Build your own Ethereum Mining Rig, part 2: Linux Setup

In this second installment of our DIY Ethereum mining guide, we’ll look at how to install and configure Linux to setup your rig as an automated, remotely-manageable appliance. Don’t be dissuaded if you’ve never used Linux before—our step-by-step guide makes it simple!

Why Linux over Windows? First, it’s free—and saving ~$100 on the operating system is a big plus when you’re trying to maximize profitability. Other reasons include lesser hardware requirements (Linux is perfectly happy running from a USB stick plugged into ancient hardware!), simpler remote administration capabilities, and oftentimes better stability. The downside of running Linux is that video driver support isn’t on the same level as Windows, and things like GPU undervolting are trickier (but still possible via BIOS mods).

If you missed the hardware portion of our guide, make sure to check it out first. Otherwise, read on.

Build an Ethereum Mining Rig, part 2:  Linux Setup

The following is heavily adapted from my original 2013 Litecoin mining guide, updated for the latest Xubuntu LTS version, the new AMDGPU-PRO drivers, and necessary ethereum mining software (all up-to-date as of 11/29/2017). If you’re a bit nervous because you’ve a complete Linux newbie, don’t be. Simply follow the step-by-step instructions exactly as they’re written, and you’ll be fine. Even if you’ve never done anything like this before, you should be up and running in roughly an hour.

Step 1: Configure BIOS settings

Before we even get to Linux, let’s take a minute to make sure that your mining computer’s BIOS settings are in order. Power on your computer, and press the “delete” key a few times immediately after power on. You should end up in the BIOS configuration area. Do the following, then save & exit:

  • Change power options so that the computer automatically turns itself on whenever power is restored. The reason for this is two-fold: first, it’ll make sure that your miner automatically starts up after a power outage. Second, it makes powering the computer on much easier if you don’t happen to have a power switch connected to the motherboard.
  • Make sure that your USB stick is first in the boot-up order (you may need to have a USB stick attached).
  • Disable all components that you don’t plan to use. This may save a little bit of power, and since your miner will likely be running 24/7, it’ll add up. For me, that meant disabling onboard audio, one of the SATA controllers, the USB 3.0 ports (I only had a 2.0 USB stick), the Firewire port, and the serial port.
  • If you’re running a lot of GPUs (4+), additional tweaks might be necessary to ensure that they’re all recognized by the OS. Exact tweaks vary by motherboard, but setting the PCIe speed to Gen1 is usually a good place to start. No need to change anything now, but make a mental note that you may need to come back and play around a bit if all of your GPUs don’t show up in the OS later.

Step 2: Install Xubuntu Desktop on your miner

Xubuntu is a lightweight version of Ubuntu, a popular Linux distribution. Most other distros should work just fine, but be aware that the GPU drivers require the presence of Xorg, which means server distros that don’t have a GUI will not work properly.

  • Xubuntu 16.04.3 is the latest LTS release at the time of this guide, so that is what I recommend you use. You can download it here.
  • You’ll need to either write the installation ISO image to a USB stick (highly recommended), or burn it to a DVD. If you use a DVD, you’ll need to temporarily hook up a DVD drive to your mining rig for the installation (make sure you temporarily enable your SATA controller if you disabled it in step 1!).
  • Once you have the installation media prepared, you’re ready to install Xubuntu to your miner’s boot device (whether it’s an SSD, mechanical harddrive, or another blank USB stick). Boot using your new installation media (make sure it’s first in your miner’s BIOS boot order list). The Xubuntu installer should appear.
  • Follow the prompts, and make sure to click the “auto-login” box on the last step of the installer (otherwise, all of the default options are fine).
  • When the installation is complete, you should automatically boot into the Xubuntu desktop. Make sure to remove your installation media.

Step 3: Install SSH and package updates

At the Xubuntu desktop, press CTRL+ALT+T to open a terminal window.

