BOINC is a distributed computing platform that allows you to share your unused cycles. SETI@home is now run over BOINC, as are other medical and metereological research projects. Integrating it into Ubuntu so it is easy to register and control might bring a good amount of resources to this projects. It will be worth it just for the publicity. ¿But what if the network can be configured so that the users can choose to donate the cycles specifically to Ubuntu, and then Ubuntu can sell that processing power to paying customers, and then finance open source projects (OpenSSH)? ¿Is not that a way for Ubuntu users to give back to the community? Just an idea...


BOINC is a platform for distributed computing applications. Born from the original SETI@home, it provides the tools to distribute and run computer intensive programs. Users can download a client, and register to different applications. The client then downloads work units, and uses the idle processing time on them.

There are BOINC related packages in Ubuntu. BOINC by itself is not there, ¿maybe because of license problems?. But even if BOINC cannot be turned into a package, some attention can be put into making its installation as simple as possible, ideally a one-click affair. And provide as many niceties and optimizations as we can imagine. And give some visibility to all this during installation, or in the package list.

¿Why? Well, while the user is hand-held through the installation process, there is an opportunity to provide Ubuntu defaults. For example, all users that do not bother to change the provided default join the Ubuntu group. There is some publicity value on that. And who knows, maybe the cure for cancer or first contact will have Ubuntu's name written on it. The distributed projects will notice the input and would be willing to spread praises about Ubuntu. And the world will know how generous the Open Source movement, lead by Ubuntu, are.

There is another idea I have. Maybe Ubuntu (or the FSF, or Debian, or the BSD group) could run its own server. Maybe during the installation, the users were offered the chance to donate part of this computing power to the Open Source cause. Then all this computing power could be offered to the world. And the profits could be distributed wisely and equitatively through the Open Source community.

¿Why would we let strangers put their filthy paws on our shiny processors? Well, the many many users of Open Source that never give anything back should feel guilty about that. Writing some code, report a bug, let alone write a check, maybe that is too much to ask from us. ¿But idle processor time? If it is run by someone that we can trust to be fair and unselfish, and there are plenty of them in this community, I cannot see why someone would not. And if a group does not like how the setup is run, they are free to set up their own server and compete for the user's trust. Or share part of the profits with the user. ¿Would not that really give some punch to the scheme? Once enough people have the package installed, economies of scale might start kicking in and who knows what can happen.

Use cases

  • This is Amanda's first time in her brand new Ubuntu installation, and she is going to select some extra applications. When she opens the menu, there is one icon there that catches her eye: "Share with Ubuntu". She reads that she can donate her computer's idle time to medical science. She is a very caring person, so she clicks in it and feels a bit better about herself.
  • Juana the project manager could use some good chunk of processing power to save her a good deal of time. She normally would not have the time nor money to get it, as it is a one-off thing. But the Ubuntu desktops that her team uses have a one stop distributed computing solution. She installs the Boinc packages in all the desktops, the server package in one of them, downloads application code available in the Internet, and in two days all the processing is done while the team is busy preparing documentation.
  • Dora the cybercafe owner is very happy. Her idle computers are now earning her some extra revenue by processing data. Thanks to the easy installation of the Boinc client, there is now a growing industry that trades in processsing power, paying administrators and users through PayPal. Everybody is waiting for the announced Google Grid beta.





Data preservation and migration

Outstanding issues

  • Planning Stage
    • Pre-execution Needed resources Resource aquisition Execution
    Aquiring resources(Such as server for projects) Execution

BoF agenda and discussion


TheUbuntuGrid (last edited 2008-08-06 16:40:53 by localhost)