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Space Software Upgrades Science

SETI@Home Transitions To BOINC 263

Posted by timothy
from the get-your-mind-out-of-the-stellar dept.
SeaDour writes "The team at SETI@Home have finally released their highly-anticipated new client software based on the BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) software platform. This new platform promises transparent version upgrades, more efficient work unit distribution, and the ability to seamlessly integrate other distributed computing projects that are also using the BOINC standard. For now, SETI@Home is allowing both the Classic and BOINC clients to run, but eventually they will shut down the Classic data server and force everyone to upgrade. You can read more about the transition here."
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SETI@Home Transitions To BOINC

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  • I for one (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @04:53PM (#9512406)
    welcome our BOINC alien-finding overlords. sorry.
  • Waste (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mphase (644838) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @04:55PM (#9512425) Homepage
    SETI seems like a bit of a waste of energy compared to Folding at Home. It's not that I don't believe in extraterrestrials or anything, I even think that SETI is a pretty worthwhile project but compared to curing some of the ailments folding works on...well yeah.
    • Re:Waste (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:00PM (#9512483)
      Maybe the new BOINC software will allow you to split your computing time between SETI and Folding?
      • Re:Waste (Score:4, Interesting)

        by CatLord42 (657659) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <24droltac>> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:13PM (#9512585) Journal
        Maybe the new BOINC software will allow you to split your computing time between SETI and Folding?

        Whoever modded the parent down should rethink their decision.

        Folding at Home [stanford.edu] seems to be another distributed computing project, just like SETI. I haven't RTFA-ed, but the original post says that BOINC will allow multiple distributed programs to run. At worst, this is redundant, but it is definitely on topic for this particular part of the thread!
      • I already split my time between two distributed computing projects on the same computer... Folding@home [stanford.edu] (Via the Google toolbar [google.com]) and United Devices [ud.com]. Haven't run into any problems with it, so far.
      • Re:Waste (Score:3, Funny)

        by Demodian (658895)
        Maybe the new BOINC software will allow you to split your computing time between SETI and Folding?

        ...or maybe merge the two looking for little origami ETs that have the cure for those bad tasting protein shakes...
    • Re:Waste (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Brainix (748988) <brainix@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:01PM (#9512486) Homepage
      While I see your point, I think you are being unfair to SETI. As I understand it, SETI has made leaps not only in the search for extra-terrestrial life, but also in the area of distributed computing.

      I once had a friend who was a psychology major. She asked me, "How can you study computer science when there are children out there being abused, and women out there being raped?"

      We must pick our battles, and contribute to the best of our ability.

      • Re:Waste (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:09PM (#9512562)
        >>I once had a friend who was a psychology major. She asked me, "How can you study computer science when there are children out there being abused, and women out there being raped?"

        People who think we should do anything because we can't do everything are annoying. I am supremely unqualified to produce peace in the Middle East, cure AIDS, or fix overpopulation in China. I can however spare a few computer cycles for something that interests me, and searching for aliens seems to be a better use of my time than watching flying cows.

        (BTW, this isn't directed at you, but at your friend who thinks compsci is somehow less important than psych. My guess is that computer science will do more to help the world than every psychiatrist and psychologist put together, though I certainly don't begrudge them pursuing their own interests)
      • Yeah. (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Because psychologists have prevented sooooo many crimes.

        Most often, they are responsible for rapists etc. getting out of prison early or even defend them by blaming society/the victim for their crimes or some other morally relativistic nonsense.

      • Re:Waste (Score:3, Insightful)

        by StonyUK (173886)
        I once had a friend who was a psychology major. She asked me, "How can you study computer science when there are children out there being abused, and women out there being raped?"

        How does she think she's helping? She's not preventing it, she's making money out of the aftermath.
        • Re:Waste (Score:5, Insightful)

          by fatmonkeyboy (257833) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:37PM (#9512779) Homepage
          Well, there are a number of ways she could (theorhetically) be helping by working as a psychologist, though there is certainly no guarantee.

          * If she treats children she might prevent those children from becoming abusive to their own children, ten years down the line. Or she might prevent them from becoming rapists.

