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SETI@Home Specific

LHC@Home Specific Specific

1.1 What is BOINC

BOINC is an acronym for Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

BOINC is a software platform for distributed computing, analysis and computations are done on hundreds of thousands of personal computers around the world, linked to a central Project computer over the internet.

BOINC Features

Resource Sharing Among Multiple Projects

Many different projects can use BOINC; Projects are independent and each project operates its own servers and databases. You can participate in multiple projects; it is your choice as to which projects to support, and how much computer time is donated to each project. BOINC manages the Work Units sent from each Project, and when a Project is delayed in sending a Work Unit, BOINC ensures that the other projects you are involved with run smoothly.

Ease of Use

You can quickly and easily configure BOINC so that your personal computer (Windows, Mac, Linux etc.) works on data sent by your chosen Project(s). Much of the configuration is done online, on the Project's own website.

Open Infrastructure

BOINC gives Universities, Research Departments and Organisations an open and standardised way to get people involved with their Project. The BOINC Source Code and program is available, and BOINC is a flexible and robust application framework, allowing huge amounts of data to be managed in a secure and error-conscious manner.

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1.2 How do I install BOINC? [Microsoft Windows]

Begin by downloading the relevant version of BOINC to suit your Operating System from

Run the downloaded executable file and the Installer will guide you through the installation process.

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1.3 Join a Project / Create your Account

The latest version of BOINC allows you to 'Attach to a Project' which means you will get an Account with that project and start working on data sent from them.

In BOINC, go to: Projects >> Attach to project - the wizard will now guide through the process; consider using use the same email address and password for each Project you join; this will make things easier for you.

When you wish to Attach to a Project, the wizard will ask you for the Project's URL; this is usually just the Project's web address.

Project URLs

BBC Climate Experiment:
SZTAKI Desktop Grid:

NOTE: Sometimes, you might get a 'Attach to Project Failed' message, but this might not be correct. Just click 'OK' and then have a look on the 'Messages', 'Project', and 'Work' tabs within BOINC to check if you can see the Project. If you can, everything is fine, if you can't, try using the Attach to Project wizard agian in a few minutes.

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1.4 Which OS supports which Project?

Project Science Application Microsoft Windows Apple OS-X Linux
BBC Experiment hadcm3l YES NO YES hadsm & Sulphur Cycle YES YES YES
Einstein@Home einstein & albert YES YES YES
LHC@Home sixtrack YES NO YES
Predictor@Home charmm & mfold YES YES YES
Rosetta@Home rosetta YES YES YES
SETI@Home setiathome & seti_enhanced YES YES YES
SIMAP@Home boincsimap YES NO YES
SZTAKI Desktop Grid search YES YES YES
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1.5 What are the Minimum System Requirements?

The most important things for all BOINC projects are the amount of RAM and disk space on your computer. However each project varies in it's usage of your system resources.

Project Science Application Recommended Processor Installed Memory Requirement (MB) Free Disk Space Requirement (MB)
BBC Experiment hadcm3l 1.6 GHz 96.00 600 hadsm 1.6 GHz unknown 600 - 700
Sulphur Cycle 1.6 GHz 64.00 1299 - 2500
Einstein@Home einstein unknown 66.76 96
albert unknown 57.22 96
LHC@Home sixtrack unknown 57.22 29
Predictor@Home charmm unknown unknown unknown
mfold uknown 71.53 153
Rosetta@Home rosetta 500 MHz 95.37 191
SETI@Home setiathome unknown 64.00 0.489
seti_enhanced unknown 64.00 0.489
SIMAP@Home boincsimap - 95.37 96
SZTAKI Desktop Grid search unknown 9.54 0.95
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1.6 What is Time-slicing?

Modern versions of BOINC allow computers participating in multiple projects to switch between them after a user defined period of time, the default being 60 minutes. Without time slicing, a work unit would have to be completed before BOINC switched to a different Project; as work units can be of various lengths, some Project's work units are longer than others' (Climate prediction work units can take months to complete) - time slicing ensures Projects do not have to wait too long to be allocated your computer's time.

For example, a computer attached to 2 Projects, over a 6 hour period, devotes 3 hours to each project - if a 3rd Project is added, the computer will now devote 2 hours to each Project within a 6 hour period.

