjasdfljds
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5Q3U5B4U5N0954NUA5B;LMGNH,.XNY[0SE5J6N0SEJ6S5435J3 5
aflkjfd lawj roawjrvljfljsadlfkndlknfawndngfdsangaslmflasdmfsal jkab503jfldaskflsafjs
ldjfasl;jfgla;sjflskdjfldksjfdslajf;ljdfgo;awjeoti jaweojiaweroijewafaf
252345ewljrlakjfal;wejtr890jafjJGASJDF'KFAS;LKFAW; ELJRP[OAWJERAJGA

Re:Gibberish (-1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103540)

Klaatu Barada Nikto!
Klaatu Barada Nikto!

Lose members (3, Interesting)

op12 (830015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103432)

I wonder how many members they'll lose as a result of the switch. Is there an easy transition from one to the other (i.e. in the form of an upgrade/update), or are they making previous SETI users go and download a new program/screensaver?

Re:Lose members (1)

southpolesammy (150094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103476)

You do have to get a new client and the learning curve towards spinning up with BOINC isn't trivial, but it's not hard either. Best yet, you pretty much only have to keep your BOINC client up-to-date and not the individual engines that SETI, Einstein, and use, as they are updated automatically as necessary through the BOINC client.

I like the built-in stats in the GUI and the easier interface to attach to a new project and to reset projects that seem to have gone stale. Much more intuitive. And with the ability to divide your work into shares, you'll never have any slack time for your CPU as had happened regularly with the SETI client when their server(s) went offline.

Re:Lose members (4, Informative)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103701)

> BOINC isn't trivial, but it's not hard either.

I honestly don't see how they're going to attact anyone except nerds to run their software.

It's crap, the documentation is crap, and you can really only figure it out through trial and error. The main BOINC page has a "software" section, but no link to actually download the clients. Instead, they elected to stash the client download link below the list of available projects. So you sort that out, get the client, and run it.

I don't know what it's like for the other projects, but their dumb little wizard for signing onto a project doesn't work at all with seti@home. It says to enter an URL, without clearly explaining that the URL is merely the homepage of the project. So I just guessed by cutting and pasting off the BOINC home page and happened to get it right. Well, so one would think. It never gave positive confirmation. Then it takes you to this little login screen, and I immediatley tried to log in with my old seti@home account. The software thinks about that for a minute, then presents you with a generic communication error and no clue on what to do next. So I tried to make a new account.. same generic error. I only discovered you have to go to the seti@home page and "migrate" your account to the new system by going to the seti@home webpage, looking for some hint on how to proceed. Few minutes later, after filling out a number of forms and getting a "key" in my email, I pasted it into the BOINC wizard and was finally able to attach to the project.

Again, not one single bit of this is documented in a clear format. Only random trial and error figured it out. Even their "help" page is little more than a high brow explanation of the software and the mechanics of how the system functions. Like I said, only nerds are going to take the time to figure this thing out.

At least the old seti@home was as simple as double clicking a file and entering an email address, something easily graspable by your average schmoe.

Re:Lose members (5, Funny)

Eddy Da KillaBee (727499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103552)

Scientific Progress Goes BOINC?

Re:Lose members (4, Insightful)

valisk (622262) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103634)

Truthfully I doubt that they will lose members.
And I dont think the transition is a problem, you simply create an account on the new Seti@home site [] and link it to your old one so that your credit is transferred over, Then download Boinc and insert your project and ID code and it does the rest.
I switched over to Boinc in March or April and since then have had no problems at all. old Seti credit is transported across when you sign into the Boinc account version of Seti, and you can compile and run optimized clients for your architecture, something the old seti never really had.
I got a 35% performance increase by switching to an optimized client.

Boinc itself isn't really a replacement for seti though, it is simply a manager
You choose which projects you wish to subscribe to, and how long you want any particular project to hog resources for and away you go.
At first i ran seti alone, but recently I have been running the Einstein@home [] and LHC@Home [] client on a 33% resource share basis with Seti.
Einstein, looks for spinning Pulsars and the LHC is a client from CERN running simulations of particles spinning around the new Six Track large hadron colider.
The LHC project has just finished sadly, but I think I'll move onto the Rosetta project [] , which is looking to work out various protein structures and interactions and how they can be used.

