BOINCpe – FAQ

BOINCpe-LogoPlease find below some of the most common questions about BOINCpe. For questions not specific to BOINCpe, please also have a look at the official BartPE FAQ.

Q: My network adapter (NIC) is not recognized while booting up BOINCpe. What to do?

A: Probably your NIC is pretty new. You simply have to add your Windows driver to the directory .\drivers\Net. Please also have a look at: BartPE: Adding drivers.
There is also a package available containing drivers for the most common types of network adapters available by n4tune8 called „Additional Network Adapter drivers plugin„.

Q: Can I change the default keyboard layout?

A: Definetely! Simply change the layout in file .\plugin\keyboard\keyboard.inf. Default layout is: English (United States).

Q: My machine has plenty of RAM (> 256 MB). Is it possible to increase the size of the RAM disk?

A: Sure. The size of the RAM disk is configured in file .\plugin\ramdisk_v5.2.7.0\ramdisk.inf. All common Hex values are already denoted there.
In our tests, half of the RAM installed in the machine seems to be a proper size for the RAM disk. Supposingly, you have 512 MB of RAM installed in your machine. Then, 256 MB for your RAM disk is ideal…

Q: Disk space and memory is pretty limited compared to a usual machine. Which BOINC powered projects will run on BOINCpe?

A: In general, every of the projects should be enabled to run on BOINCpe. However, it depends on your individual hardware. The least powerful configuration (256 MB of RAM = 128 MB RAM Disk + 128 MB remaining memory) will already enable you to run a number of the most popular BOINC projects including SETI@Home, SIMAP@Home, Einstein@Home, and LHC@Home. Please note that this list is not extensive. There might be other projects that can be run on a low-end computer using BOINCpe.
You can check the following requirements table for the most common BOINC projects at the BOINC Wiki. The columns for Memory and Disk Space requirements are of particular interest for you. You can check them against your system’s resources to determine which projects are suitable for your individual host.

Q: All my machines appear with the host name ‚boincpe‘ in my host list. Can I change the individual names in order to distinguish between them?

A: Of course! However, you will have to modify the name for each host separately. The name is configured in file .\plugin\penetcfg\penetcfg.ini (not penetcfg.inf). You can also change the workgroup for the machine.

Q: Can I add network shares to be mounted on startup?

A: You can add network shares in file .\plugin\penetcfg\penetcfg.ini (not penetcfg.inf). The options are to be set in the sections [FileSharing] and [NetDrive1].
Please do not use drive T: for one of your custom shares since this is used by BOINCpe already!

Q: I’m not sure about storing all BOINC data on a RAM disk. All data is lost on reboot. What can I do to prevent this?

A: You’re right! Thing is though, a typical machine being used with BOINCpe will be running continuously for days, weeks or even longer. A sudden reboot (e.g. on power failure) is generally not to be expected. And if it happens, the loss of data is not very severe since BOINC follows a long-term strategy. In my opinion, losing data for 24 hours of BOINC computation once a year is not as critical as running several hard disk drives for a year!
There is an optional plugin called ‚Persistency Service‘ provided with BOINCpe, which performs four backups per day to a specified network share (at 12:00 AM, 6:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 6:00 PM). This gives a chance to backup at least all computations and general BOINC data changed within the last 6 hours. Please see: BOINCpe Advanced Configuration

Q: I’d like to change the time when the BOINCpe Persistency Service backs up the data? Or can I even configure my box to more often perform a backup? How to do this?

A: Since v0.5.0 we are using Gerhard Kalab’s cron scheduler for the backups. You can easily configure cron to more often perform a backup at the time you want.
To do so, you need to edit the file .\plugin\BOINC_persistency\files\crontab. By default, 4 backups are performed a day:

0 0,6,12,18 * * * X:\BOINC\Persistency\persist_BOINC_data.bat

By changing the line to the following, a backup will be performed every 3 hours instead of every 6 hours as before:

0 0,3,6,9,12,15,18,21 * * * X:\BOINC\Persistency\persist_BOINC_data.bat

Please see the full reference taken from Gerhard Kalab’s site:

Each line of CRONTAB has the following structure:

<Minute> <Hour> <Day> <Month> <Day of Week> <Command line>

Position: Values:
Minute 0-59
Hour 0-23
Day 1-31
Month 1-12
Day of week 0-6 (0=Sunday, 1=Monday, …, 6=Saturday)

Instead of minute, hour, day, month or day of week it’s also possible to specify a *. A * represents all possible values for that position (e.g. a * on 2nd position is the same as specifying all the possible values for hour)

It’s also possible to specify several values separated by commas: e.g. if you want a command to be executed every 10th minute so you can specify 0,10,20,30,40,50 for minute. A range of values can be specified with a -: e.g. value 0-12 for hour -> every hour a.m.

Q: Can I boot BOINCpe from a USB stick/key or from an external HDD?

A: Yes, you only need to follow this guide on how to prepare a USB drive for use with BOINCpe/BartPE.

