BOINC Manager keeps attaching to a different account

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msmeads

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Message 103011 - Posted: 16 Feb 2021, 4:56:18 UTC
Last modified: 16 Feb 2021, 5:07:48 UTC

Hi - I'm unsure if this is a BOINC client issue or a Project-specific issue, but here goes:

I have the BOINC Manager running on two Windows 10 PCs. Both are only working only on the Rosetta@home project. Every now and then, when I check my stats it looks like I have zero tasks and no recent credit even though the program has been running in the background.

When I open the account_boinc.bakerlab.org_rosetta.xml file on my computer, I notice that the <authenticator> tag shows an account key value that is different from what is shown under my account keys on the boinc.bakerlab.org website. To fix this, I remove the project in the BOINC Manager and re-add the project as an existing user (using the same credentials I use to login to the boinc.bakerlab.org site). This associates my correct account id to the project, but eventually it changes to the same incorrect value, and I have to remove and re-add the project again - resulting in lost work tasks and credit.

After the project is re-added, my correct account key shows up in the account_boinc.bakerlab.org_rosetta.xml file; everything is fine. However, when I check back some time later, the <authenticator> key in the xml file gets reverted back to the incorrect value. It always changes to the same incorrect value.

This happens on both computers that I have running BOINC, and I believe that my account key is being overwritten with an incorrect value whenever I invoke the Update Project command in the client, or if the machine is rebooted. I'm not sure why it is overwriting the authenticator or where BOINC Manager is pulling the incorrect value from.

Does anyone have an idea why this is happening? Is the BOINC Manager reading a preference or cookie or something upon startup that is re-writing my account key information? I've also posted this question to the Rosetta@home project board but no one seems to know why the software is behaving this way. Just thought I'd ask here in case anyone might know what's going on. Thank you. Mary Sue

- - - - -

TL;DR -

  • I add the Rosetta@home project in BOINC Manager
  • Project is added, and associated with my account ID, 255 (illustrative)
  • Project runs - but after some time the account ID in the xml config files changes to an incorrect value, 133
  • I remove the project and re-add it in BOINC Manager
  • Project is added, and associated with my correct account ID, 255
  • Project runs - but after some time the account ID changes back to 133
  • repeat, etc.

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Profile Jord
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Message 103012 - Posted: 16 Feb 2021, 9:12:56 UTC

Three things to try, while you wait for an answer from the project admin:

- change your account password, just in case someone hacked into your account.
- use the weak account key and see what that changes into.
- log into the account with the new authenticator to see who that account belongs to. To log into that account, log out on the project page, log back in but instead of using the password for your account fill in the authenticator in the password field. See where it brings you.
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msmeads

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Message 103033 - Posted: 16 Feb 2021, 21:12:15 UTC - in response to Message 103012.  
Last modified: 16 Feb 2021, 21:28:53 UTC

Thank you for those tips.

I just changed my account password. I also paused the project, set the config file to use my weak account key, then issued a the "update project" command. The account ID gets updated to the same incorrect value.

To fix this, I removed and re-added the Rosetta@home project as an existing user via my email & password, as I usually do. The project is downloaded and the config file shows the correct account id (my non-weak account key) in the <authenticator> tag. After the project files were transferred, I paused the project, set the config file to use my weak account key for the <authenticator>, then issued a "reset project" command to delete and reload all tasks & files. BOINC Manager re-creates the xml config file with the usual incorrect value.

Meanwhile when I logout and login to the project page via my current account key, I get my usual project account page.


It seems as though the BOINC Manager is grabbing an incorrect account key whenever there's an update, either from a server or a local cookie or data file on my computer. Or maybe my PCs are somehow associated with an incorrect account somewhere?

Fwiw, I've searched all the config files on my PC for the incorrect account key string and it does not appear anywhere.
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Message 103034 - Posted: 16 Feb 2021, 21:43:33 UTC - in response to Message 103033.  

Meanwhile when I logout and login to the project page via my current account key, I get my usual project account page.
But I suggested you use the other account key to log in and see who that account belongs to. If that's also you, it may be something at the project that's doing this on purpose.

In the mean time, I've sent you a PM.
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msmeads

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Message 103235 - Posted: 26 Feb 2021, 3:23:33 UTC
Last modified: 26 Feb 2021, 3:26:59 UTC

Problem solved, possibly.

I finally figured out that the incorrect account key belonged to another person who had installed BOINC on both this computer (years ago) and on the second computer (months ago). Through trial and error, I was able to login with the account key and his email address.

Although that person had previously uninstalled the BOINC Manager, his ID somehow remained on both machines. Similarly, when I encountered issues and uninstalled and re-installed BOINC, the client kept attaching to the original (incorrect) account periodically, as described in the initial posting.

