Ethereum Mining Tutorial ETHOS Linux 6 GPU Mining Rig
Mining Ethereum Tutorial ETHOS Linux 6 GPU Mining Rig
In this article, I’d like to explain how mining Ethereum works and what you’ll need to build a mining rig in order to generate a passive income. There are many different ways to build such a mining rig. This tutorial will focus on a 6 GPU mining mig since 6 graphics cards aren’t too overwhelming for anyone who’s just starting to mine Ethereum.
The purpose of this tutorial is to:
- State all deciding key figures and factors for profitable Ethereum mining,
- Explain how the hardware required for mining works,
- Explain and configure the ETHOS Linux and the Linux Mining OS,
- Show you how to turn your coins into real cash.
- Ethereum Mining – Important Factors
- Ethereum Mining – Hardware
2.2. Processor (CPU)
2.3. Graphics Cards
2.5. Power Supply Unit (PSU)
2.6. PCI Express Riser Boards
2.8. Mining Rig Frame
- Ethereum Mining – Software
Ethereum Mining – Important Factors
Most of the time the miner’s first priority is profitability. After all, we all have bills to pay. However, don’t forget that us miners play an important part in the blockchain network. Miners verify transactions and ensure that the blockchain cannot be attacked. In other words: The Ethereum network wouldn’t be existing without us – at least as long as the network’s consensus is generated by the proof of work concept
Now to the actual topic:
How do I calculate the profitability of my hardware configuration when mining? And, why am I receiving money for it?
To put what we as miners do into simple words: We generate processing power to verify the transactions in the blockchain and receive Ether in return. You could try this with a normal PC, which would work, but the processing power of a common PC isn’t enough to mine profitably and effectively.
This is why we use multiple graphics cards, which render the processes or tasks in the blockchain in a more effective manner. The processing power requires energy, so you could basically say that we are transforming energy into Ethereum. The following key figures need to be considered for profitable mining:
Hardware Investment Costs
The hardware investment costs for a mining rig are the only one-time investment costs you need to consider when mining. To do so, there a few different approaches:
- You choose high-end hardware for maximum performance for high investment costs and possibly a higher power usage.
- You choose a more affordable hardware and try to keep the ROI low when investing in graphics cards with low power usage.
- You choose the middle way and a balanced combination of hardware and performance.
In this mining tutorial, we will choose the middle way.
Apart from the investment costs, you always need to consider the power usage, in particular of the graphics cards, which you invest in.
The costs for electricity is the most important aspect to consider when mining. The objective of mining is to generate the perfect balance between the hash rate and the power usage. We can achieve this by making the right choice of hardware and by configuring the graphics cards we use. More precisely, it’s important to modify the BIOS of the graphics card so as to reach a balanced ratio between power usage and processing power (hash power).
Finding a suitable energy provider is the next important aspect to consider regarding electricity costs. You should definitely buy electricity for the lowest price possible. However, I’d like to emphasize that you should consider clean energy when making your choice – even if it’s a little more expensive. I mean, we all care about our Earth, don’t we?
Unfortunately, the cost of electricity is quite high in Germany. This is the reason why many mining farms are located in countries like Iceland, China, Romania or Bulgaria, where the price is around 5 cents per kWh.
In this example, we’ll bring the RX 580 graphics cards from 130w to a power usage of only 100w at a power of 30 MH/s. Then, we would have a mining rig with a hash power of around 180 MH/s with the GPUs using around 600w + 200-300w for the motherboard etc. Therefore, our mining rig would be using about 800-900w. If we know how much we have to pay per kilowatt, we can now calculate the ongoing costs for our mining rig.
Another important yet usually overlooked cost factor when mining, are the ever so loved taxes. I’d like to share a few tips concerning this topic with you, but the German law doesn’t allow me to advise you in this regard, unfortunately. There’s, however, a German tax advisor who dealt with this matter and published a very competent e-book about it. If you are interested, simply click this link.
