Add-ins & Apps, How to Guides, Windows Home Server

Do Something Good With Your Home Server – Install BOINC Now!

boinc_program

Do you run your home server 24/7? If you do, you are probably wasting a whole bunch of CPU cycles and energy. On my AMD powered WHS, I enabled AMD’s Cool‘n’Quiet technology in the BIOS to reduce my energy footprint. That still left me wasting a bunch of CPU cycles. So my dilemma was what to do with all those wasted cycles?

If you have seen any of my posts on We Got Served, you may have noticed my signature, part of which states:

“Custom Built WHS
Originally began life as a Crystalfontz/CrystalControl test system:
Windows 2000/Windows XP/Windows XP-64/Vista 32/Vista 64”

I have done a small amount of work for this company over the years. In order to test some of Crystalfontz’s software properly thru several generations of Windows, they made a generous contribution to help me build this computer as a Crystalfontz test machine. Their one condition: run BOINC on it. When WHS came out, I was itching to try out this software, as I had always wanted such a system in my home. I got permission to do and here I am now, a WHS enthusiast.

I still had this condition to contend with, though, namely BOINC. I got in contact with the BOINC tech support and their response was:

“Not that I know of, but it would probably work.
Please try and let me know.”

I like being a software Guinea Pig, so off I went and installed the software. It installed like a champ and I had it up and running in no time.

So what does all that have to do with CPU cycles? Well, that is exactly what BOINC was designed to do. It runs in the background and makes use of those otherwise wasted CPU cycles. And for a good cause. For those who may not be aware of BOINC, here are a few links explaining it better than I could:

BOINC Website

Wikipedia

There is one caveat to contend with, however. I rarely open the console directly. I usually RDP or, if you prefer, RDC to my WHS from my main computer. This allows me run BOINC as an executable. I have never done it this way, but I see no reason why it could not be run as a service using Marcel Nouwens’s Any Service Installer. Try it out and let us know how it works!

And do it now.  Stop wasting those CPU cycles and do something good for mankind!

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Hello. I’m from the heartland of the U.S. Lots of corn and beans, although Iowa is a lot more than just farmland. It also has a few computer enthusiasts (no, not me!). I’ve been around PCs since I got my 1st PC XT aloooong time ago. WGS is one of the first sites I found centered around WHS. And the best. Every once in awhile, I do get away from the KB and enjoy time with and my wife and our 4 kids. And I do have a day job.
  • I would love to see more of this in the future… in particular I am rather fond of folding @home
    I have dedicated 5 servers at work for the “folding” cause, I hope we will see something like a folding @ home add-in before any “seti at home” add-in… (ET can wait a little while longer)

  • As soon as I had my WHS set up in Oct ’07 I had to install BOINC. This was done with ease and since then it has been crunching pretty much 24/7. I have not noticed any issues when demanding services from my WHS.

    Due to the headless nature of the system I thought it was necessary to attached BOINC to an Accoutn Manager [http://boincstats.com/bam/] that allows you to make changes online and then remote access your WHS to ‘Sync’ BOINC.

    A general BOINC add-in would be a lot more useful than single projects but not all Distributed Computing efforts use the bOINC platform.

    Shameless plug — http://boinc.kilobox.net/

  • I also installed Boinc immediately after building my WHS. There is an option during the installation to install as a service. This is the route that I took and have not seen any issues. That way the service starts on system startup. Curious: do you have Boinc configured to use 100% of the CPU when it’s available? I haven’t tested it in some time, but as I recall network use did not kick Boinc into stand-by/user-active mode. I have mine set to use no more than 50% CPU, but i would love to change that.

  • Heath

    I also run Boinc on my WHS. In fact, I,ve been running Boinc since it went live, and classic SETI before that. As previously mentioned, Boinc can install itself as a service, and the Boinc manager app can be used independently. Also, boinc runs at a very low priorty so there is virtually no reason to not set it to 100% cpu.

  • Jim Clark

    I’ve had BOINC installed for several months now. Since my “work” computer is Vista 64, I’ve always used RDP to log in the server. Hence the use of BOINC as an executable. I had completely forgotten that you could set it up as a service. So kudo’s to both Chris and mfmjos for the suggestions on alternate installation methods!

    Regarding CPU usage, I set mine at about the same 50% level. I’m just a bit hesitant to set it at 100% as BONIC will use as much as it can get, even tho it sets itself as a “low” priority program. Server 1st, BOINC 2nd. I really have no desire to stress the CPU/MB that much.

  • barchstein

    how much bandwidth does this program uses???(i’m caped at 60gb a month…)

  • Jim Clark

    hmmm. The amount of total bytes uploaded and downloaded will be dependent of several factors, mostly tho on how much CPU time you give BOINC. Mine is set rather low, it takes about a day to crunch thru one task. If you set it higher, you will being sending/receiving more data.

    That said, when I update completed tasks manually, it normally takes less that 30 seconds to connect and transmit data. Less than a meg of data? Based on your 60gb cap, I cannot imagine it would adversely affect you usage. Unless of course, you are downloading massive amounts of stuff each month. 😉

    I can’t give you specific numbers, but I hope this helps to give you a ball park idea of traffic usage.

  • barchstein

    well, i’ll give it a shot.

    helping others like this is “easy” so i’ll see what the “cost” is…

    but at least i know that for the moment, all the crazy investments i made are worth something.

  • Jim Clark

    cost = 0! At least for the program. 🙂

  • ViRGE

    I like BOINC and run a similar but different distributed computing project on my main PC. But I’m leery about running it on a WHS box, especially an OEM box. The cooling on these things isn’t the greatest since they weren’t meant to be loaded down with processing work (it’s a file server, after all) so I’d be concerned that 24/7 full tilt operation could overheat the box, especially a box with multiple hard drives that are all powered up due to use or the daily chkdsk operation. Custom built boxes tend to have better cooling due to paranoia, but still…

    There’s also the matter of power, most people build these boxes trying to minimize power usage. Running BOINC will throw that out of the window.

  • Jim Clark

    Perhaps. If you run BOINC at 100% CPU levels, I agree. Which is why I run mine at ~50%. I’m watching my CPU speed right now and it flucuates between 1000Mhz and 2300Mhz. It appears to average about 1500Mhz. As I stated above, I use AMD’s cool’n’quiet, thus reducing energy usage. Combining that with a lower BOINC CPU usage keeps things in check. My CPU temps using the stock AMD fan is steady at 33 C (using Everest), which I consider quite acceptable.

    FWIW, my experiences with OEM boxes general is that cooling capacity is almost always at bare minimum, tho. If the CPU is rated for 70 C, for example, the cooling capacity will keep it under that #, but not much more. As in all things, it is your choice. 🙂

  • RootDogg

    Has someone set up a WGS group?

    I’ve crunched on and off for serveral years and atm deciding weather to take a Grid Computing module at uni!

  • kizb

    Are you still running BOINC on your WHS 2011 rig? If you are, how well has it worked for you?

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