If, like me, you always fancied running a few other projects other than Seti but didnt want the hassle of manually deciding which client ot run then Boinc is a real boon and well worth the few minutes needed to set it up.

Have a go, I think you will like it!

Re:Lose members (3, Insightful)

MasterDirk (659057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103855)

Truthfully I do think that they will lose members. They can either:

  1. Create a new account on the new site (active involvement)
  2. Link new account to old account (involves remembering things)
  3. Download Boinc (go out and get something new)
  4. Insert project ID code (new stuff, not previously needed)

or they can

  1. Do nothing, everything is configured already and working by itself giving warm fozzy feeling

I know I'm not going to bother. It's not important enough to me, although I thought it was kind of cool when I started my Seti@home account. I have since lost interest (having about a 30-minute attention-span), and been happily churning data since.

Re:Lose members (1)

minvaren (854254) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104003)

Viewing messages on one of the top 10 BOINC Seti teams worldwide, there is a small consensus that "no way will I BOINC." For some reason, people seem opposed to the new BOINC system, despite the massive leaps in stability and usability which have happened in the last year. This may not amount to more than 10% of the crunching capacity of any team (or overall), but I think it could be some time before raw throughput returns to "normal" for Seti after the conversion.

Of course, Seti@Home's weakness has never really been the client software - it's been project backbone, power, and server issues, for several years now.

Re:Lose members (1)

shoemaker251 (816362) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104010)

I disagree. I switched to BOINC in June and the transition was difficult. It's not a simple matter of installing a new client. There's a registration process and management of a new unique key that identifies you to BOINC. The worst part was that my credit from all the work under SETI@Home did NOT transfer over to the BOINC system. I've been using the SETI@Home client since 1999 and was disappointed to loose credit for all that work.

If it's not a seamless transition from SETI@Home to BOINC, they will inevitably lose users.

I think they will (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14104196)

I tried setting up the boinc client on a number of windows of linux boxes. It didn't go smoothly, and the process is over complicated. In addition, the boinc client, while...efficient...takes what was fun about the seti@home project away.

I joined seti@home several years ago, just after it started. While I primarily quit running it due to the power consumption (and heat output) of my computers, BOINC left a really, really bad taste in my mouth. Especially when I saw my work units wouldn't carry over.

Re:Lose members (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14104188)

They will lose members for sure. I, for one, have crunched over 25000 SETI@home Classic workunits but I just can't see myself as a BOINC user. I gave BOINC a shot a while back, but it was just too much of a nuisance to set up, get going and keep going. What's next for me? Folding@Home? I don't know, but I'm certainly on a lookout for a distributed computing project that truly needs a hand. SETI seems to have too much computing power in their hands, when they can afford to shake users off by this forced upgrade.

What about emergency situations? (4, Insightful)

UR30 (603039) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103437)

Can BOINC give cpu resources in emergency situations to, e.g., computing the effects of a nuclear disaster, or an earthquake? This would greatly help in recovering from catastrophes.

Re:What about emergency situations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103667)

I hope not--I certainly haven't authorized it to do anything of the kind.

Re:What about emergency situations? (3, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103754)

Umm, if the disaster has already happened, you don't need to model the results- just step outside. There's nothing a computer can do to help here.

Re:What about emergency situations? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104103)

What if it's a Tsunami and you need to figure out which cities to send into a panic and which not?

Re:What about emergency situations? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104197)

Send everywhere along the coast into one. Just in case.

Tsunami's are quick. By the time the computer modeled it, it would have arrived.

Re:What about emergency situations? (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103868)

But how can you quickly develop applications that would actually apply to these scenarios? I would think that should an earthquake hit the best way to find the effects of the disaster would be to go there and look, rather than hope a simulated model--and to what accuracy? How available is this data in most parts of the world?--provides answers such as "There's an old lady under that piece of rubble."

Re:What about emergency situations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14104145)

There is actually a project thats looking at the effects of pre-tremors etc; however i've forgotton the name.

If anyones interested in running boinc etc then [] is the place to go [posted as AC so i can't karma whore!]

Re:What about emergency situations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14104295)

I think this is the silliest comment i've seen in a while.

