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Boinc on Majaro

Historically, Boinc on Majaro has been a trail of tears for most users. Most other distros do a fine job of packaging Boinc for their flavor of Linux, but Majaro, not so much.

There is always a bunch of manual tasks one has to do to make things actually work. Most of these are cloaked in mystery and most of the Websites you find will have out of date information.

Search engines – the last great refuge of stale data

One of the real issues for users of Arch based distros is the constant churn and change. I first tried the Gnome edition of 5.20 and boinc manager failed to even start. I scrapped that attempt and pulled down the KDE edition. Life went better. Not perfect, but better.

It’s not all bad

One of the reasons I really wanted to try Majaro was the touted speed improvements. The other major reason was the “Live” ISO has an option to boot with proprietary drivers.

That’s right people, every proprietary driver it knows about for your machine it gives you the option to use. No more nightmares trying to find the correct Nvidia driver for your card. Plug-in all of those USB wireless adapters you have and see which ones it likes.

My test system isn’t seeing the major speed improvements, at least not at boot time. I did test boot on an FX-6100 AM3+ computer and it did seem to boot much faster than Ubuntu. The jury is still out but I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt considering the system I’m testing on.

i5 gen-4 test system

You know; I’ve always called this a gen-4 i5 because it was sold to me that way years ago. I bought it used as a spare for a project and wasn’t very detail oriented when it came to the processor. It just had to be an i5 or i7 for the project. I see now they stuck me with a gen-3. Doesn’t really matter. It was cheap and so long ago I can’t remember where I bought it. When I’m writing a new book it is still my favorite machine.

i5 with super floppy

It has an author’s best friend installed. One of my LS-120 Super Floppies. More than large enough to hold several copies of the book with images. Nice big label to write on. Easily transportable for off-site storage.

At any rate, that is what I’m testing on. As long as I’m not doing much disk I/O things seem pretty snappy. The 1TB drive is SATA-III 6Gb/s. It’s just that the SATA I/O capabilities of the machine aren’t blinding.

Installation

First you need to install virtualbox. A number of projects require virtualbox and most distros don’t bundle that dependency in with their boinc package.

Install the 2 with red buttons

Just install both virtualbox and the guest additions. LHC in particular needs this. On Ubuntu based distros the part of virtualbox needed by boinc is split out into its own package. It’s just not an automatically installed dependency.

packages to install

You need to install two packages. Yes, it should be one, but I’m going to save you some time and frustration here. There is a bug that Arch claims to have fixed. That fix has not made it to Majaro. I have an open forum discussion on the matter.

Feel free to do your own research as to who to blame. I poked a bit and it seems there are issues with certain versions of gtk things and newer g++ compiler versions. Welcome to OpenSource where nothing is actually tested. It’s a bit better situation than the one with Microsoft where nothing is really tested and they charge you money for it.

The Manual Steps

After you complete the install, open a terminal.

cd /var/lib/boinc
sudo chmod 640 gui_rpc_auth.cfg
sudo chmod o+r gui_rpc_auth.cfg

sudo systemctl enable boinc-client

Yes, there are people who can combine the chmod values in their head to do it in one line. I don’t mind hitting up arrow.

Please note: Lots of stale information on the Internet will turn up in search engines with respect to the enable statement above. It is wrong. The service name was changed to boinc-client.

I’ve never done any pacman packaging. It is on my list of things to do in the future. I have done Debian and RPM packaging. Those little lines above should be in the postinst step. In Debian and RPM based systems they are. They generally even add one more line.

sudo systemctl start boinc-client

You could choose to just start the service. I prefer to reboot. There will most likely be other dependencies that got installed and I just feel it is cleaner to reboot.

Note 2: If you

cd /var/lib/boinc

and find nothing there with ls command, you need to do the following:

sudo systemctl enable boinc-client
sudo systemctl start boinc-client

Start the GUI Boinc Manager and let it fail with a message gui_rpc_auth.cfg. Exit the GUI Boinc Manager then you can

cd /var/lib/boinc
sudo chmod 640 gui_rpc_auth.cfg
sudo chmod o+r gui_rpc_auth.cfg

The joy of continuous updates is the joy of having installation and configuration continually changing on you.

boinctui

Until that bug with Boinc Manager is fixed, you won’t be able to use the GUI to add projects. You will have to open a terminal and launch boinctui.

boinctui

Your version won’t already have projects and event log messages. It will be mostly blank. You can use the mouse in a “text mouse” manner. This will be confusing to younger people because the mouse pointer will appear GUI. You can click and double click but don’t try anything fancy.

Don’t expect it to be instant! The mouse clicks are going through several layers of things to get to the TUI (Text User Interface) application. Sometimes they get lost or eaten as a snack by another application. If you open the application in full screen mode life will be easier for you.

The help at the bottom

You will notice you can hit F9 to activate the top menu. Then you can use the arrow keys to navigate and the Enter key to select.

Projects Add project by URL

The simplest way to add a project is via URL. The most infuriating way to add a project is by URL. Oh, it is not because the data entry is difficult. So much has been done with the GUI for so many years that there simply isn’t a nice list you can easily find on-line of project URLs. This list is about as good as it gets.

The easiest thing for you might be to go to a machine that is already running boinc for projects you want to support. Select one of the projects on the projects tab then click the “Properties” button.

Properties dialog

You can see the URL is listed at the top. You can select with your mouse and save it to a text file or email yourself on the other machine. Here’s my list.

https://lhcathome.cern.ch/lhcathome/
http://www.cosmologyathome.org/
https://boinc.bakerlab.org/rosetta/
http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/
https://csgrid.org/csg/
https://www.gpugrid.net/
http://einstein.phys.uwm.edu/
Project entry

Please note: Your “Backspace” key is useless here. Despite all the claims about VT-100 emulation in the Linux terminal world, it is obvious none of the people making those claims has actually used a VT-100. The TUI is expecting actual VT-100 keystrokes. If you make a typo you have to use <CTRL>-H to delete the character behind the cursor.

You must use the TAB key to navigate between these fields. As the little dialog says, Enter will transmit the dialog contents to the back end for processing.

After you’ve added your projects, life will be good. You can monitor them in the GUI manager.

Boinc running on Majaro

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