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Sean
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« on: March 19, 2017, 05:29:30 PM »

Hi everyone,

I'm interested in finding out if people usually install (on Windows) the standalone BOINC or BOINC with VirtualBox?



I'm reinstalling Windows 7 on one of my machines and I'm trying to decide between them. I guess VirtualBox is required for one or two projects and it adds a lot of security, but it also must add some resources overhead.

 Thank you
« Last Edit: April 15, 2017, 09:12:05 PM by Sean » Logged

kashi
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2017, 10:56:13 PM »

I've been using VirtualBox for years and running BOINC in a virtual machine with Linux or MacOS guest operating system on projects that run faster on their Linux or Mac applications.*  Although now I sometimes use VMWare Player instead of VirtualBox as I found it a bit more efficient. So didn't vote in poll as I already had VirtualBox installed separately.

It was only recently when I first ran a VirtualBox project, Sourcefinder Duchamp application, from within a Windows OS host machine's BOINC. It used the same VirtualBox version that I already had installed. So that means that unless you are running a project that uses VirtualBox from within BOINC on the host operating system then there is no extra overhead at all, as VirtualBox doesn't run. In other words standalone BOINC and the BOINC that bundles VirtualBox with it are the same BOINC program. That is, VirtualBox is a separately installed program that is started by BOINC only when VirtualBox projects are run.

I don't know how other projects using VirtualBox work, but Sourcefinder Duchamp starts up a separate virtual machine within VirtualBox for each task that is running. As to how efficient that is or not, well it's a bit academic as if you want to run Duchamp tasks or other projects' VirtualBox tasks then there is no alternative.

Although Duchamp VirtualBox application actually worked fine for me I still have some misgivings about projects' compulsory use of VirtualBox.  Some comments by myself and others about this can be found in this thread: http://forum.boinc-australia.net/index.php?topic=1950.0

So if any of the projects using VirtualBox applications interest you, then perhaps you can suck it and see. No harm done if if doesn't work properly or is unsuited to your system. Just uninstall VirtualBox and your BOINC install will remain intact.

Haven't been back to Sourcefinder Duchamp since the admin embarrassed himself by trashing the whole database, so don't know how its development is going now. When I get some new memory next week for Skylake box I may give it another go. It's an Aussie project so I'd like to support it if/when it gets going properly. I'd prefer to get stuck into it a bit more if stats were being exported.

Anyone interested in running Sourcefinder Duchamp should read the forum there first to check for current issues. In the past the VirtualBox version bundled with BOINC was not working there and a more recent VirtualBox version needed to be installed.

*For example currently DENIS@Home is much faster on Mac, POGS is faster on Mac and possibly Linux and project applications at World Community Grid and elsewhere based on the molecular docking program VINA are almost always substantially faster run on Linux.

« Last Edit: March 19, 2017, 11:23:41 PM by kashi » Logged

shift
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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2017, 02:22:31 PM »

I just run BOINC on windoze, although I thought it was recommended to use Virtual Box too. SoI'd be interested in hearing other thoughts too.
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Sean
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« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2017, 08:17:23 PM »

In other words standalone BOINC and the BOINC that bundles VirtualBox with it are the same BOINC program. That is, VirtualBox is a separately installed program that is started by BOINC only when VirtualBox projects are run.

Thanks Kashi, very true, I only realised this after I made the poll, I had assumed that BOINC always runs in VirtualBox when they are downloaded together, but as you pointed out it doesn't.


I might experiment with running BOINC in an actual virtual machine all the time, I mainly run World Community Grid, so a Linux VM might make sense. I should have added this as a third poll option.  Wink
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Sean
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« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2017, 10:51:32 PM »


*For example currently DENIS@Home is much faster on Mac, POGS is faster on Mac and possibly Linux and project applications at World Community Grid and elsewhere based on the molecular docking program VINA are almost always substantially faster run on Linux.


