SETI@home – Oct/Nov/Dec 2018

Regular readers, the ones that have been around for a year or more, may recall that I am a SETI@home participant; I’ve not posted about this for a while and that’s because I only run my computers during the winter months, November through March. Therefore I un-mothballed my computers at the end of October and have been ‘crunching’ again since then.

In addition to just “switching things back on” I’ve been working on upgrading some rigs to Ubuntu Linux, particularly version 18.04 since that was released since my last period of SETI participation when a couple of my computers were on 16.04.

This has not gone all together smoothly since my experience with Linux is limited.

First of all I couldn’t get the Rufus tool to create the bootable USB drive to work as I had done in the past. Luckily I came across Etcher from Balena which worked. The installation of Ubuntu went well but then I had to get to grips with the few changes since 16.04 which are noticable to me, such as the lack of Ubuntu button at the top left (instead the ‘Windows key’ opens up the new Search button at the bottom left and this insists on doing a song and dance across my screen, and they’ve decided to move the minimise, restore/maximise, close buttons over to the right to mimic Microsoft Windows instead of Apple iOS; I was slowly getting used to moving my mouse over to the left when using Linux, and then back to the right when I boot into Windows… now for the computers that are on 18.04 I find myself still looking over to the left, or in the systems still on 16.04 I get caught out and go to the right! Even if I don’t boot into Windows on my main computer for a while I go over to the left! How the windows behave is also taking some getting used to.

Once BOINC was installed I found I could no longer do ‘sudo apt-get install gksu’ to gain access to the SETI@home directory as I need to, but after some searching I discovered another method (‘sudo chmod 777 /var/lib/boinc-client’). However, I got as far as pasting performance-improving files into the directory as I need to but then SEIT@home “crapped out”, and spat all my work units back to the server as “failed”. I was tempted to resort to sticking with 16.04, but that seemed a bit defeatist and in the end things seemed to just start working after a restart and Ubuntu insisted on installing some updates (I thought only Windows 10 did that!)

In other news, I have acquired a couple of higher performance graphics cards in the form of Nvidia 1070s, and have put these together in my main rig; this was crunching away with a single 1060 previously with a RAC of around 16K, so I’m hoping to see that score more than double. The noise the rig generates has certainly doubled!

Since March I have sold off a couple of the older graphics cards in my fleet, although one (a GTX 460) went kicking and screaming when it foresaw that it was about to be sold on ebay and failed literally 3 days before (it had worked faultlessly up until that point). The downside to replacing these older graphics cards is the lack of VGA/analog connections on the newer ones, meaning some of my screens are being made redundant.

As far as leaderboards go, I begin this stint in 10th place in the UK. BOINCstats informs me that at my pre-upgrading-to-2x1070s status I am to (finally!) overtake the next person (who stopped participating) in around 70 days. However, there is someone behind me climbing rapidly up the rankings so I expect to only hold onto 9th spot for a short time before being overtaken and dropping back to 10th. It seems I’m destined to remain in this position, that is unless my recently upgraded fleet can get its head down and get my RAC (Recent Average Credit) up… at least two of my rigs still need upgrading to Ubuntu proper, and that would certainly help… maybe if it rains for a few days I’ll crack on and do that.

That’s all for now.

One comment

  1. SETI? Really? How about protein folding — something that is useful at least. Humanity is alone in the galaxy, I thought we agreed (and probably the Universe). But as a processing challenge, I can see that that is really the point. It’s a way to measure your prowess in computing — right?

    Ubuntu, only in hypervisors I’m afraid. 14 was the last I believe — Java dev the purpose. Oy, the wicked world we weave.

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