Q: Burning a separate CD for each of my hosts sucks. What about PXE/BOOTP/TFTP network boot?

A: Good point! I feel the same way. However, I didn’t have a lot of time to look into this issue so far.
There are ways for booting BartPE this way. See these links:

Please let me know about your findings… 🙂

Q: I want to switch a current host to BOINCpe. Can I keep all data and preferences?

A: Yes. If you are using Persistency Service, you can copy your existing data to the network share before booting the BOINCpe machine. A subdirectory according to a MAC address of your computer will be created in the network share provided. You can create it manually before starting the machine and copy the old BOINC data to it.

Q: You are using global_prefs_override.xml file. What is it used for?

A: Compared to a common crunching machine with gigabytes of disk space, we will be running BOINC with on a pretty small RAM-Disk of only 128 megabytes (by default). Please see above for further information on the RAM-Disk’s size. Anyway, it is necessary to configure the BOINC client in order to run in such an unusual environment.

BOINC General Preferences for RAM-Disk usage

BOINC tries to leave a certain amount of disk space free for your daily work. This is fine if your host has a large hard disk drive. In our case, we are running the host for BOINC only and its HDD is really small. Thus, we have to tell BOINC that we’re generous: it is allowed to take (almost) all disk space available.

The file global_prefs_override.xml allows to set some parameters specifically for your small „HDD“ that are necessary for download of projects. You can either leave the global_prefs_override.xml file in the BOINC data directory or do the following. In the project’s settings: change the General Preferences setting „Leave at least X.XXX Gb free“ to 0.001 GB for your host’s location (see screenshot). It is recommended that you set this setting for your default location. If a new host connects, this is likely to be a host running BOINCpe.

Q: I’d like to remote control the whole BOINCpe machine not only the BOINC client. What to do?

A: You might want to consider enabling the UltraVNC plugin provided with BOINCpe. Read more…

Q: I like your approach, but I do not like Windows because <insertWhateverReasonHere>. Why didn’t you simply create a Linux/Unix distribution for this purpose?

A: I do agree that Windows is not the ideal platform for this purpose. However, there are arguments for Windows as well: Everyone will be able to use it right away. It doesn’t eat up your ressources as you might be expecting. The BartPE community has a set of pretty useful stuff, which eased up development of BOINCpe.
Anyway, I might be developing a Linux Live-CD distribution in a next life. Time will tell. Wanna help me? 😉

Q: What’s the difference between BartPE and BOINCpe?

A: Actually, BOINCpe is nothing more than an original BartPE plus a set of pre-configured plugins. Therefore, BOINCpe is not a revolution in any sense. But it is an extremely easy way to get your spare machines or your BOINC cluster running in no time.

Q: There’s not even a Web Browser included in BOINCpe. Where do I find one?

A: BOINCpe can be extended by usual BartPE plugins. There is a Firefox plugin available (by Sherpya). And if you got some time, you might want to give Sherpya an even harder time by asking him to offer the plugin in a different format as the annoying 7Zip only… 😉

Q: Can I add additional BartPE plugins?

A: That shouldn’t be much of a problem. You can find a list of some plugins here. But you should leave all original BOINCpe plugins where they are!

15 Gedanken zu “BOINCpe – FAQ

  1. Bruce

    I would like to run other dist computing clients from the BOINCpe disk (Pi Segment for example), Is there an easy way to do this?? Or even a hard way…

  2. Torben Artikel Autor

    Hi Bruce!

    Generally, this shouldn’t be much of a problem. BOINCpe is somehow the same as a standard Windows XP. The difference is though that it’s stripped from a lot of system libraries and registry overhead.

    The easiest way for testing this would probably be to get the files for your app (e.g. Pi Segment) into BOINCpe. Either you install the Firefox plugin (see FAQ) and download it directly to BOINCpe’s ram disk. Even easier than this might be to enable file sharing (see Advanced Configuration as well as PENETCFG readme) and to copy the files using the network share.

    Possibly, the app already runs beautifully. However, it might also be possible that there are some system libraries (DLLs) not included in the image. This should lead to some unexpected error messages of the application. In this case, I’ll give you some further info on how to get them in. That’s not so difficult as well…

    Anyway, once you have it working, it might be nice to build a ready-to-use BartPE/BOINCpe plugin. I’d be happy to include it to BOINCpe as well.

    Just keep us posted…

    Regards,
    Torben

  3. Thomas Walton

    Hi Torben,

    What are the security concerns for machines running BoincPE in its default configuration?

    Are they safe from internet threats if they are behind an external firewall (typical DSL modem/router in a NAT environment) or do we need antivirus/firewall software addons?

    Thanks,
    Tom

  4. Torben Artikel Autor

    I wouldn’t say, your BOINCpe machines are at high risk if they are run behind a hardware firewall. Actually, the only source your virus could come from is one of the projects your machine was attached to.

    Maybe, you should ask in the message boards of the particular projects about this.

