BOINC, the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, is an open-source system that allows volunteers with computers anywhere to donate extra processing power to any of a large group of projects.  The most well-known is probably SETI@home, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, hosted by the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

One of the reasons I love Ubuntu is that it makes it easy to run one of the BOINC projects. (My own is Rosetta@home, which is working on the structures of proteins such as the one believed responsible for Alzheimer’s Disease.)  It is a simple matter of adding boinc-manager and boinc-client.  These can be added by the command:

sudo aptitude install boinc-manager boinc-client

You can then go to Applications>System Tools>BOINC Manager to fire up the software and select a client.  The BOINC website contains a list of projects they have personally checked out (  Once you select your project and set the boinc-manager to run, it will run the computations needed by your project on your spare CPU cycles.  In technical terms this means that “nice” is set at 19, so if you are doing something else that needs CPU access, what you are doing at present will have a higher priority and will run using as much of the CPU as it needs.

One last plug for the boinc-manager and boinc-client from my own personal experience:  I have not known them to cause trouble with my regular computer use.  I know that it is one thing to read the official description of what is supposed to happen, and another thing to check out reality.  The reality here is that you could be personally (along with the researchers, of course) responsible for finding the cure for Alzheimer’s or eliminating malaria – or helping ET phone home 😉 – without doing any more than making sure you have the software up-and-running.

How much better can it get?


2 Responses to “BOINC”

  1. 2 ubuntulady November 24, 2008 at 6:46 am

    Thank you.

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