Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

MacResearch Introduces OpenMacGrid

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago

OS X 123

Drew McCormack writes "MacResearch.org has just introduced OpenMacGrid. It is a distributed computing grid similar to SETI@home, but unlike other networks, it is built up entirely of Macs utilizing Xgrid, and access is unrestricted. Anyone with Mac OS X 10.4 can donate cycles, and any scientist with a reasonable project can burn cycles."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

but does it run linux? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17980170)

well does it?

Not as good as it sounds (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17980172)

By now everyone should have heard about OpenMacGrid and its nutty, misinformed ruses. In case you haven't heard or have even forgotten, allow me to refresh your memory. What follows is a series of remarks addressed to the readers of this letter and to OpenMacGrid itself. OpenMacGrid sometimes uses the word "ultracentrifugation" when describing its catch-phrases. Beware! This is a buzzword designed for emotional response.

OpenMacGrid uses the very intellectual tools it criticizes, namely consequentialist arguments rather than arguments about truth or falsity. OpenMacGrid's fantasy is to mold your mind and have you see the world not as it is, but as it wants you to see it. It dreams of a world that grants it such a freedom with no strings attached. Welcome to the world of fogyism! In that nightmare world it has long since been forgotten that some organizations are responsible and others are not. OpenMacGrid falls into the category of "not".

The greatest quote I ever heard goes something like this: "Like most organizations that have an insufferable agenda to advocate, OpenMacGrid wants to produce a new generation of fork-tongued cockalorums whose opinions and prejudices, far from being enlightened and challenged, are simply legitimized." I am a law-and-order kind of person. I hate to see crimes go unpunished. That's why I indisputably hope that OpenMacGrid serves a long prison term for its illegal attempts to infiltrate and then dominate and control the mass media. Here's the heart of the matter: The question that's on everyone's mind these days is, "Why, in the name of all that is good and holy, does OpenMacGrid want to damn this nation and this world to Hell?" In classic sophist fashion, I ask another question in reply: Where do we go from here? People often ask me that question. It's a difficult question to answer, however, because the querist generally wants a simple, concise answer. He doesn't want to hear a long, drawn-out explanation about how OpenMacGrid is an interesting organization. On the one hand, it likes to silence any criticism of the brainwashing and double standards that it has increasingly been practicing. But on the other hand, it, already oppressive with its self-centered deeds, will perhaps be the ultimate exterminator of our human species -- if separate species we be -- for its reserve of unguessed horrors could never be borne by mortal brains if loosed upon the world. If you think that that's a frightening thought, then consider that in order to champion the force of goodness against the greed of self-pitying hedonists, we must break the spell of great expectations that now binds the worst types of effete flimflammers there are to OpenMacGrid. And that's just the first step. Remember, it has nothing but contempt for you, and you don't even know it. That's why I feel obligated to inform you that it likes dissertations that promote racial superiority doctrines, ethnic persecution, imperialist expansion, and genocide. Could there be a conflict of interest there? If you were to ask me, I'd say that I have a plan to place blame where it belongs -- in the hands of OpenMacGrid and its disgraceful, litigious subordinates. I call this plan "Operation put to rest illaudable and self-satisfied epithets such as OpenMacGrid's". (Granted, I need a shorter, catchier name, but that one will do for now.) My plan's underlying motif is that if OpenMacGrid can't stand the heat, it should get out of the kitchen. Let me carry my thoughts on this subject a bit further. OpenMacGrid's egocentric attempt to construct a creative response to my previous letter was absolutely pitiful. Really, OpenMacGrid, stringing together a bunch of solecistic insults and seemingly random babble is hardly effective. It simply proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that caustic hypochondriacs like it are all alike. To top that off, what I wrote just a moment ago is not the paranoid rambling of a laughable wacko. It's a fact. You can observe a definite bias in OpenMacGrid's precepts relating to unrestrained monomaniacs. Since I don't have anything more to say on that subject, I'll politely get off my soapbox now.

3/5 (-1, Offtopic)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980778)

3/5!

Good use of pakin.org.

Movie studios and CGI (1)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980176)

Y'know, I imagine stuff like this would be nice to speed up the rendering farms in movie studios. Either make 'm pay for the access or give every contributor with enough cycles a free ticket ;).

Re:Movie studios and CGI (4, Informative)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980226)

Y'know, I imagine stuff like this would be nice to speed up the rendering farms in movie studios. Either make 'm pay for the access or give every contributor with enough cycles a free ticket ;).

This only works in a LAN. Every single frame of a modern movie requires gigabytes of texture data etc. etc... It's not something you can send over the Internet.

