Best Linux distro for crunching?

tbret
tbret
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Phil - I'm just looking at

Phil -

I'm just looking at your times on that machine and I'm not sure what category to put this in, so I haven't started another thread.

Among those of us who also crunch SETI, we find that our SETI settings don't really translate very well to Einstein. We have to leave more "free bus" (sounds like a Lynyrd Skynyrd song) by idling more CPU cores and leaving more resources free.

The traffic from RAM and down the PCIe lanes is considerably higher with Einstein.

So, I can sort-of get away with crunching SETI on old, slow, machines with the data-transfer rates of PCIe v1.0 and they aren't that badly affected. It will waste a good AMD GPU's internal memory bandwidth, though.

Einstein (at least the BRP4 and BRP5 projects) is a different story.

As you notice the speed differences between your new machine and GPU vs other people's, know that it probably isn't the card or anything you've done. It's going to be the combination of CPU/bus bandwidth/RAM bandwidth that's contributing to the slow-down.

It isn't strictly necessary to have a top of the line i7, but I wouldn't ever suggest you get something less if a big-ol' i7 is what you want. What you do want is fast RAM with a high-bandwidth connection to the PCIe 3 data lanes. For all I know PCIe v2.0 is fast enough, but who cares? If you buy anything it'll probably be a v3.

Much of that is going to be determined by the chipset as much or more than the processor (I'm being general - they've moved some of the chipset functionality onto the processor, so the processor matters also, but "fast enough" is fast enough).

As far as I know (and I don't know much AT ALL about this; definitely get better advice before you spend any money), just about any motherboard you can buy now that supports an i5 or i7 is going to help you get full crunching-benefit from your new AMD GPU.

I wish I could point you to, wait... there is something that's an interesting read:

PCIe

About half-way down is the "history" of the standard that tells you just about everything you would want to know.

Please don't generalize this next statement to fit your circumstances: Some people have reported that Linux seems to crunch SLIGHTLY slower than the same machine running Windows. When I say "slightly" I'm talking about a percent or three, not ten or twenty minutes slower per work unit. Since some of the fastest machines are crunching on Linux, you know it can't be that big of a problem.

Still, when you are comparing and investigating, you'll want to know that.

mikey
mikey
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RE: Please don't

Quote:


Please don't generalize this next statement to fit your circumstances: Some people have reported that Linux seems to crunch SLIGHTLY slower than the same machine running Windows. When I say "slightly" I'm talking about a percent or three, not ten or twenty minutes slower per work unit. Since some of the fastest machines are crunching on Linux, you know it can't be that big of a problem.

Still, when you are comparing and investigating, you'll want to know that.

For me this is coming down to the new way Windows is doing their 'registration' in Win8 and beyond. No more put in a number and it works forever, every 6 months your number is verified, if it is a fake your Windows machine can be turned off. This, I think, is leading lots of people to forgo Windows and use the free, or mostly free, Linux versions. It may also have to do with what they are more comfortable with too, once Linux is setup it is easily duplicated between machines, while Windows tends to be more machine specific. Don't get me wrong, images DO work in Windows, but only on nearly identical machines. I have taken a Linux backup from an AMD machine and after a couple of reboots, where it did some internal updates, had it running on an Intel machine just fine.

Phil
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Thanks for the advice guys.

Thanks for the advice guys. One of my team members is running the same card, R9 270X, and is running WAY faster. We concluded this was because of my old machine. So tbret is absolutely right in this matter. I need some better hardware to support the GPU's. Soon as I get back to work and start getting paychecks again that is high on the priority list. Dang spine (neck) is not cooperating lol. I should be back to work next month and I'll be able to start building faster crunchers.

Mikey is also right. Windows has become for me a non-issue. I will never again spend any money on Microsoft software. They have gone too far. I realize that Windows is the only option for some folks, and some don't want to learn a new system, and I wouldn't even think of bashing them for that. Everybody needs something that works for them. It just doesn't work for me. I choose not to play by their rules.

For now I have settled on Linux Mint 17 (it and my brain seem to get along) and everything is crunching along nicely. I just need to have some patience until better hardware is an option.

I see a nice mobo and an i7 in my future, or several of them...

Then I'll need to learn how to take an image and duplicate my machines.

We have a good group of crunchers here and I'm glad I landed on Einstein@Home for my first project. I don't see myself leaving anytime soon. Thanks to all of you for your time and good advice.