  • Install SSH by typing:
    sudo apt-get install openssh-server

With SSH installed, you can unplug the keyboard/mouse/monitor from your miner, and complete the rest of the installation from your desktop computer. Simply download Putty onto your desktop, run it, and enter the IP address of your mining rig (type ifconfig at the Xubuntu terminal to find your miner’s address if you don’t know it—it will probably look like 192.168.0.x). That should bring up a remote terminal session to your miner, which is more or less just like sitting at the keyboard in front of it.

If you plan to manage your mining rig remotely over the internet, you’ll need to forward port 22 on your router to your miner. Make sure that you use a strong Xubuntu password!

Setup should be pretty quick from this point, as now you can simply copy text from this webpage (highlight it and press CTRL+C) and then paste it into your Putty session by simply right-clicking anywhere inside the Putty window. I highly recommend that you complete the remainder of the guide in this manner, as it eliminates the risk of typos!

  • Install package updates by typing (or copying & pasting via right-click into Putty) the following command:
    sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Step 4: Install AMDGPU-PRO drivers

Next up, we’ll install AMD’s video drivers. AMD has special blockchain compute drivers available for mining that give far superior performance compared to their standard drivers, so that’s what we’ll be using (version 17.40, which is the latest as of 11/29/2017).

  • Type the following commands (press “enter” and wait for the operation to complete at the end of each line):
    cd ~/Downloads
    wget --referer=http://support.amd.com https://www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/beta/ubuntu/amdgpu-pro-17.40-483984.tar.xz
    tar -Jxvf amdgpu-pro-17.40-483984.tar.xz
    cd amdgpu-pro-17.40-483984
    ./amdgpu-pro-install -y
  • Some of these steps may take a minute or two to complete. When the installation is complete, type the following:
    sudo usermod -a -G video $LOGNAME
  • Next we need to install and configure the ROCm component:
    sudo apt install -y rocm-amdgpu-pro
    echo 'export LLVM_BIN=/opt/amdgpu-pro/bin' | sudo tee /etc/profile.d/amdgpu-pro.sh
  • Finally we need to enable large page support, which will dramatically improve mining performance. Type the following to open your grub file in nano for editing:
    sudo nano /etc/default/grub
  • Find the line that reads GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash”. Modify it to:
    GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash amdgpu.vm_fragment_size=9"
  • Save the file and quit nano by pressing CTRL+X and then answering (Y)es to save the changes. When you’re finished, update grub and reboot:
    sudo update-grub
    sudo reboot

The final command will reboot your rig, which will cause you to immediately lose your SSH (Putty) connection. Wait a few seconds to give the computer a chance to boot, and then re-establish a new connection via Putty, and re-login.

Step 5: Install Ethereum software

(Note: you may skip step 5 entirely if you already have an ethereum wallet address that you intend to use!)

Next up, we’ll install the Ethereum software that will let us create a new wallet address. We’ll need this to store the coins we receive from mining.

  • Type the following to install the necessary ethereum packages:
    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ethereum/ethereum
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install ethereum geth
    
  • Now it’s time to create your Ethereum wallet address:
    geth account new

You’ll be prompted to enter a password, and then to confirm it (use a strong password!). The output will be a long string between two curly braces { }. That’s your new wallet address—make a note of it (highlight it within Putty to copy it to your clipboard).

Important: The combination of the password you just used to create this address *and* the associated encrypted key file is what gives you control over your new wallet address. If you lose either of these, you’ve also lost control of your wallet and all of the coins associated with it—and there is literally nothing that anyone will be able to do to help you. Remember your password, and keep multiple backups of your key file(s)!

Your key file(s) are stored in the ~/.ethereum/keystore directory. Copy the entire /keystore folder someplace safe to backup your wallet (backups are covered in more detail heredon’t forget to make multiple backups and keep them in a secure offline location!).

If you forget your wallet address, you can type geth account list to see your addresses and the location of their key files.