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1.7 How do I allocate more time to a single Project? (Resource Share)

The Resource Share is a user defined allocation of their computer's time devoted to different BOINC powered Projects. This setting is not a percentage. If you are only participating in one Boinc Project the Resource Share setting does not apply. After attaching to two or more Projects the Resource Shares from each Project are totalled up to create a ratio for your BOINC Manager to spend it's time on each Project.

If the Resource Share was the same value over all your Projects, then the BOINC Manager would evenly distribute processing time between all your Projects. You can make BOINC allocate more time to one particular Project by increasing the Resource Share of that Project. To alter the Resource Share values use your web browser to access each Project you participate in. Go to your Account Page and follow the 'Edit Project Preferces' link, click on 'Edit Project Preferences' and the first option is the Resource Share Value.

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1.8 How secure is BOINC?

Several security mechanisms are implemented in the BOINC system:

  1. BOINC uses Digital Signatures to sign executable files (applications) and their dependencies to ensure that the file has not been modified during transfer or by other activities (such as cracking into project's web server). The only possible option to sign the file correctly is to have the private code sign key that isn't available publicly. The public code sign key (Digital Signature) is sent to the client when it attaches to the project.
  2. Non-executable files, such as work unit data is secured by computing the MD5 hash for it. MD5 ensures the data integrity. It is nearly impossible to create malicious file with the same MD5 hash as the original. Also, in order to distribute malicious data with work units, the web server must be cracked and all generated work units and/or work generator must be modified.
  3. BOINC client also checks for the size of downloaded files. The size must be exactly equal to the size defined in the XML files for the file to be used.

No ports are left open on your computer by BOINC. All communications are initiated from your computer, this allows ports to be left closed when no communications to servers are taking place.

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1.9 I have multiple host identities for the same computer. How do I fix this?

Over time as you install and reinstall BOINC (to upgrade to the latest version of BOINC), and attach or reattach to projects, you will end up with multiple Host Identities for the same computer. This is just untidy to look at and can be annoying when credit is spread over several hosts even though it is the same computer. On rare occasions it can cause work to be lost that has been sent to an earlier Host ID.

To correct this, visit the project website using your browser, go to 'Your Account' page and scroll down and follow the link to 'View Computer on this Account' or 'View Computers', select one of the Host ID numbers of the computer showing multiple Host IDs and scroll down to the bottom of the Computer Summary page. Here you should see the link 'merge this computer', select this and then check any computers that are displayed in the merge list. Click on 'Merge' and your computer list will now show only one entry for your computer, this entry will always retain the newest Host ID from the merged computers.

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1.10 My computer has reached it's Daily Quota of work. What is this?

The Daily Quota is a restriction on the maximum number of work units each computer can download within a 24 hour period. The Daily Quota ensures that computers don't ask for more work (either inadvertently or maliciously) than they can possibly perform. Asking for thousands of Work Units when your computer can only work through a few a day would slow the whole system down, as has happened in the past.

Each project sets it's own maximum Daily Quota and each host will have it's own Daily Quota. Whenever a computer host returns an error or passes a deadline, the Daily Quota for that host will decrease by 1. Each successful result returned will make the Daily Quota for that host double until it reaches the project set maximum. For computers with multiple processors the Daily Quota will be multiplied by the number of processors within the computer up to a maximum of 4 processors used by BOINC.

Project Daily Quota per cpu 4
Einstein@Home 32
LHC@Home 100
Predictor@Home 165
Rosetta@Home 100
SETI@Home 100
SIMAP@Home 100
SZTAKI Desktop Grid 500
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1.11 Performance issues with BOINC GUI display tabs.

When the BOINC Manager is showing the Disk or Work tabs it does a great deal of communicating with the project code. It is recommended that you do not use either of these as your normal display tab, even when minimized. A 2 GHz computer can lose 1% of processing keeping these tabs updated, the loss much greater for slower computers (a P166 can lose 50% of processing).

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1.12 What is a CPID and where is it found?

Your CPID is a string of characters allocated to you by your active projects that allow BOINC to link your combined BOINC statistics and other data together. For it to work correctly all your active Projects should have the same Name and email address. The CPID allows third-party sites to collate data from all Projects for each user.

You can find your CPID by going to 'Your Account' page on any of your active Projects, it is listed at the bottom of the page beside 'Cross-project statistics'.