Not to mention (1)

eklitzke (873155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980948)

Y'know, I imagine stuff like this would be nice to speed up the rendering farms in movie studios. Either make 'm pay for the access or give every contributor with enough cycles a free ticket ;).
This only works in a LAN. Every single frame of a modern movie requires gigabytes of texture data etc. etc... It's not something you can send over the Internet.

Not to mention I'm sure they'd be thrilled to have basically the entire movie contents floating around the Internet on random people's computers.

Re:Not to mention (1)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981248)

Solve the texture problem with a good centralized library of textures - or use procedural ones [wikipedia.org] - not that uncommon. Just imagine that a node will only render a small square of the scene (or even spend its time calculating the light sources from a single render pass which are then put in the pipeline) and nobody's getting the entire movie.

Of course, there's the problem if you manage not only to catch every single piece, decrypt the bitmaps, -and- manage to put 'm in the right order. However, the amount of work you need for that is way more than bribing someone for a pre-release version.

Re:Not to mention (1)

onemorechip (816444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985046)

...or someone who cracks the code and figures how to splice in a random frame, a la Tyler Durden in Fight Club.

Re:Movie studios and CGI (1)

Fist! Of! Death! (1038822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981252)

But I was told the Internet 2.0 is the new LAN. Damn that Marketeer!

Re:Movie studios and CGI (1)

MidnightBrewer (97195) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982734)

Actually, people can, and do, send render jobs over the internet all the time, and there are companies that make money off of renting out render farms (such as RenderCore, Inc. [rendercore.com] ). As a freelance animator in Japan, I am actually considering using such a service in the near future, and have heard good things from other people about the service. The data only has to be sent once, and if it's cached remotely, the payoff is well worth it. After all, gigabytes of data might get sent one time, but subsequent transfers such as texture updates are going to be incremental, not completely from scratch.

As for the movie studios, a lot of them have the budget to get decent high-speed data lines, which is how a lot of movie dailies are shipped nowadays (think Lord of the Rings.)

Terminology (4, Funny)

John Nowak (872479) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980186)

How about we call each node in the OpenMacGrid a MacGriddle?

Kind of makes me hungry... (2, Funny)

rogtioko (1024857) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980894)

...Bad for future foodility bills :(

From my general vegan perspective: could instead call each node an apple. Get it? apples on tree branch grid. Dynamic with key word Macgrid.

Lean, mean, MacGriddle... (0, Offtopic)

ThomsonsPier (988872) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982026)

You'll have to stave off George Foreman, or he'll try to put his name on it.

What constitutes 'reasonable'? (3, Insightful)

pickyouupatnine (901260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980188)

Who'll the judge? The community?

Re:What constitutes 'reasonable'? (2, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980260)

It's just commonsense. Modeling for global warming is OK. Modeling for taking over the world is NOT OK.

Re:What constitutes 'reasonable'? (5, Funny)

Funkcikle (630170) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980564)

From my experience of the online Apple-using community, this entire thing will be used purely to predict when Apple will be releasing new shiny things to buy. Forget about global warming - good God, man! There could be a minor iPod update next Tuesday!

Re:What constitutes 'reasonable'? (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980802)

iPod update on Tuesday?

Damn, I was gonna buy one tomorrow, but I'll wait. Thank you!

Re:What constitutes 'reasonable'? (1)

Hes Nikke (237581) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986258)

iPod update on Tuesday?

Damn, I was gonna buy one tomorrow, but I'll wait. Thank you!
tomorrow IS tuesd...ohhhh!

Re:What constitutes 'reasonable'? (1)

blake3737 (839993) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983900)

There could be a minor iPod update next Tuesday!
Who are you, think secret?

Re:What constitutes 'reasonable'? (1)

Khabok (940349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983838)

if (motive != "TAKE OVER THE WORLD"){
giantShinyBeowulfCluster.task = motive;
giantShinyBeowulfCluster.mainScreen.turnOn (1);
}

else{
giantShinyBeowulfCluster.dDos (sender);
}

Re:What constitutes 'reasonable'? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980842)

1. Accept all but the most blatent crap.
2. Present every client with a short one-liner describing the new project.
3. Let the user of the client decide whether to donate CPU on a project-by-project basis.

What I don't get is why this is Mac-only. Are Windows/Linux truely less able to perform these tasks or is it just a Mac promotional campaing under the guise of "research"? Seems illogical to me to keep out 95%+ of available CPU time if all you intend is to provide the research community with CPU time.

Re:What constitutes 'reasonable'? (1)

geekboybt (866398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980964)

Most likely because it relies on Xgrid [wikipedia.org] , methinks.