More Practical Matters (4, Interesting)

Prospero's Grue (876407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103439)

As much as I admire the SETI project, and it's use of idle computing; using the time and power for climate issues and the search for other planets do seem more "useful" tasks.

Still...won't be quite the same as when some guys in my last job rigged another fellow's screen saver to flash that his computer had found an alien signal.


Foldit (5, Insightful)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103448)

I still think we're better off folding@home [] than hunting afar

Re:Foldit (1)

pstils (928424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103600)

yeh, the chances that we'll find any intelligant life based upon: a)whether they have developed radio communications b)whether they have it switched on within the cosmically-minute time frame that seti is searching. not to mention the ramifications if seti does find something: hey there they are. great. thanks everyone. folding at home is useful for us humans not trying to phone-home.

Re:Foldit (3, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103629)

I'm with you there. My team is in the top 2k. And the nice thing about Folding is that they actually write research papers based on the findings. Its nice to see my PC working for something that is improving the scientific community's knowledge.


Re:Foldit (1)

DJCater (877532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103950)

Join Mozillazine (39340), currently 73rd (including aggregate) but set to be in the top 50 within a year.

Re:Foldit (1)

minvaren (854254) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103727)

That must be why they're working on a BOINC Folding client [] .

Re:Foldit (1)

evenmoreconfused (451154) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103798)

Looking for aliens is only one of the 20 or so projects that are currently running under the management of BOINC. You can proportion your cycles in any mix you choose, and, as BOINC is open source, create your own public or private research projects to the mix.

Re:Foldit (4, Informative)

jmt9581 (554192) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103861)

While I agree that folding@home is more useful than seti@home, I think that Rosetta@home [] . It's also focused on protein folding, but the difference is that Rosetta has consistently outperformed folding@home at the CASP (Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction) competitions. Check out the CASP website [] to see the raw results. Or, check out a summary from the Baker Lab website [] . Also, Dr. David Baker (head of the lab where Rosetta has been developed) is very involved in the community of users that run Rosetta@home, check the messageboards on the Rosetta@home [] site.

Disclaimer: I'm a student in David's lab. But that doesn't mean that I'm wrong, or mindlessly plugging my own Kool-Aid. :) I really believe that Dr. Baker and his lab have a strong chance to solve the protein folding prediction problem.

Whatever project you choose to donate your cycles to in the end, protein science is a cool field with far-reaching implications for humans in general, and the scientists in the field really appreciate your cycles. Thanks to all those who are donating and will donate in the future.

Re:Foldit (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103943)

I've been running folding@home for nearly a year now, and considering its on a Sempron (socket A) 2500 running FC3 as a home media server, and is also my main desktop and internet access machine, with web serving duties etc. the results [] aren't too shabby.

It does help to renice the main process to lowest priority though.

Odds of finding aliens (-1, Flamebait)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103449)

1 in infinity billion is so close to zero in infinity billion that you have virtually the same chance of finding aliens if you use SETI than if you do nothing at all.

Re:Odds of finding aliens (2, Informative)

hcob$ (766699) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103611)

But, maybe my math is off on this, but 1 is infinately larger than 0.... no matter what exponent you use ;)

yup your math is indeed wrong. (2, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104222)

1-0 = 1 not infinity.

while it's true that lim(x->infinity) 1/x = 0 the converse, lim(x->infinity) 0*x = 1 cannot also be said to be true.

lim(a->infinity) (1-0)/a = 0

Re:Odds of finding aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103770)

Actually, it's infinitely larger.

Re:Odds of finding aliens (3, Interesting)

blork101 (889544) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103865)

The chances of anything coming from Mars were a million to one, he said.
But still, they come.

Re:Odds of finding aliens (1)

Hannah E. Davis (870669) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104288)

But what if you're that 1?

BOINC could be a lot more efficient (4, Interesting)

k2enemy (555744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103452)

They should take advantage of the basic economic idea of comparative advantage. In economics, it dictates why trade between two countries is beneficial, even if country A happens to be more efficient at producing everything than country B. What matters is not the absolute level of efficiency, but the ratio of efficiencies. It could also help out distributed computing.

