Ups and Downs (Mar 22 2007)


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Message boards : Technical News : Ups and Downs (Mar 22 2007)

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Message 535725 - Posted: 23 Mar 2007, 23:37:31 UTC - in response to Message 535641.


Those who run Boinc on computers with whom they have questionable legal access to will object to any pop up window.

Which by itself makes this a good idea.

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Message 535726 - Posted: 23 Mar 2007, 23:39:33 UTC - in response to Message 535725.


Those who run Boinc on computers with whom they have questionable legal access to will object to any pop up window.

Which by itself makes this a good idea.

But i'm sure it would cause problems for many of those that do have permission, but the users are unaware of what's running on their systems (ie most organisations).
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Message 535727 - Posted: 23 Mar 2007, 23:41:10 UTC - in response to Message 535704.


I wouldn't doubt that, As the PC user would then do something about Boinc on their PC, It'd be just deserts for the user who has added PCs without the permission of the PCs owner(s) in question. Sending a message to terminate the older classic versions through seti would have been nice but It's something that probably wasn't thought of, emails don't always work as explained already. I'd almost wonder is there anything that can be done? I know when classic was about to shut down a message was sent out and I saw it in the seti software, I don't know how It was done, But maybe this could be done as the seti classic software is expecting something, It's that or maybe shut down the ip address if that is possible at all. Otherwise I'm stumped.

May be a dumb idea, but the SETI task is downloaded as needed. Could the code be put in there. I admit the other projects would also have to include the code in their task(s) but it would clean up problems for anyone who includes the code.

BOINC could be self-updating, but that also adds a "vector" for someone to install some sort of malware by "tricking" BOINC into updating.

Remember there really isn't a central "BOINC" server by design.

It might be a good idea though if BOINC had some kind of "uninstall" based on some reasonably distant date -- if BOINC hasn't been updated by Dec. 2011 for example, it'd stop working -- and move that date with each new release.
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Message 535729 - Posted: 23 Mar 2007, 23:42:58 UTC


At present when a new version is avaailble there is a message to that effect in the message logs when the server is contacted.
All that needs to be done is when users need to move to a higher version, change the message to "A new version is avaiable & this version is no longer supported" & not allow any new work to be dowloaded.
When the credits stop, i'm sure people will then start checking the message log to see what's happening.
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Message 535730 - Posted: 23 Mar 2007, 23:47:45 UTC

There are some of these things in place, when version 3 was retired for version 4 of BOINC, they had a balloon type pop-up / messages sent to the software that it was outdated.

BOINC is meant to be set and forget. Most of us like to keep updated, but some do not. Also there have been issues ever since version 5 came out on some Proxy authentication, so no force update has been allowed, because a lot of people would lose usability. I suspect the next force will come when the new data comes online, and they go to a newer version of everything. I could be wrong, but this is the feeling I have.

Download the code, and read it yourself, it is after all open source. There are several different goodies built in.

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Message 535748 - Posted: 24 Mar 2007, 1:12:15 UTC - in response to Message 535729.


At present when a new version is avaailble there is a message to that effect in the message logs when the server is contacted.
All that needs to be done is when users need to move to a higher version, change the message to "A new version is avaiable & this version is no longer supported" & not allow any new work to be dowloaded.
When the credits stop, i'm sure people will then start checking the message log to see what's happening.

Based on past messages....there are a number of users that will "panic" and claim that "the servers are down" or some such rather than look at their own systems.
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Message 535763 - Posted: 24 Mar 2007, 2:14:36 UTC - in response to Message 535748.

Based on past messages....there are a number of users that will "panic" and claim that "the servers are down" or some such rather than look at their own systems.

There's no cure for stupidity.
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Message 535772 - Posted: 24 Mar 2007, 2:43:16 UTC - in response to Message 535727.

Remember there really isn't a central "BOINC" server by design.