Re:What constitutes 'reasonable'? (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980968)

It's Mac only, I guess quite simply that it uses the Xgrid software that is bundled in as standard with OS X. Details here [apple.com] . I seem to recall that there was a Java version of the Xgrid agent that ran on Windows, but I can't find it at the moment.

Re:What constitutes 'reasonable'? (5, Informative)

metalcup (897029) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980978)

What I don't get is why this is Mac-only. Are Windows/Linux truely less able to perform these tasks or is it just a Mac promotional campaing under the guise of "research"?
Because, X-grid is available only for Macs http://www.apple.com/server/macosx/features/xgrid. html [apple.com] , and all you need to do to set it up (i.e. allow your mac to be a part of the grid) is click on a few options in the system preferences panel - the end user does not need to work with scheduling and other details - the OS takes care of all that with a few options. It really is damn convinient to use for many types of clustering applications. (and I have setup Linux clusters etc). To that end, yeah, it is a bit of a promotional campaign, but only because no other OS can do it out of the box the way Mac can!!

Wow, Ronald is really diversifying the menu! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17980192)

Good for him! But I still won't eat there.

Trojans? (2, Interesting)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980210)

From the disclaimer:
http://www.macresearch.org/contribute_to_openmacgr id [macresearch.org]

By contributing an agent to OpenMacGrid you recognize that third parties will be running software applications on your system. MacResearch.org, will make every attempt to ensure that third party applications are safe for execution on contributed systems (agents), but in no way will MacResearch.org or its affiliates be held liable for any damage to your system resulting from participation in OpenMacGrid. It is the responsibility of the person contributing the agent to ensure that they have permission to use the system in such a fashion.


So, Xgrid-experts, what kind of permissions does an application like this have? Is it sandboxed somehow?

Re:Trojans? (5, Informative)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980488)

So, Xgrid-experts, what kind of permissions does an application like this have? Is it sandboxed somehow?

Xgrid jobs run as user 'nobody', which is decently safe, with process limits so it can't forkbomb you to death. A rogue job could fill up /tmp or ~/Public/Drop Box or whatever with garbage until you run out of disk, or some other annoying things. I won't say "nothing major", because that depends on what you've got that's readable or writable by others. I'm also not wearing my expert hat, so it's entirely possible that I'm unaware of some way that Xgrid jobs could 0wnz0r you.

You still need to trust OpenMacGrid to keep these bad jobs off the grid.

Re:Trojans? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980788)

You still need to trust OpenMacGrid to keep these bad jobs off the grid.

Sounds like an ideal candidate for chrooting

Re:Trojans? (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980814)

Indeed, but you'd also need to enable hard disk quotas to stop the filling of the hard disk.

Re:Trojans? (1)

ATMD (986401) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982486)

Do Macs support loopback devices?

Just make a file of whatever size you want to limit the jobs to, format it HFS+, mount it and chroot to it. Problem solved?

Re:Trojans? (2, Informative)

Jimithing DMB (29796) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983084)

Do Macs support loopback devices?

Do they ever. The disk image mounting in OS X makes Linux's loopback devices look like crap. While you can make an image containing only a filesystem you can also make one containing a full disk image (including MBR and everything). When mounted it will for example show up as /dev/disk2 (whole disk), /dev/disk2s1 (first partition), /dev/disk2s2 (second partition) and so on. Makes disk recovery of an imaged disk a shitload easier because you don't have to go through the laborious task of calculating offsets based off the partition table. The kernel does it for you like it would with any other "disk".

botnet (2, Interesting)

pikine (771084) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981540)

"nobody" user can still listen for and establish connections over network, so an OpenMacGrid node can participate in DDoS attack and spam delivery.

Grid computing is essentially botnet, trying to use that concept for good scientific purpose.

Re:Trojans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17984404)

Xgrid jobs run as user 'nobody', which is decently safe

Is it just me, or does that sound like a really stupid idea? The user 'nobody' is supposed to be... nobody. The whole point is that it's not a real user. It shouldn't be possible to log in as nobody; nobody should not be running any processes. It's the /dev/null of user accounts. If I set a file's group to nobody, then only I should be able to touch it. If nobody owns a file, then only the superuser should be able to touch it.

In the situation you're describing, 'nobody' seems to mean 'anybody'. And not just 'anybody on this machine', but 'anybody at all, anywhere on the Internet'.

Re:Trojans? (2, Informative)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#17984918)

Traditionally the "nobody" user has been used by various daemons that need only read-only disk access (and often which can accept strict ulimits). It's generally not possible to log in as nobody, and nobody usually does not own any files, but it's still useful as daemon account.

It's becoming more common to assign each daemon its own user, but so long as your process doesn't write any files there's not much security benefit to having your own user, and there is a convience aspect to having fewer users to manage. In particular, it can become a hassle to ensure that each of 25 different daemon users has an account that prevents logins and owns no files; having fewer such accounts makes security verification simplier.