Cheers all, and Happy Crunching!

Phil

mikey
mikey
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RE: Thanks for the advice

Quote:

Thanks for the advice guys. One of my team members is running the same card, R9 270X, and is running WAY faster. We concluded this was because of my old machine. So tbret is absolutely right in this matter. I need some better hardware to support the GPU's. Soon as I get back to work and start getting paychecks again that is high on the priority list. Dang spine (neck) is not cooperating lol. I should be back to work next month and I'll be able to start building faster crunchers.

Mikey is also right. Windows has become for me a non-issue. I will never again spend any money on Microsoft software. They have gone too far. I realize that Windows is the only option for some folks, and some don't want to learn a new system, and I wouldn't even think of bashing them for that. Everybody needs something that works for them. It just doesn't work for me. I choose not to play by their rules.

For now I have settled on Linux Mint 17 (it and my brain seem to get along) and everything is crunching along nicely. I just need to have some patience until better hardware is an option.

I see a nice mobo and an i7 in my future, or several of them...

Then I'll need to learn how to take an image and duplicate my machines.

We have a good group of crunchers here and I'm glad I landed on Einstein@Home for my first project. I don't see myself leaving anytime soon. Thanks to all of you for your time and good advice.

Cheers all, and Happy Crunching!

Phil

If cost is an impediment, as it is for me, I would look at the AMD 6 or even 8 core FX chips. I buy them for around a hundred bucks or so, depending on the actual model, and often get a motherboard thrown in for nearly free, or free after rebate. I then add in 16gb of ram, that alone is as expensive as the cpu, and after reusing my old machines hard drive, have a new system up and running for around 250 bucks. I usually go for mb' with single pci-e slots, but I do have a couple of machines that have 2 slots in them, only one actually has 2 gpu's in it though.

At the bottom of this page http://www.microcenter.com/site/products/amd_bundles.aspx you can see the AMD FX cpu's and mb bundles. Be careful though sometimes it is pickup ONLY to get those deals!!

tbret
tbret
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RE: If cost is an

Quote:

If cost is an impediment, as it is for me, I would look at the AMD 6 or even 8 core FX chips.

Just the day before yesterday I noticed something.

It looks like AMD is taking the FM2 CPUs and chipsets and making them PCIe v3 compatible.

I've read all sorts of rumors that the AM3+ socket is now a dead end. When you look at the prices of the APUs it does sort-of look that way.

I'm glad I got the FXs when I got them and I may buy some new ones to go on old boards, but I think my days of buying AM3+ motherboards may be drawing to a close. I tend to hang-onto equipment for a long time and there seem to be "hints" that as far as FX goes, "The times, they are-a chaaaaangin'."

I completely agree with you that where crunching is concerned, for the great majority of us, it's all about driving the data to the GPU. The untapped power of anything that gets it there is of little concern, or at least is only of very marginal use.

A person can spend a lot of money on that last 5% of performance.

mikey
mikey
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RE: RE: If cost is an

Quote:
Quote:

If cost is an impediment, as it is for me, I would look at the AMD 6 or even 8 core FX chips.

Just the day before yesterday I noticed something.

It looks like AMD is taking the FM2 CPUs and chipsets and making them PCIe v3 compatible.

I've read all sorts of rumors that the AM3+ socket is now a dead end. When you look at the prices of the APUs it does sort-of look that way.

I'm glad I got the FXs when I got them and I may buy some new ones to go on old boards, but I think my days of buying AM3+ motherboards may be drawing to a close. I tend to hang-onto equipment for a long time and there seem to be "hints" that as far as FX goes, "The times, they are-a chaaaaangin'."

I completely agree with you that where crunching is concerned, for the great majority of us, it's all about driving the data to the GPU. The untapped power of anything that gets it there is of little concern, or at least is only of very marginal use.

A person can spend a lot of money on that last 5% of performance.

YES THEY CAN can't they!!! I did that a few times, buying faster memory for older machines because I could, the difference was soooo minimal it DEFINITELY was a bad choice on my part!!

I did not know that about the AM3+ mb's, thanks for the info!! I too tend to hold onto stuff for a long time, rarely upgrading the initial cpu or ram I buy with a new mb. Cpu fans I change like underwear, until I find one that works for me. Right now I like the Hyper 212+ fans, but have several other kinds working too. I leave the sides of the cases off so size isn't a problem. For my gpu's I have started only buying those with multiple fans on them, right now no more single fan units for me. The latest one I bought came with 3 fans on it.

