During the day, usually I'm away from my computer for 3-5 hours. I also sleep 6+ hours every night.

I run Arch Linux x64 on my computer.

Besides the usual things that do not require user intervention (torrenting, backing up data, upgrading the system, etc...), is there anything useful that I can let my computer do while I'm away?

Considering I almost never turn the computer off, it seems like a waste it's sitting there doing nothing. I'm looking for any kind of suggestion, not only machine maintenance.

  • 4
    Why not just let it idle and save on your energy bill? – Jaap Eldering Aug 30 '13 at 16:44
  • 3
    @eldering, if you're looking to save energy, why would you even leave the machine on? – ForeverWintr Aug 30 '13 at 18:04

Yes, there is. There are quite a few projects that use idle computers for scientific research, the most famous (at least the ones I know) are:

  • SETI@home:

    SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data.

  • Folding@home:

    Help Stanford University scientists studying Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Parkinson's, and many cancers by simply running a piece of software on your computer.

    The problems we are trying to solve require so many calculations, we ask people to donate their unused computer power to crunch some of the numbers.

If you're only interested in administrative tasks, you could lso consider running things like updatedb to refresh locate's database.

  • I was half way through writing the same thing. :) – ForeverWintr Aug 30 '13 at 16:07
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    just remember, your computer will be doing work running these, often maxing CPU usage. More work = more electricity and heat. More electricity and heat = more $. – Keltari Aug 30 '13 at 17:05

Wikipedia has a list of distributed computing projects that you could contribute to.

You could also "mine" bitcoin, although I'm not sure how much money you'd net after paying for electricity.


I personally think this is a beautiful question.

I myself run Folding@home some nights on my machine, although I have a very old PC. If you have a good set of hardware equipments, you might want to try it too. It is basically a distributed computing project, trying to find cures for some kinds of cancers.

I found them one night, when I was thinking about: "Would we be able to build the strongest supercomputer in the world, by uniting all the seemingly small PCs and smartphones, and then let the users use this power on a shared basis. Like when you want to do some processing and need a powerful CPU, well, you can use this huge network of CPUs." Then I googled for "Shared computing", and I was directed to this Wikipedia article. In there you can find a huge list of such projects that you could and might possibly want to devote your computing power to.

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