Java Web Start (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980662)

I've always thought that the Java sandbox is well-enough understood and fast enough to be a natural for this sort of thing, since it's properties are fairly well tested and understood. And 'HotSpot' JVMs can give very good performance too.

For example, I just put up this Java Web Start http://master.gallery.hd.org/_AI/remote.jsp [hd.org] project to enable people to help along my little AI project. It is entirely in the sandbox, and is careful with bandwidth and memory and CPU usage. But you don't have to trust me, you only have to trust Sun.

Rgds

Damon

Re:Trojans? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981874)

I'm thinking they're paranoid about system damage from overheating.

Slashdotted (5, Funny)

John Nowak (872479) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980216)

I do hope their website isn't representative of their grid's performance...

Re:Slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17980474)

Their website is probably run by a grid of PPC macs...

*ducks*

(and yes, I used PPC macs for several years)

Re:Slashdotted (2, Funny)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980646)

Their website is probably run by a grid of PPC macs...
Netcraft confirms [netcraft.com] they're running on Macs!

Re:Slashdotted (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982148)

Impossible. That smug kid in those commercials said Mac's "just work."

-Eric

Re:Slashdotted (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982232)

Impossible. That smug kid in those commercials said Mac's "just work."
But... He also claimed he could do business things too, which conflicts with the "just work" rule.

Re:Slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17981522)

Last I heard Xgrid does all the architecture transition for you. So PPC + x86 all the way.

Re:Slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17982838)

So you mean its cool, quiet and fairly efficient with awesome vector abilities per clock?

Those poor bastards. The death of consumer PPC is BAD for the industry ingeneral, and is nothing to be celebrated.

Re:Slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17984444)

I agree, but my PPC Mac was soooo damn slow (running at "only" 1420MHz). My current 2.4GHz P4 is SOOO much faster, really. And that's not just Java.

Ok, maybe the Mach-O format, the Mac's memory manager and other inefficiencies like that are to fault, but then all the more reason for Apple to switch to a Linux / more modern kernel!

Re:Slashdotted (1)

marklar1 (670468) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985544)

Good point, but you've missed the biggest culprit... System Bus Speed.

Alot of the problem was the 1.4 GHz mac you are referring to was a PPC G4.... crippled by a 133 or 167 Mhz system bus. Were the PPC chips allowded to go one gen further on the laptop side (desktop remedied at onset G5 w/ sys bus at 1/2 CPU clock) then this problem would've ceased to be.

Macs never really saw the full benefit of the G4 due to the system bus...sad. Motorola had them ready to go in a highly efficient laptop form, I think w/ 667 Mhz busses, and doubled cache...but Apple made the jump to Intel. I was dissapointed, but Moto had failed so many times to keep up with Intel, or even their own predictions, that in a way it was a relief.

Re:Slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17986426)

Yes, it's interesting that everybody blames the G4's bus.

Back when DDR RAM was being introduced, I read about measurements that the bandwidth increase from 133 to 266 resulted in a whopping 3% performance increase for real applications.

That made me highly doubt any of those claims that a faster bus means anything. I'd like to see more up-to-date measurements of how a fast bus translates to higher performance, including the faster P4 bus, the Core, and the Athlon 64.

OTOH, that Mac experience confirmed it a bit (though CPU usage over time was also quite often on the high side, but that might have included time waiting for memory).

Re:Slashdotted (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981584)

Naw, it's not the Macs, but the database that is limiting the connections and likely their bandwidth restrictions. I have a fair amount of experience getting Slashdotted on another website [utah.edu] hosted exclusively on a Mac and I've yet to see it have a problem, even though it is a graphics intensive site.

Re:Slashdotted (1)

John Nowak (872479) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981784)

I certainly meant nothing ill by it -- I posted it from my new iMac Core 2 Duo. :-)

Obligatory First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Umuri (897961) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980222)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of... a cluster?

imagine.... (4, Funny)

dino303 (876573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980224)

with a beowulf cluster of these... they might even handle the rush from slashdot.

Re:imagine.... (2, Funny)

MattPat (852615) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981070)

with a beowulf cluster of these... they might even handle the rush from slashdot.

Well then, it's quite clear that they don't have one: Warning: mysql_connect(): Too many connections. :)

They'd better not use the same MySQL database for storing grid results... I can picture the headlines now: "Cure for Cancer Lost Because of Traffic from Geek Website."

Curious indeed (3, Interesting)

agent dero (680753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980276)

I went ahead and signed up (what can I say, I'm a sucker for science) but I'm really hoping they make it clear what will be running on the agents.

