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

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:

Cosmology@Home Challenge 1

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

BOINC Virtualbox not installed

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, and click the Download VirtualBox button:

Downloading Virtualbox 1

2. Because I’m using Windows, I’ll download the Windows version:

Downloading Virtualbox 2

3. We’ll click Save:

Downloading Virtualbox 3

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

Downloading Virtualbox 4

5. We press Next:

Installing Virtualbox 1

6. We’ll leave this as it is and press Next:

Installing Virtualbox 2

7. We’ll press Next again:

Installing Virtualbox 3

8. Now, we’ll click Yes:

Installing Virtualbox 4

9. Now on Install:

Installing Virtualbox 5

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

Installing Virtualbox 6

11. When the installation finishes, uncheck the Start VirtualBox checkbox and press Finish:

Installing Virtualbox 7

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:

Configuring Cosmology@Home 1

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:

Configuring Cosmology@Home 2

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\ Save the file as app_config.xml:

Configuring Cosmology@Home 3

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

Configuring Cosmology@Home 4

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:

Running Cosmology@Home 1

You should see in the log that it is downloading tasks:

Running Cosmology@Home 3

And that they are running:

Running Cosmology@Home 3

You can also check VirtualBox and see that the task VM is running:

Running Cosmology@Home 4

And here’s how the CPU of one of my Intel machines looks like:

CPU Threads used by Cosmology@Home

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 😁:

Cosmology@Home Challenge Position 27

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

BOINC Finished Tasks 1

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:

BOINC Running Tasks

That’s all!