Sunday, February 17, 2013

Should you Beta?

I have really been going back and forth on the question of "should I allow beta tests on my machines?"  When I first set up machines specifically for boinc crunching, my initial thought was these I really wouldn't mind allowing Beta tests to run on them. Though the more I read beta test support forums there are quite a few things that give me pause.  So lets start with a Pro and Con list.

Pros:
  • Beta testers are an essential part of most if not all BOINC projects.
  • By allowing beta tests you allow quicker upgrades to projects and programs
  • I dare say you make yourself more valuable to the project ( though I do not really know of any major way projects show any sort of loyalty for this). 
Cons:
  • The projects want feedback from the Beta testers on how the projects ran, and dealt with their machines.
  • Beta tasks can cause quite a few issues, while I have not heard of any completely horrible CPU beta errors, with GPU tasks I have heard about Beta's messing up drivers, and causing completely lock ups and freezes of the machines.
  • You should have a decent ability to trouble shoot technological issues. At the very minimum you should know how to check a multitude of log files to pinpoint the output from the error to the log so you can give detailed feedback of exactly what the error was to the project.

The pros and cons are interesting, in the sense that to just about everyone the cons sound far worse than the pros, mainly due to the second bullet. The other two cons are of little consequence to me, I have no problem being in contact with the project through their project forums, or checking log files, and troubleshooting to some degree.

The real reason why I decided I am going to shy away from crunching beta tasks is the fact that I do not use my other machines on a regular basis for how they function usability wise while crunching. So I can't give feedback to the projects about how the Beta altered my computer more than it consistently errors out, or seemed to run fine.  While on my main machine, I get very scared every time something goes wrong on my main machine, even though I back up major files on a regular basis, I just hate going through the hassle of fine tuning my main use machine again to get it back to the condition I like it. 

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