One thing quite curious, the "introduction" images are almost direct yanks from xgrid@stanfard [stanford.edu] including the Dashboard widget the push as their own from the xgrid widget SDK [mekentosj.com] linked with the xgrid@stanford project as well.

Should be interesting how this shapes up. 91 total agents right now, 0 working :-P

Obligatory one... (1, Offtopic)

quigonn (80360) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980278)

Hot grids down your pants!

Re:Obligatory one... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17980496)

Hot grids down your pants!

"... and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement."

Deuteronomy 23:13

Usefulness? (2, Insightful)

wlan0 (871397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980338)

How useful can it be to be locked into one OS? How hard is it to make a commandline program and then a Cocoa interface, that way you can get everyone and still have a pretty window and widget for OS X users.

Re:Usefulness? (4, Informative)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980658)

How useful can it be to be locked into one OS? How hard is it to make a commandline program and then a Cocoa interface, that way you can get everyone and still have a pretty window and widget for OS X users.

OpenMacGrid uses Xgrid, which is Mac-only. It isn't something new they've made: it's built-in to Mac OS X. You ask "how hard is it...", and the answer is "A lot harder than just using what's already available."

Also, the Xgrid agent doesn't have a pretty window. It's a background daemon.

Re:Usefulness? (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980846)

In your excitement you seem to have forgotten that the command line was already available too.

I organise cross-platform distributed computing projects, and without exception the actual number-crunching code is an console application, plain C - not even any #ifs, and the only thing that is platform specific is a tiny wrapper script. The wrapper script I use is a Perl one that sits silently in a text console, or hung up, or started from init or cron. There's nothing to stop someone writing a GUI one in Tcl/Tk, or whatever scripting language runs on OSX. It would be a half hour job for someone familiar with how to use sockets in their scripting language of choice to 'port' my application to a new platform. Being tied to XGrid is an truly abysmal design in comparison.

Re:Usefulness? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981204)

what do you think open grid is? it is just a gui wrapper around Xgrid.

And Xgrid only works on macs. sine it is just a daemon for the client there isn't any reason why it couldn't be ported to any other *nix, but that is up to apple to do. A simple google search would show you that someone has already duplicated xgrid's functionality with the help of apple. Tying at least Linux boxes into the client network. It looks like it hasn't taken off, but then again neither has xgrid. maybe this project will help both.

Re:Usefulness? (1)

hawaiian717 (559933) | more than 7 years ago | (#17984334)

It's been done: http://www.novajo.ca/xgridagent/ [novajo.ca] . The problem is that Xgrid ships a binary to the target system to the client system to execute. When I played around with it I was able to get the agent to run on Gentoo x86, but naturally the job built for Mac OS X on PowerPC wouldn't run. There are potential ways around it; using an interpreted language like Python or Java might work (but be detrimental to performance) or using a wrapper script, but that's not something I had much success with.

Re:Usefulness? (2, Insightful)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981274)

without exception the actual number-crunching code is an console application, plain C - not even any #ifs, and the only thing that is platform specific is a tiny wrapper script.

Without exception? Are you sure nobody ever does any vectorization outside of what the compiler does? Ever? Nobody ever links to platform-specific frameworks for any reason? Ever? Nobody ever writes code to run on a homogenous cluster? Ever?

Being tied to XGrid is an truly abysmal design in comparison.

In your case perhaps it would be. That doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of other people for whom it is more ideal than your setup. Those people include scientists that already run Mac OS X, and perhaps link the Accelerate framework, and perhaps already have Xgrid-ready jobs that can run on OpenMacGrid without modification. Or maybe they just don't want to concern themselves with the details of distributing jobs and returning results with a Perl script or something.

Re:Usefulness? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17981648)

How useful can it be to be locked into one OS?

Even worse than that, it is tied to 10.4. Anyone who hasn't upgraded can't participate. Last time I played with Xgrid, it transmitted the application along with the unit of work. Sure, it makes it easy to just build a universal binary and load it onto the controller, but why not have multiple builds on the controller and have the agent indicate the OS level when it requests work? The controller could then send the appropriate build down.

/. effect good? (2, Interesting)

ljaguar (245365) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980362)

I just configured my ibook following the simple instructions here [macresearch.org] .

Dead simple. The process is still running at 0.0% so i guess i haven't been assigned anything yet.

First time that /. effect is beneficial to those involved!

Re:/. effect good? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983240)

First time that /. effect is beneficial to those involved!

People kill for the kind of exposure Slashdot brings. That's why we get Astroturfed [wikipedia.org] occasionally.

