Scribe, ut possis cum voles dicere: dices cum velle debebis (Pl. Ep. 6.29)

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Help the world with minimal effort!

Folding@Home is not a new project, but i recently rediscovered it. Basically you donate the unused CPU time of your computer to a scientific project that calculates protein folding. I don't know much about biology, but as far as i understand this project might help make significant progress in medicine, which is the common interest.

If you're using Windows, there are two versions - the graphical version and the console/service version. I prefer the service version, because after a little initial configuration you don't see it at all and it doesn't ever bother you anymore. The graphical version can show some pretty pictures of molecules, but it is not very interesting. The installation instructions for the service version at the website are not very good, so i wrote a little something by myself.

  1. Download the software. I use 5.04beta, but 5.02 probably works the same.
  2. The FAH504-Console.exe is the program itself, not a setup package. Create a separate directory, for example C:\FAH or C:\Program Files\FAH or something like that and copy this file to that directory.
  3. Run the file. You will be asked a few questions. If the question is not listed here, it's safe to give the default answer.
    • User name: Just write whatever you want - you don't have to create an account with a password etc.
    • Team Number: You can create a team and sign up your friends to this team. Then you can see your statistics on one webpage. It is not very important, so you can just say 0 and be in the "General" team, but if you want to do it, read this, create your team and put its number there. You can also put my team number - 47146. Go go team aharoni!
    • Launch automatically at machine startup, installing this as a service - say yes.
    • Use Internet Explorer settings - say yes. It will copy your internet connections settings from Internet Explorer.
    • Change advanced options - if you have a dual-core processor, say yes. Otherwise say no. How to check if you have a dual-core processor: If you bought your computer before 2005, you probably don't have a dual-core processor. If you bought it in 2005 or later, do this: right-click on the taskbar and click Task Manager. Click the Performance tab. There must be a CPU Usage History graph running. If there's one graph, then you have a regular CPU. If there are two graphs, congratulations - you have a dual-core CPU.
    • If you have a dual-core CPU, give the default answers to all the questions, and answer 1 at the Machine ID question.
  4. Now the programs will start running, but you can close the window. The software is smart and it will resume work quietly when you restart your computer.
  5. If you have a dual-core CPU, you can now run two instances of Folding@Home - that's what dual-core is good for. How to do it: Create another directory, similar to the first one, for example C:\FAH2. Copy the FAH504-Console.exe to that directory too. Do the same configuration operation from the beginning, but give Machine ID 2 this time. Now you are really cool.

When the service is running, you can check the Task Manager and see under Performance that 100% CPU is used. That program runs at the lowest priority, which means that it only uses your unused CPU time and doesn't hurt the performance of your day-to-day activities.

If you want to check you statistics, that is - how many protein folding calculations (so called WU's - work units) your computer has helped complete, go to the "Stats" section at the Folding@Home site.

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