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Distributed.net Joins United Devices 50

Nugget94M writes "distributed.net announced today that it is joining forces with United Devices, a commercial distributed computing company. Several of the distributed.net volunteers are trading in their old, boring day jobs for new jobs working on distributed computing with United Devices. The agreement between the two organizations provides for ports of current and future distributed.net projects to run on the United Devices commercial network, and provides distributed.net with server hardware (new stasbox!) and hosting services."
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distributed.net Joins United Devices

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  • So now does this mean all the script kiddies putting distributed.net client on all their ow3n3d boxes can be charged with real crimes
  • by Fervent ( 178271 )
    Does this now mean Distributed.net will pay to use our computers for commercial services, like Popular Power?
  • Thanks to the sudden ubiquity of the internet, computer users can join forces in tackling great and seemingly insurmountable computational challenges - all while their computer sits idle.

    The Internet, safe when used as directed.
  • by Malicose ( 154517 ) on Monday November 27, 2000 @10:53AM (#598042)
    United Devices [ud.com] has posted its own press release [ud.com] covering the same arrangement but with new quotes and details.
  • Does this now mean Distributed.net will pay to use our computers for commercial services, like Popular Power?

    Or far more important, will they pay me for the use of my boss' computers?
  • by Geek Dash Boy ( 69299 ) on Monday November 27, 2000 @10:56AM (#598044) Homepage
    With ProcessTree getting their first paying client [slashdot.org], is the timing of this annoucement a coincidence?

    The annoucement claims that they'll distributed.net will continue on with non-profit biz as usual, but that could change at anytime.

    The field of for-pay dist. computing is going to see some competition in the near future, methinks.

  • Or more importantly, can we actually put all those cycles to use in a tangible way. I don't care about getting paid, but if I know I donated my idle CPU cycles to find a solution to something tangible in the scientific world, I would be very willing to invest my time and effort to a distributed system such as United Devices and dist.net could create.
  • United Devices isn't planning to pay for compute (they have 'rewards' like frequent flyer miles) as far as I know. Nobody pays providers (people who run compute engines) directly yet; a few are planning to pay, and Parabon [parabon.com] (disclaimer: my employer) is already running a sweepstakes [parabon.com], giving away $100/day + $1000/month to providers.

  • United Devices isn't planning to pay for compute (they have 'rewards' like frequent flyer miles) as far as I know. Nobody pays providers (people who run compute engines) directly yet; a few are planning to pay, and Parabon [parabon.com] (disclaimer: my employer) is already running a sweepstakes [parabon.com], giving away $100/day + $1000/month to providers.

  • by SeanCier ( 12804 ) <scier@PostHorizon.com> on Monday November 27, 2000 @11:07AM (#598048) Homepage

    Others are doing new projects: for instance, Parabon [parabon.com] (disclaimer: my employer) is doing cancer research [parabon.com], 3d rendering [parabon.com], bioinformatics (e.g. gene sequencing) [parabon.com], et cetera (and anything you code up and run: our SDK is available [parabon.com]).

  • Well, Parabon Computation [parabon.com] is doing cancer research [parabon.com], in addition to other bioinformatics applications such as gene sequencing [parabon.com], for instance.

  • There is already quite a lot of competition in this field. ProcessTree is hardly at the head of the pack. Check out Parabon Computation [parabon.com] for a company that is already doing real work (running multiple applications -- Gene sequencing [parabon.com], distributed rendering [parabon.com], Monte Carlo financial modelling [parabon.com]), paying people (initially with a daily/monthly sweepstakes model), has several beta clients, and a downloadable SDK [parabon.com] that, once registered, will allow individuals to launch jobs from their own desktops.
  • Distributed Science is launching the first paying project in a couple days, it will directly pay the selected participants for their work. Projects for several other paying customers are under development.

    Distributed Science also gives away $100/week to the volunteers on the non-profit Gamma Flux project, which is in operation since December 20, 1999 (first anniversary coming up ;)

  • Since when is United Devices "a big company"? In most respects, DCTI is a bigger "company". UD's site does give many details about it's formation. They recently received their 13M$ in funding and sucked in high profile people (SETI@Home and D.Net.) How many people knew about/of United Devices prior to today?