The following numbers are synthetic: I chose them to make the math easy. Let's say there are two distributed computing projects to choose from: OGR and RC5. There are also two different computers you can use to work on the projects, a G5 or a P4.

The G5 can complete 3000 units of OGR in one hour and 1500 units of RC5
The P4 can complete 1500 units of OGR in one hour and 1000 units of RC5.

I have a P4 and like to work on OGR, while my friend Eliza has a G5 and prefers to work on RC5. We each fire up our distributed clients and let them run for two hours, then check our stats:

OGR on P4: 2 hours * 1500 units/hour = 3000 OGR units
RC5 on G5: 2 hours * 1500 units/hour = 3000 RC5 units

Now let's see what comparative advantage has to offer. The P4's ratio of efficiencies is 1500 OGR units/hour to 1000 RC5 units/hour, or 3 OGR/2 RC5. The G5's ratio is 2 OGR/1 RC5. In other words, even though the G5 is better at both OGR and RC5, it is relatively better at OGR.

I already know I can crunch 3000 OGR units in two hours. Instead of actually doing this, I ask Eliza to work on OGR for me while I do RC5 for her. Now what happens?

OGR on G5: 2 hours * 3000 units/hour = 6000 OGR units
RC5 on P4: 2 hours * 1000 units/hour = 2000 RC5 units

This is great for me, 6000 OGR units were completed. But Eliza's not happy because the RC5 work is falling behind. What happens if she works on each project for an hour while I work on OGR for .2 hours and RC5 in the remaining time? 3300 OGR units and 3300 RC5 units get completed. That's 300 more units for each project than if we each worked on our favorites by ourselves.

This shouldn't be too difficult to implement. With BOINC, instead of choosing which project their computer will actually work on, a user submits their project preferences. Then the client runs a series of benchmarks that determine the computer's ratios of efficiencies. These data are sent to the distributed server which determines the optimal allocation of work between all clients, while guaranteeing each client that as much or more work will be done on the project of their choice as would occur if that client worked solely on its preferred project.

Re:BOINC could be a lot more efficient (1)

southpolesammy (150094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103550)

Your theory is excellent, but I don't know if the project participants (SETI, Einstein, etc) would appreciate being artificially squelched because one platform can function better than another. Their assumptions are that the user assigns the shares based on their preferences, not what their CPU's can do.

Of course this can be addressed by overcompensation, but IMHO this should be something left as an alternative scheduler to the user's preference, not built into the BOINC client code.

Re:BOINC could be a lot more efficient (3, Informative)

goofy183 (451746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103619)

I think the parent addressed this in their post.

These data are sent to the distributed server which determines the optimal allocation of work between all clients, while guaranteeing each client that as much or more work will be done on the project of their choice as would occur if that client worked solely on its preferred project.

The idea is if I want to dedicate my computer to SETI. And my computer can do 10 units/hr, my involvement in the BOINC network ensures that at least 10 more units/hr of SETI are being done. The actual work may be done by someone else's CPU which is better suited to SETI and my PC may be doing RC5 but the effect of me joining and saying I want to be 100% on SETI is at least the same, if not better.

Re:BOINC could be a lot more efficient (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103606)

"These data are sent to the distributed server which determines the optimal allocation of work between all clients, while guaranteeing each client that as much or more work will be done on the project of their choice as would occur if that client worked solely on its preferred project."

**BOINC releases new project information**

Wednesday, November 23

The new Project to Optimize Distribution of Workload by Efficiency for Preferred Projects (PODWEPP) has been announced by Berkeley. The project is expected to consume 50% of BOINC computing resources, as work allocation is optimized to account for ever-changing efficiencies and availability of thousands of client contributors. The theory behind the project is sound, but testing showed that the countless cycles needed to perform the constant calculation would need more computing power than available by other means. BOINC administrators recommend dedicating 50% of your allocation to PODWEPP to ensure that the remaining 50% of your allocation is used in as efficient a manner as possible, while ensuring that your personal project preference is accounted for. In addition, BOINC contributors acknowledge that BOINC is now able to determine, without your input, what functions are performed by its distributed computing network on your CPU.