Let's bring this back to Linux Distro's for a bit...I too installed the version Gary suggested but Boinc is not in the list of apps to download, like it is on the Ubuntu list. I installed it on a 2gb ram, dual core Dell D830 laptop that went thru 5 years of college before I got it. The distro works GREAT, it is fast and very useful, except no Boinc, to me that is a deal breaker as without Boinc it doesn't need to be running, I have plenty of other pc's, and even an i7 laptop running 24/7.

robl
robl
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RE: except no Boinc, to

Quote:

except no Boinc, to me that is a deal breaker as without Boinc

You don't have to have a distro's version of BOINC. It makes for easier application maintenance but most BOINC packages are behind. Why not download the Berkeley package and run with it? I have done this on two Ubu machines to correct some possible deficiencies in the distro's BOINC package. They run just fine.

Also on the subject of the PCLinux miniKDE package, it is recommended for advanced users so someone not fully versed in Linux might run into issues. This would also be the same for most scaled down packages on any distro. I installed Ubus's server a long time ago and ran headless on a Virtual machine. I believe doing this by an experienced Linux user would make for an unpleasant experience with Linux because you need to know a lot of command line "instructions". I have never installed a PCLinux miniKDE package so I am assuming similar install as to a headless configuration.

Just my 2 cents.

mikey
mikey
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RE: RE: except no

Quote:
Quote:

except no Boinc, to me that is a deal breaker as without Boinc

You don't have to have a distro's version of BOINC. It makes for easier application maintenance but most BOINC packages are behind. Why not download the Berkeley package and run with it? I have done this on two Ubu machines to correct some possible deficiencies in the distro's BOINC package. They run just fine.

Also on the subject of the PCLinux miniKDE package, it is recommended for advanced users so someone not fully versed in Linux might run into issues. This would also be the same for most scaled down packages on any distro. I installed Ubus's server a long time ago and ran headless on a Virtual machine. I believe doing this by an experienced Linux user would make for an unpleasant experience with Linux because you need to know a lot of command line "instructions". I have never installed a PCLinux miniKDE package so I am assuming similar install as to a headless configuration.

Just my 2 cents.

That is exactly my findings, I am NOT complaining about being mislead or anything like that!! I am just saying, as you did, that for a Linux newbie it can be a bit rough around the edges.

robl
robl
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RE: RE: RE: except

Quote:
Quote:
Quote:

except no Boinc, to me that is a deal breaker as without Boinc

You don't have to have a distro's version of BOINC. It makes for easier application maintenance but most BOINC packages are behind. Why not download the Berkeley package and run with it? I have done this on two Ubu machines to correct some possible deficiencies in the distro's BOINC package. They run just fine.

Also on the subject of the PCLinux miniKDE package, it is recommended for advanced users so someone not fully versed in Linux might run into issues. This would also be the same for most scaled down packages on any distro. I installed Ubus's server a long time ago and ran headless on a Virtual machine. I believe doing this by an experienced Linux user would make for an unpleasant experience with Linux because you need to know a lot of command line "instructions". I have never installed a PCLinux miniKDE package so I am assuming similar install as to a headless configuration.

Just my 2 cents.

That is exactly my findings, I am NOT complaining about being mislead or anything like that!! I am just saying, as you did, that for a Linux newbie it can be a bit rough around the edges.

Mikey, I did not think you were complaining. To me most distros of Linux are pretty much the same across similar "formats". Its like you said someone starting out with Linux should avoid the bare bone format. In my opinion, start with a desktop version because of the simplicity of configuring Linux through GUI interfaces. Early in my career I remember making command line changes to a unix computer's network configuration and it would not "network". Why? [Blush] I needed to restart the network to pickup the "new" changes I made. The GUI spares you the embarrassment by restarting the network for you.

Mike Hewson
Mike Hewson
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RE: In my opinion, start

Quote:
In my opinion, start with a desktop version because of the simplicity of configuring Linux through GUI interfaces.


Agreed. That gives one a fairly numpty-proof approach. Familiarity with a good GUI package manager is then the key, that being a relatively painless way to add your favorite stuff.

[ That is : I went around in circles for a while not realising that 'sudo apt-get' etc was in fact distro specific. ]

Cheers, Mike.

I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter ...

... and my other CPU is a Ryzen 5950X :-) Blaise Pascal

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