          * If she works in social services she might identify children who are being abused and put an earlier stop to it.

          * Even if she doesn't help prevent it, she might be able to help repair the damage in the aftermath. Just because she's making money from it doesn't mean it isn't still a worthy cause.

          That said, I've never been impressed with what I've seen from the field of psychology. I do think that just talking to someone who is genuinely interested in helping you work through your problems is helpful though.

          So, regardless of whether or not their science has much merit, I think psychologists are doing good work.

          But the whole "how can you study X when Y is occurring argument" is pretty lame. A society like ours which supports deep specializations has to have people specializing in every field. Might as well go with the one you enjoy and/or have talent for...
      • Re:Waste (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NanoGator (522640)
        "She asked me, "How can you study computer science when there are children out there being abused, and women out there being raped?"

        Ugh I hate logic like this. Diveristy is what keeps this planet alive. If everybody became anti-rape superheroes, who'd teach her psychology?

    • It depends on what you decide is more important to your life/society -- and many people are more interested in finding/looking for extraterrestrial life.

      I think personally, the sooner the better. We all have short lifetimes here on this earth, and light-travel time limits how long it will take us to contact anyone. If there are ET's within about 20-30 light years, it's reasonable to expect that we can contact them (and hear back from them) within some of our lifetimes -- which is a very exciting (though
      • Imagine the benefits to society contact with an alien race could bring!

        You're the sort of person who would welcome the ETs in Independence Day, aren't you? I am far less optimistic; indeed I wonder if the rational reaction to the existence of another starfaring race is genocide--and thus if we let anyone know we exist, we set ourselves up for extinction.

    • Re:Waste (Score:3, Funny)

      by bsartist (550317)
      What if we find aliens that are considerably more advanced than us, and teach us of medical advances we wouldn't have found on our own for centuries?

      Not that I think that will happen. It's just that we don't know what will result from it - that's the point of doing research, to find out. It doesn't make sense to restrict our areas of inquiry to those with easily imaginable results, when its the results we can't imagine that will really rock our world.
      • Re:Waste (Score:2, Insightful)

        by JPriest (547211)
        Should we build big satellites and listen to space in case Aliens are broadcasting research advancements in a format that we are able to decipher, or skip the middle process and just put the effort into research?

        We could use a similar setup to automate patrolling the skies for meteors that are likely to impact earth.

        Such an impact would be difficult to prevent near earth, but further away we could probably divert the course of the object by .01 degrees with a missile that would move it far enough off co

        • Should we build big satellites and listen to space in case Aliens are broadcasting research advancements in a format that we are able to decipher, or skip the middle process and just put the effort into research?

          Yes - to both.

          We could use a similar setup to automate patrolling the skies for meteors that are likely to impact earth.

          Yep, that too. It's not an either/or question, because the people involved aren't interchangable resources. Aerospace engineers or computer scientists can't take the pla
    • Re:Waste (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NanoGator (522640) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:38PM (#9512793) Homepage Journal
      " I even think that SETI is a pretty worthwhile project but compared to curing some of the ailments folding works on...well yeah."

      I help SETI because it's drastically underfunded compared to the types of things folding would cure.
    • Re:Waste (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kalidasa (577403) * on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @06:03PM (#9513030) Journal
      Thing is, it's pretty easy to get money from charities, governments, private philanthropists, and other institutions to fund medical work. How easy is it for Seti to get that money?
      • Maybe it's easier to get funding for medical work because it's actually worth spending money on it. Why does the fact that SETI is less worthy of getting money make it more worthy of getting spare CPU cycles?
        • Maybe it's easier to get funding for medical work because it's actually worth spending money on it. Why does the fact that SETI is less worthy of getting money make it more worthy of getting spare CPU cycles?

          Thank you for deciding how I should spend my computing cycles. Perhaps you missed your calling in politics and could take over the same decisions regarding my money?

    • SETI is a waste of energy compared to the 3D maze screen saver.

      Even if ET exists, the chance of SETI finding them is incalculable. I might as well start digging for buried treasure in my back yard. And even if we do find aliens, what do we gain? We get to hear AM radio traffic reports from an alien race that has probably gone extinct that used to live millions of light years away? What does society gain from that?

