Litecoin Mining on Mac OS X – CPU Mining

Litecoin Logo

My previous series of articles on crypto-currency covered Bitcoin mining on OS X. This series will focus on mining Litecoins. While Bitcoin has been getting the lion’s share of media attention lately with its recent bubbles and crashes and growing adoption, Litecoin has been slowly growing in popularity among alternative crypto-currencies (known as altcoins).

What is Litecoin you may ask? Litecoin is a fork of the Bitcoin project with three important changes:

  1. The hashing algorithm uses is Scrypt rather than SHA-256
  2. Blocks are approved four times faster than Bitcoin blocks
  3. Litecoin is setup to produce 84 million Litecoins, versus Bitcoin’s 21 million target

Proponents of Litecoin argue that Litecoin should be regarded as silver to Bitcoin’s gold: easier and faster to transact smaller amounts. Proponents also argue that, by basing the proof-of-work on Scrypt rather than SHA-256, Litecoin mining will remain in the realm of consumer hardware, rather than limited to mining-specific hardware (like Bitcoin with FPGA’s and ASIC’s). While SHA-256 benefits from massive, parallel processing, Scrypt is built to be very memory-intensive. This means that, for the time being, mining Litecoins using your CPU (which is no longer profitable with Bitcoin) is still possible. You can also use your GPU to mine Litecoins, which gives me a 5x performance boost over CPU mining.

One popular setup seems to be using your GPU’s to mine Bitcoins and use spare CPU power to mine Litecoins. This article will cover how you can use Mac OS X to mine Litecoins using your CPU. If you’re interested in harnessing your GPU’s power to mine Litecoins rather than Bitcoins, a future article will cover that topic.

CPU Mining

To get started with Litecoin mining on OS X, download the official Litecoin wallet application – Litecoin-QT – from the Litecoin website. With the Litecoin wallet you can actually mine from within the UI. Download the DMG file and drag the Litecoin-QT app to your Applications folder.

Litecoin QT DMG

Now, I didn’t cover wallet setup in my Bitcoin series as it was outside the scope of mining. However, as Litecoin CPU mining is generally done within the wallet application (though it can be done at the command-line), I want to make two things clear. First, encrypt your wallet. Second, double-check that the encryption phrase you’ve recorded is correct and works before you start making deposits. The same thing goes for your Bitcoin wallet.

As stated above, the Litecoin wallet UI is capable of showing and controlling mining. While the Litecoin wallet has built in support for solo mining, pooled mining requires another download (see my first article for a brief overview of mining pools). The download is from a project called cpuminer. The cpuminer project was originally a CPU miner for both Bitcoin and then for Litecoin, when CPU mining for Bitcoin was still sensible. These days it’s been replaced in the Bitcoin world by cgminer and bfgminer, and is used in the Litecoin world for CPU mining. You can download the OS X binary for this cpuminer fork directly from the project’s GitHub downloads (32-bit, 64-bit).

Once you’ve downloaded and extracted the cpuminer binary, called minerd, place it alongside the Litecoin-QT app in your Applications folder. This makes it possible to use the pooled miner from within the Litecoin wallet.

UPDATE: The Mining tab has been removed from the Lightcoin-QT wallet. Skip down a couple of paragraphs for details on mining from the command-line.

Now you’re ready to start mining. Switch to the Mining tab in Litecoin-QT. Change the Type to Pool Mining. Set the Threads value to the number of cores you have (double that if you have Hyper-threading). You can leave the Scantime value. It is only used if the mining pool doesn’t support long-polling, which is rarely the case these days. For the Server, Port, Username and Password, enter your mining pool information. Using P2Pool mining pools is fairly popular with Litecoin. You can use p2pool.org or any number of alternatives.

Once you’ve got your mining pool information filled in, click Start Mining to get started.

Litecoin QT Mining

The Litecoin-QT UI will display the output from minerd and a running total of accepted and rejected shares, as well as average hashes-per-second.

