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Multiple Foldit Clients

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Foldit allows you to run as many clients as you want on as many computers as you want. You can also run multiple clients on a single computer.

A Foldit client can be "CPU intensive", meaning that it can use 100% of one CPU or processor. Most computers now have more than one processor. This means the ability to run more than one client at full speed. Typical computers might have 2, 4, or 8 processors, and high-end computers have more. See the technobabble section below for more on the terminology.

See "how many CPUs?" for tips on determining the number of processors in the Windows environment.

In general, you run multiple Foldit clients from a single installation of Foldit, as described on this page. See "Foldit Multi Client" for a discussion of using multiple copies of Foldit on Windows.

With a single installation running multiple Foldit clients, "tracks"  are an important way of keeping things straight.  See the Tracks page for further information.

General considerations for running multiple clientsEdit

In general, leaving one processor idle should be enough to keep your computer usable for other routine tasks. So a four-processor system should be able to run three Foldit clients comfortably. (OK, you can run four in an emergency.)

You can run more Foldit clients than you have processors, but they'll run much more slowly. Also, you'll probably run into problems if you want to use the computer for something else.

Foldit is usually not very memory-intensive. Having 2 GB of memory (RAM) per processor is plenty, 1 GB per processor would probably be fine. (If you decide to run 21 clients on a 2-processor machine, that's a different story.)

If the Foldit window is "up" on the screen, it uses more processor power. This discussion assumes that you'll be keeping your windows down or minimized most of the time, running Lua recipes. Running GUI recipes requires leaving the client window "up", and takes up essentially twice the processing power, so (nearly) two processors instead of just one. Even leaving an idle Foldit client window "up" can consume around 100% of one processor.

Only one Foldit can be connected to IRC chat at a time. You can create a second Foldit user id and use that to connect from an external IRC client if desired.

Multiple clients on WindowsEdit

If you are using Windows as your OS, then all you need to do is click on your icon again to open another client. You only need to have one Foldit program installation.

To use Windows with multiple clients and still useful with other applications running - modify Foldit-Icon-Target to: C:\WINDOWS\system32\cmd.exe /c start /BELOWNORMAL "" "C:\Foldit\Foldit.exe"

Caveats: your second or third client will not join in-game chat. Also, it's always good practice to save a good score before closing a client. And - do not run the same recipe on the same Track on multiple clients generated this way - if you close the highest scoring client without saving - you will not be able to access that score.

A special note on using scripts in multiple clients; Each client loads the last saved copy of the all.macro file in the foldit installation directory upon starting. If you download new scripts from the website (which is only possible in a client with chat enabled) those scripts will not be available in other clients until you exit that chat client and the current all.macro file is overwritten by the exiting client. Already opened clients will not show the new scripts. You need to open a new client to see the scripts you downloaded from the website. Keep in mind that clients you close after closing a chat client will overwrite the new downloaded and saved scripts. It is good practice to make regular backups of the all.macro file.

Multiple clients on MacEdit

It's not that simple for Mac users - many Mac users install multiple copies of the Foldit program, but that does require some housekeeping to keep your Tracks and scores across the different copies of the program. There is a way to set up the ability to run multiple clients from just one Foldit program. It will take a few minutes to set up, but after the initial setup, it works just as easily as the Windows people have it.


Automator on the Mac

Go to Applications -> Automator

Choose Workflow

Double click on Run Shell Script

Leave Shell settings at "/bin/bash" - and leave Pass Input settings at "to stdin"

Delete the "cat" in the input box.

Add the following two lines exactly as follows (on two separate lines as shown):

cd /Applications
open -n

Click the "Run" button at top right of window… and another client will open for you, complete with your cookbook up to date, and your puzzles exactly as you have left them in client you were already running.

You can open any number of clients by simply clicking that button. If you duplicate Automator to your desktop, it's handy to be able to open clients directly from there (as you can see if you examine the picture, renaming it for the desktop is fine).

The Shell Script will stay in the program, so you do not need to retype the script after the first time.

Caveats: your second or third client will not join in-game chat. Also, it's always good practice to save a good score before closing a client. And - do not run the same recipe on the same Track on multiple clients generated this way - if you close the highest scoring client without saving - you will not be able to access that score.

Multiple clients on LinuxEdit

(Need a Linux person to write this section)


"CPU" is an old term for "central processing unit", from back in the day when the CPU was a giant metal cabinet in the computer room that used enough electricity to power a small city.

It used to be that a CPU could do only one thing at a time, meaning one step of one program. Eventually, the nerds figured out ways to switch back and forth between different programs, but only one program was really running at a given time.

Early PCs were the same way. It used to be that one microprocessor chip contained one CPU which could still only do one thing at time.

New microprocessors now have multiple "logical processors". The term "core" is sometimes used, which was accurate at one point, but newer Intel microprocessors have cores and threads. An Intel chip might have four cores with two threads each, giving eight logical processors. Each logical processor can still only do one thing at time (more or less), but now you can have eight logical processors doing eight things simultaneously.

We're just calling "logical processors" just "processors" to save some typing.

One Foldit client can really use only logical processor, plus a little extra for overhead. So in an eight processor machine, one client can only burn 1/8 or 12.5% of the available computing power.

In theory, Foldit could use more than one processor at a time, but that's difficult with current programming technology. The issue is how to break the work up into different pieces and still keep a consistent view of the whole protein. Touching one end of the protein likely affects the other end at least slightly. Keeping things in sync across different processors is a major technical challenge -- assuming the processors are working on the same solution.

Working on different solutions, it's easy to use more than one processor. Just run more than one client. Case closed.

Just for the record, Intel uses the term "thread" in describing its microprocessors. Programs also have "threads", which are different. Program threads are like little programs-within-a-program. When a Foldit client uses 100% of one processor, it's because there's one busy thread doing all the folding work.

See alsoEdit

See Foldit Multi Client for a different view on how to set things up in Windows.

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