Wow! I just got a virtual machine setup running Ubuntu 16.04.1, the speed increase on VINA tasks is amazing!   Crazy Dance

I calculated some averages from the results saved at WCG, unfortunately there were only seven Windows Smash Childhood Cancer results still available compared to the ~100 Linux SCC results:

WCG Smash Childhood Cancer
Average CPU time Windows 7 x64:    38.3 minutes   (1h5m - 16m)
Average elapsed time Windows 7 x64:    43 minutes   (1h13m - 18m)
Average CPU time VirtualBox Ubuntu:    25.9 minutes   (52m - 10.8m)

(I didn't calculate the average elapsed time for SCC under Ubuntu because in nearly all cases it was identical to the CPU time)



I also had 3 task results of MCM from both Windows and Linux, small sample sizes, but here are the results:
Mapping Cancer Markers
Average CPU time Windows 7 x64:    4h22m    (4h25m - 4h21m)
Average elapsed time Windows 7 x64:    4h45m    (4h54 - 4h35m)
Average CPU time VirtualBox Ubuntu:    4h21m    (4h22m - 4h19m)
Average elapsed time VirtualBox Ubuntu:    4h25m    (4h28m - 4h23m)


So it seems that SCC runs much faster under the virtual machine, while MCM might run a bit faster. Is MCM VINA based as well?

I quite often have to reduce the CPU cores to 3/4 while running in the virtual machine to reduce lag while im using the computer, but even so, it's worthwhile for the SCC tasks.

I'll run some more SCC on Windows 7 to increase my sample size, but I remember a lot of tasks running for ~1 hour.

I really need to make a script to automate this...   Big Grin Jester


edit: I also tried to run Linux Puppy, CentOS and OpenSUSE in VirtualBox, but Ubuntu was the only one I got to work with BOINC
edit2: CPU is Q6600 in case anyone is interested
edit3: 'Estimated computation size' is 14,011 GFLOPs in both Windows 7 and Ubuntu, so they seem to be the same tasks? They just run faster under Ubuntu...
« Last Edit: April 15, 2017, 11:07:17 PM by Sean » Logged

kashi
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2017, 03:12:17 PM »

Glad you're enjoying experimenting with different OS versions. Thumbs Up

Had a quick look and don't think Mapping Cancer Markers is VINA. Believe that OpenZika and Outsmart Ebola Together are VINA though.

Yes if using a 4 core computer, it reduces or even eliminates any advantage of running Linux in a VM since you need to leave a core for the host Windows OS. It's not nearly as noticeable on an 8 "core" computer so you don't lose as much when running a 7 core virtual machine. At one stage I used to dual boot instead of using a VM when I had a 4 core Xeon X3350 machine. With no VirtualBox overhead, any speedy Linux apps can give their full performance.

I had repeated trouble trying to install a number of Ubuntu variants on VirtualBox and ended up using Linux Mint Xfce 64-bit instead. Been using Mint on VirtualBox for a year or 2 now and have never had any trouble. Updates are smooth and haven't given any problems. I used to crunch on a stripped down Linux version called Dotsch UX that was small and fast for BOINC but it never got updated and the old libraries included did not support some newer or updated BOINC projects.

Crunching on Linux doesn't make any difference for WCG badges as they are based on Runtime and even the credit isn't as high as it should be compared to Windows version due to WCG's horrid credit system based on the despised CreditNew, however I usually switch to Linux in a VM for WCG VINA projects because it actually completes more research per day/per watt. Suppose very few crunch WCG for credit anyway as it's poor compared to most other projects but just saying.
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Sean
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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2017, 05:25:15 PM »

Crunching on Linux doesn't make any difference for WCG badges as they are based on Runtime and even the credit isn't as high as it should be compared to Windows version due to WCG's horrid credit system based on the despised CreditNew, however I usually switch to Linux in a VM for WCG VINA projects because it actually completes more research per day/per watt. Suppose very few crunch WCG for credit anyway as it's poor compared to most other projects but just saying.

Yeah, it's disappointing, no incentive to finish tasks quicker, may as well use a cluster of Pentium 1s   Big Grin Jester



I ran some more WCG SCC tasks on Windows 7 so I would have more results to average, these results are from 51 tasks:

WCG Smash Childhood Cancer
Average CPU time Windows 7 x64:    42.5 minutes (1h23m - 21m)
Average elapsed time Windows 7 x64:    44 minutes (1h37m - 21m)


Soon I'll give some of the other WCG tasks a go and post the stats here. ;)
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