Last modified 3 weeks ago Last modified on 11/10/14 07:05:31

BOINC source code

Getting a copy of the BOINC source

The BOINC source is stored in a Git repository. To clone the repository into a directory called (for example) 'boinc', run:

git clone git:// boinc

or, using HTTP:

git clone boinc

On Windows, you'll need a Git client such as TortoiseGit (see below). Right-click on the parent directory, select 'Git Clone...', and fill in the dialog with one of the above URLs. Don't forget to remove both 'git clone' and 'boinc' from the commands above.

The 'clone' operation pulls down ~134 MB of source and gives you a copy that you can modify and compile locally. However, you will not be able to push changes to the BOINC repository. For write access, see below.

Change to the directory 'boinc'. Here you find the files corresponding to the HEAD of the 'remote master branch'. The development history of the project can be found in the 'boinc/.git' subdirectory.

You can replace the files on your 'master branch' by files from older branches or older tags using the appropriate git command - without needing to contact the Git repository server again as all the history can be found under 'boinc/.git'. This is called 'checking out'. See the instructions below for checking out different branches or tags.

Sometimes it is necessary to purge all untracked files created by build tools (_autosetup, configure, make) and reset the source directory without pulling a new clone. This can be done using:

$ git clean -f -d -x

Staying Current

The local git repository which you created when you cloned the remote repository has a complete snapshot of development at the time it was cloned. You can use this to build the BOINC software, and you can even make local changes to your local copy. Meanwhile the BOINC developers will be making changes to the remote repository as they continue working on the software. To see what changes have been made there since you cloned the repository you must first "fetch" the changes from that repository. These will go into a branch called "origin/master", which is not the current working branch of your repository (which by default will be the "master" branch). So to compare your local copy with the remote, follow this example:

$ cd boinc
$ git fetch
$ git diff --name-status master..origin/master
M       client/app.cpp
M       client/app_config.cpp
M       client/client_types.h
M       client/cpu_sched.cpp
M       client/cs_prefs.cpp
M       client/cs_scheduler.cpp
M       client/result.cpp
M       client/result.h
M       client/rr_sim.cpp
M       client/sim.cpp
M       clientgui/MainDocument.cpp
M       doc/
M       html/user/get_passwd.php
M       html/user/server_status.php
M       lib/coproc.h

The "--name-status" flag causes only the name and status of differing files to be displayed. The "master..origin/master" specification causes the difference to be displayed between your local repository (the "master" branch) and the remote repository (as fetched onto the local "origin/master" branch).

If you wish to update your local branch to match the remote repository then simply use the git "pull" command, as in this example:

$ git pull
Updating 6790085..2bb3e74
 client/app.cpp              |   2 +-
 client/app_config.cpp       |  12 ++
 client/client_types.h       |   2 +-
 client/cpu_sched.cpp        |  12 +-
 client/cs_prefs.cpp         |   5 +-
 client/cs_scheduler.cpp     |  15 +-
 client/result.cpp           |   7 +-
 client/result.h             |   3 +
 client/rr_sim.cpp           |   4 +-
 client/sim.cpp              |   6 +-
 clientgui/MainDocument.cpp  |  12 +-
 doc/            | 380 ++++++++++++++++++++++----------------------
 html/user/get_passwd.php    | 101 ++++++------
 html/user/server_status.php |  38 ++++-
 lib/coproc.h                |   5 +
 15 files changed, 332 insertions(+), 272 deletions(-)

You could also use the "git merge" command, which would merge the changes from your local copy of the "origin/master" branch into your local "master" branch. The "git pull" command is shorthand for "git fetch" followed immediately by "git merge".

Installing Git

To access the BOINC Git repository you'll need the Git client software:

To get a copy of the BOINC source code you don't need to fully understand Git, you can just skim the instructions below. However, if you intend to modify BOINC or to look at branches, you'll need to know at least the basics.

Recommended reading/watching:

  • Getting Git: 1 hour video (technical, but highly recommended)
  • Pro Git: Great free online book (also commercially available in print!)
  • All the rest: Cheat sheets, tutorials and more videos

Browsing source code on the web

You can browse the BOINC code using a web-based interface (alternative). This is useful for getting individual files, or seeing the revision history.

Tags & Branches

For all software other than the client (i.e., server, web, and API) use the master branch. Don't use a client tag or branch; the server software in it probably isn't stable.