    • by Knara (9377)
      This comment or something of the sort appears every time a seti@home article appears on slashdot.

      I'm of the mind that we may eventually need to auto-slap "Redundant" or "Flamebait" on it, just so people realize the debate has been done to death. Some will do seti@home. Others will do folding. Others will download Usenet pr0n. Just shut up about it already.

    • Re:Waste (Score:5, Interesting)

      by The Lynxpro (657990) <lynxpro@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @06:47PM (#9513388)
      "SETI seems like a bit of a waste of energy compared to Folding at Home. It's not that I don't believe in extraterrestrials or anything, I even think that SETI is a pretty worthwhile project but compared to curing some of the ailments folding works on...well yeah."

      A waste of energy? Its an exploration of a scientific question for folks interested in hard science. How is that a waste of energy? That sounds like an argument people use when they claim that money spent on NASA should be spent on fixing the problems of "the real world" such as poverty.

      Perhaps if mankind finds 100% proof (through SETI) that intelligent life exists out in space, us humans might actually try to live in peace with one another. Is that exploration a waste of time? Certainly with peace we could free up resources towards tackling diseases that plague our population. Then again, the counter argument is that most medical breakthroughs occur during conflict. Maybe we should be looking for hostile space aliens then...

      By the way, you can use BOINC to choose what resources you want to spend on various shared distributed processing programs, such as between SETI and Folding. At least the Beta version did...

      • A waste of energy? Its an exploration of a scientific question for folks interested in hard science. How is that a waste of energy?

        Because SETI might well find nothing, and if it DOES find something there will not be any immediate benefit from it.
        However odds are extremely good you or someone close to you will develop cancer, which is the focus of several folding projects.
        • "Because SETI might well find nothing, and if it DOES find something there will not be any immediate benefit from it.
          However odds are extremely good you or someone close to you will develop cancer, which is the focus of several folding projects."

          True, but if SETI finds intelligent life out in the cosmos, perhaps they could easily cure cancer for us, as long as they don't have anything foolish like the Prime Directive to follow. So by using SETI@home, you would literally kill two birds with one stone. The
    • Re:Waste (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gsaraber (46165)
      Human population is already growing at an unsustainable rate, i see no reason to increase it even more with projects like folding..
      I'll stick with seti
    • Actually, I've had the SETI vs. Folding debate several times with my other computer-savvy friends. Personally, I run SETI. I tell them that we've only had radio for barely a century, which is an exceedingly short time compared to the history and the potential lifespan (taking the optimistic view) of our species. So, if the SETI project suceeds, the species we contact is likely to be far more technologically advanced than our own. If they have a biochemistry roughly similar to that of terrestrial life, they
    • Re:Waste (Score:4, Insightful)

      by metamatic (202216) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @12:18PM (#9519982) Homepage Journal
      I'm not contributing to Folding@Home until they state their position on patenting the results.

      They say the data will be released publically and not sold for profit, but they say nothing about patenting discoveries that result from my work and then forcing others to pay fees.
  • by Ricwot (632038) <juleswatt@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @04:56PM (#9512442) Homepage
    The real question is, will this help the project, or will it harm it when the classic is phased out, those users looking for a pretty screensaver who installed the software one day when they were bored are unlikely to upgrade, that said however, the way that it can now be used for any project means that more causes can benefit without having to write the software themselves.
    • by igny (716218) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:12PM (#9512580) Homepage Journal
      There are ~5mil total registered users, and ~500k active users (at least 1 result in last 4 weeks). I guess there are >100k users who are die hard fans, running it 24/7 on all their machines. Likely those will be first to upgrade, followed by the rest of them. Possibly, many of inactive users might come back with this upgrade.

      In conclusion, you might see spikes in the userbase in short term, but it won't affect long term dynamics.

    • by jd (1658) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @07:09PM (#9513510) Homepage Journal
      The old version of SETI@Home used the COSM project as a base. (COSM is an offshoot of the distributed.net system, supposedly the "next generation".)


