If anyone is not familiar with the [email protected] project you must not be too familiar with the internet. [email protected] is the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence using distributed computing. Thousands, if not millions, of computers are currently using there spare time to crunch packets of telescope information sent to them from the SETI at home servers. When a computer is done it sends the information back and the lets the SETI team know if that part of the sky is worth taking a closer look into.
Most Windows machines use a screen saver to make sure that the work is done while the computer is idle. Mac OSX and Linux machines allow you to run a process in ‘nice’ mode, as in play nice with others. This tells a process/program to wait for everything else to be processed then jump in line for the CPU. I run setiathome on my home server 24/7 at nice 19, the highest level of playing nice. My home server needs to always be on for others to grab files & music from it, or check web pages. It also houses all my backups and lets me get at my files from anyplace with internet access. So it’s always on, but as penitence for using that power it’s always crunching SETI information, work that need to be done anyway.
My laptop runs the screen saver and my father’s PC in Markham does too. A few of my work Mac’s run SETI overnight (because I want all my applications open when I get into work the next day). Again, I figure as long as they are on they might as well be doing something.