Re-Enactment (2, Insightful)

DrRevotron (994894) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980366)

Re-enactment of the creation of the OpenMacGrid...

Person 1: "Hey, I've got an idea!"
Person 2: "Yeah?"
Person 1: "Yeah! Let's make a compute grid... except, it won't be like those other compute grids. Except, it kinda will. But it won't. But that's not the point. People will be able to submit their own projects!"
Person 2: "Oh, you mean like BOINC, GPU, The World Community Grid, distributed.net, Leiden, Grid.org, OurGrid..."
Person 1: "Well, uh... yeah... I guess... except, um... let's run it on a Mac!"
Person 2: "Hey, yeah, that's a totally original and cool plan, as opposed to actually devoting processor time to worthwhile and established projects like Folding@Home and SETI!"

Thought: Maybe, instead of everybody making their own little grid system... we could all make things go ALOT faster by devoting our processors to more than simulating chess games (Yes, I'm talking to you, Chess960) and focus it where it really counts, like finding a cure to debilitating diseases or searching for intelligent life. (Not a whole lot of it on Earth.)

Re:Re-Enactment (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980380)

Thought: Maybe, instead of everybody making their own little grid system... we could all make things go ALOT faster by devoting our processors to more than simulating chess games (Yes, I'm talking to you, Chess960) and focus it where it really counts, like finding a cure to debilitating diseases or searching for intelligent life. (Not a whole lot of it on Earth.)

    Papa Bear would say you hate freedom. Do you hate freedom, Doctor?

Re:Re-Enactment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17980414)

Apple ships a generic grid framework called XGrid (generally for building private grids). This is just building on that framework, so they're not really building a new grid system.

The reason its only on a Mac is because... well... XGrid is only on a Mac.

Re:Re-Enactment ..obligatory Python reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17980524)

(Monty that is), inspired by your last line, of course...
http://www.gecdsb.on.ca/d&g/astro/music/Galaxy_Son g.html [gecdsb.on.ca]

Re:Re-Enactment (0, Offtopic)

Psiven (302490) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980806)

Mod parent under-rated. The user raises a ligitmate point.

Re:Re-Enactment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17980880)

Hey, yeah, that's a totally original and cool plan, as opposed to actually devoting processor time to worthwhile and established projects like Folding@Home and SETI!


I hate to have to be the one to break it to you, but farting at home is both more worthwhile and established than Searching for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence @ home.

Re:Re-Enactment (4, Insightful)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980912)

Maybe, instead of everybody making their own little grid system...

I don't think you fully understand what you're talking about.

For starters, BOINC is not a separate grid. It's a framework and client for many grids. BOINC users can (and do) contribute to many different projects [berkeley.edu] including your "established projects" like Folding@Home and SETI@Home, and including many of the other grids you've listed. Many of the others you listed do exactly the kind of jobs you're calling for, like disease research.

Also, you seem to think that all grid computing projects are interchangeable, and that just isn't so. They may work with different data, or using different methods; they may not have the same requirements for job submission; they may operate on vastly different scales. Basically, they're suited for different research needs. A nice thing about OpenMacGrid, for example, is that researchers can take the same Xgrid job they've been using on their tiny network and send it to a public grid without much, if any modification.

Re:Re-Enactment (1)

Billy the Impaler (886238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981778)

Though Folding put out a Folding@BOINC beta, I think the project is dead now. As such your assertion that Folding runs on BOINC is incorrect. Folding runs on its own client and network, just as the SETI Classic client did.

Re:Re-Enactment (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983146)

Though Folding put out a Folding@BOINC beta, I think the project is dead now. As such your assertion that Folding runs on BOINC is incorrect. Folding runs on its own client and network, just as the SETI Classic client did.

That's true - and the reason I'm not donating any cycles to Folding, though I otherwise would if they were on BOINC. I like that the BOINC projects get that I don't want to sysadmin more than one distributed computing client.

Re:Re-Enactment (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981586)

focus it where it really counts, like finding a cure to debilitating diseases or searching for intelligent life.

I agree with your sentiments, but folding@home is a solid investment, seti is like buying tickets to a million-ball lottery.

Re:Re-Enactment (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983188)

I agree with your sentiments, but folding@home is a solid investment, seti is like buying tickets to a million-ball lottery.

Spoken like a good engineer. Folding@Home has the potential to change how life is lived on Earth - a very good investment. SETI@Home has the potential to change what we think life is - a philosopher's game.

I wish Folding would get back to their BOINC client so I can easily donate some cycles to their project.

