Cryptocurrency Mining For Dummies
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After you have your hardware running, you’ll need to install the appropriate software to mine cryptocurrency. The software you’ll use depends on whether you’re pool mining or solo mining, your hardware setup (ASIC, GPU, or CPU), and the particular cryptocurrency you plan to mine.

In some cases, the mining software replaces the entire operating system (ethOS and Braiins OS, for example), but in other cases, the software is application software that runs within another operating system, typically Microsoft Windows, Linux, or Apple’s macOS (such as Multiminer, niceHash, and Honeyminer).

Pool mining software

Pool mining is a cooperative mining system in which thousands of individual crypto miners work together to mine blocks and share in the rewards proportional to their individual contributions of hash power.

Pool mining is recommended for steady and consistent mining rewards. Some work with all three, while some with only one of these systems.

If you bought an ASIC or a prebuilt GPU rig, your rig most likely already has mining software installed on it. ASIC mining rigs generally come equipped with a manufacturer-provided operating system (running on the ASIC’s control board), with a simple graphical user interface. You will work with this operating system from another computer, connected to your local network; you’ll use a web browser to navigate to the unit’s IP address on the LAN.

See the manufacturer’s documentation to properly set up the mining software. If you purchased a prebuilt GPU frame, that most likely comes with an operating system and mining software, too.

However, many of these manufacturer-provided systems are not open-source. Some implementations have been prone to issues, such as backdoors, remote monitoring, and lack of full overclocking or other efficiency limitations, so miners often replace their manufacturer’s software. (If you’re interested in finding out more about possible efficiency limitations or back doors, search for bitmain asicboost scandal and antbleed scandal.)

Lots of downloadable programs are specifically designed for mining cryptocurrencies. However, many of them are from unreliable sources, and some may include malware or other computer viruses. To avoid that issue, here is a list of a few reliable mining software programs designed to mine towards pools.

  • ethos: This Linux-based mining operating system for a GPU cryptocurrency mining rigs is highly recommended for pool mining GPU applications and is easy to install, set up, and operate (for people who have worked with Linux software!). ethOS currently supports mining Ethereum, ZCash, Monero, and others.ethOS is free software licensed under the General Public License (GNU), but it is highly recommended that you purchase a copy to support the ongoing development of the software. (While free, it is not open source; it is, according to the website, provided under the “Small Goat with Red Eyes’ license. You should buy one ethOS from per each rig on which you intend to run ethOS. If you don't, a small goat with red eyes will visit you while you sleep”). The software can be directly downloaded, or you can purchase a preloaded flash drive or SSD. Follow the documentation to get your mining rig fully set up and hashing.
  • H4SHR8: HashrateOS is a mining operating system for both GPU and ASIC mining hardware. It is a Linux-based operating system and is specifically designed to mine cryptocurrencies. It will support multiple mining algorithms and hardware deployments. It hasn’t been released to the public yet, but may be available soon.
  • niceHash: This is a pool-mining service and mining configuration software (that also allows people to buy and sell hash rate) for a wide variety of different cryptocurrencies. niceHash is specifically designed to mine via GPUs, ASICs, and CPUs and runs only on the Windows operating system. So, you could GPU mine by installing it into the Windows operating system installed in your mining rig and CPU mine by running it on a Windows PC to use that computer’s CPU. To ASIC mine, you use its instructions to point your ASIC rig to its server. Follow the documentation to get your mining rig fully set up and hashing.