Well, there isn't a centralized BOINC project server, but there is a centralized Web server: boinc.berkeley.edu. I see no reason why the BOINC software couldn't be hard-coded (to prevent someone from tricking the client) to contact boinc.berkeley.edu (which should be safe as long as nobody hijacks UCB's DNS) and self-update. But I'm not an expert, and maybe even then, malicious, evil, bad things can happen...

The only downside I can see is that if the BOINC development team were to move away from Berkeley, all of the hard-coded BOINC clients wouldn't be able to receive new updates--unless UCB were generous enough to throw in a CNAME entry. Or, you could allow the BOINC updater to change its target domain, but then you run back into the problems of allowing malicious trickery.

I don't know what the proper balance is, but all I'm saying is I don't see why it couldn't be done.
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Message 535845 - Posted: 24 Mar 2007, 7:24:06 UTC - in response to Message 535772.

Remember there really isn't a central "BOINC" server by design.

Well, there isn't a centralized BOINC project server, but there is a centralized Web server: boinc.berkeley.edu. I see no reason why the BOINC software couldn't be hard-coded (to prevent someone from tricking the client) to contact boinc.berkeley.edu (which should be safe as long as nobody hijacks UCB's DNS) and self-update. But I'm not an expert, and maybe even then, malicious, evil, bad things can happen...

I started to post two different ways that this could be attacked easily, assuming that BOINC was self-updating -- and they're too easy. I decided not to post them, but the how-to is in the RFCs.

I can also think of ways to make sure they never ever happen, but it's not simple, and it isn't the same as a project updating their science app.
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Message 535863 - Posted: 24 Mar 2007, 9:56:56 UTC - in response to Message 535598.

Then how about a feature added to future releases that pops up a window that states NEWER RELEASE AVAILBLE - CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD.

New versions are mentioned in the message logs—but of course some people don’t read them. Particular projects can go further; for example, recently I’ve been seeing messages like this from Pirates@home:

Wed 21 Mar 20:55:45 2007|Pirates@Home|Message from server: Starting in 90 days and 14 hours, project will require a minimum BOINC core client version of 5.8.0. You are currently using version 5.4.9; please upgrade before this time.

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Message 535868 - Posted: 24 Mar 2007, 10:36:10 UTC - in response to Message 535863.
Last modified: 24 Mar 2007, 10:42:17 UTC

New versions are mentioned in the message logs—but of course some people don’t read them.

Well, a quick skim of my message logs (I read the initial startup sequence in detail and then skimmed through the rest) didn't reveal any notes that I'm using an outdated boinc (5.8.3, newest is 5.8.15). So, even those of us who do at least pay fleeting attention to the logs may not be notified. (What causes the notification? Since as mentioned earlier there's no central boinc server, notifications can only come via projects--and since projects are all independent, you can't guarantee that project managers will pass those messages along.)

I just downloaded 5.8.15 cli for Mac OS X, but I'm a little leery of installing it--when I transitioned to 5.8.3 from 5.4.9, I had an absolute heckuva time getting the permissions set properly (the script screwed things up more than it helped, overwriting and creating weird users and groups and making my boinc files all be owned by user/group smmsp:smmsp instead of boinc_master and boinc_project). (In fact, one of the computers I've got boinc on still looks like it thinks everything is owned by smmsp--but the boinc install is working, so I'm not going to muck with permissions right now--fortunately the other Mac OS X cli install seems to be fine, and the other one is a GUI install.) I don't want to simply overwrite the boinc executable and the few other files in the download without running the permissions script, as they're not currently owned by boinc_master, but I really don't want to chance running the script (and I'm not sure what the proper owner/permissions settings are for each of the files in the cli download).

As far as popping up balloons to warn of upgrades: bad idea. On three of my computers (all except the laptop), I'm not the only user. If a message were to pop up warning of an out-of-date BOINC client, my less-computer-savvy fellow users would probably freak out and think the computer was going to burn itself out or something.

