making a homemade render farm

Can anybody point me in the direction of repurposing my 5+ old computers into a Blender render farm?

Thank You

Option1) Search the Python forum for “Farmer Joe”

Option 2) (for animations only) Set up a common server share folder, put your .blend file there, change the output paths in the .blend file to save in that same share folder, connect each client machine to the share with the same path, open the .blend file in each client, make sure the “touch” and “no overwrite” buttons are on, make sure the output is to individual frame files (PNG or EXR), then render away on each client.

…dunno if this helps, but post with questions.

If they are SSE2 enabled processors, you can add them to vSwarm, then use other computers in the swarm for your renderings as well.

Thanks, Fellas. This sounds like it’s a bit over my head. I’m not really a hardware/networking guy. I thought maybe it’d be “get yourself this kind of hub, make sure all the machines are running the same OS, connect via hub aaaaand go!”. It’d be great if somebody did a tutorial for dummies. There has to be a TON of us out there that have old machines just lying around.

Thanks again

edit: just checked out vSwarm. Awesome idea!!

edit: just checked out vSwarm. Awesome idea!!

BURP’s another one. But keep in mind that you’re making your .blend file available to the world. If you deal with proprietary geometry, as I do for my clients, this is not an option.

As to not being network-savvy, what I described in option 2 above is about as easy as it gets. Share a folder on one system, put your files there, connect to it with the others. Basic. The main trick is making sure all the paths (eg drive letters) are the same all 'round.

Farmer Joe is pretty simple, too, while giving you some more central control and flexibility.

Thanks, mzungu. Farmer Joe + a hub sounds like it might be the most straight forward.

Heading over to NewEgg to shop for a hub…

Best Regards,


I have four computers of unequal power : 1 Quad core at 3GHz, 2 Pentiums Mono core at 3GHz and 1 Pentium mono core at 2GHz. They are not linked in network, and not close to each other.

When I have only one image to render, like a rendering with Indigo, I render it on my best machine, as I have not much choice without a network.

When I have to render an animation requiring a long time per frame, I cut it in several parts. For example, if I have to render 800 frames, as the quad is more poweful than all the others I spread like that : The quad computer renders from frame 1 to 500, the second one from 501 to 620, the third from 621 to 740, and the weakest one from 740 to 800. My method is the more power = the more frames. Like that they end rendering almost all at the same time and I don’t waste time.

That’s great that works for you. But I’d rather not have 4+ complete rigs including monitors & keyboards. Ideally I’d like to have the “farm” out in the garage away from my home office.

We’ve been using Farmer Joe; had to tweak it a bit to run under Windows after a particular MS update but it’s been good for us.

Blender 2.5 seems to have network rendering built-in. Haven’t been able to test it as we’re just playing with 2.5 builds on a single system, but the discussion was over here on the forums –

I just barely finished a new version of a network render app called Loki Render. I put a lot of work into making it really simple to use; you can just download and run on each computer you want in your farm. It really is that simple. It supports frame or tile rendering.

Hope you take a few minutes to check it out, and I would be happy to hear how it works for you and/or any other feedback.


Hi samuraidanieru, ‘Loki Render’ looks very cool. The timing is perfect as I found yet another old computer yesterday. I think this puts me at 5 unused machines now. :o

Can I run Loki Render using different OSs? I think some of my old boxes have Win95 on em.

Thanks for your work!!

You’re right, mzungu. That sounds incredibly easy and the method I’ll try first. Thanks so much.

about win95/98 machines, if they don’t work with xyz renderfarm program, try putting linux on them instead.
(some lightweight distro)

Yes, you can run your Loki Render farm with a mix of OSs. Loki Render just needs Java installed (which just about runs on everything these days) so you can run it on Windows, Linux or whatever.

Just so you know, you don’t have to mess with anything network related (including network shares), just download and start it:-) It shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes to get it up and running on each computer.

I’m a linux boy so I second spacetug’s suggestion for the older Windows machines, but hey, do whatever works for you:)

It also depends on how low-end the machines are. Anything below 1Ghz is probably not worth your time. Also you keep mentioning the word HUB. You don’t want a hub, you want at least a switch. A hub shares bandwidth between all connected computers, a switch gives each computer the full bandwidth of the network for each machine. (typically 100Mbs).

Low end Linux distros are fairly worthless below 1Ghz as well. I have tried to re-purpose some old 500Mhz machines and they barely worked and took forever to load.