Saturday, April 28, 2018

Installing SETI@home on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

Searching for alien life is the goal of many space exploration projects for many years. Aliens can come in all shapes and sizes starting with single celled life. Among them, finding intelligent life would be exciting than anything else. Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is a project which attempts to achieve that goal by listening to their radio transmissions. They have large radio telescopes which collect radio signals from the outer space and then process them to look for any sign of message from an intelligent beings.

Now, here's the issue. The scientists at SETI don't have enough processing power in their computers to process all these data acquired from the radio telescopes. This is obviously a computationally intensive task. That's where we can give a little hand as a good citizen of Earth. We can share a part of our personal computers processing power to process SETI data. I'm writing down the steps to install the required software on a computer running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and setup everything.

(1) First of all, we need to have an account in the SETI@home website, in order to contribute. Go to the following website and create an account.

(2) Now, it's time to install the relevant software on our computer. For a computer running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, we can easily install the software through the software repositories. Open a terminal and issue the following command for that.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install boinc

(3) Open the BOINC software GUI and log into your account. Once you are logged in, you should be able to search for the SETI@home project from the list of projects available and add it.

(4) After a while, the SETI@home client will start taking data from the sever and process them locally. You can view the ongoing tasks on your computer in the GUI client.