Rig Hash Rate
The hash rate is de facto the power your mining rig generates. This means that the higher the hash rate is, the more Ethereum your miner mines. Just like when it comes to the electricity costs, you need to choose the right hardware as well as pay attention to the modding of your graphics cards. When mining Ethereum, you need to consider: We are mining with the ETHash algorithm. With this algorithm, the AMD cards work more effectively than NVIDA graphics cards. In turn, NVIDA cards are more effective with EQUIHash coins such as zCash. This is why you always need you think about what you want to mine. We are focussing on an Ethereum mining rig; therefore, we are using AMD graphics cards.
There are plenty mining calculators that help you determine which graphics cards and what algorithm are the most profitable.
The difficulty is a figure/value, which determines the hash rate of your mining rig. The more miners are active to mine on the Ethereum network, the higher the difficulty of the Ethereum network and the less Ether we gain.
Ethereum Exchange Rate
The exchange rate is an important aspect because we need to know how much our Ether is worth. Therefore, it’s useful for the value of Ethereum to be high in order for us to sell our mined coins at a high price.
I personally tend to not sell my coins the instant I have some in my wallet, I much prefer to wait for market gains. This technique may be a little riskier than selling the coins immediately, but there’s a chance of receiving much higher profits.
For example, from June 2017 until August 2017, I mined 24 Ethereum. At that point, the exchange rate was at about $300. Instead of selling the Ethereum instantly, I waited until December when the exchange rate was at more than $1,000. If you calculate a little bit, you see that the waiting was worth it. Though, it could have failed as well since the exchange rate is now down to $400 again. You need to be lucky and make a reasonable estimate of the crypto market if you choose to do the same.
One aspect you must never underestimate is the security of your mining rigs and your wallets – on many counts. In this part, we will identify the most important risk factors:
A real nightmare would be seeing your mining rig burst into flames. This is why you should ALWAYS make sure that you use high-quality components when building your mining rig. This includes everything, ranging from the power supply unit, to details such as the right cables, and also the professional and correct use of the PCIe riser cards.
I also recommend installing a smart smoke detector above your mining rig – just in case. That way you’ll know if your mining rig catches fire and are able to take action quickly and efficiently.
Another significant point is cyber security. There are plenty of hackers out there just waiting for you to make a mistake in order to get to your coins. Secure your network properly. And more importantly: Secure your Ethereum wallet. There’s a lot to say about this topic, which is why I’ll be writing a separate article about it.
Protection Against Theft
If you own multiple mining rigs like me, you’ll have a lot of valuable hardware in your house, which you need to protect against thieves and burglars. I advise a healthy combination of surveillance cameras, motion sensors and other surveillance hardware.
Ethereum Mining – Hardware
When mining Ethereum, the BIOS modding of the graphic card is important, but choosing your mining hardware is the crucial factor when it comes to the power of your mining rig. This is why I’m going to show you a few PC hardware options, which work relatively well for me when mining Ethereum.
Mining Motherboard – ASRock H81 Pro BTC 1150 Motherboard Socket LG
The ASRock H81 Pro BTC was created specifically for mining cryptocurrencies. Thus, it has 6 PCIe ports, which are perfect for a 6 GPU mining rig. Another important characteristic that makes this mainboard suitable for mining are the conductor paths specifically designed to guarantee a more unimpeded and more stable input.
With additional 2x DDR3 Ram slots and a 1150 LGA CPU socket, the AsRock H81 PRO BTC is equipped with everything you’d expect from a mining board.
Properties of a Mining Motherboard:
- As many PCIe ports for graphics cards as possible
- Optimized conductor paths
- Affordable price for a quick ROI
- Basic equipment without many additional features
Technical specifications of the AsRock H81 Pro BTC:
|Mainboard Form Factor||ATX|
|Motherboard Chipset||Intel H81|
|PCIe (2.0) x16 (mechanical)||1x|
|PCIe (2.0) x1||5x|
|Fan Ports (3-Pin)||2x|
|Fan Ports (4-Pin PWM)||2x|
|SATA 6G internal||2x|
|USB 3.0 external||2x|
|Monitor Ports||VGA (D-Sub), HDMI|
|RJ-45 (LAN) Ports||1x|
Processor (CPU) – Intel Celeron Prozessor G3900
Graphics Cards 6x PowerColor RX580 Red Devil 8GB
The PowerColor RX580 Red Devil 8GB is perfect to use as Ethereum mining GPU. Since Ethereum uses the ETHash algorithm, AMD cards are a lot more effective when calculating the ETHash algorithm.
