Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

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Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

Postposted on Wed Nov 30, 2011 4:29 pm

I've decided that I want to set up a few spare PCs to run Folding @ Home. It would be better if I didn't consume any Windows licenses doing so, and they really don't have to do much else. The "which distro" question probably isn't too hard these days, but I haven't been following what's been going on much with Linux. Ideally I want something that comes in both 32 bit and 64 bit versions and can be run headlessly without too much difficulty. The easier to install, the better - I don't want to waste too much time with this, so I don't care if I end up with a Fisher-Price version.

Sorry if the question seems vague or ridiculous, I just don't know much about Linux anymore. Last time I seriously played with it 2.6.x was still cutting edge.
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Re: Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

Postposted on Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:31 am

There's my diskless folding stuff (see my sig) but that hasn't been updated in a long time, I've gotten rather fed up with Stanford's coders.
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Re: Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

Postposted on Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:38 am

Latest Ubuntu should do what you want. If you're comfortable with doing everything via CLI, use the "alternate" or "server" version instead of one of the desktop editions -- this will allow you to completely skip the installation of the desktop environment, slimming down the install considerably. If these systems are capable of booting from a USB stick you don't even need a disk drive. Alternatively, you can use one of these and a cheap CF card as your boot drive.
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Re: Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

Postposted on Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:24 pm

The 2.6.xx kernel is still cutting edge. :) My two day old Fedora 16 workstation is my first Linux box with the 3.x kernel, and that's really the 2.6.4x kernel anyway.

Distro Recommendation:
    Arch Linux - lightweight, text installer, headless by default, wiki article about setting up folding@home (https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Folding@home)
    Scientific Linux 6 - RHEL clone, GUI based installer, server focused with easy headless setup, Webmin support
    Ubuntu Server - Ubuntu, Debian-ish, text installer, server focused, Webmin support
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Re: Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

Postposted on Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:21 pm

When I said 2.6.x was cutting edge, I mean that people were still cautious about switching from 2.4.x. :P

Thanks for the suggestions! I think I'll try Ubuntu first. Now to raid my parts buckets and cobble some machines together. :D
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Re: Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

Postposted on Sat Dec 03, 2011 12:25 am

Wow, that takes me back. Gonna need some relaxants before I try that again, lol.

So - I can install Ubuntu just fine. It takes astonishingly little configuration to get to a working installation. The problem is getting F@H installed at that point. First I tried the v7 deb package on the Desktop version of Ubuntu. It appears to install, but FAHControl doesn't work. Nothing appears to happen when I try to launch it ... except if I open a terminal window and run top, I can see FAHClient running. ?!

Then I tried to used Ubuntu Server, thinking I used to be fairly comfortable with Red Hat back in the day, and I'm just totally lost. The system helpfully tells me how to install 'links' when I first try to use it, but it won't go past a dodgy SSL certificate on Stanford's site. Lynx doesn't understand the page layout to begin with ... eventually I wind up with the same debian package, but it fails due to a dependency problem and I don't know where to go from there.

Wonder if I should give Gentoo a try, people laugh at it but at least I understood the package system. If F@H ran on Windows 2000, I would have given up already. :P If anyone has any further advice, I'm all ears!
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Re: Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

Postposted on Sat Dec 03, 2011 1:15 am

1. Download the Linux client from Stanford's site, and extract it from the .tgz archive. If you're installing on a GUI-less box, you can either use a Linux system with a GUI to do this via the web browser (then copy the extracted fah6 file over to the GUI-less box using a thumbdrive), or use the CLI directly on the GUI-less box:
Code: Select all
wget http://www.stanford.edu/group/pandegroup/folding/release/FAH6.34-Linux64.tgz
tar xvfz FAH6.34-Linux64.tgz

2. Mark the extracted client binary as executable:
Code: Select all
chmod +x fah6

3. Launch and configure the client:
Code: Select all
./fah6
(The first time it is run, it will prompt you for all of the settings.)

