The Man Behind the Bitcoin (& more) Mining service MultiMiner – Interview With Nate Woolls

June 16, 2014 15:26 UTC
Interview With Nate Woolls, The Man Behind MultiMiner and It’s Ecosystem

MultiMiner is the top GUI for mining software. It runs on a base of BFGMiner and has been expanding to run a myriad of types of back end miners as those required for Scrypt-N, X11, X13 as well as others. With an easy to use interface and options to tweak all of your mining hardware, it takes much of the work and stress out of setting miners, coins and pools.

MultiMiner is part of a large ecosystem of tools to help you not only mine but also the monitor them all as well. MobileMiner app runs on Android and Apple devices with a very detailed web interface. Recently the MobilMiner web interface was upgraded with even more info on your miners like mining statistics, temps, slow miners and fast along with the same controls to start and stop miners, API access and much more. It is a huge leap forward in mining software control and monitoring.

With MultiMiner doing so much and so many things, as well as its excellent miner and coin compatibility, and top notch support I asked the creator of MulitMiner Nate Woolls for an interview.

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Could you tell me about MultiMiner and its ecosystem?

MultiMiner a program for mining essentially any digital currency with virtually any device out there. It’s a graphical program (rather than a command line utility) that displays all of your local and networked mining hardware and then lets you choose which coins you’d like to mine with them.

MobileMiner is a companion web-based service, though it does not require MultiMiner. MobileMiner lets anyone monitor and control their digital mining from a smartphone or browser, for free, without having to make any firewall changes.

And how and why you started it?

I started getting interested in mining after the big Bitcoin crash in April of 2013. I hadn’t experimented with hardware in some time and mining seemed like a fun way to scratch my hardware itch. Plus it was (and still is!) a new industry with a lot of opportunities for growth when it comes to software development. Those things really called out to the hobbyist in me.

MobileMiner Dashboard

As a software developer, I enjoy finding areas where I can develop “non-professionally” as a way to grow and learn. For instance, most of the software that makes up MultiMiner and MobileMiner involves at least one framework/service/concept (if not many) that is entirely new to me. It’s an excuse to keep exploring and learning new things and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

So the relative immaturity of the software offerings at the time (and even today) was a big attraction to me. It’s really hard to find untapped industries that can benefit from software these days. That is not to downplay any of the other mining software packages out there! MultiMiner itself is built on several existing utilities and APIs. But there is quite frankly a lack of available software, especially software designed for the consumer rather than the tech expert.

The exact inspiration for MultiMiner had a lot to do with the timing of my first steps in mining. I really got interested during the tail end of the viability of GPU mining for Bitcoins. As I started shifting my GPU rig off of SHA-2 and onto Scrypt, I started looking into not just Litecoin but also other altcoins. I think a lot of folks make this transition (specifically those that are exploring mining rather than focusing on securing a single block-chain). They hear about Bitcoin mining, then realize it’s not so easy. Then they try Litecoin mining, and realize that’s not much easier these days, and they just keep exploring other alternatives.

So as I started to do this exploring myself I started getting this army of batch files on my GPU rig desktop: mine with all 4 GPUs on Litecoin, or 2 GPUs Litecoin and 2 GPUs Feathercoin, or 2 GPUs on Litecoin, 1 on Feathrecoin, 1 on Megacoin, etc., etc., etc. And as I looked around there was really no solution to this problem. Nothing was elegant.

What I wanted was simple: I wanted a UI that listed the hardware I had and then let me choose those coins I wanted to mine with that hardware, mixing and matching as I pleased. And that’s really all the first version of MultiMiner let you do. It let you mine the coins you wanted to mine – in any combination you wanted – with all of your devices:

And you still can’t do that in any other program that I know of.

Since then I’ve added MobileMiner, which is a separate but related service. It has an open REST API and works with any mining software to allow you remotely to monitor and control your mining from a browser or smartphone. This one was obvious: as soon as I started mining, I was wondering if things were on fire while I was away.

And again there was no elegant solution for this. At the time, MobileMiner was launched the only way to remotely monitor or control your machines was by setting up your own Linux boxes with your own Apache and PHP servers and opening up ports and on and on. Which is all well and good if you have the time and the tech know-how.