Various versions of the source code are available in the remote repository (and now, in your local copy of it):

  • remote tags: These are snapshots of the state of development taken at a specific point in time. You can check out a 'remote tag', but you should not modify the files thus checked out - for that you need a separate branch (which can be created later though). The tag's name indicates what's in there. For example, the release of BOINC client version 7.0.60 has been given then tag 'client_release/7.0/7.0.60'. Run git tag to list the remote tags.
  • remote branches: BOINC developers perform long-running work on source code that needs to be visible to other members of the team by working on a 'remote branch'. There are:
    • The remote master branch: This is the most recent version of the source code. It always exists, contains the freshest code and has not necessarily been thoroughly tested.
    • Other branches: For example, work on version 6.12 of BOINC that is not done in the 'remote master branch', (let's say because of the need for a immediate bugfix) may be done in a remote branch called 'client_release/6/6.12'.

Run git remote show origin to list the remote branches. When you cloned the Git repository a 'local master branch' was created. This initially matches the 'remote master branch', but once you start editing files, it will of course deviate from it. You can create local branches and tags (both invisible to anyone but yourself). You can check out a specific 'remote tag' to compile, or you can create a local branch based on a specific 'remote tag' to work on the code.

If you want to have an overview of the development history, refer to - this discussion on stack overflow about generating pretty pictures of the same.

For the impatient living on Unix, you can follow Slipp D. Thompson's idea and edit (or create) your '~/.gitconfig' file, adding the following command aliases:

lg1 = log --graph --abbrev-commit --decorate --date=relative --format=format:'%C(bold blue)%h%C(reset) - %C(bold green)(%ar)%C(reset) %C(white)%s%C(reset) %C(dim white)- %an%C(reset)%C(bold yellow)%d%C(reset)' --all
lg2 = log --graph --abbrev-commit --decorate --format=format:'%C(bold blue)%h%C(reset) - %C(bold cyan)%aD%C(reset) %C(bold green)(%ar)%C(reset)%C(bold yellow)%d%C(reset)%n''          %C(white)%s%C(reset) %C(dim white)- %an%C(reset)' --all
lg = !"git lg1"

Then run

git lg

inside the 'boinc' directory for a quick text-only history dump, which will look something like this:

* 403afa4 - (14 hours ago) client: work fetch policy tweak - David Anderson (HEAD, origin/master, origin/HEAD, master)
* 28f7f95 - (17 hours ago) client: Default to /usr/bin when looking for VboxManage. - Rom Walton
* b4f7e33 - (18 hours ago) client, Android: run CPU-intensive apps in background mode - David Anderson
* b0504e9 - (24 hours ago) Mac: script builds boinc_zip library when building other BOINC libraries - Charlie Fenton
* edc96a2 - (24 hours ago) Mac: update build scripts for OS 10.9 - Charlie Fenton
* 0d04b84 - (24 hours ago) Mac: Update build script for wxWidgets 3.0.0 - Charlie Fenton
* 04e8f00 - (30 hours ago) client, Win: when running GPU detect, use "boinc.exe" rather than "boinc" on cmdline. - David Anderson
* be2f175 - (2 days ago) DOC: Add entries for MIPS and x86 for Android. - Rom Walton
*   cc32c51 - (2 days ago) Merge branch 'master' of ssh:// - Rom Walton
| * 6d78613 - (2 days ago) API: make boinc_api_fortran.cpp compile - David Anderson
| * 36460bc - (2 days ago) Compile fixes for Ubuntu - David Anderson
* | 8bb3af6 - (2 days ago) DOC: Update android client to 7.2.41. - Rom Walton
* 9b041f7 - (2 days ago) VBOX: Fix case of virtualbox and vboxheadless for platforms that are case sensitive.  The code...
* 9220ceb - (3 days ago) Admin web: deprecate problem_host.php, which sends a confusing email to user - David Anderson

Examples using tags and branches

To revert back to the remote master branch after you have modified some files in a too hasty fashion:

git checkout master

What is the absolutely latest tag issued?

$ git describe --tags `git rev-list --tags --max-count=1`

What's the most recent tag for the currently checked-out version?

$ git describe --always --tag

This means that the HEAD is based on 'client_release/7.2/7.2.4', with 2866 commits on top (I think).

What are the differences between the HEAD and the latest tag issued?

$ git diff HEAD client_release/7.2/7.2.41 | wc -l

271949 lines have differences.

You may want to see the differences to file 'version.h':

$ git diff HEAD client_release/7.2/7.2.41 version.h | grep BOINC_VERSION_STRING
-#define BOINC_VERSION_STRING "7.3.0"
+#define BOINC_VERSION_STRING "7.2.41"

Looks like the HEAD is an as-yet-untagged 7.3.0. The choice is yours ... what do you want to compile? You probably want something more stable.