Step 6: Install Claymore’s Ethereum miner

There are several options as far as mining software, and I’ve experimented with all of the popular ones. I think Claymore’s miner is the best option, even if it does have two fairly significant downsides: it’s closed-source, and it’s not free (~1% of your mining time benefits the creator of the miner).

Two alternatives are the stock ethereum miner (ethminer) and Genoil’s fork of the stock miner. They’re both open-source and free, but they have pretty crippling downsides.

The stock ethminer is much slower than Claymore’s miner (by a margin of over 5% on my test rig). In addition, ethminer creates the Ethereum DAG file on disk instead of in GPU memory, which is slow and uses a lot of space (and if you’re running off a USB stick, all those writes may eventually wear it out).

Genoil’s fork seems to be nearly as fast as Claymore’s, and it doesn’t use physical disk space for the DAG, but it’s not stable (at least not for me). It often crashes, especially on startup (whereas I have yet to see a single crash on Claymore’s miner after nearly a week of full-time mining). The author abandoned development months ago, so improvements are unlikely.

So, explanation aside, here is how to setup Claymore’s miner:

  • First return to your downloads directory and grab the latest version (10.2 as of 11/29/2017). I’m pulling the file directly from the author’s Google Drive repository, if the link is broken check here for a newer release or updated link):
    cd ~/Downloads
    sudo apt install curl
    curl -L -o claymore_10.2_miner.tar.gz https://drive.google.com/uc?id=1t25SK0lk2osr32GH623rR8aG2_qvZds9
    
  • Then create a new directory for it, and unpack it there:
    sudo mkdir /usr/local/claymore10.2
    sudo tar -xvf claymore_10.2_miner.tar.gz -C /usr/local/claymore10.2
    
  • Then let’s head over to the installation directory and create a startup script. Note that commands 2-5 below just clean up the installation directory a bit by removing an intermediary directory that was included in the original tar archive:
    cd /usr/local/claymore10.2
    cd Clay*
    sudo mv * /usr/local/claymore10.2
    cd ..
    sudo rm -r Clay*
    sudo chown root:root ethdcrminer64
    sudo chmod 755 ethdcrminer64
    sudo chmod u+s ethdcrminer64
    sudo nano mine.sh
    
  • Nano will open a new blank text file; enter the following into it:
    #!/bin/sh
    export GPU_MAX_ALLOC_PERCENT=100
    ./ethdcrminer64 -epool eth-us-east1.nanopool.org:9999 -ewal YOUR_WALLET_ADDRESS/Miner01 -epsw x -mode 1 -allpools 1 -tt 68
    

    Where it says YOUR_WALLET_ADDRESS, use the address you created in step 5 (you’ll need to put “0x” in front of it). The “Miner01” following your address can be changed to any friendly label that you want to give your miner (only important if you plan to run multiple rigs). It’s easiest to copy the last line from my guide into something like notepad, then replace YOUR_WALLET_ADDRESS with your actual address there, and then copy the finished line into putty via right-click to get everything into nano without typos.

  • Save the file and quit nano by pressing CTRL+X and then answering (Y)es to save the changes, then enter the following to give your new script execute permission:
    sudo chmod +x mine.sh

Note that I’m using nanopool.org as the mining pool here. I’ve tried a few, and it seems to be a top pick, but feel free to pick your own pool. Most don’t require registration, and simply payout to whatever wallet address you supply whenever a certain threshold is met (usually whenever you accumulate 1+ ETH). Assuming you stick with Nanopool, you’ll be able to check on your miner’s status by going to this URL after you start mining: https://eth.nanopool.org/account/[YOUR WALLET ADDRESS]

  • Now is a good time to test things. You can fire up your miner by typing:
    ./mine.sh

You should see the Claymore miner start up. It’ll take a minute or two before it actually starts mining, but it should get there eventually. When you see a scrolling log of outputs that includes non-zero hashrates (expect hashrates in the low to mid 20s for unoptimized GPUs), you’re good to go. If the script fails to start, or you see errors, make sure that you’ve created the script exactly as outlined in the guide.

