For those looking to put their CPU to work on their computer, I have the perfect job for you: Distributed.net! There’s no doubt that many of you already are participating in some distributed computing project, such as SETI@home, or Folding@home, BOINC, or others. I have joined different distributed computing projects in the past, and currently, I’ve rested on the RC5-72 project on distributed.net. The reason for joining the project is simple: I’m a math geek, and I wanted to join a distributed computing project that is math related. RC5-72 is the perfect fit. Further, there’s $1,000 up for grabs to the person who finds the right key.
Which brings up the question, what is RC5-72? Back in the day, RSA Labs created a challenge. The challenge was to show the weakness of the DES algorithm and bit strength. So, they cerated a string of text, encrypted it with DES, then set aside $10,000 for the first person or group to crack it, revealing the private key that was used to encrypt it. The EFF created a computer they called Deep Crack for this very purpose, and set off brute forcing the key. In less than 9 months, they found the key, and won the prize. Meanwhile, RSA Labs created more challenges, this time using the RC5 algorithms, and also setup $10,000 for each successful crack of the private key. Distributed.net was born, and began brute forcing.
Because there are so many keys to check, it made sense for the developers to set it up as a distributed computing project. RC5-56 was started, and the private key found, awarding distributed.net the money. Distributed.net then divvied out the money to the winning participant, group and donated the rest to the top voted project. They also won RC5-64. Currently, we’re hammering on RC5-72. However, if you visit the stats page, you’ll see that we have a ways to go. At the current rate, it’s going to take us roughly 750 years to search every key in the keyspace. Now, we may find the key before that point, but it still could take us 300 years to find it! There’s no reason for this! A PlayStation 3 with Linux installed can burn through the keys. Add 1,000 of those, and we’ll seriously knock out some keyspace! Sony has sold over 5 million PS3s, so surely 1,000 isn’t too much to ask! Plus, add up all the dual core and now quad core machines in existence, and RC5-72 could be done in a single year. We just need more people donating CPU time.
So, this is where you come in. If you have a spare computer that needs to flex its CPU muscles, then join the RC5-72 or OGR-26 project, and sign up to be a member of Team Ubuntu! We are the largest and most popular distribution in the world, so there is no doubt in my mind to achieve the top 100 in the stats rankings. Heck, we could be #1! All you need to do is download a client for your operating system and architecture, configure it per the documentation, and your off!
One drawback with the client, however- it’s proprietary software, not FOSS. I’m not proud of this, however, I make this one exception in that you’re furthering mathematics and science by participating. In other words, you’re making the world a better place. If you’re a FOSS zealot, and refuse, I understand completely. There are some FOSS distributed computing projects out there that would be a better fit for you.