New Gridcoin BOINC Challenge: Cosmology@Home - Installing VirtualBox and configuring the project

Hi everyone,

Today, a new BOINC challenge for the project Cosmology@Home started. This challenge was issued by Team Gridcoin:

I went ahead and added my machines to this project, only to realize I need VirtualBox installed:

1.png

So in order to crunch tasks for this project, I went to install VirtualBox as well as configure the project. Here I detail you the installation and optional configuration process, which is really simple:

Installing VirtualBox

  1. First, we go to the VirtualBox Website, https://virtualbox.org and click the Download VirtualBox button:
    2.PNG

  2. Because I'm using Windows, I'll download the Windows version:
    3.png

  3. We'll click Save:
    4.png

  4. And after the download finishes, we will click on Run:
    5.png

  5. We press Next:
    6.png

  6. We'll leave this as it is and press Next: 7.png

  7. Next again:
    8.png

  8. Now, we'll click Yes:
    9.png

  9. Now on Install:
    10.png

  10. It will ask us to install some driver software. We'll click Install:
    11.png

  11. When the installation finishes, untick the Start VirtualBox checkbox and press Finish:
    12.png

Configuring the project

I recommend doing these steps if you have a really bad lag or unresponsiveness in your PC. I had to apply a customized version of the configuration posted in the Cosmology@Home FAQ section as the VM would get stuck in my AMD Ryzen machine, so I configured it to use half the PC cores.

Here's how to configure it:

  1. Go to the Cosmology@Home Limit CPU section in the FAQ and copy and paste the app_config.xml template:
    13.png

  2. Open your favorite Text Editor and copy the contents you copied recently. I used Notepad++ here. Then, change the <avg_ncpus> section to specify the amount of threads you want the VM to use. I first limited it to 4 cores and kept going up until I could maximize my PC resources while keeping it stable. In my Intel machine, I tried this configuration to test it:
    14.png

  3. Save the config in the Cosmology@Home folder. If you installed BOINC and left the directories at their default location, then this directory/folder is C:\ProgramData\BOINC\projects\www.cosmologyathome.org. Save the file as app_config.xml:
    15.png

  4. You'll see the syntax is highlighted. It should be like this meaning it saved as an XML file:
    16.png

And that's it! We've finished the configuration.

Testing the installation and configuration.

Now, we need to launch BOINC and perform a project update. For this, exit BOINC if it is already running and launch it again. Then select the Cosmology@Home project and press Update:

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You should see in the log that it is downloading tasks:
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And that they are running:
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You can also check VirtualBox and see that the task VM is running:
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And here's how the CPU of one of my Intel machines looks like:
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Eventually, I upped the CPU threads to 8 so that it can use every resource in it. The only exception is my AMD Ryzen 7 2700X machine which is limited to 8 threads out of its 16.

If you followed this guide and are running Cosmology@Home tasks, congrats! And I wish you luck in the competition!

I'm at position #27 right now 😁

As a bonus, I made a section on my personal website where you can see the tasks I've finished processing:

This required some coding in my BOINCToWeb software I wrote to accomplish this. I'll talk about the code changes and additions in another post.

I also remember all of you that you can see the tasks I'm crunching by clicking here:

That's all!

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