But I also think there are a lot of folks who want things to “just work.” And that’s what MobileMiner was designed to do from the start. No need to host anything. No ports to forward. Nothing to install. No special mining software to use. It just works.

Comparable solutions are just now coming out, and those are still playing catch-up on features.

What are the advantages the MultiMiner ecosystem has over the competition?

As I mentioned, I initially started work on MultiMiner to solve an issue that remains unsolved by every other miner: they can only cope with a single block-chain. I know that BFGMiner plans on tackling this and I believe I also read that ScalaMiner is planning to as well. But as of now MultiMiner is the only mining software that lets you mine a variety of coins, at the same time, with all of your devices.

I think another thing that sets MultiMiner apart from other projects is that it is free of any dogmatic limitations, as it were. I’m not concerned with supporting one block-chain, or another. I’m not trying to support a single pool or discourage another. I’m not going to favor one coin or not support another algorithm. I’m an equal opportunity technology lover. You can see me with Android, or iOS, or Windows Phone on any given day. I just love all of this stuff, and you’ll see that coming through in MultiMiner and MobileMiner. All your coins will be supported. All of your algorithms and devices.

On top of that, I really strive for ease-of-use. For instance, there’s a Getting Started wizard. MultiMiner also automatically detects miners on your network rather than you having to enter IPs and ports. And if you enable MultiMiner Remoting, you automatically start seeing other instances of MultiMiner on your network that you can monitor and control. All of it is designed to be as simple as something like mining can be.

And on top of that – it’s Open Source. This is very important for all digital currency projects, whether they are wallets or miners or monitors. Trusting your digital currencies to source code that nobody can see is a very risky proposition.

MultiMiner gives you an all-in-one package. There is nothing else to install or setup. It automatically detects networked miners. Supports automatically mining coins based on various metrics (profitability, difficulty, etc.) from CoinChoose.com and CoinWarz.com. Completely Open Source. This is really important when it comes to digital currency software. Built in Stratum Proxy (soon multiple) to ensure you can control all of your miners from a single UI. Cross platform with support on Windows, Linux and OS X. MultiMiner and backend miners are automatically kept up-to-date.

On top of that MobileMiner has the following benefits:

Open API – anyone can interoperate with MobileMiner
Native apps for Android, iOS, Windows Phone
And a complete HTML5 browser app with Charts, Dashboards, and a great mobile UI
Nothing to setup, no ports to forward, just enter your Application Key
Ability to get mining notifications on wearables such as the Pebble smart watch
REST API access to your mining statistics (create your own MobileMiner app)

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Brief Miner Listing Mode

Here are the links to the websites and forum threads for the MultiMiner ecosystem.

https://multiminerapp.com
https://thread.multiminerapp.com
https://talk.multiminerapp.com
https://source.multiminerapp.com
https://releases.multiminerapp.com
https://mobileminerapp.com
https://web.mobileminerapp.com
https://xgminer.com
https://blog.nwoolls.com
https://nwoolls.com
https://mining.guru

How has Bitcoin changed your life?

Hopefully, this isn’t too much of a disappointment, but I’m not so much a die-hard fan of any single block-chain or currency (though I do love the long-term promise of that type of system).

It has been great to get involved in such a passionate and diverse community. I got my feet wet with my first community software project 12 years ago working on AORC for the MMO Anarchy Online:

https://web.archive.org/web/20050817065840/https://aorelaychat.com/

It’s awesome developing software in the open again, getting feedback and criticism from the community and addressing it. The positive feedback loop is fantastic.

It’s also got me back involved in both hardware and C programming, which has been challenging and fun. And I’ve gotten much more involved in Open Source projects, both contributing and creating my own, which has been very rewarding.

What are your plans for MobileMiner and the MultiMiner ecosystem that you are ready to speak about now?

MultiMiner 3.0 will add support for practically any mining backend. Back in the 1.0 days, MultiMiner supported both CGMiner and BFGMiner. However, as CGMiner started dropping support for things like Scrypt and GPU mining, supporting both miners became less of a benefit and more of a liability. I was spending time making sure MultiMiner worked with both programs instead of focusing on features for MultiMiner or focusing on the strengths of either one of the backend miners. That was one of the primary reasons I dropped support for CGMiner.