Press CTRL+C to exit the miner when you’re satisfied that it’s working.

Step 7: Create auto-start scripts

We’re almost done! We want to set up our rigs automatically start mining whenever the rig is powered on. That way, we keep mining losses to a minimum whenever a power outage occurs, and we don’t have to worry about manually starting it back up in other situations.

  • First, install screen:
    sudo apt install screen
  • Then type the following to create a new script in your home directory and open it in nano:
    cd ~
    sudo nano miner_launcher.sh
  • Enter the following text into the editor (substitute your actual Xubuntu username for YOUR_XUBUNTU_USERNAME where necessary!):
    #!/bin/bash
    DEFAULT_DELAY=0
    if [ "x$1" = "x" -o "x$1" = "xnone" ]; then
       DELAY=$DEFAULT_DELAY
    else
       DELAY=$1
    fi
    sleep $DELAY
    cd /usr/local/claymore10.2
    su YOUR_XUBUNTU_USERNAME -c "screen -dmS ethm ./mine.sh"
  • Save and quit nano (CTRL+X), and then type:
    sudo chmod +x miner_launcher.sh
  • Now we need to call our new script during startup; we do that by adding it to /etc/rc.local. Type the following to open /etc/rc.local in nano:
    sudo nano /etc/rc.local
  • Add the following text, right above the line that reads “exit 0” (substitute your own username!):
    /home/YOUR_XUBUNTU_USERNAME/miner_launcher.sh 15 &

Then save and quit out of nano (CTRL+X).

Step 8: Create an alias to easily check on the Claymore miner process

We’re essentially done at this point, but you’ll probably want to manually SSH into your miner from time to time to manually check on your hashrates & GPU temperatures, etc. Creating an alias will make that easy.

  • Type:

    sudo nano .bashrc
  • Scroll to the end of the file, and then add this text above the line that reads “# enable programmable completion…”
    alias miner='screen -x ethm'
  • Save and quit out of nano.

That’s it—you’re done! You’ll probably want to run a full test now. The easiest way to do that is to close your Putty session and power down your miner. Turn it back on and the following should happen:

  1. Your miner should boot into Xubuntu. This may take up to a minute, depending on the speed of your boot device (it’ll be much faster on an SSD).
  2. 15 seconds after Xubuntu has loaded, the Claymore miner will automatically start and begin mining. You might notice the fans on your GPUs spin up a bit when this happens.
  3. You should be able to SSH into your miner at any time and type miner to monitor the miner’s process. To close the screen (but keep the miner running), press CTRL+A, then CTRL+D.
  4. If you ever need to start the Claymore miner manually (because you quit out of it, or kill it, etc), simply type ~/miner_launcher.sh

(update 1/15/2018: **IMPORTANT** please read this if your hashrate is lower than expected!) 

Output from a single budget RX 470 at stock settings running Claymore’s ETH miner. You should see something like this when connecting to your rig via SSH and running your “miner” alias.

Congratulations—you have your own headless linux ethereum miner!

The next section of this guide covers setup under Windows, and then we’ll take a look at optimizing miner settings for better performance.

764 Responses to Build your own Ethereum Mining Rig, part 2: Linux Setup

  1. RoscoeP says:

    I used this guide a while back, then decided to go back to Windows. Windows crashed hard and never gave me better hash rates, so back to Ubuntu! Thanks so much for this guide and thanks for keeping it current!

    Forgetting that I was supposed to install XUbuntu, I installed Ubuntu 16.04.3 server. Yea, the AMD drivers didnt like that, but simply installing xfce “sudo apt-get install xfce4” and re-installing the AMD drivers worked great.

    Hashing at 25Mh/s with my RX470.

    Cheers!

