|Technical Tips – Updated BOINC Client
World Community Grid and BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing), an open-source software
platform for distributed computing using volunteered resources, have worked together to create an exciting
new version of the BOINC agent. World Community Grid has supported the use of the BOINC software for grid
computing since November 2005. World Community Grid is a major contributor to the open source development
community that supports BOINC and helps to extend the reach of distributed computing for research. BOINC
also allows us to support Linux and Mac users on World Community Grid. This new version of
the agent contains a number of features to make it easy and fun to use. The BOINC software is available for
Windows, Linux and Mac.
Some of the important features of this new version include:
Let's go through the new BOINC agent software and take an in-depth look at the features.
- Easy to use, intuitive interface
- Pictures and graphics from the research project your computer is working on
- The ability to change important settings from the agent so that you can easily and quickly control the agent's behavior
- Multi-processor support that fully utilizes the new dual core processors that come in most new computers, enabling twice as many computations to be performed
- CPU throttle that allows you to limit what percent of your processor is used by the agent, helping you minimize the heat produced on a laptop and reduce any impact the agent has on your computer
- Memory throttle that allows you to limit what percent of your computer's memory is used to help eliminate any impact that the agent is having on your computer's performance
- Workunit cache that allows more than one work unit to be downloaded at a time, ensuring that your computer has work to process even if you disconnect from the network
- Easy access to messages that explain what the agent is doing and shows diagnostic information if problems occur
- A set of tabs that allows you to get access to work units that have been started on your computer. The green circle indicates which ones are currently running. In this case, the agent software is running on a dual core processor and has two work units running at the same time.
- The name of the research project for the work unit that is being displayed. You can choose which work unit is displayed using the tabs.
- A slide show that contains a series of images about the research project currently running. You can also click on the slide show to view real-time graphics for the work unit you are running. (See picture below.)
- Information on how long the current work unit has been running and an estimate of the time remaining to complete it. It also includes a progress bar.
- Access to the Messages, Preferences and Advance View of the agent, as well as a 'Snooze' button that will temporarily stop execution of the agent software for 60 minutes.
- A link to the Help section of World Community Grid
The new agent is "skinnable." This means that the appearance of the agent can be changed by installing
a skin. World Community Grid – BOINC agent displays World Community Grid's skin (pictured above) after
installation and also includes the BOINC skin. Below are the default BOINC skin and a skin that has been
developed by BAM!, one of the BOINC Account Manager web sites. Details on how to create your own
skin are available at boinc.berkeley.edu/manager_skin.
The preferences window allows you to control the behavior of the agent software. (There are additional settings that
can be set on the web site.)
The preferences window can be found by clicking on the preferences link at the bottom of the main window.
The following settings can be controlled via the agent software:
- Skin: Enables you to choose which skin is used for the agent.
- Do work only between: Limits the time of day that the agent software uses your computers processing power.
- Connect to internet only between: Limits the time of day the agent software uses your connection to the internet.
- Use no more than X of disk space: Limits the amount of disk space that the agent software and research projects use on your computer.
- Use no more than X % of the processor: Limits the amount of processor time that the agent software uses.
- Do work while on battery: Enables you to choose to either allow or disallow the agent to run while your computer is using its battery.
- Do work after idle for X minutes: Allows you to tell the agent to either run all the time or only run after you have not been using your computer for a few minutes.
The agent features a messages window that allows you to view information about what the agent is
doing. For example, it will tell you when it connects to the server to report work or download new
work. It also will tell you when it starts and stops a specific work unit. In addition, it will report
any errors that may have occurred. The messages window can be accessed by clicking on the messages link
at the bottom of the main window.
The advanced view provides a lot more detail about what the agent software is doing. For example, it allows you
to view transfers in progress; a list of work units that are cached, in progress or recently finished; a
history of your credit earned; and a pie chart of the amount of disk space used by the research
projects. Until now, this interface has been the only interface available for BOINC users. More
information about the advanced view is available at boinc.berkeley.edu/manager.php.
Additional Preferences on the Web
This agent has a number of additional preferences that you can set on the web site. You can access these
by selecting one of the BOINC device profiles on this page:
www.worldcommunitygrid.org/ms/device/viewProfiles.do. (You must
have installed the BOINC agent software before these preferences will be displayed on the web site)
Some of the important settings are:
- Memory use: You can limit the agent to use only a specified percent of the physical memory on your computer.
- Project selection: You can choose which projects you want your computer to do work for.
- Cache work units: You can set how long your computer should work before communicating with the server. Once the agent knows how long it needs to go between connections, then it will make sure to download enough work units to keep it busy for that length of time.
- Upload and download rates: You can control the speed at which work is uploaded and downloaded to and from the server. This is useful for people who have limited speed connections and want to be able to easily use the internet while the agent communicates with the server.