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 SETI@home on Linux

Note: SETI@home has gone through some changes recently. The new procedure for participating in this project is to download the BOINC software then join a project (such as SETI@home). This process is pretty damn easy, so there's little advice I can offer that isn't written elsewhere or just self-explainatory. I'm leaving this page here because it would actually be more work to remove it. I no longer participate in SETI@home, instead, I now participate in rosetta@home because it's a little more "down-to-Earth" (forgive the pun). If you'd like to join this project, just download the BOINC software mentioned above then sign up at the rosetta@home site. If you do join rosetta@home, we'd love to have you join the USALUG team; don't let the "USA" throw you off, everyone's welcome to join.

So on with the ancient instructions:

SETI@home is a project where computers all over the world are used to analyze data taken from telescopes to "Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence". Home users can download the client and participate by analyzing small sections of data, uploading the results to the server, downloading new data, rinse, and repeat. All this downloading and uploading is automated; all you have to do is install the client and run it. Statistics are kept of the work your machine(s) have done; you can also join a team and compare your stats with other team members. You can run the client on multiple machines and have them all linked to your single account.

Visit the link I mentioned earlier to learn more about this project. I'll continue with the assumption you know about the project and wish to install the client on a Unix-like machine.

 Get the SETI@home Client
Step one is, of course, getting the software. You can download the client for your system here. Don't be overwhelmed by the large number of clients available; most of you will just need the "i686-pc-linux-gnu" client. The binaries are free as in beer.

Installation is about as easy as it gets. You extract the archive and move the resulting folder someplace convienient. I renamed mine .seti and moved it to my home folder.

 Running the Client
To execute the client, first open a terminal and cd to the folder. As mentioned above, in my case I would cd to /home/damian/.seti. Then enter the command ./setiathome. If you're running the client for the first time and you do not have an account yet, it will walk you through the steps to create an account. If you already have a SETI@home account, you can just enter your info and the work done on that computer will be attributed to you. Using this method, once the client begins working, you won't see any more output.

Some people (like me) like to see numbers scrolling (representing work being done) in the terminal window; it seems more satisfying to me. To do this, instead of typing ./setiathome, use ./setiathome -verbose to start the client.

You can also run a graphical version of the client. To do this, type ./setiathome -graphics & then after the output has stopped type ./xsetiathome.

There are other addons that you can use to serve various purposes like caching, detailed statistics, etc. You can find many of these here. Of these, my favorite is KSetiSpy which has a lot of advanced features. While built for KDE, I sometimes use KSetiSpy on my Fluxbox machines and it works great. You can find some rpms here.

Here is one option to keep the client running at all times. Another would just be to set up a cron job without creating a new user. I just modified my .xinitrc to open an Aterm session and begin running the cleint in verbose mode. In case you're interested, the command I used for this is aterm -name aterm -title 'seti@home' -e /home/damian/.seti/setiathome -verbose &.

 Join a Team
You can join teams where your results are pooled and you can compare your progress with other teams. Companies and online communiites often have SETI teams. I'm a member of the SuSE Linux team. I welcome any SuSE SETI users to join (or show me a better team to join). To join, just visit the page mentioned and click the "Join" link near the top.

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