Re:Re-Enactment (1)

dead_one (60558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985068)

Except there are probably plenty of scientists out there with far less ambitious projects which would none-the-less benefit from a few days worth of spare cycles provided accessing them was less hassle than just running the project locally. I've just started a number theory phd, and sometimes find myself staring at processes that'll take three days to finish on my machine. Not worth setting up a global distributed computing project for, but if there's one just sitting around that I can easily offload it to, run something else requiring more interaction and still have my answer in three hours instead, then that'd speed things up considerably for me.

Apologies if some of the projects you mention do just that (and the only novelty here is the use of Macs), as I haven't looked at distributed computing efforts in years and am assuming they're all assigned to long-range goals (factoring, protein folding, SETI etc) rather than being generally open to researchers.

Re:Re-Enactment (1)

dreamer-of-rules (794070) | more than 7 years ago | (#17986920)

What with the whole 'submit a proposal' process to go through first, I doubt this would work for your three day projects. Also, IFAIK, OS X does have local exploits, which means that you still need to trust the software being run by the XGrid on your system.

If the proposal review doesn't insist on reviewing and archiving source code first, this could be the start of a nasty bot-net. Am I right?

Re:Re-Enactment (1)

thejoelpatrol (764408) | more than 7 years ago | (#17987298)

Person 1: "Well, uh... yeah... I guess... except, um... let's run it on a Mac!"
Xgrid only runs on Macs. It is, as I understand it, fairly easy to design for and set up. There is a reason they did this. I've run BOINC. It supports some good projects. But at the time I tried it, it was kind of a pain to manage, update, etc. Something like this based on a built-in component of the OS should be pretty simple. That's the idea.

Finally!!! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17980512)

I'm glad someone finally found a way to harness the energy of 10000 mac fan boys. (You too Whiney)

...and access is unrestricted. (1, Informative)

EatingSteak (1053512) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980566)

"...and access is unrestricted."

Well, kind of. Except for the fact that you need a proprietary OS to access it. And proprietary hardware to go with it. It seems if you do not have the correct hardware and try to run this, Apple will sue the shit out of you [informationweek.com] . Why don't they make this compatable with all versions of FreeBSD, then call it unrestricted?

Re:...and access is unrestricted. (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980822)

Because they're running Xgrid, probably in the hopes of using unused cycles on Xeon-based PowerMacs.

Re:...and access is unrestricted. (4, Insightful)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980832)

Isn't that like expecting that a public airstrip claiming "unrestricted access" be accessible to submarines, too?

Practical limitations may apply without something violating a notion of "unrestricted." Sort of like how unrestricted Internet access in your home still requires you to have a computer or other suitable device; you can't just plug the Internet into your arm.

Re:...and access is unrestricted. (1)

Shashvat (676991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980886)

you can't just plug the Internet into your arm
Now there's a good research subject to throw CPU cycles at.

Re:...and access is unrestricted. (3, Funny)

WrecklessSandwich (1000139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981264)

you can't just plug the Internet into your arm.
I beg to differ.

Re:...and access is unrestricted. (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981552)

you can't just plug the Internet into your arm.

Oooooh :((

Pitty, that would really put an interesting spin on the "donating cycles" phrase.

No... (2, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981878)

It is more like expecting McDonald's saying they will give 50c from each purchase to a fund to end the world hunger, but ONLY if you order your BigMacs wearing at least 1500$ worth of Armani clothing and apparel.

And an iPod.

Macs and research? (0, Flamebait)

kunalthakar (914651) | more than 7 years ago | (#17980854)

I don't think scientists who require computational power work on macs. Why would they require macs when there are beowulf clusters around?

Re:Macs and research? (1)

ananke (8417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981150)

Ever heard of the 'workstation' concept?

Re:Macs and research? (1)

VaderPi (680682) | more than 7 years ago | (#17982054)

I guess you have never heard of SystemX [vt.edu] at Virginia Tech. It is a supercomputer originally built with off the shelf Mac G5s. It was even written about in Slashdot [slashdot.org] when it made the #3 spot in the list of the fastest supercomputers.

Missing the point (4, Interesting)

Anthonares (466582) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981192)

The comments so far have (mostly) overlooked the main point of just why the OpenMacGrid is different: it's *open*. That means that scientists, even PhD students like myself that want to run jobs using far greater numbers of nodes than the clusters (beowolf or otherwise) at our home institutions will now have a means to do so. Most such projects have neither the resources nor the capabilities to create their own custom cross-platform clients like those mentioned from other distributed computing projects.

OpenMacGrid (or just OMG, I guess) uses XGrid, which is built-in to every OSX 10.4 distribution and acts just like any other job queue manager, except it's even easier. So, the whole process of writing a distributed computing project becomes far simpler as well.