  2. djfono says:

    I followed your guide step by step and all is well except for when I start the miner I get this error:


    amdgpu_device_initialize: DRM version is 2.50.0 but this driver is only compatible with 3.x.x.

    How can I fix this?

  3. EP says:

    Thx for your great guideline, I can start mining following steps.

    I had error message related to libOpenCL.so, and I fix the problem with these additional steps for my RX 570

    ./amdgpu-pro-install -y –opencl=legacy
    sudo apt-get install clinfo

    I seek for your advice about the string “YOUR_WALLET_ADDRESS/Miner01” in script:

    ./ethdcrminer64 -epool eth-us-east1.nanopool.org:9999 -ewal YOUR_WALLET_ADDRESS/Miner01 -epsw x -mode 1 -allpools 1 -tt 68

    In nanopool, I want to change min payout to 0.05 ETH, but it requires an Password (email address), it cannot be blank.
    Should I fill “YOUR_ETH_ADDRESS/YOUR_WORKER_NAME/YOUR_EMAIL” in the mine.sh?

    is YOUR_EMAIL the password of “geth account new”?
    Please help.

  4. Heitor says:

    Ì had login loop after rebooting in the driver installation process, cant fix it =(

  5. Heitor says:

    [FIXED]
    amdgpu-pro-install –px

  6. Cruzunlimited says:

    *FIX TO Mh/s loss!*
    Kernel updating is what is causing the hashrate slowdown.
    you can check your kernel version with the command:
    uname -r
    anything past version 4.13.0-26-generic is what causes the slowdown if you just got the issue, reinstalling Ubuntu off of the original ISO file you used before the slowdown will return it to normal. Make sure you install offline and turn off auto updates in the Software&Updates settings.
    The latest available version of Ubuntu on their website (16.04.3 LTS) has an updated kernel resulting in slower hashrate.
    I theorize instilling an old version of Ubuntu (16.04.2 possibly) or finding a way to downgrade your kernel will work.
    The command in FAQ’s:
    sudo apt-get remove linux-image-4.13.0-26-generic && sudo apt autoremove -y
    Doesn’t work because it says a different kernel version then you have installed. If you change the version to match yours it will downgrade but not far enough. And trying to many times may break your OS.
    I currently have kernel version 4.10.0 and have normal hashrates
    Hope I helped a little and if you know of any additional solutions please comment 😀

  7. Jim says:

    When i tryo yo check my account on eth.nanopool.org. I get an account not found. Even after i have over 100 share

    Can someone help here?

  8. PLR says:

    Awesome guide, any chance you can show how to install this so i can boot it from a usb?

  9. Sascha says:

    Thanks for the great instruction.
    Unfortunately i have some problems. Everything works great for a day sometimes longer. Then the driver crash “amd-pro-dkms 17.40-483984:amdgpu kernel module failed” after that i have to install everthink new. It is not enough to deinstall the gpu driver. I use 5 x R9 390 with two 1000W power supplies. Do you have any idears. should i try the Catalyst (Crimson) 15.12 driver for the cards?
    Thanks Sascha

  10. Skart says:

    Thanks for this walk through worked amazingly well with the nvidia rig. Unfortunately with the AMD one it says that AMD platform is missing. Tried reinstalling the drivers and swapping the kernel version to 4.8 but no joy. Any ideas?

  11. thor says:

    Are there any links that will detail the GPU optimization for ubuntu? I am having a hard time finding this…also…I couldn’t get he auto start scripts to work…any tips? I also tried removing the updates and I couldn’t get my hash rates upward of 16/17 mh/s….rx570 and rx580 8gb cards….any help is appreciated

  12. thor says:

    also cannot see miner working in background through ssh….’miner’ in the command line does nothing…am I missing something?

  13. Matt says:

    Hello, I believe this would work for me if I could just get the right download. Maybe consider updating to the latest Claymore Miner version 11

    Any chance I could get you to SSH in?

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