Check out a specific tag for compilation

As mentioned above, the code for each client release is 'tagged'. For example, the code for version 7.2.9 is tagged with client_release/7.2/7.2.9.


git tag

to list all the visible tags. Note that the tags come in lexicographical order, not in version order! If you want to sort them by version number:

git tag | perl

Where the source for the sorter function is here: VersionPathSorter


git tag --list '*/7.2/*'

to list only the tags matching '/7.2/'.


git checkout client_release/7.2/7.2.9; git status

to check out BOINC client version 7.2.9.

...and proceed with compilation.

Write Access to the Git Repository

Note: you don't need direct write access to contribute code to BOINC. Given the distributed nature of Git you can publish your contributions elsewhere (e.g. on GitHub) or send your patches via mail (using git format-patch).

Direct write access to the main repository is currently available via the SSH protocol with public-key authentication. If you want direct write access, contact David Anderson and/or Rom Walton. They'll ask you for your public key. Here's how you can create a public/private key pair and use it after you've been granted access to the repository:


Please see this page for details.

Linux/Mac OS X

  • General note: before you start, please check whether you already have an existing key at ~/.ssh/id_rsa. If so, please choose a different key filename for the commands below! Alternatively, you could also reuse the existing key and continue with the final step.
  • Note to Mac OS X users: if you prefer "Finder" over "Terminal" hit CMD+SHIFT+G in "Finder", then enter ~/.ssh to go to that hidden folder.

The following shell/terminal command will create a key pair that gets stored in your ~/.ssh directory:

  • Public key: ~/.ssh/
  • Private key: ~/.ssh/id_rsa
    ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -f ~/.ssh/id_rsa

If you used the standard key filename id_rsa and you want the repository named boinc-v2.git, use the following URL to access the repository:


If you had to use a different key filename because of an existing key that you don't want to overwrite or reuse, you can define a so called ssh host alias that allows you to specify which key to use when accessing the BOINC repo. To do so, add the following to ~/.ssh/config (create the file if necessary), assuming that you created the ssh key as ~/.ssh/boinc-key:

host boinc-git-server
       Port 22
       IdentityFile ~/.ssh/boinc-key
       User gitolite

Now that you have the host alias defined you may access the repo using the alias in the clone URL (instead of the full user/hostname information):

git clone boinc-git-server:boinc-v2.git

Finally, send the public key to David or Rom. Important: the private key should never leave your system! Keep it safe!

Windows build dependencies

All the additional dependency files are now stored in boinc_depends_win_vs2010; get them using git clone git:// The dependencies should be stored in the same parent directory as the BOINC source code, for example:

+-+ source
    + boinc
    | |
    | + api
    | + client
    | + clientgui
    | + etc...
    + build_depends_vs2010
    | |
    | + curl
    | + openssl
    | + wxwidgets
    | + zlib

When you have older source code, deleting all previous source code and downloading it fresh will sometimes fix the breaks in building BOINC. Make sure to back up your own code prior to deleting the source code.

Source code road map

The BOINC source tree includes the following directories:

android Android port
api The BOINC API (for applications).
apps Some test applications.
client The BOINC client.
clientctrl BOINC-as-Windows-Service.
clientgui The BOINC Manager.
clientscr The BOINC screensaver for Windows.
clienttray The BOINC Tray component (checks for user activity on Windows).
coprocs Header file for - NVIDIA API.
curl Bunch of Certificate Authority Certificates (for libcurl?).
db The database schema and C++ interface layer (needs mysql.h).
dcapi Data collection API (?).
html/ops PHP files for the operational web interface.
html/user PHP files for the participant web interface.
html/inc PHP include files
html/languages Translation files for project websites.
lib Code that is shared by more than one component (core client, scheduling server, etc.).
locale Translation files for BOINC Manager.
m4 Code for the - m4 macro processor (Why!)
mac_build For building on Macs.
mac_installer For installing on Macs.
packages Files required to create a distribution package for various operating systems.
py Python modules used by tools.
rboinc Remote job submission system for BOINC.
samples Several example applications together with Windows and Mac project files and a Linux makefile for building the applications. It also includes Windows versions of some libraries (GLUT, jpeglib, etc.) that many applications will need, but which are not part of BOINC.
sched The scheduling server, feeder, and file upload handler.
stripchart Generate plots using gnuplot
test Test scripts.
tools Operational utility programs.
vda Volunteer Data Archival code.
win_build Project files for compiling the client under Windows, and the Windows installer.
zip Compression functions; not used by BOINC, but may be useful for applications.

A directory tree, with size indicating "number of code lines in file" and redness indicating "cyclomatic complexity of code (logarithmic scale)", as generated by "Scientific Toolworks Understand" shows a rather considerable fileset:

Treemap of BOINC source code, version "7.3.0"