TL;DR

Install/use Debian 8 or Ubuntu 16.0.4 then execute:

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ethereum/ethereum
sudo sed 's/jessie/vivid/' -i /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ethereum-ethereum-*.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ethereum ethminer
geth account new
# copy long character sequence within {}, that is your <YOUR_WALLET_ADDRESS>
# if you lose the passphrase, you lose your coins!
sudo apt-get install linux-headers-amd64 build-essential
chmod +x NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-367.35.run
sudo NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-367.35.run
ethminer -G -F http://yolo.ethclassic.faith:9999/0x<YOUR_WALLET_ADDRESS> --farm-recheck 200
echo done

My Attention Span is > 60 seconds

Ethereum is a crypto currency similar to Bitcoin as it is based on the blockchain technology. Ethereum is not yet another Bitcoin clone though, since it has an additional feature called Smart Contracts that makes it unique and very promising. I am not going into details how Ethereum works, you can get that into great detail on the Internet. This post is about Ethereum mining. Mining is how crypto coins are created. You need to spent computing time to get coins out. At the beginning CPU mining was sufficient, but as the Ethereum network difficulty has increased you need to use GPUs as they can calculate at a much higher hashrate than a general purpose CPU can do.

About 2 months ago I bought a new gaming rig, with a Nvidia GTX 1070 so I can experience virtual-reality gaming with a HTC Vive at a great framerate. As it turns out modern graphics cards are very good at hashing so I gave it a spin.

Initially I did this mining setup with Windows 10, as that is the operating system on my gaming rig. If you want to do Ethereum mining using your GPU, then you really want to use Linux. On Windows the GTX 1070 produced a hashrate of 6 MH/s (megahashes per second) while the same hardware does 25 MH/s on Linux. The hashrate multiplied by 4 by using Linux instead of Windows. Sounds good? Keep reading and follow this guide.

You have to pick a Linux distro to use for mining. As I am a Debian developer, all my systems run Debian, which is what I am also using for this guide. The same procedure can be done for Ubuntu as it is similar enough. For other distros you have to substitute the steps yourself. So I assume you already have Debian 8 or Ubuntu 16.04 installed on your system.

Install Ethereum Software

First we need the geth tool which is the main Ethereum "client". Ethereum is really a peer-to-peer network, that means each node is a server and client at the same time. A node that contains the complete blockchain history in a database is called a full node. For this guide you don't need to run a full node, as mining pools do this for you. We still need geth to create the private key of your Ethereum wallet. Somewhere we have to receive the coins we are mining ;)

Add the Ethereum APT repository using these commands:

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ethereum/ethereum
sudo apt-get update

On Debian 8 (on Ubuntu you can skip this) you need to replace the repository name with this command:

sudo sed 's/jessie/vivid/' -i /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ethereum-ethereum-*.list
sudo apt-get update

Install ethereum, ethminer and geth:

sudo apt-get install ethereum ethminer geth

Create Ethereum Wallet

A wallet is where coins are "stored". They are not really stored in the wallet because the wallet is just a private key that nobody has. The balance of that wallet is visible to everyone using the blockchain database. And this is what full nodes do, they contain and distribute the database to all other peers. So this this command to create your first private key for your wallet:

geth account new

Be aware, that this passphrase protects the private key of your wallet. Anyone who has access to that file and knows your passphrase will have full control over your coins. And also do not forget the passphrase, as if you do, you lost all your coins!

The output of "geth account new" shows a long character/number sequence quoted in {}. This is your wallet address and you should write that number down, as if someone wants to send you money, then it is to that address. We will use that for the mining pool later.

Install (proprietary) nvidia driver

For OpenCL to work with nvidia graphics cards, like my GTX 1070, you need to install this proprietary driver from nvidia. If you have an older card maybe the opensource drivers will work for you. For the nvidia pascal cards numbers 10xx you will need this driver package.

After you have agreed the terms, download the NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-367.35.run file. But before we can use that installer we need to install some dependencies that installer needs as it will have to compile a Linux kernel module for you. Install the dependencies using this command:

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-amd64 build-essential

Now we can make the installer executable and run it like this:

chmod +x NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-367.35.run
sudo NVIDIA-Linux-x86_64-367.35.run

If that step completed without error, then we should be able to run the mining benchmark!

ethminer -M -G

The -M means "run benchmark" and the -G is for GPU mining. The first time you run it it will create a DAG file and that will takes a while. For me it took about 12 minutes on my GTX 1070. After that is should show a inner mean hashrate. If it says H/s that is hashes per second and KH is kilo (H/1000) and MH is megahashes per second (KH/1000). I had numbers around 25-30 MH/s, but for real mining you will see an average that is a balanced number and not a min/max range.

Pick Ethereum Network

Now it gets serious, you need to decide 2 things. First which Ethereum network you want to mine for and the second is using which pool.

Ethereum has 2 networks, one is called Ethereum One or Core, while the other is called Ethereum Classic. Ethereum has made a hardfork to undo the consequences of a software bug in the DAO. The DAO is a smart contract for a decentralized organization. Because of that bug, a blackhat could use that bug to obtain money from that DAO. The Ethereum developers made a poll and decided that the consequences will be undone. Not everyone agreed and the old network stayed alive and is now called Ethereum Classic short ETC. The hardfork kept its short name ETH.

This is important to understand for mining, because the hashing difficulty has a huge difference between ETH and ETC. As of writing, the hashrate of ETC is at 20% compared to ETH. Thus you need less computing time to get ETC coins and more time to get ETH coins. Differently said, ETC mining is currently more profitable.

Pick a Pool

Hmmmm, I want a swimming pool, thanks! Just kidding... You can mine without a pool, that is called solo mining, but you will get less reward. A mining pool are multiple computers that work on the same block to find a solution quicker than others. The pool has an aggregated hashrate that is higher than other solo miners. Each found block by anyone in this pool will be rewarded to everyone in the pool. The reward of 5 ether currently per block gets split in the same ratio of hashrate each member provides (minus the pool fee). So while you get less for a found block, you still have a steady lower income rate instead of higher with less chance of finding one (in time). Simply said: you have to find a new block faster than the others to receive the reward.

If you want to mine Ethereum Classic (ETC) use one of the pools listed here (at the bottom of the page).

If you want to mine Ethereum One / Core (ETH) use one of the pools listed here.

Run ethminer

The instruction page of the pool website usually says how to start the miner program, but here is an example of the pool that I use (because pony!):

ethminer -G -F http://yolo.ethclassic.faith:9999/0x<YOUR_WALLET_ADDRESS> --farm-recheck 200

Profit

If this guide was helpful for you, you can tip me at ethereum:0x9ec1220d2f2fadd3f0c96e3007daa827bc83fbd6 or simply run the ethminer using my wallet address for a day or two:

ethminer -G -F http://yolo.ethclassic.faith:9999/0x9ec1220d2f2fadd3f0c96e3007daa827bc83fbd6 --farm-recheck 200

Happy mining!