[RC5] RC5 keyspace finished?

Jeff Lawson jlawson at bovine.net
Thu Mar 22 21:24:34 EST 2001

On Wed, 21 Mar 2001, Dan Petrak wrote:

> http://n0cgi.distributed.net/ogr-proxyinfo.html shows everything but the
> keymaster as being down.  I grabbed my last chunk just before they all
> stopped responding, and will probably not need it for another hour or so...
> But does this imply that perhaps we found the right key?

There was indeed a period of disconnectivity on Wednesday morning (U.S.
time) where much of the network were unable to queue any additional
workunits to or from the keymaster for a handful of hours.  

During this time, all of the uploaded results were held backlogged on the
fullservers, and they continued to issue new workunits from their queues,
as they are designed to do in such conditions.

Due to the nature of how the statistical information presented on the
proxyinfo info pages is gathered and collected, all of the uptime, checkin
periods, and buffer levels will only reflect their last received values if
the central proxyinfo database cannot be updated or contacted to (by
either the website or by the fullservers).  This may give the impression
that all of the servers are down, when in actuality they merely cannot
report their status to the proxyinfo database (hosted at the keymaster,
and mirrored periodically to the machines hosting the website).

Once connectivity was reestablished, all of the backlog had been
successfully dispatched within a few hours afterwards.  All fullservers
and the keymaster performed admirably during this recovery period and in
particular the opportunity provided the ability to realize the performance
benefits of recent software architecture changes to the keymaster codebase
to give it a higher degree of parallelization.  The outtage also permitted
us to finetune optimize some of the performance affecting controls used by
the keymaster.

We generally try to ensure that all fullservers have enough work units at
all times such that they can withstand an extended period of full
disconnectivity of five or more hours, at each of their average
consumption rates.  However, due to the duration of the outtage, at least
a couple of the fullservers prematurely exhausted their supplies of
available blocks, so clients would eventually reinitiate their connections
to one of the alternate fullservers that had not yet been exhausted.  
(This is why it is far preferable to configure your clients to utilize one
of the large geographic DNS round-robins, such as us.v27.distributed.net
instead of only a specific fullserver or IP address.)  Since each
fullserver operates independently while it is disconnected, this may give
the impression that the entire network does not have available workunits
when in actuality only that specific fullserver has been exhausted.

We are currently in the process of performing final validation of a new
release build of the proxy codebase and will be formally propagating this
new build to all of the fullservers within the next week or so.  There are
already a couple of our fullservers that are already running these new
builds and have not encountered any issues with them yet.  Although the
main features of this new build focus primarily on performance
improvements at the keymaster, there are also a number of networking
performance improvements that should be realized by the fullservers.  
None of these changes should directly be noticable nor will affect clients
directly.  The one exception is that personal proxy builds prior to build
309 (released Jul 1999) will now become officially unusable on the
network.  This planned drop of support was first announced several months
ago:  http://lists.distributed.net/hypermail/proxyper.Dec2000/0016.html

One of the plans that I currently have in the preliminary development
stage is to allow the fullserver network to support a topology in which
each fullserver maintains connections to multiple keymasters
simultaneously and can divert requests to one of the others.  This will
serve not only to assist in load balancing, but also to reduce the impact
of large losses of connectivity by allowing the multi-homed nature of many
of our fullservers to be utilized better.


Jeff Lawson   http://www.bovine.net/  http://www.distributed.net/~bovine/
Jeffrey_Lawson at alumni.hmc.edu  jlawson at bovine.net  bovine at distributed.net
Programmer, Developer, Mascot, Founder of the largest computer on earth!
Don't waste those cycles!  Put them to use!  http://www.distributed.net/

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