I work in a company where each engineer/scientist has a pretty high end desktop machine. 80% of the time, they are not pumping it to full capacity... This makes me sad.

I want to be able to install some software on each of our machines which should allow any node to use computing resources on the other's machine.

However, each engineer/scientist should be able to take their machines off the cluster to use it as a dedicated workstation.

What software should I look at?

I think this is different from grid computing because tasks aren't determined before hand. I think this is different from traditional cluster computing because I don't have exclusive access to all the slave nodes.


Every computer is Ubuntu 10.04

  • Is the OS among the users the same? Some Linux? Windows? OS X? – Janne Pikkarainen Sep 16 '11 at 14:05
  • This is exactly what distributed.net does (and other distributed computing projects). I'm sure there must be general purpose tools out there for this sort of thing. – larsks Sep 16 '11 at 14:07
  • Is this a mandate from the business or just your own personal desire? Are you responsible for the IT infrastructure at your company? Are you responsible for the engineering/scientific department or the computing resources in the engineering/scientific department? – joeqwerty Sep 16 '11 at 15:13
  • my own personal desire. but yes I could probably convince the company to do it (small startup). – engineerchuan Sep 17 '11 at 13:56

Check out BOINC — you can set up your own local BOINC server to manage internal jobs, and install (user-controllable) client software on each workstation. Compatible with Linux, Mac, and Windows.


The real question is, what problem are you trying to solve? If you have parallel computing tasks (MPI, hadoop, etc. program) or embarrassingly parallel problem to solve (i.e. rendering frames of a movie) then your software would be specific to that. If you're just trying to use spare cycles for "some greater good" then distributed.net is a good place to start.

It sounds like you've got a solution without a problem right now, and most companies don't like to spend resources (i.e. setup time, administrative time, etc.) without a clear purpose.

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