Version 55 (modified by davea, 13 years ago) (diff)


Setting up a BOINC server


For experimentation and debugging, you can use almost any computer as a BOINC server. Before deploying a project more widely, make sure that your server has adequate performance, availability, and security. Some factors:

  • Your Internet connection should have adequate performance and reliability. Your server must have a static IP address.
  • Your server should have good CPU speed(dual Xeon or Opteron), at least 2 GB of RAM, and at least 40 GB of free disk space. For a high-traffic project, use a machine with 8 GB of RAM or more, and 64-bit processors.
  • Do whatever you can to make it highly reliable (UPS power supply, RAID disk configuration, hot-swappable spares, temperature-controlled machine room, etc.).
  • Put it behind a firewall.
  • Make it secure; turn off any unneeded network services, especially those that use plaintext passwords (like FTP or Telnet).

Info on increasing capacity and reliability is here.

Another approach - which eliminates both hardware and software issues - is to deploy a BOINC server on the Amazon Elastic Computing Cloud.


There are several ways to deploy the BOINC server software:

  • The easiest way to set up a BOINC server is to use a BOINC server VM that we've created for that purpose, with all the necessary software already installed. You can run this virtual machine using the VMWare player and any Intel-based computer (Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X). If you take this approach, skip the rest of this page.

Installing the BOINC server on Unix

Groups and permissions

BOINC server programs run as two different users:

  • The scheduler and file upload handler are CGI programs, so they run as the same user as the web server (on Fedora this is user 'apache'; on Debian it's 'www-data').
  • BOINC daemons runs as whoever created the project (let's say user 'boincadm', group 'boinc'). Do not run BOINC daemons (or anything else) as root.

By default, the directories created by user apache are not world-writable. This causes problems: for example, when the file upload handler creates a directory in the upload hierarchy, it's owned by (apache, apache), and the file deleter (which runs as boincadm) won't be able to delete the files there.

To solve this problem, edit /etc/group so that apache belongs to group boinc, i.e. the line:




(Apache will need to be stopped/restarted for this to take effect.)

Both boincadm and apache should have umasks that allow group read and write.

When you create a BOINC project using make_project, the critical directories are owned by boincadm and have the set-GID bit set; this means that any directories or files created by apache in those directories will have group boinc (not group apache). The BOINC software makes all directories group read/write. Thus, both apache and boinc will have read/write access to all directories and files, but other users will have no access.

To fix permissions on an existing project, do:

chmod 02770 upload
chmod 02770 html/cache
chmod 02770 html/inc
chmod 02770 html/languages
chmod 02770 html/languages/compiled
chmod 02770 html/user_profile

You may also need to change the ownership of these directories and all their subdirectories to boincadm/boinc. If you're running several projects on the same server and want to isolate them from each other, you can create a different user and group for each project, and add apache to all of the groups.

When serving your project files from Apache, note that all directories up to and including the html directory must have execute permissions. For example, if you use make_project to create the project template in your home directory, your home directory must have 711 permissions as opposed to the default of 700. If this is not corrected, you will receive a 403 Forbidden error when attempted to browse to your project page. See more information on dealing with Apache permissions problems.

Installing BOINC software

Operating system configuration

Some parts of the BOINC server (the feeder and scheduling server) use shared memory. Hosts where these run must have shared memory enabled, with a maximum segment size of at least 32 MB. How to do this depends on the operating system; read Managing Kernel Resources on PostgreSQL manual for more information.

MySQL notes

  • After installing and running the server, grant permissions for your own account and for the account under which Apache runs ('nobody' in the following; may be different on your machine). All MySQL accounts should be password protected, especially root.
    mysql -u root
    grant all on *.* to yourname@localhost identified by 'password';
    grant all on *.* to yourname identified by 'password';
    grant all on *.* to nobody@localhost identified by 'password';
    grant all on *.* to nobody identified by 'password';
  • Set your PATH environment variable to include MySQL programs (typically /usr/local/mysql and /usr/local/mysql/bin).
  • You'll need to back up your database. Generally this requires stopping the project, making a copy or snapshot, and restarting. An example is here.
  • BOINC gets MySQL compiler and linker flags from a program called mysql_config which comes with your MySQL distribution. This sometimes references libraries that are not part of your base system installation, such as -lnsl or -lnss_files. You may need to install additional packages (often you can use something called 'mysql-dev' or 'mysql-devel') or fiddle with Makefiles.
  • MySQL can be the bottleneck in a BOINC server. To optimize its performance, read about configuring MySQL for BOINC.
  • Notes on running MySQL on a cluster.