With its 8GB capacity, this graphics cards can store DAG files of the Ethereum network of more than 3GB and start calculating the Ethereum hash.
Due to its ex-factory 1380 MHz GPU clock and the 2000 MHz memory clock, the power can be configured higher very easily when overclocking the graphics card for a better performance. A power usage of around 130w with the default settings is a great start for optimizing the power usage with a new BIOS MOD.
When choosing a graphics card for your mining rig, you need to pay attention to the storage type. Hynix and Samsung are fairly easy to modify, and you can get a lot of extra power. When mining Ethereum with 24 MH/s factory-set, the RX 580 performed relatively well in my benchmark test. However, we can achieve values beyond 30MH/s by modding and overclocking. I will go into detail later when we talk about how to configure the ETHOS mining rig.
Important data for GPU mining:
|ETH performance with factory settings||ca 24 MH/s|
|ETH performance with modding||+30 MH/s|
|Power usage with factory settings||ca 130w full load|
|Power usage after BIOS MOD||up to 80w|
|Investment costs||less then 400 Euros each|
Technical specifications of the RX 580 Red Devil:
|Device ID:||1002 67DF|
|Subsystem Id:||148C 2378|
|Graphis Memory :||8192 MB|
|GPU Clock:||1380 MHz|
|Memory Clock:||2000 MHz|
Memory RAM – Kingston KVR13N9S8/4 4GB RAM
We do not need to spend too much time on the RAM, since we mostly use the memory and power of the graphics cards when mining. The RAM is only used by the system software/operating system and 4GB RAM are enough for the ETHOS.
In order to be compatible with our mainboard, we require DDR3 RAM.
Power Supply Unit (PSU) – Corsair HX1200i PC PSU 1200w
When choosing the right PSU for mining Ethereum, there are plenty mistakes you could make. First of all, you should not import any cheap hardware made by unknown cheap manufacturers from China. Unless you want our brand-new mining rig to burst into flames. Another important thing to consider is the power of the PSU as well as the connection facilities for GPUs.
Power of the PSU
The amount of power required can be calculated by adding how much power the graphics cards and all other hardware use and then adding 1/3 of that amount to it. It’s recommended to always leave a little headroom since the hardware tend to develop peaks every now and then, which use a little more than usual. NOTE: Always leave headroom.
We are using 6x X 580 GPUs, which we modify to use 100w of power each by applying the right BIOS. The mainboard of the CPU and the hard drive use about 200-300w. With the Corsair 1200w PSU we’ve therefore made a good choice regarding the performance.
Amount of PCIe Ports
All previously named points are useless if the PSU does not have enough PCI-E power cords. Make sure you can connect 6 graphics cards to a PSU. The amount of power connections a GPU requires depends on the model and can be found in the technical details of the graphics card.
PCI Express Riser Boards – LATTCURE 6 Pack PCIe PCI-E 16x to 1x Powered Riser Adapter Card
You need riser cards to create the necessary distance between the graphics cards and the mainboard, because 6 graphics cards don’t fit side-to-side on a mainboard. And even if, you’d be dealing with a high generation of heat around the graphics cards. This is why there are PCIe riser boards and open-air mining cases / mining rig frames for mining Ethereum.
If you think that nothing can go wrong when buying riser boards, you are completely mistaken. I’ve heard tons of horror stories about mining rigs, which caught fire because the quality of the PCIe riser was bad or the riser was wired completely wrong. Pay attention when looking for a riser!
The Lattcure riser boards that I’ve chosen for this project are very reliable and I’ve heard from other miners that they don’t cause many problems. The price is justified, and the great thing is that you can supply the riser boards with power via 3 different ports. BUT WAIT! Not really 3. In order to supply the riser boards with power, only 2 of the ports are suitable. Learn more about this in this YouTube video.
Mining Rig Frame – CoinRush 6 GPU Mining Rig Frame
For the mining rig frame, we’re using the 6 GPU Mining Rig Frame from our CoinRush Mining Hardware Shop. The benefits are clear: flexible and slidable GPU holders, slidable mainboard, PSU holder, and a sturdy design, which make this frame the perfect holder for your hardware for mining Ethereum.
