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SETI
Pages: 1, 2

Now, let's build some ports that will give some visual representations of the data being processed. I'll start with "TkSETI"; you can see the screenshots for this program here.



Build the port like so:

su
Password:
cd /usr/ports/astro/tkseti
make install clean
exit

Once the build is finished, start an X Window session as a regular user. From an xterm, start the application by specifying the directory in which your *.sah files are located:

tkseti /usr/home/genisis

By default, this utility is setup to give an alert whenever you process a high Gaussian, Pulse, Spike, or Triplet. While initially exciting, I found that it quickly grew irritating. You can disable that and change some other settings by clicking on the Setup button.

Related Reading

Beyond Contact
A Guide to SETI and Communicating with Alien Civilizations
By Brian McConnell

This utility also has buttons to Run, Pause, and Kill the "setiathome" client, so you no longer have to start the client from the command prompt. It also comes with a sky map and the ability to check the Stats of your friends or a group.

The next port is "GKrellM", which is also found in /usr/ports/astro. If you've never used GKrellM before, you are in for a treat as it is a really slick-looking piece of eye candy, and it's highly configurable with many available plugins. You can check out the screen shots and read about the themes and the plugins here.

Once you've built GKrellM, open up an xterm and type gkrellm. If it is the first time you've run gkrellm, it will give you the following message:

You can configure your monitors by right clicking on the top frame of GKrellM or by hitting the F1 key with the mouse in the GKrellM window. Read the info pages in the config for setup help.

To enable GKrellM, start the configuration utility as mentioned in the above message, click on Plugins, click on SETI@home, and enable.

Once it is enabled, it will show under the Plugins tree. Double-click on the SETI@home plugin which will take you to its Config tab. Type in the path to your state.sah file; for example, mine is /usr/home/genisis.

The last port I'd like to mention is "Ksetiwatch". This port requires KDE 2.2.2 in order to build successfully, so if you've been wavering on upgrading to the latest version of KDE, this may be your reason to do so. You can see the screenshots and read the online documentation for this utility here.

If you either have KDE 2.2.2 already installed or no version of KDE installed on your machine, you can build this port directly from /usr/ports/astro/ksetiwatch. However, if you are running an older version of KDE, you will have to remove all traces of it before the build will be successful. Since I fell into this latter category, I proceeded like so:

su
Password:
pkg_info | grep kde

This returned about 10 related KDE packages. I used the pkg_delete utility to remove each one of these, like so:

pkg_delete kde-2.2
pkg_delete kdemultimedia-2.2
etc.

I then repeated the pkg_info | grep kde to ensure that all the old packages were removed. Then I was able to build KDE 2.2.2. (Caution: This is a very long build.)

cd /usr/ports/x11/kde2
make install clean

Then I installed Ksetiwatch:

cd /usr/ports/astro/ksetiwatch
make install clean
exit

When I launched KDE 2.2.2 for the first time, I was pleased that it had retained all of my original settings, such as my wallpaper and customized menus and icons. And I was able to launch Ksetiwatch from the Applications menu.

When you first launch Ksetiwatch, right click within the Analysis window to Add your SETI@home location information. You'll need to browse for the directory that contains your *.sah files and you can choose the options of starting and stopping the setiathome client when you start and stop the Ksetiwatch application. You can view the sky map by clicking on its button in the Data Info tab. To see the Gaussian, Pulse, and Triplet graphs, highlight your location in the Analysis tab, right click, and choose the appropriate graph from the Show menu.

A few final notes about the SETI@home application. If your firewall allows you to make outbound connections on port 80, meaning you are able to surf the Internet, you won't have any problems using the setiathome client. If you are worried about security, there is a security note in the FAQ on the project's Web site. The application itself shouldn't have any impact on your system's performance as it takes advantage of "idle" CPU cycles.

I hope you enjoyed today's article and will check out the world of collaborative computing. Who knows, maybe some day I'll see your name in the papers as the person whose CPU discovered something interesting.

Dru Lavigne is a network and systems administrator, IT instructor, author and international speaker. She has over a decade of experience administering and teaching Netware, Microsoft, Cisco, Checkpoint, SCO, Solaris, Linux, and BSD systems. A prolific author, she pens the popular FreeBSD Basics column for O'Reilly and is author of BSD Hacks and The Best of FreeBSD Basics.


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