Windows vs Linux for BOINC

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Damien Healy
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Windows vs Linux for BOINC

Post by Damien Healy » Tue Nov 26, 2019 9:29 am

Hi Guys,

Following on from my GPU question, are you aware of any disadvantages to using Linux for BOINC CPU compute? So far I have only seen advantages, where some projects will give more work (e.g. CPDN) or more efficient work units to Linux. Generally speaking, Linux wingmen are probably more reliable (at a guess - ?)

Are you aware of any compute disadvantages, particularly at higher core counts?

I will be doing a new build. I'll dual-boot, but am currently planning to leave it on Linux 99% of the time.

Thanks!

Woodles
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Re: Windows vs Linux for BOINC

Post by Woodles » Tue Nov 26, 2019 12:00 pm

Hi Damien,

Linux is the most productive OS for Boinc in nearly all cases. I vaguely remember there are a couple projects that actually run better on Windows but can't recall which off the top of my head.

Core count doesn't really matter although Linux is better for the really high count cores unless you're installing Windows Server. Commercial Windows 10 only supports two physical CPUs, 32bit versions only support 32 cores total and 64 bit versions 'only' support 256 cores (so you'll be limited to only two 3990Xs :D )

On projects where a wingman is required, there is likely to be a lot more Windows users than Linux so your work will be matched up quicker. Not usually much of a problem for the bigger projects but may be for the smaller ones during a sprint. On the other hand, once a big Linux user drops their bunker, most of your work will immediately validate :) Also helps getting work if there's only Linux tasks available, less competition.

In at least one project (I believe it's SRBase?) Linux hosts don't validate Windows hosts (and vice-versa) Very slight difference in rounding/accuracy from the two applications, doesn't affect the project results but 12,345.0000000000001 != 12,345.0000000000002. So even if your Linux host does the work correctly and returns it first, it won't get any credit if two Windows hosts validate each other later.

Most projects support both OS'es but for new projects, there may only be one flavour to start with. Gerasim is the only just Windows project and Wanless is the only just Linux project that I'm aware of.

Dual boot is good, sometimes there's only one type of work available at a project (or the two versions use less memory/disc/CPU etc) so it's good to be able to choose. For a dual boot, install Windows first. Installing Linux into a host with an OS already present will add a boot manager, Windows assumes it's the only OS and overwrites any other OS boot setup already there. It can be restored but it's a bit of a pain, best to let Linux handle it.

Mark

Damien Healy
Active UBT Contributor 10+ yrs
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Re: Windows vs Linux for BOINC

Post by Damien Healy » Tue Nov 26, 2019 3:42 pm

Great. Thanks a lot Mark. Sounds like it's definitely the way to go, and then I'll keep the flexibility to boot into Windows if we come across a sprint where Windows is required.

On the dedicated Windows machines, I can also keep the option to run Linux inside VMware. That worked pretty well for Universe.

Woodles
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Re: Windows vs Linux for BOINC

Post by Woodles » Tue Nov 26, 2019 4:12 pm

Welcome.

Yep, these days VMs give pretty much 100% of bare metal setups. I believe the only issue is that it's sometimes tricky to run GPUs inside a VM? Not tried it though.

Damien Healy
Active UBT Contributor 10+ yrs
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Re: Windows vs Linux for BOINC

Post by Damien Healy » Tue Nov 26, 2019 5:24 pm

Yep - I haven't found a good GPU solution as yet. Maybe I'll dig into it some more. It seemed to work pretty well for CPU, although there are caps on supported #cpus per VM.

chriscambridge
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Re: Windows vs Linux for BOINC

Post by chriscambridge » Fri Nov 29, 2019 7:04 pm

I have found that practically every CPU project is quicker on Linux than Windows, some quite substantially. I can't say I have noticed much if any improvements on GPU projects.

The only thing to be aware of is GPU/CPU management is a bit of a nightmare on Linux compared to Windows. eg No CoreTemp or GPU-Z etc. Also if you move GPUs about (in my case, from a Geforce 210 to 1080/Ti, back and forth) it causes serious driver issues on Linux unlike Windows.

I did try the Linux Mint dual boot onto Windows 10, but it never worked for me.

Just to clarify, in my case Linux = Linux Mint 19 (based on Ubuntu).

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