Finally, the OMG it doesn't matter if the OMG is cross-platform running on proprietary hardware: so is every other cluster that I as a scientist have ever had access to. The SGI cluster is proprietary, and to an extent so is the Linux machine at our High-Performance Computing lab on campus. And, if you're thinking about it being non-cross-platform from the client side, well, you're probably not thinking differently anyway, so just go download Folding@Home.

Re:Missing the point (1)

rogtioko (1024857) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981286)

I think dr.badass said why OpenMacGrid is innovative. namely that it uses Xgrid whereas for other distributed computing projects a user would have to adapt code to a certain format.

Re:Missing the point (2, Interesting)

bcg (322392) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981322)

I totally agree with you.

I see the difficulty of starting a distributed computing project as being a serious problem.

One solution I am proposing is borrowing some of the techniques from BitTorrent and using them in distributed computing. So far, the results have been very encouraging.

So here is a tidbit of my PhD research (an abstract from a paper hopefully being published soon):

"This paper describes the operational characteristics of "CompTorrent", a general purpose distributed computing platform that provides a low entry cost to creating new distributed computing projects. An algorithm is embedded into a metadata file along with data set details which are then published on the Internet. Potential nodes discover and download metadata files for projects they wish to participate in, extract the algorithm and data set descriptors, and join other participants in maintaining a swarm. This swarm then cooperatively shares the raw data set in pieces between nodes and applies the algorithm to produce a computed data set. This computed data set is also shared and distributed amongst participating nodes. CompTorrent allows a "simple home-brewed" solution for small or individual distributed computing projects. Testing and experimentation have shown CompTorrent to be an effective system that provides similar benefits for distributed computing to those BitTorrent provides for large file distribution."

If anyone else is interested in my shameless self promotion: http://www.comp.utas.edu.au/users/bcg/ [utas.edu.au]

Re:Missing the point (1)

Anthonares (466582) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981366)

bcg,
This looks really interesting, and using BitTorrent in tandem with a distributed computing queue scheduler (like XGrid, in the case of OMG) could provide not only the ability to effectively distribute coarse-grained tasks, but also efficiently share large input datasets for each process.

Thanks!

Is this Apple-only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17985294)

If this is not an exclusive Mac-only technology then I am not interested. Why would I want to share my computing cycles with users of inferior platforms?

hehe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17981194)

seems they are running there website on the grid

sql error too many connections

Re:hehe (1)

Imaria (975253) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981736)

There is a quiet satisfaction in seeing a distributed network website be slashdotted; you would think they'd be prepared for a lot of connections.

two ways to get more nodes on board (3, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981268)

Instead of blindly contributing my cycles to whatever project some group of people in california (or wherever) decide is the project of the day, I would like it if I was given the option as a node to pick which project(s) my cycles were used for. People feel better about helping others and contributing/donating when they have a better knowledge of what exactly they are helping. I would be more likely to donate my cycles if I was able to pick which project I was most interested in loaning my hardware to.

It would also be to their benefit to introduce some competition. Contests like RC64 encouraged teamwork, and there were daily ranking boards where you could go see whose teams were knocking out the most units that day. There is no better motivator to encourage donation of resources than competition and bragging rights. Many of those teams were group oriented, there were things like TeamUnix, TeamMacinotosh, TeamUCLA, etc, and again that gives the nodes in each team a feeling of belonging to a group of people they can relate to, even if they have little in common.

Re:two ways to get more nodes on board (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17983296)

I would be more likely to donate my cycles if I was able to pick which project I was most interested in loaning my hardware to.

You're looking for BOINC [berkeley.edu] .

Fan burnout a result? (2, Interesting)

Oshawapilot (1039614) | more than 7 years ago | (#17981534)

With all the stories I've heard of the cooling fans on the MacBook's going wonky if run at too high of a speed for too long, I'm reluctant to offer my spare cycles to Xgrid.

The last thing I want to happen as a result of being a participant is seeing my fan spooled up to 6000+ RPM day in and day out while my Mac crunches numbers, only to result in the fan itself crapping out a few months later.

Re:Fan burnout a result? (1)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 7 years ago | (#17985072)

IMHO, it's silly to contribute a portable computer's CPU cycles to these types of projects anyway. They usually run when your machine is *idle*. Portables are usually shut off or put into a sleep mode and disconnected from the Internet when they're not actually being used.

However, I will very likely set up my Mac Pro for this project when I get home tonight. It runs 24 hours/7 days since I have a small ftp server on it. It may as well be doing something else useful for other people while it's using the electricity anyway.

What about proprietary research? (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 7 years ago | (#17984288)

Big Pharm, for example, could sneak in research that is truly useful, but then gets pumped into its proprietary medicinal development? That takes it out of the realm of Open Source research, doesn't it?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?