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I do not understand the use of "run off" in the following sentence. Neither was I able to find any explanation so I guess it is not a phrase?

If your generator (software) was running off a different machine you would type the server name or IP address of that machine.

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closed as general reference by MετάEd, Marthaª, FumbleFingers, Mark Beadles, StoneyB Oct 21 '12 at 17:24

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This question is incomplete: it can be improved by citing references you checked before asking. – MετάEd Oct 19 '12 at 13:51
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It means "running on", except the production is redirected, not for local use there.

Whatever the generator produces is used on "this machine", no matter where the generator resides. It could be local, or it could be running off a different machine; the generated objects are running from that machine.

you have a local crypt system on the machine, but the entropy gathering process is running off a small piece of uranium and a Geiger counter.

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No, it's not a phrase; it's not even a constituent. The running and the off aren't together.

Off in this case means the same as from; it identifies the machine that controls the generator. Off of would be another frequent variant.

Running has to do with the generator; it's the run of the machine is running (i.e, 'operating; on, not off').

So off another machine is just a prepositional phrase, and was running is just a verb phrase that is modifies. Nothing special here except the uses of verb and preposition.

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It means the computer on which the server code is executing.

We often talk of a machine "running" when we mean it is operating, performing, etc. By extension we say that software is "running". Software requires a computer to execute it. Usually we say it is "running on such-and-such computer". But sometimes people say it is "running off such-and-such computer". "On" and "off" in this case are essentially synonyms. Paradoxical as that may sound.

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Funny how "running off" and "running on" are roughly equivalent, even though "on" and "off" could be construed as antonyms. I think one could use "running from" in this case, too. – J.R. Oct 19 '12 at 15:03


7 be in or cause to be in operation; function or cause to function:

[no object]:

the car runs on unleaded fuel

[with object]:

the modem must be run off a mains transformer

As none of us know what this "generator" of yours is, we can only hazard a guess that it's some kind of a software process. The process might usually run on your own server or sometimes run off another machine, but still be accessible on your computer. The off connotes a sense of (physical) distance or detachment.

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To run off is a phrasal verb that means to run away, but it doesn't fit here. "Running" means "operating" or "being controlled by", and the prepositional phrase "off a different machine" probably means that the generator (I don't know what it generates, passwords or random numbers are possible) is "being controlled by a different computer (machine)".

"If your generator was connected to and being controlled by a computer different different from the one you were using for XYZ [I don't know what's going on], then you would type the server name or IP address of that other computer".

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