This is a sad little journey involving Gecko Linux NVidia and BOINC. There will be some overlap with my TerraMaster post because I went down that road before getting BOINC to work. I’m always a bit leery of trying an RPM based distro for either my desktop or BOINC. This comes from back in the day when SuSE Linux came in a box on floppies with printed manuals. We only had dial-up Internet if we had that. Most of us only had one computer because they were north of $5,000 so when you found yourself in RPM Hell you couldn’t simply look up an answer on another machine.
Yes, on my BONIC rack is an old i5-gen3 machine along with an AMD 6-core AM3+ socket thing. Most of you would brand them worthless and a waste of electricity. When your primary desktop is jacked and you need to look something up, they are priceless. Y’all forget where I live.
A Tale of Two Distros
While there are many short-lived Linux distros using odd-ball package managers, the story of Linux really is a Tale of Two Distros: RedHat (RPM) and Debian (.deb). There is quite a bit of animosity between the two camps and for good reason.
Personally Linus Torvalds and I have never communicated. We do have a friend in common, as much as Linus has friends. One that worked for and put up with him for quite a while. One that still meets him for a meal every year . . . when we don’t have a global pandemic going on. Honestly, Patric and I have not been in the same room for several years . . . I do keep in touch via email though.
That tidbit is important so you understand it when I say “Patric tells me Linus hates Debian.” He knows for certain, and the animosity starts there. It gains numerous willing followers due to conflicting philosophies.
- RedHat (RPM) based distros focus on the server market and don’t test jack sh*t on the desktop.
- Debian (.deb mostly Ubuntu) focus on the desktop and only recently chased server market.
Every RPM distro takes great offense at being painted with that brush, but it is true. If it cannot be tested with a script as part of CI/CD, it doesn’t get tested. Every one of them points a finger at NVIDIA and howls profusely how all the crashes and incompatibilities are their fault. This has been true since I was getting Linux on 3.5 inch floppies. It’s also why I ran OS/2 for many years. (If IBM would OpenSource OS/2, the Linux world would vaporize.)
Conversely, the Debian based distros, mostly YABUs (Yet Another uBUntu) have always worked flawlessly with my NVidia cards. The only time I ever had issues in the past decade or more was when I was being stupid and trying to use the wrong driver for the card. That mostly happens because the information on the NVidia site is for Windows. According to them the GT 630 is unsupported. The NVidia 470 driver on Linux works just fine with them.
It’s really difficult to determine just how many people participate in BONIC. There are all kinds of stats trackers but the general consensus is that there are more BOINC desktops than there are Linux desktops. You have to remember that BOINC runs on Windows and MAC as well. Initially the search for ET brought a lot of geeks in. Projects to cure AIDS/HIV, Cancer, and more recently COVID-19 brought in a whole lot of the general population. To get the best number crunching you need NVidia and CUDA.
Ubuntu doesn’t test much. Notably they rarely, if ever, test the faxmodem software. If your favorite software isn’t one of the token few packages the Canonical upper mucky-mucks uses, it basically doesn’t get tested.
Having said that, they seem to always test BOINC and NVidia, because that was the main driver for Ubuntu winning the desktop. Everybody wanted an OS to run BOINC on where they didn’t have to pay a Microsoft tax or worry about the relentless virus/malware issues. People tried various flavors of Linux, but the RPM distros didn’t test jack when it came to NVidia and BOINC. The powers that be at Canonical made certain this worked. That gave YABUs the desktop.
To be fair, none of the Arch Linux based distros test jack when it comes to NVidia and BOINC either. Search this blog for all of the “black screen after updates” posts.
I performed a raw intsall of Gecko Linux on an i7-gen4 HP small formfactor.
OpenSuSE is notorious for not testing NVidia. My hope was that Gecko figured out how YABUs won the Linux desktop wars.
The first thing you must do after install and reboot is double click the Language installer. If you don’t you will have no end of trouble.
I live rural and have line-of-sight Internet with a theoretical max download of 25Mbps. This takes a while. Eventually it completes and you should reboot. I said you should, don’t remember doing it myself.
This isn’t necessary for BOINC. I’m including it because I did it next and the troubleshooting people need to have all of the steps. Open a terminal
mkdir bin mkdir tnas cd bin nano mount-tnas sudo mount -t cifs -o uid=$UID,gid=$(id -g),vers=3.0,username=<yourTNASUser> '//192.168.1.80/<YourShare>' /home/<yourusername>/tnas
Exit and save. Naturally you have to fill in your actual TNAS IP address, username, etc.
chmod +x mount-tnas cd nano .bashrc # append this to end export PATH=~/bin:"$PATH"
Exit and save, then reboot so ~/bin is in your path.
Always install your NVidia drivers before you install BOINC. If you have a package manager/maintainer that has a clue more than a pulse, BOINC will see that you have NVidia drivers and install what it needs.
For those who need the click directions:
Click Menu and enter Software
Choose YAST Software Manager
I have a GT 630 which needs the 470 driver according to what I find. That means I need the G05 packages. When that is done go back to the actual packages and install BOINC.
Use YaST user and group to add yourself to BOINC.
If you are not in the group you will get the infamous gui_rpc_auth.cfg exists but can’t be read error message. Again, this is poor packaging. YABUs take care of this with a postinst step.
No you’re not done!
You have to deal with even more bad packaging.
systemctl enable boinc-client systemctl start boinc-client
This is another case of poor packaging. YABUs also take care of this in the postinst step.
Now start BOINC manager and add at least one project.
Sadness, Joy, Then More Sadness
“But maybe that’s because BOINC is using them!” you think.
The server settings finds the driver! Yeah!
No usable GPU’s found.
Thus is the never ending story of BOINC and NVidia in RPM-land.
Even if you do fix it somehow, they will push out a kernel update without ever testing the NVidia driver and you will be right back into “black screen after updates.”