Be part of the worlds first ExaFLOP system…today!


We're waging war against COVID-19 and this is our call to arms!

Thanks to folding@home's software, we all have chance to be part of an (unofficial) record breaking global initiative, which could soon create the world's first ExaFLOP Supercomputer*! To find out more about the initiative and research being carried out on COVID-19, read our blog post here.

As of a few days ago, folding@home reported having over 470 petaFLOPS of compute available for researchers working on projects including COVID-19, and we're imploring the HPC community to join us in a bid to getting it to 1 ExaFLOP (1000 petaFLOPs).

We've already documented the instructions for Centos7 environments and we were pleasantly surprised by some of the feedback querying how this could be run on a HPC system as a standard user, rather than the root / admin account. Below we've added instructions on how to run the software without admin or root access and while working with a job schedular (in this instance SLURM).

Let's create a local area to work from .

mkdir scratch/fah -p
cd scratch/fah

Next, lets grab the RPM for the client


Extract the files from the RPMs

[david@vcontroller fah]$ rpm2cpio ./fahclient-7.4.4-1.x86_64.rpm | cpio -idmv 
19617 blocks

Now lets take a look at the pre/post scripts in the RPM

[david@vcontroller fah]$ rpm -qp --scripts ./fahclient-7.4.4-1.x86_64.rpm >

Lets investigate the post install script from the RPM above - but in short all looks ok, nothing major being done (although please have a peek if curious).

Check the init script to see what its doing when it starts a job

# file ./etc/init.d/FAHClient
# Changed line 26 to: 
26 QUIET=false
# Changed line 120 to:
120         echo "$EXEC $OPTS &"

So here's our output

[david@vcontroller fah]$ ./etc/init.d/FAHClient start 
Starting fahclient ... /usr/bin/FAHClient /etc/fahclient/config.xml  --run-as fahclient --pid-file=/var/run/ --daemon  &
cat: /var/run/ No such file or directory

We are missing our fah config.xml file and a local var/run - but we can create that from the previous blog entry where we covered installing this as root.

Next up lets create some of the directories required for the fah client to run locally

[david@node0001 fah]$ mkdir var/run -p
[david@node0001 fah]$ mkdir etc/fahclient -p
[david@node0001 fah]$ cat ./etc/fahclient/config.xml 
  <!-- Folding Slot Configuration -->
  <gpu v='false'/>

  <!-- Slot Control -->
  <power v='full'/>

  <!-- User Information -->
  <user v='vscaler'/>

  <!-- Folding Slots -->
  <slot id='0' type='CPU'/>


Now lets try this as an interactive job

[david@vcontroller ~]$ salloc -N 1
salloc: Granted job allocation 11470
[david@vcontroller ~]$ ssh $SLURM_JOB_NODELIST
Last login: Tue Mar 24 17:51:11 2020
[david@node0001 ~]$ cd scratch/fah

Ok, we checked the FAHClient --help output to check a few things out - and changed the exec command to the following

[david@node0001 fah]$ ./usr/bin/FAHClient ./etc/fahclient/config.xml  --run-as david --pid-file=./var/run/ --pid --service --respawn --log='./fahclient.log' --fork
18:09:41:INFO(1):Read GPUs.txt
18:09:41:************************* Folding@home Client *************************
18:09:41:    Website:
18:09:41:  Copyright: (c) 2009-2014 Stanford University
18:09:41:     Author: Joseph Coffland <>
18:09:41:       Args: ./etc/fahclient/config.xml --run-as david
18:09:41:             --pid-file=./var/run/ --pid --service --respawn
18:09:41:             --log=./fahclient.log --fork
18:09:41:     Config: /home/david/scratch/fah/./etc/fahclient/config.xml
18:09:41:******************************** Build ********************************

Looking good - lets check the logfile

[david@node0001 fah]$ tail fahclient.log 
18:10:50:WU00:FS00:0xa7:Completed 1 out of 500000 steps (0%)
18:11:04:WU00:FS00:0xa7:Completed 5000 out of 500000 steps (1%)
18:11:10:WU00:FS00:0xa7:Completed 10000 out of 500000 steps (2%)
18:11:16:WU00:FS00:0xa7:Completed 15000 out of 500000 steps (3%)
18:11:22:WU00:FS00:0xa7:Completed 20000 out of 500000 steps (4%)
18:11:28:WU00:FS00:0xa7:Completed 25000 out of 500000 steps (5%)
18:11:33:WU00:FS00:0xa7:Completed 30000 out of 500000 steps (6%)
18:11:39:WU00:FS00:0xa7:Completed 35000 out of 500000 steps (7%)
18:11:44:WU00:FS00:0xa7:Completed 40000 out of 500000 steps (8%)
18:11:52:WU00:FS00:0xa7:Completed 45000 out of 500000 steps (9%)

Happy days - we are up and running without root access 🙂

PS. Get permission or if needs be, bribe your local HPC admin before you fill up Slurm with jobs!

(*This supercomputer is not a supercomputer, as HPC fans will no doubt point out this is more of a distributed architecture which would probably be appalling at running tightly coupled workloads, such as Linpack, and would be nowhere on the top500 Supercomputer ranks - however its still a really cool achievement and a testament to whats possible when a community pulls together.)

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2 thoughts on “Be part of the worlds first ExaFLOP system…today!

  1. Pingback: COVID-19 Use Your Computer to Help - vScaler

  2. Pingback: Setting up Folding@home on Centos7 - vScaler

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