Detecting GPUs in BOINC on Linux - and then...

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Joined: 30 May 15
Posts: 265
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Message 65318 - Posted: 7 Nov 2015, 22:00:22 UTC

Ageless wrote a post - Help Wanted.

We're looking for someone, or a couple of people, to write step-by-step manuals on how to add the drivers for Nvidia, AMD and if possible Intel GPUs in such a way that BOINC can detect the GPU at start-up.

I'm going to make an small assumption that this is for boinc end-users, not developers etc. I'm not that clear about how best to approach this (**1) however i had a couple of thoughts about why this is a ongoing problem. It is really difficult to write good manuals, and they should not be needed if the software installed properly.

The boinc home pages says "It's safe, secure, and easy" ...well two and a half out of three when it comes to GPU computing on Linux!

The right way (in my opinion) to do this is to push end users towards their repositories. as we have here i noticed over at Debian a list of boinc "packages" in use, and each of these does need testing, and user documentation updated (eg to crunch on a AMD GPU you need .....) Repos are the right place to get software and all the dependencies, future updates (aka missing links and overwrites) are handled. Reversing an upgrade or update is not trivial, but there is a process.

What should happen is the user should go to their distro and select the packages, and then maybe a restart, then it ready to run.

We should discourage "a one-time package download from either boinc or vendor", because a later repo upgrade will override it. Been there done that. **4

I'm the first to bemoan the bad distros, but we should go back to them and get them fixed. (mea culpa) **3

I haven't dug too much into how exactly each distro's repositories are maintained, perhaps some help from Debian BOINC Maintainers they are active, i don't know if they read here it would be really helpful to get their input and guidance on this.

That said boinc really could "do better" at startup to explain what it sees, or expects to see but can't. For example, boinc could

  • search for, find and test working OpenCL/Cuda library -e.g. the missing link goes back years but trips users every-time. I am not a developer (any more) but surely the dlopen calls could be made smarter?
  • run or include a performance / diagnostic test or script, collect data about the host, OS, driver and gpu cards running, and gather aticonfig or nvidia-smi type info.
  • produce log files output when things are not found - such as "library filename <pathname>/<filename>.so" not found and report this in log files.

I posted about a lot of pain in Ubuntu 14.04 and my 7990 a few months ago in this forum, it should have been no harder than

apt-get boinc boinc-manager boinc-client-opencl boinc-amd-opencl fgrlx # go make some tea while it sorts it out...
shutdown -r

To troubleshoot - some documentation could/should be written, but some boinc documentation about its discovery process, and who to contact for each of the distros to keep installs and updates bug free, needs to be first part of that documentation. I'd be happy to help out after that.

**1 "it's only a harmless little bunny" (**2)
**2 "Run Away! Run Away!
**3 Note to self - log the bugs you find.
**4 BSD has the moral (albeit slightly lonely) high ground
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Message boards : GPUs : Detecting GPUs in BOINC on Linux - and then...

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