      Replacing the transport mechanism - in a well-designed system - would be a nothing thing. It's just the means of ferrying blocks of data around, it isn't actually necessary for SETI@Home to know any of the internal details.


      This suggests SETI@Home - and possibly COSM - were not as well-designed as all that. Interesting to speculate. COSM isn't progressing, as far as I can see, which may also be a reason SETI@Home moved away from it. It looks like a dead project - a pity, as it had some great ideas - and so any bugs wouldn't get fixed.

  • by SB5 (165464) <freebirdpat AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @04:59PM (#9512471)
    A very long time ago, I heard that SETI@Home was running low on work-units because their client was so popular that they were just burning through them... Did they restructure it? What happened. I remember when I heard that I started downloading work-units that were taken by the dishes more recently then I had been seening too...

    • by Thng (457255) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:09PM (#9512557)
      Not sure if this is before or after the news you heard, but for version 3.03, they added additional processing capability in the client so workunits would take longer to process
      News posting [berkeley.edu]
      Text:
      Added additional science coverage. We now do a thorough search out to a chirp rate of +- 20 Hz/second. The cost of the additional coverage is that clients will take longer to process a workunit

      However, as 3.03 is rather old, I wouldn't be surprised if the new and faster computers and old clients that weren't upgraded negated some of the effect.

      thng

    • I suspect the Allen Telescope Array [seti.org] will be providing quite a bit more data for SETI@Home to chew on. Not only will be it scanning a wider range of frequencies but an order of magnitude more stars. The extra data along with the enhanced processing taken from the 3.03 S@H client will likely keep the project plenty busy for a while longer. Optical SETI is also gaining some mindshare and research dollars. I don't think it will be too long before an optical scan tool is added to the new BOINC client.
  • Beta Means What? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stecoop (759508) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:00PM (#9512474) Journal
    The team at SETI@Home have finally released Bonic

    On Bonic web page: Status BOINC is under development. We are conducting a beta test of BOINC using the SETI@home and Astropulse applications. The public release will be announced on the SETI@home web site. Several other distributed computing projects are evaluating BOINC.


    Bonic has been "released" for use for a long time; I thought when a release annoucment arrives then the product is no longer beta. So which is it - Released means ready for use or does it mean Please beta test now?
  • by CaseyB (1105) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:00PM (#9512484)
    "Scientific progress goes BOINC?"
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:02PM (#9512490) Homepage
    You know, I'd love to setup a transmitter and inject a signal into the seti data collection dish - you know, a low level non-random mathematically transformed character stream that roughtly translates to "The earthlings will never find us here" or something.

    If done right it could be a bigger practical joke than the War of the Worlds broadcast of 1938!

    • Re:a great joke (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kiryat Malachi (177258) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:09PM (#9512559) Journal
      Best you'd conceivably get is a detection from one dish; without actually putting a transmitter way out in space, the confirmations that would be required (things like confirming parallax of the signal, motion of the signal consistent with it being X light years away, etc.) would require access to every radiotelescope in the world.

      Best you might get is "oh, neat, a candidate signal" until one or the other of the rejection mechanisms coughs and says "Bullshit."
  • Me predicts... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maljin Jolt (746064) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:02PM (#9512492) Journal
    This BOINC thingy seems to be an adequate infrastructure for the next generation of... worms.
    • Re:Me predicts... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sploxx (622853) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @07:08PM (#9513506)
      No, why?
      Because it (the application) uses networking and is 'distributed'? It is not p2p. It is 1-N, i.e. the workunit server to all the clients. That's a bigg difference. Although you can argue that there is a single point of failure because the workload server could be hacked and transfer malicous data to the clients, it is a scenario IMHO not very likely because: a) the workload server has to be hacked, b) it has to stay so for a longer time to have any effect and c) the client software must have a buffer-overflow-like flaw.

      Set it in relation:
      If you do apt-get in debian without *really* checking the author's reputation and getting his *certified* PGP/GPG keys, you're essentially doing much worse things in terms of security. Probably 95% of all debian users do this (me included).