    Regards,
    Torben

    P.S.: Links can be formatted in standard HTML: <a href=…

  5. Bruce

    Hello Torben,

    I installed a couple of pograms from my file server direct to the BOINCpe „ramdrive“. Everything ran fine (D2OL and RealVNC). So yes, it seems you really can run (almost) any DC project with BOINCpe!!

    The UltraVNC seemed to be missing some files, and would not allow itself to be ‚enabled‘ in the plug-in screen. It looked like the UltraVNC files were there, Or did I have to load something manually? I am running V0.4.0 BOINCpe. I’ll try the V0.4.1 this weekend.

    I will do some work at setting up plugins for the (non-BOINC) DC projects I run the most….But installing them from my server is not a hardship. And if I persist these files, that should work also. Correct?

  6. BrnmccO1

    Hey, I think I may have discovered a fatal flaw. I was running a BOINCpe client fine for about a month or so. I shut down the machine to clean the dust out of the fans etc, and then restarted it. It loaded the data just fine off of the shared folder then crashed later. I think the problem is, we got to find a way to shut down the Boinc client BEFORE the persistency service runs. Otherwise, if one of the files is being updated at the exact same time the persistency service runs, it will back up corrupted data. Perhaps adding a netstop boinc before, and a netstart boinc afterwards? If you read the FAQ on doing backups with the BOINC client, it does mention that shutting down the client is a must. Windows won’t allow copying of files that are in use.

    Okay, and for those of you that want to change the time the persistency service runs, you can do that easily by running the persistency service, right-clicking the little icon it make in your system tray, make any changes you like to the time/frequency etc. and then exit. It saves your preferences in a little file in the persistency service folder. Then when you burn your CD, the persistency service will run at the time you choose. I tested it, and it works. The default time is 12:00 noon, I changed it to midnite, and it runs without fail at 00:00. If you want to have multiple machines, and backup at different times, simply adjust the time before you create the CD for each computer. If you are running it off of a network, I suppose it would be possible to do have different settings for each machine in your farm as well.

  7. Torben Artikel Autor

    Hi there!

    @Thomas: I believe this has nothing to do with BOINCpe. It must be an issue with Riesel. You might want to consider not attaching to the project anymore.

    @BrnmccO1: Yes, I did some experiments with the shutdown of the BOINC client prior to persisting quite some months ago. I managed to shut it down via the commandline client boinc_cmd.exe. However, the major problem was that the message to the BOINC client is being sent asynchronously. It’s not possible to do it synchronously. Thus, you never know exactly when the shutdown of the BOINC client is complete. I couldn’t solve this problem and left it as is for the moment.

    Cheers,
    Torben

  8. Thomas Walton

    @Torbin: Yes, I detached all from Riesel as it seemed to be a problem project.

    @BrnmccO1:I added ’shutdown‘ after „start boinc … /wait …“

    I didn’t get around to adding automatic (every 15 minutes or so) reattempts to the persistancy service on failure, so the system doesn’t shutdown when the persistancy service fails.

    launch_boinc.bat

    @ECHO OFF

    start „Boinc“ /min /low /wait %BOINCclient%\boinc.exe -return_results_immediately -allow_remote_gui_rpc -dir %BOINCdata%
    ShutDown

    rem if not exist %BOINCbase%\Persistency goto end
    rem start /D%BOINCdata% %BOINCclient%\boincmgr.exe

    :end
    EXIT

    shutdown.cmd (needs modification to reattempt persistancy)

    @ECHO OFF

    if not exist %BOINCbase%\Persistency goto local

    CALL %BOINCbase%\Persistency\persist_BOINC_data.bat
    if not %ERRORLEV%==0 goto abort

  9. Chungen Hung

    Is there a way to automatically assign DIFFERENT computer name?
    For example, if this PC have a MAC address of 30-34-M3-34-E3 then assign its computer name as PC5.

    In addition, is there a translation of the German tutorial of how to run BOINCpe over network (PXE)?

    One last question, where is the best place to ask questions regarding BOINCpe? Is there a discussion board here?

  10. Torben Artikel Autor

    Hi Chungen,

    please give it some time for the different computer names. Hopefully, there will be a way in the next version of BOINCpe… 😉

    There is no PXE tutorial on this site, yet. I suppose you mean the one in the „Meisterkühler“ board? The thread switched to English from this post on.
    I did not have the time to test it, yet. The main problem seems to be related to the QSoft Ramdisk making trouble when booted via PXE…

    There is no specific board in place. You are welcome to ask your questions either here or in the official BOINC board

    Cheers,
    Torben

  11. Ogre2000

    HEllo.
    It is good solution. But I need to change vomputer name. If I don’t have choosen any computername in ini file the computername is eg. „bartpe-234234“, but I need to have got eg. „SAH-234221“ computername. But if I entry manually computername eg. „SAH“ in ini file, the computer has only „SAH“ name without numbers. What I need to do for works well?

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