To fix this, my computer helper uninstalled the BOINC Manager, then combed through the Windows registry and deleted every key contining a BOINC reference. After reinstalling and re-adding the project, things seem to be going smoothly. I tested it out by issuing a "Project Update" command, as well as shutting down and restarting the client, and the correct account ID (mine) is being used.

Then we repeated the same steps on the second PC. So far, so good.

I'm not sure if this needs to be reported as a possible bug, but it seems that the BOINC Manager may not uninstall cleanly, and that may cause problems if it is reinstalled and associated with a different account or email address.
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Richard Haselgrove
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Message 103236 - Posted: 26 Feb 2021, 9:32:21 UTC - in response to Message 103235.  

I'm finding it hard, from my knowledge of how BOINC is designed to work, to see how this solution could relate back to the original problem. I've had a look through my own registry, and in all the - multitude of - entries, I haven't seen a single one which relates to a user account key. Those are all stored in the files in the BOINC data folder.

The data folder - by design - does not get deleted when the BOINC programs are uninstalled. This is to allow for version upgrades: an upgrade requires the removal of the old version, and its replacement by the files for the new version. The plan is for the user's data to remain unchanged during this process, even to the extent of keeping part-processed work intact, and restarting it at the exact point the previous version left it at.

All of which is a long way of saying that this may be a temporary fix - don't be too disheartened if the problem returns in the future.

One thing that hasn't been discussed so far is the potential role of project servers in all this. The BOINC server code contains tools which try to re-unite a lost computer with its owner's account. From memory, it considers things like hardware configuration and IP address - there may be others. Might it be a possibility that one of the projects you're attached to is using a buggy version of that code? It would be a hard one to track down, but the first step would be to make a note of the computer's 'HostID' or 'Computer ID' at each of the projects it is attached to - it will be different in each case. Check it locally first ('Properties' button on the 'Projects' tab, BOINC Manager, Advanced view). Then check that the same number is used on your own account on each project's web site.

Then, if it changes again to the old account again in the future, check the list of HostIDs again. I would expect that at least one - hopefully just one - will also have changed. Go to the project web page, and see what account the new HostID is attached to. That would give us some clues to work with.
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Message 103238 - Posted: 26 Feb 2021, 10:35:01 UTC - in response to Message 103236.  
Last modified: 26 Feb 2021, 10:43:44 UTC

From memory, it considers things like hardware configuration and IP address

AFAIK not IP address as this may change.

I'm having a hard time understanding how the server says "Nah the account key you're sending is the wrong one, here have the correct one" on a connection. The client contacts the server and tells it to look up the account based on the (weak) account key, so how, where, does that account key ever change to that of another person? Maybe you and I should test this, Richard. Send me your account_boinc.bakerlab.org_rosetta.xml file and I'll incorporate it on mine, or do you want my file and you go test on yours?

Loose thoughts:
- The account key isn't stored in Windows registry. You can check this yourself at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Space Sciences Laboratory, U.C. Berkeley and HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Space Sciences Laboratory, U.C. Berkeley
- I had already explained how to log in with the account key in this post, so no "trial and error" needed.
- Uninstalling BOINC merely removes the BOINC program files at the BOINC Programs install directory (default C:\Program Files\BOINC)
- Neither you nor your computer helper thought about asking any of the above here? I then wonder why not, are we not here to help, have I not sent you help? Or have you searched on the internet for answers? BOINC has been 18 years in development, surely someone would've written something down about basic things like this?
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Richard Haselgrove
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Message 103239 - Posted: 26 Feb 2021, 10:45:01 UTC - in response to Message 103238.  

AFAIK not IP address as this may change.
I was thinking of the case where the server was trying to identify a machine from garbled information.

https://github.com/BOINC/boinc/blob/master/sched/handle_request.cpp#L78

// find the user's most recently-created host with given various characteristics
...
if (strlen(req_host.domain_name) && strlen(req_host.last_ip_addr) && strlen(req_host.os_name) && strlen(req_host.p_model)) {
...
I was forgetting that the computer name is the most fundamental of all... :-(
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Message 103242 - Posted: 26 Feb 2021, 12:04:05 UTC - in response to Message 103239.  