Command-Line Mining

Now, if you’re the kind of gal (or guy) who prefers to do your work at the command-line, it’s not required that you use the Litecoin wallet app. While mining from within the app is nice as it gives you running totals, you can just as easily mine from the command-line with the following command:

./minerd -o http://host:port -u username -p password -t thread-count

Command Line LTC Mining

What’s Next?

In the follow-up to this article I’ll discuss the utilities, steps, and tweaks necessary to mine Litecoins on OS X using your GPU. While this doesn’t give the same magnitude of increased performance found when mining Bitcoins on the GPU versus CPU, the increase is still enough to make GPU’s the preferred way of Litecoin mining. However, that also means dedicating GPU cycles to Litecoins rather than Bitcoins, which is a decision you’ll have to make. Litecoins aren’t nearly as established as Bitcoins, so they could be poised to gain in value like Bitcoin has. At the time of this post they trade at around $4 versus Bitcoin hovering around $125). Others call into question Litecoin’s benefits over Bitcoin, seeing it as a doomed clone.

Only time will tell.

UPDATE: If you need to connect the CPU miner to a pool that doesn’t support Getwork, have a look at this post for a solution.

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20 thoughts on “Litecoin Mining on Mac OS X – CPU Mining

  1. Pingback: Bitcoin Mining on Mac OS X – BitMinter | blog.nwoolls.com

  2. Pingback: Litecoin Mining on Mac OS X – GPU Mining | blog.nwoolls.com

  3. Rich Evers (@whatevers)

    On three different machines, I’m running into the same problem with minerd. The Litecoin-QT app simply reports “Miner exited” right after starting mining. The command line gives me a bit more info:
    dyld: Library not loaded: /opt/local/lib/libidn.11.dylib
    Referenced from: /Applications/./minerd
    Reason: image not found
    Trace/BPT trap: 5
    All of the machines are successfully running cgminer from your earlier posts. Any ideas on what might be going wrong?

    Reply
    1. nwoolls Post author

      You could try using Homebrew to install libidn if you do not have it. The command “brew install libidn” should install it.

      Had you had MacPorts installed at any point? There’s a post here that indicates it may be a conflict between the curl installed from Homebrew and a previous installation from MacPorts.

      Reply
      1. Rich Evers (@whatevers)

        That post sent me in the right direction – thanks! I’m working with pristine OS X installs, so MacPorts hadn’t been used before. Turns out I was missing both libidn and openssl. It’s not very elegant, but this is what got me up and running:

        brew install openssl
        brew install libidn
        sudo mkdir -p /opt/local/lib
        sudo ln -s /usr/local/Cellar/openssl/1.0.1e/lib/libssl.1.0.0.dylib /opt/local/lib/libssl.1.0.0.dylib
        sudo ln -s /usr/local/Cellar/openssl/1.0.1e/lib/libcrypto.1.0.0.dylib /opt/local/lib/libcrypto.1.0.0.dylib

  4. Mitch

    Hello,
    I’m just getting no where with setting up my iMac for litecoin mining. I’ve got an older iMac 3.06 GHz Core 2 Duo with OS X 10.6.8, so I can’t install Xcode without updating the OS which I don’t want to do. I’ve downloaded cpuminer, extracted the file and placed the “Exec Minerd” file into my applications folder with Litecoin QT app. Everyone else says you need to open Terminal and type in all of these commands and I have tried that and can’t figure it out. I’ve registered to get a “pooler” account, but I’m not even sure if I’m entering that correctly. I have one with ltc.kattare.com. This is so frustrating!
    I’m willing to pay you for assistance if you’d like to email me.

    Thanks,
    Mitch

    Reply
    1. Jay

      Mitch,
      I’m new to Litecoin mining as well, but this appears to have me gotten up and running. (I’m slightly rephrasing what Nathaniel and RIch have said.)