    cryptocurrency mining niceHash To ASIC mine with niceHash, pick an algorithm and server location, and niceHash tells you how to configure your ASIC.
  • Honeyminer: Honeyminer is another pool mining service that provides its own software for you to work with (Windows and Apple’s macOS). You can use it on your desktop computer (or GPU mining rig, if Windows is installed) to mine using whatever CPU and GPUs the software finds. It will mine toward whatever cryptocurrency is most profitable, but pays out rewards in Satoshi, the smallest denomination of bitcoin. Follow the documentation to get your mining rig fully set up and hashing.
  • Easyminer: This free, open-source mining tool allows for the mining of various coins, such as Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Litecoin, and others. Easyminer can be configured to mine with CPUs, GPUs, ands ASICs and can mine pointed to a pool as well as solo mining. It runs only in Microsoft Windows.
  • Hive OS: Hive OS is a free operating system for up to three mining rigs, but requires a monthly fee for larger deployments. It can be configured to mine with CPUs, GPUs, as well as ASIC,s and can mine a variety of different hashing algorithms.
  • SimpleMiningOS: SimpleMiningOS is Linux-based operating system for GPU-mining has a monthly fee of $2 for a single rig (declining in cost the more rigs you run). It supports mining toward Ethereum as well as a wide variety of other cryptocurrencies.
  • Braiins OS: Braiins OS is a great alternative to manufacturer-provided web-based GUIs when mining bitcoin on ASIC rigs. It is an open source, completely auditable, operating system designed for the Antminer S9 and the DragonMint T1 ASICs (maybe more by the time you read this). In some hardware situations, it allows for an increase in hash power with the same electricity expenditures, increasing your efficiency and returns. Follow the documentation and installation guide to flash the operating system software to your mining rig’s control board to get set up and hashing toward your chosen pool.
  • Mother of Dragons: Mother of Dragons is software that runs on your Linux computer (implementations, such as Debian, Ubuntu, or CentOS), or other LAN-connected Linux-based device, such as a Raspberry Pi (a tiny, cheap, single-board computer). You enter your settings — pool server, user, password, clock speed, fan speed — and then the software automatically detects ASIC miners (of the DragonMint/Innosilicon T1/T2/B29/B52/A9 variety) connected to your network and changes their settings. It has a built-in monitoring system and will also update firmware for your ASICs as well as reboot any miners that fall offline. It saves quite a bit of work, but is built for the expert user. Follow the documentation on the following GitHub page for set up instructions:
  • MultiMiner MultiMiner is an open-source mining tool designed for Windows, Linux, and macOS. It is designed to work with GPUs, ASICs, and FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays). MultiMiner actually uses the BFGMiner mining engine in combination with an easy-to-use interface for simple configuration and monitoring. It can be configured to mine toward pools and, similar to Mother of Dragons, it has monitoring systems and automatic updates.

While setting up pool-mining software designed for Windows and macOS to run on your laptop or desktop PC is generally pretty simple, working with some of these other systems can be far more complicated.

Setting up, say, ethOS or Braiins OS can be fairly straightforward for an experienced Linux user. However, if you’ve never left the Windows or macOS operating systems or your idea of dealing with a complicated software installation process is letting your employer’s tech guy have the computer for the afternoon, then some of this stuff will be out of your zone of experience!

You’ll either need to find a friendly geek to help or understand that you will have to read instructions very carefully and quite likely will expend serious amounts of time learning how to get the job done.

Most mining software is designed for ASIC and GPU mining because they are the most efficient systems and the sorts of systems used by most experienced miners. The non-ASIC cryptocurrencies, such as Monero, are an exception, as they are intended to be mined with CPUs and GPUs. (If you can GPU mine, you can CPU mine, too, but GPUs are far more powerful.)

Some mining programs do work with CPUs. However, in many cases miners who are CPU mining Monero or smaller cryptocurrencies simply use the core software — the software provided by the cryptocurrency itself — either on the cryptocurrency website or from the cryptocurrency’s GitHub account.

However, CPU mining profitably is difficult. Most Monero miners are GPU mining, though they often use the CPU in the GPU rig in addition.

It’s generally not worth it to CPU mine. If you do intend to mine with your CPU, probably the only software it makes sense to use are the niceHash and Honeyminer programs.

Solo mining software

Solo mining is not recommended unless you have very carefully run the numbers and are sure it makes sense. You need to fully understand and accept your odds (which may be low), or you need significant enough network hash rate to ensure profitability. With that said, quite a few software implementations allow for configurable solo mining.

Most solo mining tools require that you download and sync a full node of the cryptocurrency you intend to mine on a separate computer system on your network and then point the software running on your ASIC or GPU mining rig to the full node on that computer. Heavily research the documentation for the software you plan on using before firing up your mining equipment.

Check out the following list of solo-mining software:
  • Core Cryptocurrency Software: Some cryptocurrencies, such as Monero, have mining functionality built into the GUI of their core full-node software (Bitcoin did at one point, too, though it’s been removed). Simply download their core node, sync up to the blockchain (this may take a while), and enable mining under the Mining tab. Refer to the cryptocurrency’s main site for the software download and documentation.
  • CGMiner: CGIminer is open-source software created for bitcoin mining with ASICs or FPGAs and runs on Linux, Windows and macOS. Its codebase is also open source.
  • BTCMiner: BTCMiner is a bitcoin mining software designed for FPGA mining that is open source. It runs on Windows or Linux.
  • BFGMiner: BFGMiiner is free and open source software for Windows, macOS, and Linux can be configured for mining with CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, and ASICs.

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