But we're not looking up or changing the host ID, it's changing of the account key/authenticator.
Checking https://github.com/BOINC/boinc/blob/0dfaff4b58cfb16d85ee74446ad4cbde4d9805d1/sched/handle_request.cpp#L285

        // look up user based on the ID in host record,
        // and see if the authenticator matches (regular or weak)


https://github.com/BOINC/boinc/blob/0dfaff4b58cfb16d85ee74446ad4cbde4d9805d1/sched/handle_request.cpp#L317
This does a "Bad authenticator" routine with removing and re-adding the project.

https://github.com/BOINC/boinc/blob/0dfaff4b58cfb16d85ee74446ad4cbde4d9805d1/sched/handle_request.cpp#L333
Does
            // If the request's host ID isn't consistent with the authenticator,
            // create a new host record.

These are all in the case the client sends back a different authenticator.
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Message 103245 - Posted: 26 Feb 2021, 12:32:01 UTC - in response to Message 103235.  

Problem solved, possibly.

I finally figured out that the incorrect account key belonged to another person who had installed BOINC on both this computer (years ago) and on the second computer (months ago).

Are you the owner of that "other persons" computers now, and it's the same computers that you are using?
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msmeads

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Message 103246 - Posted: 26 Feb 2021, 18:27:43 UTC - in response to Message 103236.  

I'm finding it hard, from my knowledge of how BOINC is designed to work, to see how this solution could relate back to the original problem. I've had a look through my own registry, and in all the - multitude of - entries, I haven't seen a single one which relates to a user account key. Those are all stored in the files in the BOINC data folder.

The data folder - by design - does not get deleted when the BOINC programs are uninstalled. This is to allow for version upgrades: an upgrade requires the removal of the old version, and its replacement by the files for the new version. The plan is for the user's data to remain unchanged during this process, even to the extent of keeping part-processed work intact, and restarting it at the exact point the previous version left it at.

All of which is a long way of saying that this may be a temporary fix - don't be too disheartened if the problem returns in the future.

One thing that hasn't been discussed so far is the potential role of project servers in all this. The BOINC server code contains tools which try to re-unite a lost computer with its owner's account. From memory, it considers things like hardware configuration and IP address - there may be others. Might it be a possibility that one of the projects you're attached to is using a buggy version of that code? It would be a hard one to track down, but the first step would be to make a note of the computer's 'HostID' or 'Computer ID' at each of the projects it is attached to - it will be different in each case. Check it locally first ('Properties' button on the 'Projects' tab, BOINC Manager, Advanced view). Then check that the same number is used on your own account on each project's web site.

Then, if it changes again to the old account again in the future, check the list of HostIDs again. I would expect that at least one - hopefully just one - will also have changed. Go to the project web page, and see what account the new HostID is attached to. That would give us some clues to work with.


Good to know. I will keep track of the Host and Computer IDs and see if they change, should I encounter the error again.

FWIW, when my tech assistant uninstalled the BOINC Manager from my PC, the leftover ~\ProgramData\BOINC\ folder was renamed to BOINC-old prior to re-installing the software--so I do still have a copy of the old data files.
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msmeads

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Message 103247 - Posted: 26 Feb 2021, 18:33:11 UTC - in response to Message 103238.  

Loose thoughts:
- The account key isn't stored in Windows registry. You can check this yourself at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Space Sciences Laboratory, U.C. Berkeley and HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Space Sciences Laboratory, U.C. Berkeley
- I had already explained how to log in with the account key in this post, so no "trial and error" needed.
- Uninstalling BOINC merely removes the BOINC program files at the BOINC Programs install directory (default C:\Program Files\BOINC)
- Neither you nor your computer helper thought about asking any of the above here? I then wonder why not, are we not here to help, have I not sent you help? Or have you searched on the internet for answers? BOINC has been 18 years in development, surely someone would've written something down about basic things like this?


I did attempt to follow your instructions, but did not have any luck. I'm not very technically savvy and it may have been through my own idiocy that I was unable to directly login with the erroneous non-weak account key. Ultimately, I tried different email addresses of my own and of users of these computers and was eventually able to login. You also PMed me asking for my email and the account keys. I wasn't sure if it was safe to do so. Sorry.
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msmeads

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Message 103248 - Posted: 26 Feb 2021, 18:41:44 UTC - in response to Message 103245.  

Problem solved, possibly.

I finally figured out that the incorrect account key belonged to another person who had installed BOINC on both this computer (years ago) and on the second computer (months ago).

Are you the owner of that "other persons" computers now, and it's the same computers that you are using?


That's correct. I am the owner and user of two PCs, both which were previously used by another person who had installed BOINC on the same local Windows account.

If it helps, the "other person" installed/uninstalled BOINC Manager on computer #1 years ago, and installed/uninstalled BOINC Manager on computer #2 (a newer machine) about 4-5months ago. I believe the BOINC Manager that was installed on computer #2 a few months ago was the same as the current version of BOINC for WIndows 64-bit (v7.6.11); unsure about which version was previously installed on computer #1.
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