2.1 Can I use my old Classic account on BOINC?

If you participated in SETI@home Classic before 23 March 2005, Berkeley have created a SETI@home/BOINC account for you. It's linked to your Classic account so that it shows your work totals and signup date from Classic.

To access this account, fill out the Transfer SETI@Home Classic account Form with your valid SETI@Home Classic email address. You'll receive an email containing an 'account key' (a long random string). When you run BOINC, it will ask you for this account key. Copy and paste it from the email.

If you have SETI@Home Classic email address is no longer valid, you can still use the Transfer SETI@Home Classic account Form as long as you have your SETI@Home Classic password.

If you are still having difficulty getting your SETI@home Classic password, you may be able to retrieve it (even if your Classic e-mail address is not valid) by locating the file "user_info.sah" on your computer and cutting/pasting the contents of that file in the SETI@HOME Classic User Info Form and clicking on the "submit" button. This file should be in your SETI@home folder where you installed the classic SETI@home software. Otherwise use your operating systems the "find files" to locate "ser_info.sah".

If you have already created a BOINC account with SETI@Home you can link Classic account to it using the Transfer SETI@Home Classic account Form.

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2.2 How do I make the BOINC SETI screen saver look like the Classic version?

As the screen saver for SETI on the BOINC platform is now 3D it is impossible to recreate the Classic screen saver exactly but you can get it close.

To configure the look of the screen saver you have to access your SETI@Home Account page via your web browser. Select the 'View or Edit' link beside SETI@Home Preferences, then scroll to the bottom of the section and select 'Edit SETI@Home Preferences', then make each option match then following;

Graphics Preference: Custom
Text Style: Pillars
Graph Style: Surface
Frames per Second: 30
Maximum CPU: 10 or less
Graph Grow Time: User choice
Graph Hold Time: User choice
Transparency of Surfaces: User choice
Horizontal Oscillation Period: 0
Horizontal Oscillation Range: 0
Vertical Oscillation Period: 0
Vertical Oscillation Range: 0
Number of Stars: 0
Speed of Stars: 0
Colour Preference: Custom
Start Hue: 0
Hue Change: -0.5

When complete click on 'Update Preferences' and the next time your BOINC Manager communicates with the project server your screen saver will display similar to the Classic version. To get this result immediately you need to manually update your BOINC Manager.

Select the Projects tab in BOINC Manager, click on SETI@Home and when it is highlighted you can click on the 'Update' button on the left of the window. Now go to the Messages tab and if you see the message, 'Scheduler RPC to succeeded', your screen saver has been updated to simulate the Classic style.

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3.1 Why is LHC@Home often out of work?

LHC@home calculations consist of many separate studies. Some studies can be started only after the previous have been analysed. The project does it's best to give out work at all times, but sometimes they just need to analyse old results before they can give out more. When this happens you are suggested to contribute to some other BOINC project(s) until the project is able to distribute new work.

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3.2 How is credit granted for LHC@Home?

  1. A workunit gets validated when it has 3 identical results.
  2. Users that returned identical results will get same amount of credit, which is an average of claimed credit when lowest and highest value is ignored. In most cases this is the median of the claimed credits. This credit is called "canonical credit".
  3. If work unit has 10 successful results but there are not enough identical results, the results are granted points according to how well they match with other results. The best-matching result will receive median average of claimed credits (calculated in same way as the canonical credit). Other results will get credit proportional to the best credit and result's match points. Although users get credit from this kind of results, the results are not used in physical studies.
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4.1 Running with other BOINC projects.

If you are running multiple projects alongside (CPDN) on a computer it is advised that you allow BOINC to leave applications in memory during computation. Due to the size of work units distributed and the time taken to process the work units from CPDN time slicing can cause some data loss with this project. CPDN checkpoints every 144 Timesteps (1/2 hour of model-time), if the application is not left in memory any calculations completed since the last Timestep will be lost and recalculated.

You can set BOINC to leave applications in memory by using your web browser to access 'Your Account' page on any project. Follow the link to 'View or Edit General Preferences' and scroll to the end of the page and click on 'Edit Preferences' Under the first sub heading of Processor Usage you will find the option 'Leave applications in memory while pre-empted?', select YES and then click the @Update Preferences' button. Next time your BOINC Manager communicates with the project's server it will retrieve the new preferences.

Note: Leaving applications in memory consumes swap space

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