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-=( TechSpot's Seti@home FAQ )=-

By Didou ยท 6 replies
Feb 26, 2004
  1. What is Seti@Home ?

    SETI stands for Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence. In short, it is a small program that runs in the background using your idle cpu cycles ( those cycles that you do not use & that are lost forever... ). It has been concieved as an answer to the mountains of data that the computers at Berkeley recieve in real-time & that they do not have enough CPU power to thoroughly analyse all the information it provides.

    Seti@home was invented as a way to create the most powerfull supercomputer. An alliance of home-computers working together as a worlwide cluster.

    For more info, read this -> How SETI@home works

    Where to get Seti@Home ?

    GUI + screensaver version ( slow but "pretty" )

    Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2K/XP ( Ver. 3.08 )


    Mac OS X

    CLI ( Command Line Interface ) *recommended*

    Win32 Windows ( 95/98/2K/NT )*

    i686 Linux

    i586 BeOS

    More CLI clients can be found HERE.

    * Win95 requires the Winsock 2 upgrade.

    How do I use the CLI version ?

    In windows, you can use the CLI version with some 3rd party tools such as SETI Driver, SETI Spy, etc.

    I'll describe how to use SETI Driver to get the best performance ( guides for other programs to follow ).

    1. Create a folder in which you download the SETI CLI .exe file & extract the contents of the seti-driver in the same folder.
    2. Run setidriver.exe & direct it to the seti-cli .exe file ( you'll notice a new icon in the system tray which should be red & upside down for now ).
    3. Set "Maximum Processes" to 1, "Desired Cache Size" to 1, "Hide Processing" to No, "Auto Transmit" to No & "Display Transmit" to Yes.
    4. Click on Save Config then hit Transmit.
    5. A dos window will open & give 2 choices. Create a new account ( if you're a newcomer ) or Enter account info ( if you allready have one ). Enter your Email & SETI will download one Work Unit ( WU ).
    6. Go back to seti-driver & change the settings to :

      "Maximum Processes" to 1 ( seti isn't multi-threaded so it can't take advantage of a Dual CPU system unless you run two separate processes ).

      "Desired Cache Size" = 1 to 500 ( uh... ). This is the amount of Units you want to seti-driver to download in one time. It's always good to have a small amount of units ready to be worked on in case the seti servers go down & you do not wwish for your CPU to get cold.

      "Hide Processing" to Yes. That way you do not have to see the DOS window while seti works on the current unit.

      "Auto Transmit" to Yes, unless you wish for seti to upload units only when you click on transmit.

      "Display Transmit" to No, unless you wish to have that cute DOS window whenever seti upload a result & downloads a new unit.

      "Use SETI Driver" to Yes, of course we want to use SETI driver !!!

      "Use 24Hr Clock" to Yes / No, your move.

      "Create SETILog.csv" to Yes, if you want seti driver to create a .csv file to help you keep track of your progress.

      SETIDriver has three state icons. Blue means it's working on a unit, there are no results to transfer & no units to download in order to fill the cache. Yellow means it is working on a unit, has a result waiting to upload & a unit to download in order to fill the cache. Red means the cache is empty & there are no units to process.

      I've got SETI running now what should I do ?

      The TechSpot SETI@Home Team

      We're always looking for more CPU cycles to join us in our quest to find ET.;)

      -=( Interesting Link )=-

      Anandtech S@H FAQ

      SETI@Home Website

      SETI Driver Homepage

      PS. More info to come...
  2. Spike

    Spike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,168

    A very nice FAQ, but I personally would be inclined to make a few minor additions.

    Instead of downloading the CLI cliend, and seperate addons, download the CLI client + seti driver + seti spy, all in one easily installed package from This link Taken from the Easy SETI CLI install instuructions on the addons page of the official SETI site.

    Also, remember that if you set SETI Driver to cache, say 20 WU's, it will download a new WU (Work Unit) each time you complete one. If you don't want it to do this, simply set it to cache a number of them, and then reset it back to 1 or two. It will then run through all of your WU's back to the poin't where you only have 1 or 2 left. You will have to increase the cache size again to cach more WU's.

    On Seti Driver, there is an option to set the Process priority for the SETI Client. It is set to low by default. This ensures that SETI only uses your spare CPU cycles. If you set the priority to Normal, it WILL slow down your system, set it to High and it'll be like trying to run XP on a 486!!! (unless you have a dual processor system) Low is usually a perfectly adequate priority, with possible a change to normal overnight (if you really want to get every last bit of crunching speed out of your system.

    Some systems may be able to cope with a constant 'normal' priority, but then that depends on what you want, and what your system is.

    None of this is particularly complicated, so please have fun trying things and experimenting. If all else fails, use Didou's settings above to revert back to normal!!!

    (NB, If you set the priority to high, and your system slows to a crawl, DON'T click things repeatedly, this will only clog up your system and possibly freeze it completely. Click on ONE thing at a time, and wait for it to happen. Alternatively, open Taskmanager, and recet the process priority of the SETI client to low.)

    Have fun!
  3. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Topic Starter Posts: 4,274

    Or you can simply set "Auto Transmit" to No. That way it'll only upload/download when you click on Transmit.