      And it is similar to websites which install worms by exploiting flaws in IE. This is a way of infection which has to be blocked, of course, but the main way of infection is still either by unpatched services running on well-known ports or eMail...

      This is, of course, one of the reasons why I won't use SETI@Home until it is GPL or similar [Would it be GPL with BOINC?]
      • I didn't wrote the seti client will be vulnerable to worms or server hacking. It surely would be but that is another story.

        I did wrote about the next generation of worms will use the architecture very similar to BOINC technology to propagate themselves, securely and stealthy, with better immunity to mutants attack we see today.

        It is not about p2p, nor binary hygiene.
      • SETI@home is GPL (Score:3, Informative)

        by SETIGuy (33768)
        This is, of course, one of the reasons why I won't use SETI@Home until it is GPL or similar [Would it be GPL with BOINC?]

        Um, the SETI@home version that runs under BOINC is GPL, and has been so for some time. The BOINC client is BOINC Public License, which, because of a legal settlement, restricts commercial use until late this year. After the agreement expires, BOINC will transition to Mozilla license or GPL. I don't think we've decided which.

        You are also free to download both BOINC and SETI@home and

  • by ndavidg (680217) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:02PM (#9512496)
    Well this is interesting... probably the first time a service provider was required to upgrade software: "You better upgrade if you want us to continue using your cpu cycle service."
  • by jb.hl.com (782137) <<ten.niwdlab-eoj> <ta> <eoj>> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:05PM (#9512519) Homepage Journal
    The practical implementation of a million monkeys at a million typewriters... ...finding nothing.

    Seriously, what has Seti@Home found as of yet?
    • Re:Ah, Seti@Home (Score:5, Insightful)

      by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:07PM (#9512540) Journal
      It's found a lack of signs of life - at least a lack of certain types of sign. That in itself is a find.
    • Re:Ah, Seti@Home (Score:3, Interesting)


      It found that you can ask home users with more computing power than they personally use to donate their compute cycles, if they find the project interesting enough and your work is Very Embarrassingly Parallel.
      Furthermore, as broadband becomes more popular, the work will not need to be quite so parallel. And as more devices have actual CPUs and go online, you could ask more of even more appliances--for example, one could reasonably run BOINC on their Tivo or Xbox.

      That, as it's been said, is an important d
    • "Seriously, what has Seti@Home found as of yet?"

      A bunch of skepticism.

    • Re:Ah, Seti@Home (Score:3, Interesting)

      by deglr6328 (150198)
      I've recently decided to uninstall SETI and leave the search after staying with it from the begining in '99 because one small graph in an article of Scientific American has kept sticking in my mind. Around 2000-2001 SciAm published an article that included this [mit.edu] graph of SETI's search results (negative, natch) for the galaxy.

      Even back then you can see that a large portion of the interesting parameter space has been excluded; it's been 3 years and not a peep. SETI's negative result is very, very important
  • BONIC? (Score:2, Funny)

    Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing

    Am I to take that this project will also be dying?
  • man, when you think that with just a little more effort they could have come up with an acronym for BIONIC... :(
  • Tax break? (Score:4, Funny)

    by SkyWalk423 (661752) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:09PM (#9512555) Homepage Journal
    If I sign up for SETI@home, are my spare CPU cycles tax deductibe as a charitable contribution?

    • by ndavidg (680217)

      Good question. But here's an even bigger question: If you could put it on your taxes, how would you calculate the amount? SETI/Idle Time || SETI/Used Time || SETI/Time Spent looking at Pr0n ?

  • by EssTiDee (784920) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:15PM (#9512603)
    From article: "Will the format of input and output files change? Yes. The new format is XML-like (though not legal XML). " Sorry SETI, the RIAA has long since scared me away from having anything illegal on my PC. :-P
  • by Siergen (607001) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:19PM (#9512638)
    I recall reading that some SETI contributors had found ways to artificially raise their rankings for number of packets processed (forget how they did it). This angered some contributors whose high rankings were based on real results, and who were now being knocked from the top spots by the 'cheaters'.

    Does the new client include methods to block the methods used to spoof the current SETI@Home client?