      1) Get the Mac OS X litecoin app from http://litecoin.org/
      2) Drag it into your Applications folder; I placed mine in /Users//Applications to keep it out of the main directory of my Mac
      3) Download the cpuminer app that Nathaniel linked to from Github and place the minderd file in the SAME FOLDER as Litecoin
      4) The minerd app from Github looks for certain libraries that aren’t present by default in Mac OS X, so you can use Homebrew to install them. You can get Homebrew from http://mxcl.github.io/homebrew/ or use this command in the Terminal to download and install Homebrew:

      ruby -e “$(curl -fsSL https://raw.github.com/mxcl/homebrew/go)”

      5) Now you can use Homebrew to install the needed libraries, openssl and libidn; wait for the first command to finish before entering the second:

      brew install openssl
      brew install libidn

      6) Once those packages are installed, you need to put them in a location where minerd can find them. The easiest way to do this is create symlinks (aliases) that point to the copies that Homebrew created. These commands in the Terminal create the needed folders and create the symlinks:

      sudo mkdir -p /opt/local/lib
      sudo ln -s /usr/local/Cellar/openssl/1.0.1e/lib/libssl.1.0.0.dylib /opt/local/lib/libssl.1.0.0.dylib
      sudo ln -s /usr/local/Cellar/openssl/1.0.1e/lib/libcrypto.1.0.0.dylib /opt/local/lib/libcrypto.1.0.0.dylib

      Reply
      1. Mitch

        Hi Jay,
        I really appreciate you trying to assist me. I promise I’m not a complete computer idiot, it’s just that I have never worked with the command/terminal portion. As an example, I copied your link for the terminal to get Homebrew and pasted it into the terminal, hit enter…..nothing.

        I’ve been going through all of this stuff for days reading and trying things and realized that I had already downloaded “Homebrew”. It has so many files within the files. I don’t know what to do with all of them. Once I’ve seen this type stuff actually done once or twice, I’m good to go from there on out, but for whatever reason, I just can’t seem to get this going on my own by reading the instructions. I literally need it laid out before for the first time as, “a,b,c….” The people that have been able to get going with the instructions seem to have at least some experience with terminal, etc. I do know that this is the portion that if one single character or space is incorrect, nothing will work. I’m not completely sure of what specific info is supposed to even go into the “mining port address” within the Litecoin program itself. Does it literally need “http://”? unlike a web browser anymore. I’ve tried that all ways, but I realize if the commands themselves are incorrect, no amount of miner/worker info is going to make it work either.

        Again, I really appreciate your trying to assist and I wished I were able to understand what you have laid out better. I’d pay you as well. If you live around The Woodlands, TX., let me know. What I really need is someone to just talk me through it over the phone. I can’t think of anyone at work that knows this type stuff any better than myself.

        Thank you, Jay!
        Mitch

  5. Pingback: Bitcoin & Litcoin Proxy Mining on Mac OS X | blog.nwoolls.com

  6. Pingback: When is a 4 core CPU a 2 core CPU? | Musings from the Chiefio

  7. Konrad

    Everything is great except that I dont have the “Mining tab” on my LTC Wallet App. What to do then? Using MAC OS X 10.5.8
    Regards

    Reply
    1. nwoolls Post author

      The Mining tab is no longer in the latest Litecoin-QT wallet app. I’ll update the blog post to reflect this fact. Sorry for the confusion!

      Reply
  8. nOOn

    Hello, what do you mean, in the same folder as Litecoin Qt? I tried to put it in the Applications folder, in the same package, nothing works… keeps on telling me it doesn’t find the command?

    Reply
  9. Vitali

    Hi Jay,

    maybe my question is really dumb, but I googled and searched the web for the answer about,… it felt like 2 million years. I didnt fint the answer.
    Where do the mined coins go? In my wallet file? Where is it saved, if I dont mine with Litecoin-QT?

    Reply
  10. Aaron

    when inputting the mining command:

    ./minerd -o http://host:port -u username -p password -t thread-count

    into the minerd, what is the username and password that i should enter? also how do i connect it with pooled mining.

    Thanks,
    Aaron

    Reply
  11. Kris

    Do I need to worry about my MBP overheating? I’ve read that using MBPs for bitcoin mining can be quite dangerous.

    Any thoughts?

    Reply

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