I am making a post to showcase my latest project: as the one (or maybe two?) people that read my blog or look at my content already likely know; I run 24/7 compute servers for World Community Grid, as it something that meshes really well with my passion for computing and drive to make a difference in this world. It also lets me gain valuable experience for future employment opportunities!
Recently, I took the opportunity to transition my dedicated, 24/7 machines from Windows 10 Pro operating system to the vastly better suited and lightweight Ubuntu Server OS, with "Safe graphics" - so command-line only (no GUI). I didn't do this earlier as I was fairly comfortable with the "ease of use" of the Windows 10 machines, allowing remote management via Remote Desktop Protocol, but now I have progressed to the point when Windows 10 Pro is really showing its inadequacies for a computing OS.
The enormous amount of OS overhead and bloat in the background, update restarts that I can't control entirely, etc, are major contributing factors to my transition of the machines to Linux, but it was going to happen sooner or later - everyone running dedicated compute machines on x86 is running some form of Linux install more or less.
Learning to get GUI-less Ubuntu Server set up wasn't as difficult as I thought, after messing around with the install in a virtual machine on my Windows desktop, configuring the Boinc client for Linux via command line was fairly easy:
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install boinc-client boinc-manager sudo -u boinc boinccmd --project_attach http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org <profile key token here!>
Of course, I already knew the "sudo" command, essentially elevating the command to administrator level. 'apt-get' is fairly easy to understand - essentially telling the OS to grab and install or update the specified application package, etc. With that set up, and the essentially stripped-down nature of Ubuntu Server, the machines were ready for crunching!
Linux's lower overhead and the lack of bloat on these machines should improve their output by a not-insignificant amount. I will be closely monitoring their performance over the coming weeks. The Farm pictured above currently consists of four Ryzen 7 2700 (non-X) processors operating at stock settings (around 3.1 GHz all-core, ~950mV and 65-70W package). There is also a Ryzen 7 PRO 2700X which I believe is operating around 3.6 GHz with a more aggressive V/F curve up to 1.2V (I believe it is to do with guaranteed stability offered by the 'PRO' models for business). I will eventually tune the PRO 2700X down to a more efficient V/F setting, but that will come at a later date.
The 5-machine Ubuntu Farm currently uses about 590W, which will cost me about £0.08 to run for one hour at my current rate, which is acceptable on my budgeted power limitations, but not ideal - I will be looking to upgrade the hardware at some point this year to bring that power usage down (think 3700Xs and more efficient PSU, or consolidating cores into single machines to cut down on VRM/PSU conversion inefficiency [3950X, I love you! Please get discounted soon!]).
On top of these, the rest of my WCG computing setup will continue to run Windows 10 Pro, as these machines also pull double-duty for other purposes, such as media editing, transcoding, etc and of course... playing video games. Most of which require apps that I am either not comfortable troubleshooting on a Linux install, or simply flat-out lack compatibility entirely.
Overall, I am very happy with the contribution I have made and it makes me feel pretty good to combine my passion for computing and processor technology / hardware for a good cause.
If you want to join, you can use my referral link so I get a cool badge! <3