    • You'll be happy to know that the new SETI@Home client is PunkBuster-enabled. The days of SETI@Home aimbots are finally over!

      Score one for the good guys!

    • I recall reading that some SETI contributors had found ways to artificially raise their rankings for number of packets processed (forget how they did it). This angered some contributors whose high rankings were based on real results, and who were now being knocked from the top spots by the 'cheaters'.

      Does the new client include methods to block the methods used to spoof the current SETI@Home client?


      From their Getting started [berkeley.edu] covers credits which states the lowest time to completion is what everybody get
  • Source Available (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eeg3 (785382) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:24PM (#9512673) Homepage
    Interestingly enough, the new client has the option to compile it yourself. The old client didn't have this option, or atleast it was very difficult to find, _if_ it was available. Now maybe it can be ported to archs that were previously unsupported.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:28PM (#9512702)
    "BOINC transparently and securely downloads new application versions. This lets us upgrade and extend SETI@home without requiring you to download and install new software. "

    Well, if I can't turn this feature off, they've lost my cycles. I don't even allow my OS vendor to perform automatic downloads of "new versions" of programs.

    For those with the tinfoil hats, the Patriot Act could be used to force Berzerkeley to download random "interesting" ware for the Feds, and keep quiet about it under penalty of law, under the umbrella of looking for terrorist activity. This ain't Java playing in a secure sandbox either.
  • by LightStruk (228264) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:28PM (#9512707)
    Will the format of input and output files change?

    Yes. The new format is XML-like (though not legal XML).
    Anybody familiar with the rationale behind this decision? The sample file [berkeley.edu] is indeed very close to legal XML. If it is so close, why not go the last mile and make it legal?
    Well-formed XML facilitates communication and interoperability, because standard [sourceforge.net] XML [microsoft.com] parsers can grok it, making it easier to write new implementations that understand the same XML format.
    • What I don't understand are the advantages here.

      Sure, XML is nice to represent hierarchical structures ("filesystem in a file" - like the old IFF for Amiga). A good idea for the web, for office documents etc.

      But XML does not provide information about how to interpret a document (only how to parse/validate it formally or render it in certain, rather special circumstances). The logic to work with and interpret the data still has to be implemented somewhere... interoperability goes only so far as to the repr
      • 1. Binary data can be referenced in external files. Consider the OpenOffice xml format, where it's a single zip file with multiple xml files and the binaries that are referenced.
        2. It's inefficient compared to binary, but then it's more readable to programmers (and even some non-programmers feel comfortable opening a file, searching for a term, and replacing it - as my non-programmer boss did once).

        If you're after a binary format try EBML at sourceforge. It's a binary equivalent of XML syntax.

        Generally I
    • If it's not legal XML, only criminals will use it, right?
    • The sample file is indeed very close to legal XML. If it is so close, why not go the last mile and make it legal?

      My guess based on looking at the file is that they really really wanted that data block to line up nice, without having to worry about XML whitespace issues or character escaping. Seems pretty stupid to me.

  • but eventually they will shut down the Classic data server and force everyone to upgrade.

    Arg! All my bragging rights, gone!

    Unfortunately, you can only transition your account if you have access to the email account you use for seti@home.

    Seti@home never let me change my email address with them, so I can't transition my current account to the new services.

    I signed up for seti@home 5 years ago, lost access to the account only recently. Yarg! It's all gone!
    • by Alan (347)
      If its any concellation (and I know it won't be) it doesn't seem to recognize the email address that it used to use before... in fact, any email I might have used with it it just comes back 'unknown email address'.

      Of course, it's also not sending registration emails to the newly registered account I created, so I'm guessing they're slashdotted in the backend if ya knowwhatimean.
  • by stefanb (21140) * on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:36PM (#9512767) Homepage

    I had heard about the eventual switch-over some months ago, but never found the time to play around with the beta, so I took the opportunity now to install the client and check it out.