Re:BOINC could be a lot more efficient (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103621)

Holy smokes that was boring

Re:BOINC could be a lot more efficient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103708)

The G5 can complete 3000 units of OGR in one hour and 1500 units of RC5
The P4 can complete 1500 units of OGR in one hour and 1000 units of RC5.

this is stupid. An opteron could do it so much faster, why dont you use those? im tired of people thinking intel is the only real decision that you can go with.\

Someone should invent (3, Interesting)

nxaccount (931295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103475)

a grid to process SPAM and virus hosts and DOS the hell of them (and their ISP) until somone convinces them to run Windows update.

Re:Someone should invent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103711)

...until somone convinces them to run Windows update.

Heh, Windows. I guess your new here.

Re:Someone should invent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14104015)

...or until someone convinces them to run Linux, BSD, Unix...

Re:Someone should invent (1)

joelito_pr (931211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104059)

That's already invented...

Just look for $sysSony_at_Home

Time to move your rig to Folding At Home! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103481)

If you liked Seti At Home, try Folding At Home. Help cure alzheimer's among other diseases with your spare cpu cycles. Check it out: [] [] []

Article inaccurately titled. (5, Informative)

justinarthur (564449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103509)

SETI@Home joined the BOINC project long ago, at least a year ago. There has also been an account migration service since the beginning of the BOINC integration. The only news here is that they are discontinuing support for the old SETI@Home client.

Re:Article inaccurately titled. (1)

beneluxboy (187454) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103919)

Yeah, I was surprised to find that SETI@Home on BOINC was news— I made the transition almost a year ago and added Climate Prediction [] . It seems like setting up BOINC was more trouble than the old SETI@Home client, but I got over it. Now adding Folding@Home...

Re:Article inaccurately titled. (1)

beneluxboy (187454) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103959)

Ah. I guess I'm not yet adding Folding@Home. They had a beta test of their BOINC client [] , but they don't seem to have anything BOINC-related available right now.

Re:Article inaccurately titled. (1)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104039)

We'd still prefer you run the official Fodling@home client, it's leaner and has more features.

I already work with people from other planets (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103522)

So I've been running Prime95 since before Seti came out. I don't even know it's there any more, but sometimes I think running Folding@home might be more socially responsible.

BOINC software for malicious use? (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103533)

Has anyone ever seen BOINC components used for spyware/zombies - one of our servers was running a command (cmd.exe) process within SQL server that was running a component identified as part of BOINC and the users on site swear they had not downloaded or installed anything. I killed the process and removed some suspect files and the 'problem' has gone away for the moment. Anyone?

Re:BOINC software for malicious use? (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103697)

Long ago, I was hit by a worm that installed the RC5 Bovine client in the background (it managed to sneak the 300kb payload in over dialup, impressive :)). Perhaps it's a similar situation? When I researched it, I found that the user id it was being submitted under had been banned from the service.

They should have some sort of loophole in the client that forces it to notify the user in the event of a banned account, even in silent mode :)

Re:BOINC software for malicious use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103857)

Having seen this [] talk I can happily say that BOINK is emminently open to attack. Presented were at least two very serious vulnerabilities - one of which was an SQL injection attack, the other a logical error on the part of the program's verification of digital signatures...

Moving? (0, Redundant)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103536)

Didn't they already move over to BOINC? I've been running SETI on BOINC for a while now.

Old News (0, Redundant)

whodunnit (238223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103542)

I've been using Seti through Boinc for almost a year now, all this happens to be is them offically forcing everyone to move over.

In other news... (1)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103554)

...the Search for Terrestrial Intelligence (STI@home) project shall continue as before, though researchers say the chances of obtaining a positive sighting during our lifetimes is weak.

More efficient maybe (1)

wrenhunter (619413) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103563)

But the BOINC screensaver could not be more hideous. I installed the new client the other month, but could not figure out how to get the old SETI screensaver back. Searched the boards too. Anyone know a way?

SETI@Home has been using BOINC for a while (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103565)

I've been running via BOINC for about six months now. The biggest pain for SETI score whores is that the scoring system between the old and new models is different. Now you get "credits" based on your CPU usage rather than how many results you produced. Therefore your BOINC scores are held separately from the "classic" values.