I still think a self-updating install would be the best solution, but short of that, a voluntary email notification system for updates would be nice--or the poor man's version--make one of these message boards admin-postable only (sort of like this forum, except with no non-admin replies allowed to keep traffic down) and then have people subscribe to it for updates.
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Message 536035 - Posted: 24 Mar 2007, 16:19:40 UTC
Last modified: 24 Mar 2007, 16:20:53 UTC

A possible a solution would be to put the new release advisory on the top border of the Boinc manager. That would not be as intrusive as a pop up. If it could be made to scroll so your eye would be drawn to it. Eventually there should also be a download/install new version button in the menu.

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Message 536221 - Posted: 24 Mar 2007, 19:43:25 UTC - in response to Message 535868.
Last modified: 24 Mar 2007, 19:44:47 UTC

New versions are mentioned in the message logs—but of course some people don’t read them.

Well, a quick skim of my message logs (I read the initial startup sequence in detail and then skimmed through the rest) didn't reveal any notes that I'm using an outdated boinc (5.8.3, newest is 5.8.15). So, even those of us who do at least pay fleeting attention to the logs may not be notified. (What causes the notification? Since as mentioned earlier there's no central boinc server, notifications can only come via projects--and since projects are all independent, you can't guarantee that project managers will pass those messages along.)

I haven’t noticed nearly as many announcements as there have been versions, but opening this Mac’s stdoutdae.old file I see for example:
2007-02-05 08:14:34 [---] A new version of BOINC (5.8.8) is available for your computer 2007-02-05 08:14:34 [---] Visit http://boinc.berkeley.edu/download.php to get it.

I have no idea how this notification works: just reporting what I’ve seen.

I just downloaded 5.8.15 cli for Mac OS X, but I'm a little leery of installing it--when I transitioned to 5.8.3 from 5.4.9, I had an absolute heckuva time getting the permissions set properly (the script screwed things up more than it helped, overwriting and creating weird users and groups and making my boinc files all be owned by user/group smmsp:smmsp instead of boinc_master and boinc_project).

I haven’t used a CLI version, but I recently installed v5.8.15 on my partner’s new iMac, and it looks like I may be in for some fun getting it to work with the Team MacNN optimized S@h app with regard to ownership of the files and their permissions. It’s already posting –5000 errors all over the place, presumably because it’s not being allowed to change the executable’s icon to the green dish. (I’m letting the host run stock for a while, to establish an RAC baseline.) The science app upgrade was nearly painless under v5.4.9 (service installation) on a similar iMac at work.

Anyway, like you I contemplate installing a new version of BOINC with some trepidation. ;)

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Message 536731 - Posted: 25 Mar 2007, 16:12:55 UTC - in response to Message 535729.
Last modified: 25 Mar 2007, 16:25:12 UTC


At present when a new version is available there is a message to that effect in the message logs when the server is contacted.
All that needs to be done is when users need to move to a higher version, change the message to "A new version is available & this version is no longer supported" & not allow any new work to be dowloaded.
When the credits stop, i'm sure people will then start checking the message log to see what's happening.


True, there's a message - but it is easy to miss, particularly if you don't watch the messages after hitting the "update" button on BOINC manager... perhaps if the message were in a different color, like green but not
red, which should be saved for true errors...

[edit to add...] A red message of this type should be used ONLY if there is an incompatability between the old version(s) and the new...

...and I agree with other posts on this thread that doing the "A new version is available & this version is no longer supported" is a bad idea; (unless the possibility above occurs...) and would generate a lot of traffic of the sort "why did my credits stop?" on the message boards - a lot of people don't seem to pay any attention to the messages tab of BOINC manager!
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Message 537152 - Posted: 26 Mar 2007, 17:04:59 UTC - in response to Message 536731.

I'm running version 5.2.13 Can someone please direct me to the upgrade or do you have to just download the new version separatly?