    On Mac OS X, all went well, and my PowerBook is munching on it's first unit, fans spinning. However, when I tried to start the client on a Sun box at work, it failed with "ld.so.1: ./boinc_3.18_sparc-sun-solaris2.7: fatal: libstdc++.so.3: open failed: No such file or directory." A quick Google confirmed my suspicions: the client is linked against the GCC stdlib, which is not a standard part of Solaris. Now, that's easy enough to fix if you've worked with Solaris before: just go to sunfreeware.com, and find a suitable binary package to put on.

    However, someone not knowing about Solaris, GCC, and sunfreeware.com might be a bit stumped. And the boinc/setiboinc boards reveal that quite a number of beta testers are confused about this, not only on Solaris but also on Linux. It's not completely obvious which GCC/libgcc packages contains libstc++.so.3 (as opposed to .2.x or .4.x).

    The real kicker is that I couldn't find any hint of this problem or a solution on the site. I probably looked in all the wrong places in the last half hour... And I couldn't find a feedback form or email address either. This definitly needs to be improved if they want people to move over to boinc.

    • However, someone not knowing about Solaris, GCC, and sunfreeware.com might be a bit stumped. And the boinc/setiboinc boards reveal that quite a number of beta testers are confused about this, not only on Solaris but also on Linux. It's not completely obvious which GCC/libgcc packages contains libstc++.so.3 (as opposed to .2.x or .4.x).

      How many people use Solaris that aren't familiar with it? It's not like Grandma is gonna come with a shiny new Solaris CD and install it.

  • by Hibernator (307430) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:36PM (#9512773)
    In the transition FAQ [berkeley.edu] it says
    BOINC transparently and securely downloads new application versions. This lets us upgrade and extend SETI@home without requiring you to download and install new software.
    which makes me wonder if users can disable that. I don't want anybody installing software on my computer without my approval, thank you.

    The FAQ didn't answer that question--does anyone know?

  • this is the first i've seen BOINC. it looks like a good platform to implement concepts of comparative advantage in distributed computing projects [jahana.com] . the idea is to apply some of the concepts that drive international trade to distributed computing.
  • by Hibernator (307430) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:47PM (#9512888)
    This may very likely be the beginning of the end for SETI@Home. One of the attractions of SETI@Home for many people is the excitement of tracknig the counter of the number of work units completed. In contrast, the new BOINC-based system has a ridiculously complex [berkeley.edu] and unintuitive "credit" system that users are very unlikely to find compelling.

    I guess this just shows that every project, even a non-commercial one, eventually needs to have someone with some marketing sense if it wants to continue to thrive.

    • While you might be right, I hardly believe that a large number of users are running their computers 24/7 just to appear on a semi-obscure top 100-list.

      Also, I followed your link and I like the new system much better- it awards credits based on CPU time/clock rate instead of just number of work units completed. Thus one credit will be more uniform across all platforms. What's wrong with that?
      • Thus one credit will be more uniform across all platforms. What's wrong with that?

        It makes perfect sense from a techincal perspective. However, it's harder to understand, and therefore less compelling, and therefore less likely to attract new users.

  • by xyote (598794) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:48PM (#9512903)
    I have a suspicion that any advanced galatic civilization, realizing the nature of expansionistic species, broadcasts instructions on how to blow yourself up, knowing full well that any sufficiently aggressive species will not be able to resist following the instructions. The tiny note at the end "Do not attempt this on your home planet" just indicates a puckish sense of humor.
  • BOINC (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sunspire (784352) on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @05:52PM (#9512942)
    Boinc is more than just an updated Seti@Home, it's a generic delivery platform for distributed projects. That means you, yes you, can develope a BOINC app [berkeley.edu]. Just gather some people to run it for you and compute away without needing any approval from the guys at Berkeley. Basically the participants enter a project URL into the BOINC application, the program then downloads your code and the crunching begins. BOINC handles all the network, workunit, results, distribution, security, versioning etc. issues for you.

    Participants can even choose to split their resources among several projects, say, Seti@Home and Folding@Home. Another thing that will also be used in the new Seti@Home is that you can have clients participating in the same project working on completely different computation sets. For example, clients that have proven themselves to have a fast workunit turnaround time and a long history of participating and that have a gigabyte or more of RAM can be given special tasks that would normally be impossible because of the high number of griefers on the net.
  • by Darth_brooks (180756) <clipper377@nOSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @06:19PM (#9513159) Homepage
    Lets see what we can cover:

    BOINC isn't nearly as usful to society as Folding@home, AIDS research@home, help feed starving disabled puppies in war torn african nations@home, etc.