Ethereum Mining – Software
For the operating system we have chosen Linux. Linux is a server-based open source operating system, which offers efficiency, ideal performance and stability. Basically, everything we need. Windows is not really practical for mining cryptocurrencies because it needs to be adjusted and optimized. And even after that, I doubt it runs better than Linux.
Nowadays, there are more operating systems based on Linux, such as Simple Miner or HIVEOS. In this tutorial, though, I want to talk about ETHOS, the classic among the mining operating systems. So far, I’ve only had good experiences with it; it has not played up yet and if I had any questions, I could always address the support in the IRC and expect good advice. You can buy ETHOS for $39, which is very affordable and fairer than a subscription that you can get with Simple Miner, for example. But each to their own.
A quick overview of other great features ETHOS offers:
- Simply boot and start mining! You do not need to compile a software or constantly install new drivers, let alone make big adjustments to the operating system, like it would be that case with Windows.
- ETHOS has a REMOTE Config File with which you can control ALL rigs on the network from a central point. A great advantage and feature, in my opinion.
- ETHOS is an extremely trimmed Linux Distro, which only serves one purpose: mining cryptocurrencies. It works well and securely and does not even require more than 1 GB RAM. What else could you need?
- The automatic GPU security ensures that your graphics cards are immediately shut down when reaching a specific temperature.
- A neat web panel constantly displays all important key figures of your rigs and allows you to connect to them if they are on the same network simply by pressing a button.
- ETHOS can be updated easily with a command. Easy-peasy!
Alright, let’s stop gushing! Let’s get back to the installation…
Installing ETHOS, the Ethereum Mining Operating System
Installing ETHOS is relatively easy and can be explained in a few steps:
- Download ETHOS Mining Image after the purchase.
- Connect your PC via an adapter with the SSD hard drive you want to build into your rig.
- Copy the Image onto the SSD e.g. with the HDD Raw Copy Tool for Windows.
- Disconnect the SSD hard drive from the adapter.
And this is how to install ETHOS onto your hard drive. Not that hard, isn’t it?
When turning on your rig, ETHOS should automatically recognize your GPUs and go straight into mining mode.
The only thing missing to configure your mining rig are an Ethereum wallet and a mining pool.
You secure your coins in your Ethereum wallet. Simply image a digital version of your physical wallet. Or even better: Imagine a digital bank account for cryptocurrencies. There a various way to access your wallet. I’ve already written an article about this topic.
In this tutorial, we’ll be using the Exodus Wallet, because the good thing about it is that it’s a multi-platform wallet allowing you to store other assets such as Bitcoin. You can download Exodus for all commonly used operating systems on http://exodus.io.
Der Ethereum Mining Pool
When choosing the right Ethereum mining pool (What is a mining pool?) you need to consider a few things:
- The connectivity of the mining pool should be constant in order to prevent breakdowns.
- The fee charged by the pools when mining shouldn’t be too high.
- A higher pool hash rate offers a better chance for finding blocks – therefore, it’s better to choose a bigger pool.
I considered all these points, which is why I went with Nanopool, and so far, I have achieved great results.
Now that our Ethereum mining rig is assembled, our Ethereum wallet is put in place, we have found a mining pool, we can finally start configuring ETHOS.
Configuring the miner
Now that we are in ETHOS for the first time, there are a few things to pay attention to:
- Keep ETHOS updated. Simply use this command: sudo ethos-update && sleep 5 && sudo reboot
- Since we are only using one rig in this tutorial, we put ETHOS into Singe Rig Mode. In a different article, I will be explaining how the Multi Rig Mode works with the Remote Config File. The Single Rig Mode is activated with the following command:
echo -n "" > /home/ethos/remote.conf
- Next, we should change the password, since the default password does not protect us against hackers. Follow these steps::
- Enter the command
passwdinto the terminal.
- Enter the current password, which should be “live”.
- Now you can enter a new password and confirm it.
- Enter the command
Wallet and GPU Configuration
Now we’ll be editing the local configuration file, where we’ll enter our Ethereum wallet as well as the mining pool. There are many more configuration options, but we’ll stick to the most important.
