Setting up and running BOINC a beginner’s guide

BOINC or Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing is a grid computing platform through which you can search for Aliens, discover a cure for cancer or even prove Einstein wrong!

All this is possible by using Grid Computing, but before we go into that perhaps you want to know some basics.

What is Grid Computing ?

Grid Computing  is basically an oversized networked computer that allows a problem to be split into thousands of little problems and hundreds of computer’s (home pc’s, laptops, anything except mobile devices). By distributing an enormous problem to many systems, it can be solved faster and more accurately than relying on a single system to tackle the computations involved.  Also, organizations without much funding like SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) use it to perform insanely large calculations. So how does it help cure cancer, prove Einstein wrong or find E.T? Math is powerful, and in fact  it is the ultimate tool. Grid computing is so much more powerful than a super computer if enough PC’s are involved in the computing network. The world’s fastest super computer, Japan’s K does a 8 petaFLOPS per second (that is 1 petaflops is equal to 10 to the 15th floating point operations per second) while using grid computing, the world does 5,182,680 TeraFLOPS and that’s not that bad for a project like this!

How BOINC works ?

It uses idle time of your computer and uses your processor when idle to do huge computations. It is safe, cheap and a great way to contribute to society!

BOINC does this all automatically; you don’t have to do anything.


Setting up BOINC

  1. Download the BOINC client for Windows / Linux / Mac OSX here .
  2. After installing and rebooting, you will see an Windows like this. Click switch to Advanced mode.
    BOINC simple
  3. If you have an GPU ( Graphics Card ), follow these instructions to use them.
  4. Now Add an project by selecting Tools > Add project or Account manager. Click add an project and add an project.
  5. provides an list of projects select the one you like (World Community Grid helps fight cancer, SETI@Home for finding E.T and Einstein@Home for proving Einstein wrong Smile )
  6. You need to create an account for any project you join, after you have added an project, you can see the tasks that your computer has to do, eta etc.
    BOINC tasks
  7. Once you finish a task, you get credits for it, available in the statistics tab.The amount of Credits you get, depends on the amount of time you have run the project.

You can run BOINC while you are downloading torrents, watching movies etc. This brings an end to the post on setting up BOINC. Watch out for another post for advanced BOINC configuration and tips.  If you have some downtime on your PC go ahead and let BOINC run while you sleep at night so you can help contribute to research and solutions for some of the biggest problems facing the world!

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