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For those looking to put their CPU to work on their computer, I have the perfect job for you:! 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 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. 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 the money. 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.

{ 13 } Comments

  1. Daniel | January 3, 2009 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    Consider joining GIMPS instead:

  2. Aaron | January 8, 2009 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    I ran GIMPS for a while, but I wasn't pleased with it's stats and overall complexity setting up the client. It's been a while since I've ran it though. Maybe things have changed.

  3. Johan Idstam | January 3, 2009 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    Well, using brute force to find the key doesn't prove anything. It was an interesting experiment the first time, but now we know it can be done.

    It would be cooler if they used all that processing power and evolution like code to make an RC5 key finder that did not need all that raw power.

    As a side note: all that electricity could probably be used in better ways.

  4. Aaron | January 3, 2009 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Yeah. I've already had this discussion with someone who interests himself in arguing for the sake of arguing. Brute forcing is nothing special, but the numbers coming out of it are. We could either speculate about the numbers with mathematics, or we walk-the-talk, and see them live. I prefer the latter.

    Also, there's not much additional electricity being used for myself. Neither of my CPUs support scalaing, so they were running at 100% to begin with. I pulled out a wattage meter to see the wattage difference between running the client and not, and it was a 2 watt difference. If I'm that worried about electricity and the whole "going green" thing, then I should unplug my alarm clock and use my cell phone instead, as it's pulling more power. I have offset the extra use by replacing my CRT with an LCD, turning the brightness level way down, and adjusting power preferences as necessary when not in use. I think I'm pretty green.

  5. Alan Pope | January 3, 2009 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    I'd rather not increase my CPU to run flat out on any machine. The additional noise, heat and electricity usage will only cost me more in cooling and fuel bills.

    I really think the whole green/carbon-footprint drive has taken some of the wind out of the sails of distributed computing.

    (by the way the openid part of this comment failed, and i was dropped to a nasty page that told me I must use the comment form to leave a comment, when i did, it failed again)

  6. Aaron | January 3, 2009 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    I've thought about this, and did a wattage pull test on my two boxes. It was about a 2 watt difference. If it was anything significant, I'd be with you on that one, but it's barely pulling the extra power. I offset it by changing the power preferences and brightness levels on my monitors.

    Also, I’m looking into the OpenID problem. It’s the wp-openid plugin. I’ll probably just disable it until some bugs get fixed.

  7. Jeff | January 3, 2009 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Funny you should mention the power of Linux and the PS3 as yesterday I installed Ubuntu 8.10 on my 80GB PS3 to help pursuade the move back to after a long absense. The key rates I am experiencing are truly epic and unrivaled! 165 Mkeys/sec which compared to my iMac 3.06Ghz Core 2 Duo (9 Mkeys/sec) makes mince meat of any machine out there! I may purchase a 2nd PS3 as a pure Linux box for serving music, movies, files and kickin' more RC5-72 butt!


  8. ethana2 | January 3, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, my friend bought a PS3 specifically because it could run Linux, but we haven't installed Ubuntu yet.. Hopefully we have a chance to do that soon.

  9. NevDull | January 5, 2009 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    The CUDA pre-release clients are even faster than the PS3.

    On my 8800GT video card, I do 270+ MKeys/sec.

  10. NevDull | January 5, 2009 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    As an aside, my Google Chrome on XP was mistakenly identified as Safari on OS X in the comment header thing.

  11. Aaron | January 8, 2009 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Yeah. That's because they pull from Webkit, which keeps the useragent string as Safari on Mac. However, wouldn't you rather identify as a Mac user than a Windows user? 🙂

  12. Jeff | January 6, 2009 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    <> Wow... Time to get my PC back up and running for use of that CUDA client! You joining the team NevDull?;)

  13. Michael | March 19, 2009 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Your team seam to me a bit quiet last time.... Hope it is still alive 🙁
    (b.t.w. I am joined since January 3th '08 due reading this blog posted on Planet Ubuntu.

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  1. | February 25, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    LoCo Folding…. At Home...

    After recently reading Aaron Toponce’s mention of contributing to, I thought I’d throw down the gauntlet to other LoCo teams for something that we’re doing here in Florida.
    For a little while we’ve had a Folding ...

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