Friday, June 29, 2012

Optiplex 745 Signing on

In my very first blog post I mentioned that I was expanding my "farm" and the first machine I got almost solely for the purpose of crunching number ( will likely be used as a back up machine too), is an Optiplex 745 which in among itself is not the highest powered tower available. But as my second post indicated I got a CUDA enabled GPU with 144 CUDA cores, a nvidia GT 440, which at 80 dollars seems quite resonable, especially for a GPU that can still be used on a Machine that has only a 305 Watt PSU. As I also needed to buy a hard drive for the machine which otherwise I got for practically free due to some wonderful friends in IT, I needed to equip this machine with a brand new OS, what better than Linux? Swayed in my linux choice from my long time tech mentor and college roommate for 3 of 4 years of undergrad, I of course went with Ubuntu, and booted it from a flash drive.

The installation process, went easy. Way too easy, until I thought I got everything up and running, and BOINC could not recognize my graphics card. I was about to be PO'd because everything said this card should work, and I did not spend 80 dollars just so I could use HDMI cables rather than a Dell specific DVI format. Well a little bit of Google foo, lead me to a page that was incredibly helpful, but somehow I can not find at all when searching from my Windows PC. I swore it was under the Ubuntu help forums.

Well, let me just say getting CUDA up and running took my otherwise pain free set up and start up process, and turned it into a major pain. I have no problem working with a terminal, but so much of everything I had form the page to set it up was type these two commands, then wait 5 minutes, type two more commands, and wait another 5 minutes, until eventually you get to the compiling process of the entire SDK, which I almost wish I timed it, well lets just say for anyone that goes through this process, when you set it to compile, you might as well find something else to do for awhile, and just make sure you can look at it every 10 or so minutes to see if it is done. Sadly though the first and second time I tried to go through and get everything working, it failed. When I went to test to make sure the install worked properly I got an error. Thankfully the third time is the charm, and it is now happily crunching away.

While I personally love linux, and while it is becoming more and more user friendly, so much so, that I think the average user could get around and navigate just as well on a linux PC as they can on a Windows or a Mac ( after the brief adjustment phase), it sadly is still true that you can not really do any sort of heavy lifting in Linux without a little bit of knowledge in using the Terminal/ Command Line. Whereas Windows and Mac have gotten to the point that most people with those machines do not even know those things exist on their machines.

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