    BOINC != Seti@Home. BOINC is a step up the ladder from Seti, it provides the infrastructure for multiple projects. *you* choose the project to attach yourself to and contribute time to. In an ultra-perfect hippie world, Folding@home would use the BOINC infrastructure. Instead you get to help out who you want.

    I ain't trustin no Berkeley hippies to silently install no black helicopter, tinfoil hat disablin' technology on my system.

    Then don't use it. If you ran seti, you really had no way of knowing what was coming down the pipe now did you? You opened up a nice big gaping connection into your system while trusting that the work units weren't poison pills and that Berkeley's infrastructure hadn't been comprimised. Run the client on a non-critical machine, put it outside your firewall if it makes you happy.

    Scientific progress goes BOINC!

    You're very clever. You're the only person that ever thought of that.

    Aliens will enslave the earth when we make contact!!!!!

    You really shouldn't have rented Battlefield Earth.
  • I looked at the site, but wasn't able to find anything related to SMP-enabled computers. One of the major downsides of SETI classic was, in my opinion, the fact that it wasn't multi-threaded or SMP aware. Thus, on my dual processor machine, I had to run 2 copies at the same time in order to use both CPUs. That also meant I had to fix each process to a CPU, which doesn't lend itself to the most efficient thread management by the OS.

    So, is BOINC multi-threaded? Can it use more than one CPU effectively?
  • by wintermute1974 (596184) <wintermute@berne-ai.org> on Wednesday June 23, 2004 @06:47PM (#9513383) Homepage
    In the hopes that someone working on the SETI@home client reads Slashdot, I am posting my bug report about the new BOINC SETI@home client here. I tried to post a bug report on their Windows Client Forum [berkeley.edu], but the authentication routine failed to recognize my account ID when I copied and pasted it from the e-mail message I had just received. (If you don't yet have a BOINC account, it looks something like 213ed9ba2da1696f77b0d0fa3165a3ab, but no, this is NOT my real user account.)

    Anyway, enough preamble. Here's the problem:
    In the Work tab, when I right-click on the currently-running work unit, the context-sensitive menu displays one option, Show Graphics.

    When I select Show Graphics, a window pops up, the entire contents of which is black. At this point, my Windows 2000 SP4 computer freezes. CTRL-ALT-DEL doesn't bring up the Windows Security window. CTRL-SHIFT-ESC doesn't bring up the Task Manager. I can't move the mouse. The keyboard is completely unresponsive.

    Being a sucker for punishment, I sent a non-maskable interrupt to my CPU, and rebooted the machine. Then I tried the exact same steps, and got the same results. Yup, this bug is repeatable.

    So is the new client ready for prime time? Um, not really. Add the insult of the website not recognizing the account ID that it gave me to begin with and I'd say this program should stay in beta a while longer.

    A final note: If you happen to be one of the programmers for the client, and know why this problem is happening, reply here. I'd appreciate a reply.

  • I have run SETI on may RedHat version but it apparently crashed my entire system on Fedora Core 2. I haven't run it since and my system has been stable. I thought the 2.6 Kernel was uncrashable. Of course, I didn't really dig into it.
  • what am i gonna do if they don't convert my CPU Time into credits!!! Surely, wouldn't like to see the Total Credits: 0.00 (or near numbers) screen for more than a few days... either they come up with a scheme to let me run my old client, update my CPU time and keep my bragging rights or i free up my cpu from whatever number crunching it is doing at the moment and give some rest to the enclosure fans... and may be boinc is a project concieved and promoted by aliens, transported to us as telepathy in a bid
  • I know that BOINC is able to run several different projects at once. Is there anything apart from SETI yet?

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday June 24, 2004 @12:57AM (#9515544) Homepage
    BOINC transparently and securely downloads new application versions.

    What's wrong with this picture?

    Definitely do not run on any machine with important data.

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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