Simple Coin and Pool Setup

Since that time, however, other miners have come about that do offer significant differences over BFGMiner, such as supporting newer algorithms like Scrypt-Jane, Scrypt-N, and X11. MultiMiner 3.0 introduces a new way of handling all of this so that virtually any miner can be supported without complicating things unnecessarily. BFGMiner is still the default backend and is still used to scan hardware. However, MultiMiner will then automatically download any necessary additional miners in order to mine your chosen coins and algorithms. For instance, the first time you start mining Vertcoin, Vertminer will be downloaded automatically.

In addition, MultiMiner 3.0 will include the ability to map algorithms and device classes to miners (e.g. specifying SGMiner for Scrypt GPU mining while BFGMiner is used for Scrypt ASIC mining) and the ability to configure and host multiple Stratum Proxies (right now this is limited to one) for both SHA and Scrypt.

In the far future, I’d really like to create a native UI in something like QT for both Linux and OS X to replace the current Mono WinForms implementation.

As far as MobileMiner, plans involve continuing to build out the paid subscriptions. For instance, paid accounts will be getting per-device Pool / Coin switching, per-machine charts, and per-device data sharing (current charts track all machines, and current data sharing is at the dashboard and machine level).

Shared dashboard: https://web.mobileminerapp.com/dashboard/public/pw0af0QTP3QGdE
Shared machine: https://web.mobileminerapp.com/devices/public/iYVcsN0pjQNEuG

I am also working on several features that are specifically for the White-Label MobileMiner product. This is aimed at folks who run cloud mining services or create hardware controllers. For instance, hardware controllers can be shipped with a branded version of MobileMiner rather than developing a custom PHP web app and then shoehorning it onto a router. Instead, the controller can ship with a miner, a Python script, and you are ready to let your users monitor and control their miners from anywhere, at any time, on any device.

MultiMiner 3.0 is a huge step in supporting much of the mining software packages available. MultiMiner follows the huge advance in MobileMiner. How long have you had these steps in the works?

The MultiMiner roadmap is a bit less structured these days as I’m more-or-less “caught up” with all of the items I had initially planned. I basically go with the flow and try to keep it working well for the community and for myself. As I start to become more interested in a certain coin or algorithm, you may see improved support. I try to listen to users too, but again have to balance this with my own availability as MultiMiner is still a hobby and not paying any bills – yet!

Most of the recent MobileMiner features have been planned since day one. Things like charts, dashboards, an HTML5 application and data sharing. It was really just a matter of resources, time, and the ability to monetize some of the features to offset the cost. The reality is that, in order to provide a service where customers don’t have to open ports and install things, I have to foot the bill for making it simple: by paying for bandwidth and CPU usage. So I have to balance the features I add with the mostly-free nature of MobileMiner. For instance, there are the new paid subscriptions that allow you access to historical data and REST access to your statistics.

Do you have anything specific you would like to say or add?

It would be super, and I cannot stress this enough, if somebody, for the love of Jacob, could help out with MultiMiner.

Honestly folks:

– It’s completely Open Source
– It’s written in C# which is a friendly language with a lot of free documentation and tutorials (https://www.pluralsight.com/training)
– MultiMiner can be developed, debugged, and compiled under Windows, OS X, and Linux, using free (beer) tools
– There are both examples and Unit Tests available in the source code on GitHub
– There is a very active and vibrant community so you will definitely get feedback, criticism, credit, fame, fortune (at least one or two of these)
– One of the biggest complaints is a lack of documentation – something anyone can do!!! No compiling necessary!

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MultiMiner and it’s creator are evolving fast in the quickly growing world of Bitcoin and crypto currency mining. I highly recommend MultiMiner. With excellent support, always adding compatibility with new hardware and a massive library of features and customization it is the best GUI mining software there is. It is my go to for every miner I run. Mining hardware manufacturers and vendors take notice and get Nate mining gear early, so full support is quickly put in. As Nate also pointed out everyone in the community and me when I have time should help write up some documentation on how to use MultiMiner to help our fellow miners and new miners.

Enjoy and Happy Mining!

More of: multiminer
@TalonTech1

I am a disabled former Systems Admin, computer tech, business manager enjoying crytpo currencies. I am deeply involved in the mining ecosystem and physical coins, It fascinates me how it has brought people from all over the world together into a tight knit supportive community with commerce and tech.