- The command
nano local.confbegins a text editor and opens the local configuration file “local.conf”. Now we can change values.
- We leave
maxgputemp 85as it is, because it is the maximum temperature a graphics card can reach before it’s turned off.
- Using the arrow keys, we navigate to
proxywalletand change the address to the address of the Ethereum wallet we’ve created with Exodus.
- By entering proxypool, we assign a mining pool to our mining rig. There are 2 lines, one is proxypool1 and the other one is proxypool2. The second one is a backup pool. In case the first pool is down, your mining rig automatically mines on proxypool2. Now that we’ve chosen Nanopool, we add eth-eu1.nanopool.org:9999 after
proxypool1. Our mining rig will then connect to the pool and mine on there.
- Now, we want to save all entries and exit the text editor Nano. Do so by pressing CTRL + O to save and then CTRL + X to exit the editor.
That was not too hard, was it? Welcome to the world of Linux!
- To show all possible commands in ETHOS, enter the command
- To show the current mining process, enter the command
show minerTo leave the display mode, simply press CTRL + C.
- Every ETHOS installation has its own ID. The ID is displayed at the top of the screen in the ETHOS terminal. Use this ID to connect to your stats panel. To do so, go to xxxxxx.ethosdistro.com and instead of xxxxxx enter your ID. There you can have a look at all statistics related to your ETHOS mining rig.
- Start or stop the miner by using the commands startmine and stopmine.
ETHOS allows you to overclock your graphics cards to achieve a better performance when mining. This works as follows:
Use one command to overclock all graphics cards at the same time
- Open the file local.conf as before using the command
- Add the line
globalcore 1150to set the core clock of all your graphics cards in your rig to 1150Hz. You can adjust the value however you like.
- Add the line
globalmem 1500to set the memory clock of your GPU to 1500.
- Use the line
globalfan 85to set all graphics card fans to 85% power. This value is great. Adjust the fan power to the temperature of your graphics cards in the operational mode.
- Save the local.conf file by pressing CTRL + O and exit the editor with CTRL + X.
Simply observe the temperature of the graphics cards and try to adjust the fans accordingly. As long as your graphics cards don’t reach a temperature above 85°, there should not be any problems.
Overclock individual graphics cards
ETHOS also allows you to overclock the graphics cards in your rig individually. This is very handy when you haven’t build in only 1 GPU model but different models into your rig.
- First, you need your ETHOS configuration ID. As shown in the picture, you can find it in the terminal.
- Now, edit the local.conf file by using the command
nano local.confand add the following lines:
- Core Clock setting:
cor 564efa 1175 1175 1175to configure the core clock of the individual GPUs.
- Memeory Clock:
mem 564efa 1600 1600 1600for the memory clock of the individual GPUs.
fan 564efa 85 80 90for the fan settings of the individual GPUs.
- Core Clock setting:
- Save the local.conf file with CTRL + O and exit the editor with CTRL + X.
- If you enter
putconf && ethos-overclockthe OC settings will be activated, and your GPUs are overclocked and should perform better than with the default settings. Ta-dah! That’s how easy it is.
Playing the GPU BIOS MOD onto the graphics card
If overclocking isn’t enough for you, then do what most miners do: modify the BIOS of your graphics cards. There are plenty tutorials out there to show you how to do that, but sources such as Anorak.Tech are great and allow you to download finished mods for the most common graphics cards. But be careful! If you install the wrong BIOS image on you card or copy the wrong strips when modding, you might harm your graphics cards beyond repair. That’s why: Seek help from someone who is familiar with GPU modding if you do not really know what to do.
Cash out by transferring your freshly mined coins from your wallet to a crypto exchange. There you can exchange the currency for Fiat. Another option is to use a virtual crypto credit card / debit card such as WireX. That way, you can immediately use your coins and pay for goods or services online. You can also use a physical crypto debit card. Then, you’ll also be able to pay for your coffee at the store around the corner with the coins you mined. Nice, isn’t it? 😊
ETHOS offers a really neat panel where all necessary parameters are displayed. You only need to take a quick look at the panel and you already know how high the hash rate or the temperature of the individual GPUs is as well as how long your rigs have already been online. Incredibly useful!