chdir("/home/boincadm/projects/sah/html/user"); require_once("../inc/util.inc"); page_head("Why classic SETI@home is closing down and other facts of life."); echo" (This text is from a message board thread I started on December 10, 2005.)
I keep seeing in these forum threads various valid complaints. Here are some reasons off the top of my head that SETI@home Classic is shutting down, and other facts of life that may very well address your particular concern:
1. SETI@home Classic has no funding at this point. Hasn't had it for years now. Costs about $500,000/year at a minimum to run the thing. SETI@home as we know it now is coasting on fumes until (hopefully) more funding somehow appears. BOINC has funding. Therefore, putting SETI@home on BOINC has given it at least some life in the past two years, and is really the only chance for any kind of future.
2. SETI@home Classic was supposed to be a 3 or 4 year project to begin with. So it's well past its proposed lifespan with no money added to keep it going.
3. The science in SETI@home Classic is basically over. We collected more than enough data with the current instrument. We have a new data recorder close to finished and a new BOINC client will be in the works to analyze this data. To keep Classic going would mean compiling a new Classic client to analyze this data. It's been a loooong time since a new Classic client has been built. The code is stale, and the build machines are ancient and painful to use (if they even exist anymore).
4. The SETI@home Classic backend is a tangled mess. There have been many problems over the years, most of which were invisible to the participants. None of these problems were fatal to the project or its science, but have resulted in an obnoxious web of ridiculous dependencies, confusing configurations, and unweildy databases. I am practically drooling dreaming of day when we get to turn all that stuff off and be done with it already. The BOINC backend is sooooo much easier to deal with.
5. The current crises are just par for the course in the history of our SETI project and public resource computing. Things break, deep breaths are taken, and they get fixed eventually. This isn't good for making our participants happy of course, but we do our best with what we got and so far our user base has stuck with us through the painful periods (thank you!!!).
6. BOINC was written so you can connect to other projects when there are server issues with a specific project. This is a good thing. SETI@home Classic has no such ability.
7. BOINC credit, while not perfect (though we're working on that), is much more fair in that it represents actual work done, and is valid between projects which do all kinds of different work. There is no way to translate Classic credit to BOINC credit, and so this will never happen. Classic credits will be noted in a separate field in a user profile (and will be eventually sync'ed up again after Classic shuts down).
8. Though I don't have any accurate numbers to back this up, I personally feel that so far SETI@home/BOINC has had more uptime on average than Classic. We had science database crashes every week at times back in the day, several whole weeks when we were down for database recovery or because somebody stole a cable, network bandwidth issues that brought us down for months. And these were just the public-facing downtime events (among but a few).
9. There is no tech support on staff. I end up with dozens of e-mails a day from people who figured out how to reach me. If I dealt with all these, that would occupy about 15-20% of my time. I don't have this time and neither does anybody else around here. Many of these e-mails go unaswered. Sad but true, and I personally find this painful but part of the big picture.
10. Yes, we can do better in the PR department. See #9 above. Don't have the staff or the money to add the staff. And it's not so easy to add news items to the page. I can't be bothered to go into detail why. I leave this as an exercise for the reader to figure out why.
11. The staff is small. Me and Jeff are continually up to our necks dealing with everything. We've both been here working on SETI long before SETI@home came around, so we both are well versed in every aspect of the \"big picture\" around here. Bob, the main database guy, actually only works half time. Court is busy dealing with various long term network/systems projects that Jeff and I can't handle since we're diagnosing, debugging, programming, or maybe actually getting science done. David and Rom (and other various programmers) strictly work on BOINC code. Eric works overtime on other non-SETI projects when he's not building the next SETI@home client. Dan, the project director, is spending a lot of time building spectrometers for other projects because that's where the money is. Outside of current academics (Kevin and Josh) working on other applications of SETI data, and students helping Dan build hardware that's it here at the lab. No administrative staff, no tech writers. When it comes time to fill out a new grant proposal, we all drop everything and work on that, for example.
12. If anybody complains elsewhere about any of the above, please be kind and point them to this post. People have the right to be upset with us since they are kindly donating their resources to us. However, there is a lot of misinformation or misunderstanding about this project and I hope I cleared some of it up.
Now I'm off to bed. Going to LA tomorrow. Be back Sunday night.
- Matt "; page_tail(); ?>