MySQLclient notes

  • Configure mysql with the --enable-thread-safe-client switch.
  • Set your LD_LIBRARY_PATH to refer to the correct library.

Apache notes

In httpd.conf, set the default MIME type as follows (otherwise you'll get file upload signature verification errors):

DefaultType application/octet-stream

To limit denial-of-service attacks, we recommend turning off directory indexing by adding -Indexes to the Options directive.

Make sure that the filename extensions used by your application or data files aren't handled in undesired way by Apache. For example, if some of your files have a '.map' extension, remove the line

AddHandler imap-file map

from httpd.conf

PHP notes

  • By default, BOINC uses PHP's mail function to send email to participants. This uses sendmail. If this doesn't work, you can use PHPMailer instead, which is a very flexible mail-sending mechanism. To do this:
    • Download PHPMailer and put it under PROJECT/html/inc/phpmailer (i.e. the files class.smtp.php and class.phpmailer.php should be in that directory).
    • Set the following variables in your PROJECT/html/project/ file (substitute your own values):
      $USE_PHPMAILER = true;
      $PHPMAILER_HOST = "";
      $PHPMAILER_MAILER = "smtp";

Common problems

After adding a new user, you have to check if the home directory was created. Sometimes you have to manually create it.

$ mkdir /home/{username}
$ chown {username}:{username} /home/{username}

The link /usr/bin/gcc that points to the currently used compiler could be missing. This could lead to errors when running the make command. Especially when trying to compile the graphical part of the API you need the /usr/bin/g++ link (make gives a warning that it couldn't find GL/GLU/GLUT although it is installed). So you have to create the symbolic links, depending on your gcc and g++ version, first.

$ ln -s /usr/bin/gcc-4.11 /usr/bin/gcc
$ ln -s /usr/bin/g++-4.11 /usr/bin/g++

At newer linux distributions you can’t login as user root. Instead there is a user notroot with whom you can login, but you won’t have root privileges. If an application or script needs root privileges, you are forced to enter the password you entered during the installation. In the console window you can get root privileges with the su (Debian) or sudo (Ubuntu, Fedora) command also. Note the single quotes around the command when using su -c !

$ su -c {'command'}
$ sudo {command}

If you have problems executing the sudo command, you have to add the user to the /etc/sudoers file. To edit this file just use this command:

$ sudo visudo

In this file you have to add another line after the line for notroot. You can use this:

{username} ALL=(ALL) ALL

Cookbook for Debian 4.0

Install software prerequisites

Common packages for building BOINC (based on Software prerequisites (Unix/Linux)):


packages needed for BOINC server:


packages needed for BOINC client:


optional packages for a graphical desktop manager


This list contains all necessary packages for the BOINC server and the client components. At first startup, these packages should be installed with aptitude. The graphical desktop manager is optional, but makes the configuration of the server a bit easier. The list contains no security packages to secure your server! Please ask your system administrator or read a good Linux book on how to secure your server against attacks.

Hint: You can search packages within aptitude by pressing the '/' key.

Create a new BOINC user account

Login as user ‘notroot’.

With KDE:

Go to ‘K-Menu’ -> ‘Settings’ -> ‘System Administration’ -> ‘User Management’, claim administrative privileges

Create a new user, for example: boincadm

After that go to the ‘Groups’ tab and add the user ‘www-data’ to the group ‘boincadm’.

Without a Graphical Desktop Manager:

$ useradd -m -s /bin/bash boincadm
$ usermod -G boincadm www-data

Logout and login again as user boincadm if this is done.

Configuration of the MySQL server

If you're using KDE: open a new console window (’K-menu’ -> ‘Debian’ -> ‘XShells’ -> ‘Konsole’).

Define a new MySQL root password.

$ mysqladmin -h localhost -u root password mysqlrootpw {or own}

Create a new MySQL database user account.

$ mysql -h localhost -u root -p
> GRANT ALL ON *.* TO 'boincadm'@'localhost';
> SET PASSWORD FOR 'boincadm'@'localhost'=''; 

The permissions can be limited to project database only, later; Defining an empty password simplifies the installation, can be changed later.

Download the BOINC source code

The latest development version can be obtained with:

$ cd ~
$ svn co boinc

To update the source code just go into the main directory and enter:

$ cd ~/boinc
$ svn update

A stable client version can be obtained with the following commands:

$ cd ~
$ svn co boinc_595

Hint: Normally you won't need a self-compiled client, you can always get the latest one from BOINC website.

NOTE: Tags are only for client software, always checkout the latest revision for the server!

Compiling BOINC source code

Enter the following commands into the console window:

$ cd ~/boinc
$ ./_autosetup
$ ./configure --disable-client
$ make