    I'll post a few more tips this week-end ( how to overclock in order to get best performance, how to let it run during the night without using your HDDs for example, etc ).

    Stay tuned.:grinthumb
  4. Godataloss

    Godataloss TS Rookie Posts: 482

    its chugging away, but wasnt it supposed to email me a password? ~4hours and nothing. Dont I need a password to join the techspot team? is all the crunching I'm doing now for naught? can I use the same account at work and at home simultaneously?
  5. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Topic Starter Posts: 4,274

    Yes you can use the same account for all the PCs on which you install SETI. That's the only way to get credited.

    As for the password, try going here & enter your Email -> SETI@Home account password

    The unit you're working on now will be credited to the Email that you entered when you first launched SETI so unless you entered a wrong Email you won't have any problems.:)

    Keep those CPUs chugging away !!! :D
  6. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Topic Starter Posts: 4,274

    How can I get more results with the same system ?

    The current CLI version is 3.08. It has been updated with a fix for a possible exploit & since its release, people have been complaining about longer WU times. 3.08 can take about 20% more time to process the same unit compared to a previous version, say 3.03 for example.

    The performance hit is even worse on the GUI version, as using the 3.08 GUI version can double or even quadruple the time per WU.:eek:

    You can revert back to 3.03 to get faster time, but you are taking the risk of letting the identified exploit available to attacks. So far, there no known cases where this exploit has been used, but you are still using it at your own risk. You are the only person liable if that exploit were to be used in your disadvantage, whether at home or at work.

    3.03 CLI

    This version of the CLI still does the same calculations on the WU, so you are not cheating by using it.

    PS. Finish the WU you are currently working before changing CLI versions. Once you use the new one, the CLI will start the WU from the beginning.

    Can I run s@h on my laptop ?

    You can run s@h on any laptop, but the power saving features present on such PCs isn't always adequate for s@h. Functions such as Intel's SpeedStep or AMD's PowerNOW! will make WUs take longer since those technologies make the CPU run at slower speed when in power saving mode.

    In order to get better performance, run the laptop from DC current & turn the power saving mode off.

    Furthermore, running s@h will constanty feed the CPU with work so the fans will certainly be spinning all the time & other hardware such as the HDD will not be able to go in sleep mode since s@h regularly accesses certain files on the HDD ( result.sah, state.sah, etc ). One way to prevent this is to install a Ramdisk.

    A Ramdisk is using a portion of your system's memory as a fictional HDD partition. You can install s@h on this partition & run it from there. After a certain time without any HDD activity, the HDD on the system will then go in sleep mode & s@h will keep running from the Ramdisk without any problems.

    If you wish to try it out, download the free RamDrive utility from Microsoft ( http://support.microsoft.com/defaul...257405&SD=MSKB& ).

    Install it following the ReadMe, instructions & enable it by changing the registry key :

    "HKey Local Machine\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Fastfat\Start" from 4 to 1.

    PS. You are limited to 32mb with this utility, or you can download another one here *Recommended* ( Link provided by http://www.jurixt.com/xp/xp_18.htm ).

    Once the Ramdisk installed & s@h running off it, you will want to set the screen to turn off after 10 minutes, so that the laptop can keep crunching during the night but with the HDD & screen turned off.

    PS. You can also use that technique if you wish to let s@h run on your desktop & have the HDDs & screen shutdown during the night ( some people actually sleep near the PC ;) ).

    Can I run Seti@home at work ?

    That is a very delicate question. Technically you can, but technically your machine's CPU cycles belong to the company for which you are working. If you do not wish to get in trouble by running such a program, ask for an authorisation, or do not install it at all. Once again, if an exploit present in the s@h code were to be used to hack your machine at work, it might have big consequences on your office's network security & you are the only person liable in that case.

    Do not install & run s@h on a machine which you do not own, without prior consent from the owner.
  7. Didou

    Didou Bowtie extraordinair! Topic Starter Posts: 4,274

    Where is Seti@home heading ?

    BOINC -> Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing

    BOINS is bringing the Seti@home & distributed computing concept a bit further. The idea is to centralise the different projects into one infrastructure. Clients would only download one program & this client downloads work units but also the analysis routines.

    For example, the program downloads a work unit from the seti project, then if it doesn't allready have the seti routines, it downloads it from the server & starts working on the unit.

    Once it's done, the result gets uploaded & a new work unit is downloaded. This new unit could also be from the Seti project, but it could be from the Astropulse project, or any other partner project in which case BOINC downloads the routines from the correct project & starts working on the unit.

    & also, for every work unit downloaded BOINC will check to see if there isn't an updated version of the routines from corresponding project, so the client can be updated automatically without any intervention from the user ( that way users can no longer cheat using older/faster client versions ).

    I have yet to find out what happens if you keep uploading units with previous routines, as in do the results still get counted or are they ignored, or are results from previous accepted during a certain period of time before being ignored, etc

    The score system will be updated as well & I have yet to understand how it works. It's a combination of Work Unit degree & the time the machine took to process the work unit, a bit like UD calculates but more on that later.

    Join the BOINC Beta Test
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