I create a little shell script called "go", in the same directory as the folding client. The script contains the following 2 lines (omit the -smp if it is a single-core CPU):
Code: Select all
#!/bin/bash
./fah6 -smp -forceasm -advmethods >> folding.log 2>&1 &

Mark it as executable:
Code: Select all
chmod +x go

Thereafter, you can easily launch the client just by navigating to the directory where you installed it, and typing:
Code: Select all
./go

Since this is ultimately intended to be headless, you'll either want to install openssh-server (so you can use a remote shell to start and monitor the client), and/or add a command to /etc/rc.local to start the client on boot.

Don't hesitate to ask for further assistance if needed...
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Re: Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

Postposted on Sat Dec 03, 2011 3:08 am

Thanks for the help, it reminded me of a few things (like the wget command!).

I was set on using the v7 client, I eventually got it working by modifying these instructions:

http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=354004
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Re: Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

Postposted on Sat Dec 03, 2011 7:18 pm

Is there any advantage to running the V7 beta client? All of my systems are still on V6, and given the stability issues they've had with new releases in the past I'm a bit reluctant to run the beta.
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Re: Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

Postposted on Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:27 pm

It makes "managing" multiple machines easier - you can control absolutely everything related to F@H remotely. That may have been true before, but generally speaking with v7 it's pretty simple. In Windows anyway - accounting for the fiddling to get v7 to work under Linux maybe not :P. At this point all the management really consists of (for me) is seeing if any of the other machines have crashed, or aren't finishing WUs before the deadline.

Also if you have run an SMP client and a GPU client simultaneously in the past, v7 handles that all for you without any intervention on your part - pretty handy. Since I'm running v7 on my main Windows box anyway, figured I might as well run it across all of them. I'd say 7.1.38 is perfectly stable, and doesn't require of the funky additional stuff the high performance clients needed in the past. (Again, on Windows - on Linux v7 FAHClient is compiled against libGL, so installing it on a headless machine may be a bit of a pain)

If you don't do any GPU folding, there is no peformance advantage I believe over 6.34. But as far as I'm concerned they could take v7 out of beta, they just seem to be a little gunshy due to issues they had in the past.

http://folding.typepad.com/news/2011/10 ... eased.html
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Re: Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

Postposted on Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:56 pm

TwistedKestrel wrote:It makes "managing" multiple machines easier - you can control absolutely everything related to F@H remotely. That may have been true before, but generally speaking with v7 it's pretty simple. In Windows anyway - accounting for the fiddling to get v7 to work under Linux maybe not :P. At this point all the management really consists of (for me) is seeing if any of the other machines have crashed, or aren't finishing WUs before the deadline.

Yeah, I guess given that all of my folding systems are running Linux I've just gotten accustomed to using remote shell logins to manage everything via CLI.

I cobbled together a homebrewed monitoring page that I use to track all of the systems. :wink: (I've even got it set up now so that it displays alerts at the top of the page if any of the systems appear to be overheating or non-responsive.)
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Re: Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

Postposted on Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:54 pm

Lol, well then, I can see that moving to v7 for monitoring reasons would be trading down. I shouldn't have looked at your PPD, now I want to kick this thing to the curb.
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Re: Best distro for headless Folding @ Home?

Postposted on Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:32 pm

TwistedKestrel wrote:Lol, well then, I can see that moving to v7 for monitoring reasons would be trading down. I shouldn't have looked at your PPD, now I want to kick this thing to the curb.

Hey, every CPU counts! But it is probably wise to weigh PPKWH (points per kilowatt-hour) when deciding whether to turn otherwise unused (i.e. would be powered off) systems into dedicated folders.

Most of the systems in my "stable" -- including the two single-core Athlon64 systems, which are the lowest producers -- would be powered up anyway, so there's only the incremental electricity to run them at full load. Currently, "rauchbier" and "lambic" are the only dedicated nodes, and "rauchbier" will become my primary home desktop in the near future (F@h is essentially my extended burn-in test).
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