In operation BOINC works fairly well but on Windows XP it kills performance in some apps. What I mean by this is that BOINC runs at low priority. Any other app on your system which also runs at low priority, (e.g. cygwin, or a backup app like Nero Backitup) just CRAWLS when BOINC is running. The solution is to stop BOINC while they're running but it can still take a moment to click why some app is set in stone.

Re:SETI@Home has been using BOINC for a while (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103720)

BOINC has some promise I think. Though it doesn't really let you do "any" project, you have to find them and hook them up... which is a PIA and beyond most computer users I know.

I tried it out a few months back with the gravity waves detection project (I forgot the name). It had a cool graphic, but had problems.

BOINC wouldn't come out of standby after running overnight and crashed or locked up my XP. (Which is rare for this particular machine.) If it doesn't go away and release resources in less than a second, I consider it bad software.

Maybe there is a new version, but for the one I tried I was less than impressed.

Oh, the disappointment. (0)

loonicks (807801) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103571)

I thought maybe this had something to do with Boink [] (NSFW), the local Boston magazine with nekked Boston University people. Ah well.

They are buffoons (1, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103582)

I have looked into this a couple of months ago -- and ran away screaming at all I had to do to migrate to BIONIC.

I've got the Seti current client. I should just have a button to push. I shouldn't have to re-create accounts and step through all kinds of crap that only a programmer would love, or think up and would embarass the hell out any programmer with GUI/HMI training in the 21st century. []

Yes, I know they're largely a volunteer organization. And that affects my observation just how? If they wanna have lots of people, they've gotta move some ass to make it more user friendly to switch. I care not that the underlying mechanism of distributed computing is changing.

Re:They are buffoons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103688)

Agreed. Google compute (now officially unsupported but still available here ml [] ) was a single button click to install. Login was optional. I tried BOINC for a few weeks but the amount of BS was too much - all I want is to GIVE to the world :)

This is news? (0)

GreyDuck (192463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103641)

I moved over to the BOINC client ages ago on all of my SETI-processing machines, and helped my friends do the same. Okay, so I suppose the "no more work for the old client" part may be news, but the main reason I did the migration at the time was that the old client wasn't pulling down work units...

They should have called it the Kirk protocol (-1, Offtopic)

RailGunner (554645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103655)

cause Capt. James T. Kirk was all about boinking female aliens.

Oh, what? It's BOINC?

Fine. He was BOINCing aliens.

What's "SETI@home" mean? (-1, Troll)

cffrost (885375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103677)

See Electricy Tab Increase @ home?
Saving-Energy-Thwarted Initiative @ home?
Suckers Expending Terawatt-hours Ignorantly @ home?

Look at it this way: Probability your slow-ass PC will find an alien? ~0%. Probability your CPU is sucking down its maximum rated wattage? ~100%.

If you feel a need to use your machines to make a positive, effortless contribution for the greater good, serve up **AA's precious content for free download.

bloody awful BOINC (1)

RalphSleigh (899929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14103759)

I just tried to install BOINC, and after being prompted for a proxy server I dont use, and finding all of 4 lines of documentation I gave up and uninstalled it. (Unless it thinks it needs a proxy server because slashdot just brought down all their servers)...

Scientific progress goes boinc? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103788)

Scientific progress goes boinc?

necessary calvin and hobbes reference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14103982)

Scientific progess goes "BOINC"?

No AIX Client (1)

Kraegar (565221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104033)

Without an AIX client for Boinc, my contributions to Seti will end on the 15th.

Sure you can roll your own Boinc client, but I haven't been able to get a stable version of it.

It's too bad, really. It was a fun project to contribute to.

Lose all your credits if you forgot your orig p/w (0, Redundant)

LividBlivet (898817) | more than 8 years ago | (#14104043)

I'm in the top 0.5 % and #39 in my Class with over 11k units mostly on a single machine. If I can't transfer that because I forgot my original password and changed email addresses since then, well screw it. I'll fold proteins to keep my apt warm.

Re:Lose all your credits if you forgot your orig p (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14104289)

that can be a problem, but what happened to myself and many other people if you read the seti forums, when trying to transfer your account boinc screws up and deletes it. i lost 4 years of seti work units becuase of this. screw boinc.
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