Recently, I started mining GridCoins, In the euphoria of successfully beeing awarded ~100 Gridcoin for BOINC computations today, I want to share some insights I got on the way. And yes, I also want to advertise this quite new and innovative crypto-currecy in this post a bit, because I believe it is a good thing to provide the computing energy for mining to actual scientific research computations, instead of computing just hashes like it is the case for Bitcoin, that produces no original wealth and only costs energy.
What is GridCoin and what is BOINC?
The short answer is, that GridCoin facilitates BOINC for mining a virtual math-based digital asset (crypto-currency), comparble to the more famous Bitcoin. In the following a more detailed answer is given, by first explaining BOINC, and how GridCoin works and how it relates to and applies the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).
BOINC is an open source software, that facilitates volunteer based grid computing. The project was originally developed to support the SETI@Home project, but is now also used for any kind of scientific computing intensive research projects.
BOINC is pretty easy to setup on any common operating system (Linux, Mac, Windows), the BOINC manager software is quite easy to use, and makes participation in volunteer grid computing very user firendly. You just need to run the installer, and then follow some GUI based steps which includes choosing a project you want to volunterr for and providing an email adress and password. This credentials are needed from the projects server to keep track of how much your computer has done. In turn the project awards you with with credits accordingly. To ensure that credit is granted fairly, most BOINC projects work as follows, each task may be sent to two computers, When a computer reports a result, it claims a certain amount of credit, based on how much CPU time was used. When at least two results have been returned, the server compares them. If the results agree, then users are granted the smaller of the claimed credits. It is notable, that between claiming the credit and being awardet the credits, a significant amount of time (several day) can be needed until two results for the same tasks are recieved.
Gridcoin is the first block chain protocol that delivered a working algorithm that equally rewards and cryptographically proves solving BOINC hosted work, which can be virtually any kind of distributed computing process.
So, mining currency in Grdcoin is based on an algorithm called Proof-of-Research (PoR), which basic idea is the more a user researches, the more Gridcoins the user will get.
The gridcoin-Research software and its wallet system manage the process of staking in Gridcoin and thus being able to get Gridcoins awarded for BOINC computations, and taking care of your Gridcoin kind of "savings account", which saves completed research activities for up to 14 days. So the wallet should be run AT LEAST every 14 days for a few hours. To be on the safe side, leave the wallet open for as long as possible. This has the additional benefit of supporting overall network security.
You can find a lot of sometimes confusing terms within the GridCoin software, here is a nice glossary where you can look up most of that terms.
I am normally working on a Ubuntu system, so I aimed for the Linux release of the gridcoin-research implementation. But it turned out the Linux setup is a bit tricky, and I did not managed to compile the software from source, because of some unresolvable (without circumventing ubuntu otherwise needed package versions of those libs) dependencies. Though, it seems there will be a packaged version of the software sometime in the future, the project exists on launchpad, but at the time of writing there were no packages available.
So, I went to install the Windows version in a virtual machine, whic is a no-brainer, just downloading the installer and following the simple installation steps.
After the basic setup, you should try to recieve some starter gridcoins into your wallet, to have a positive balance, and thus are able to stake. For now, it is possible to grab some so called faucets (free gridcoins), for example from Gridcoin Asia, or from Gridcoin Pool. On the main Gridcoin page you can whatch a nice video explaining the setup proces and also how to gain some first coins.
Take care that you also have joined all BOINC projects with the same email adress and also joined the gridcoin team on each project. And double check if the projects you compute are whitelisted for gridcoin.
Computing on multiple computers and BOINC projects
To be able to compute on multiple devices, and get rewarded for one GridCoin-Research client and its according wallet, you need to take care of the following constraints. First, it is important that you run a BOINC manager instance on the device on which the Gridcoin-Research client is running. This manager instance should join all projects that you are computing from the other devices (of course using the same account credentials), so the Gridcoin client knows about these projects. I additionally, also added teh other devices for remote managemetn from this BOINC manager instance, but this is not nessecary (at least how I read the documentation).
You can verify the correct setup, by listing your CPIDs in the Gridcoin-Research client, and check if every project is listed. This is don by openeing the "Debug console" in the Grindcoin client and type: "list cpids".
To actually start being rewarded takes some quite notable time. In my case it took 8 days, from initial setup of having BOINC computing on three devices (VPS server, Desktop PC and Laptop), over adding some coins to the wallet for being able to stake, until gaining the first mined PoR. So, be paitent in the begining, it will pay off.
Look at how the projects perform on your devices, this is very hardware configuration dependent. Project A can be more suitable for device X and project B can possibly perfome better on device Y with a dedicated gaming GPU for example. So, keep an eye on this and play around with the setup to achive most with your hardware. Its possible to track the performance of your devices and according project computations via the BOINC manager statistics interface.
Happy Gridcoin mining!