It is already quite a while ago I first hear about the SETI project, probably after seeing Contact for the Nth time. Its a movie about the young girl Ellie interested into radio transmission. After losing her father she keeps her interest in science. Still trying to „reach“ her parents she keeps on looking for extra-terrestrial life. In the movie she is using the really existing Arecibo-observatory for her SETI ( Search for Extra- Terrestrial Intelligence ) project.

This project is real. The SETI project takes radio data, collected from huge radio telescopes, and tries to analyze the signals for any form of intelligence. Because this takes an enormous amount of computing power, they started to develop their own software to distribute this task volunteer supporters. You install a little piece of software on your computer and donate your free computing power. Todays computer have so much computing power, most of the time it is not used. This free calculating power could be used more efficient.

You download little chunks of raw radio data. When your computer has nothing better to do he chrunches some of those data and transmit the result to the server. Currently hundred thousand of users are doing so.

Today the classic SETI project has evolved. It is now called BOINC. This is an open-source computing platform. It allows several projects to run run within this distributed computing infrastructure. So beneath SETI there are other projects like Einstein@Home a program to search for gravitational waves from spinning isolated compact objects using data from the LIGO gravitational wave detector.

As BOINC clients are available for a lot of OS platforms nearly all of my computers, including my Android smartphone, are running a BOINC client. In the last time I also added my raspberry pi computers. How this is done, I show you in the following:

Running BOINC Client on raspberry pi

We will install the BOINC client on the raspberry pi. The easiest way to configure the client is by using the BOINC Manager tool, which you typically install on your desktop PC / Mac.

First of all please bring you raspberry pi up to date:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Now get the boinc software package
sudo apt-get install boinc

You need a BOINC account. If you already have an BOINC account or want to create one, do the following step. If you already have an account, enter your existing login data. As result you will get your account key, which we will need for the next step:
boinccmd --create_account [EMail] [Password] [Name]

Now add your project you want to execute on your raspberry pi. In this case we add the SETI project. You have to enter the project URL and your account key:
boinccmd --project_attach [account key]

The easiest way to configure your raspberry pi is by the BOINC Manager, running on your desktop computer. To allow your computer access control of this raspberry pi open the following file and enter the IP address of your desktop computer:
sudo nano /etc/boinc-client/remote_hosts.cfg

Within the next file enter a password, if you want to limit the access to the BOINC client:
sudo nano /etc/boinc-client/gui_rpc_auth.cfg

Now restart the BOINC client on your raspberry pi:
sudo /etc/init.d/boinc-client restart

Finally you could connect to the BOINC client on your raspberry pi from your desktop computer. Just select „File“ > „Select computer“, enter the IP address of your raspberry pi and the password you entered. You can customize the preferences by „BOINCManager“ > „Preferences“ and set timings and limits.


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