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Message 537175 - Posted: 26 Mar 2007, 17:53:13 UTC

go to the boinc home page and download the current recommended virgin. It will replace your existing one.

If this doesn't work, disable your existing version first and then try again.
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Message 537234 - Posted: 26 Mar 2007, 20:13:56 UTC - in response to Message 537175.

go to the boinc home page and download the current recommended virgin. It will replace your existing one.


Can everybody get a virgin? And what if you don't have an existing virgin to replace?

(Man, is this a deal or what!?)
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Message 537243 - Posted: 26 Mar 2007, 20:32:57 UTC - in response to Message 537234.

go to the boinc home page and download the current recommended virgin. It will replace your existing one.


Can everybody get a virgin? And what if you don't have an existing virgin to replace?

(Man, is this a deal or what!?)

I looked at the download page, and it looked like a lot of people downloaded already -- at least I didn't see anything that looked "virgin."
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Message 537658 - Posted: 28 Mar 2007, 0:28:52 UTC - in response to Message 535583.
Last modified: 28 Mar 2007, 0:31:24 UTC

Fascinating stats.


2644 (%26.93) windows_intelx86 5.4.11
1318 (%13.42) windows_intelx86 5.02
1258 (%12.81) windows_intelx86 5.8.15
666 (%6.78) windows_intelx86 5.4.9
573 (%5.84) windows_intelx86 5.8.11
552 (%5.62) windows_intelx86 4.45
424 (%4.32) windows_intelx86 5.8.8
281 (%2.86) i686-apple-darwin 5.4.9
202 (%2.06) windows_intelx86 5.5.0
153 (%1.56) i686-pc-linux-gnu 5.4.9
144 (%1.47) windows_intelx86 4.25
141 (%1.44) windows_intelx86 4.49


Any views as to why less than 13% of people are using the latest RECCOMMENDED Boinc client???


People install it and forget it.


Some people (I'm one...) subscribe to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality, not realizing that 5.4.11 has at least one problem that 5.8.15 fixes... the 'no result file' (paraphrase) after doing a work unit. (yes, I upgraded) Also realize that upgrading the Boinc client involves downloading an 8 Mb file - some of us still use dial-up, and that takes about a ½ hour!

Could also be most people don't know there is something better. This is the only thread I read so one day I looked at the release levels and discovered there was something newer I should be running. I suggest an E-mail to all users about the newer software level.


I'm still of the opinion that BOINC should "look into" some kind of "notification system" if not "upgrade system" to keep everyone on the same page.

I personally wouldn't mind a pop-up every so often that says "There is a newer RECOMMENDED version of BOINC available. You are currently running version 5.4.11. The CURRENT stable version is 5.8.15. Would you like to upgrade?" If yes, take folks to the download page. If no, perhaps an option "remind me again in N days" or "please don't remind me again about this updated version" (though with the caveat that if a NEWER recommended new version comes out it might pop up a new message again). Of course, in my opinion, some kind of "automatic update" functionality would be peachy. So long as a user or admin could easily control the level of updates allowed or disallowed ("Do Not Auto-Update Ever," "Notify me an update is available, but do not download it," "Download updates, but let me choose when to install them," or "automatically install all updates." That should make both sys admins who want to maintain a stable unchanging version happy, as well as folks who don't care if the latest version gets downloaded and installed automatically so long as the transition is seamless.)

I think this would benefit BOINC and users equally by keeping everyone on the same page with updates as much as possible so everyone gets the same benefits of newer versions. It will also cut down on wasteful tech support as newer version fix glitches in older version (granted they occasionally introduce NEW glitches, c'est la vie). I know it's not at the top of anyone's priority list, tho'...

If an update scheme isn't possible, is at least a non-updating "notification" message and link to the download page possible? That way users would still be in control, but at least they'd KNOW when updated versions are available... And it would satisfy sys admins who don't want software that auto-updates stable mission critical systems (possibly making them unstable in the process).

~Michael
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