    From what I gather, this has been in the works for some time now. (Maybe not UD, but some form of commercial direction.)
  • by Stott ( 132670 ) on Monday November 27, 2000 @11:16AM (#598053)
    Distriduted and United kind of like Postal and worker?

    Just a thought.
  • I signed up for Process tree recently, and a question came to my mind:

    How much does it cost to run your computer idle vs. pegged? I leave my 2 computers on always, and they are using some power, but the cpu's are idle. Has anyone ever researched this? I wonder if the amount of $$ it takes to keep my Duron 850 at 100% utilization for a month will be less than what companies like Process Tree will pay. I don't mind donating CPU cycles to charity (SETI) but I don't think I want to donate to a profit org.
  • by James Manning ( 4620 ) on Monday November 27, 2000 @11:56AM (#598055) Homepage
    Not at the present time, although Porivo Technologies [porivo.com] has a sweepstakes running. This sweepstakes [porivo.com] is currently a $2000 shopping spree from buy.com [buy.com]! Also, better than other sweepstakes that I've heard about, the second and third place winners even get $1000 themselves! I love great prizes :)

    One of the nicest things I've noticed is that Porivo's client doesn't actually nail your CPU (and subsequently your power bill :) like other clients. Their main focus appears to be on Web site performance testing [porivo.com]. Since I'm a big-time gamer that's much more interested in keeping my CPU free and latencies low, the very slight amount of bandwidth needed doesn't affect me. Combined with the bonus of a nicer sweepstakes prize, they've got me hooked :)

    You may remember Porivo from their earlier coverage, here on Slashdot [slashdot.org]

    Testing? What's that? If it compiles, it is good. If it boots up it is perfect -- Linus Torvalds
  • It seems they only have clients for the 95/98/2000/ME OSes. I run 3 distributed.net clients: one for Linux/PPC, one for MacOS X Beta, and one for the plain-old-not-so-multitasked MacOS 9. So, I guess I'll stay with distributed.net for now :-))
  • This leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. I've donated billions of CPU cycles from 50 or more machines to this project over the past 5 years.

    Now, it looks a lot like they're doing what CDDB did - spent years freeloading until they have a nice strong base on the back of good-faith activity from the general public, then take advantage of that and go make some money out of it. CDDB turned into complete assholes about it too. I wonder, will they reduce a new client soon, and will it be named sellout.net?

    Well, looks like today's the day I have to go find all those distributed.net clients and kill them off.

    I gotta think long and hard about contributing to online projects nowadays. In the 'good old days', before the web and before script kiddies, the 'net was a place where it was more rewarding to give than receive, and people respected and appreciated the contributions of other, and the DIDN'T SELL OUT AND USE THE GIFT FOR PERSONAL FINANCIAL GAME! Make no mistake, the good old days are VERY over.

  • Bringing the experience of greater platform support is one of many things that the distributed.net developers will immediately begin assisting United Devices with.
  • This is what, the 4th time you've posted the same text into this article? This is spam and nothing more.
  • I've been on the rc5 mailing list for distrbuted.net since fairly early in the rc5-56 contest, and this topic seems to come up every few months or so. If you look at the load on a single user linux machine, it's pretty low, .1 or something even for pretty heavy users. So almost all of the time it sits idle, meaning that it doesn't have to consume any power. The stuff for dnet is almost entirely CPU, so the power consumption from the disk, etc. is almost nil (neglecting the face that hard drives won't spin down due to checkpointing). So a naive calculation would be 30W * 24 hours * 365.25 days = 262980 W*h or 262 kWh. At ten or so cents per kWh, that's US$26 for a year of CPU time. Now, we can argue that the power supply isn't 100% efficient, or maybe you have a 1GhZ Athlon drawing 68 W, so it could be up to US$100 for power.

    But look at it from the purchasing company's point of view: when you factor in the cost of maintaining all those computers, the fact that a US$2000 computer is worthless in 4 years, and multiply it all by 100-200% overhead, a year of CPU time is worth a lot. US$1000? It's worth even more in the context of a big computer. Look at the per-CPU price on the supercomputers on the top500 list! 10,000 CPUS for US$110M! Despite the fact that they're slower and one generation out of date, they're expensive in aggregate. Yes, a lot of what you pay for is communication between nodes or clusters, but the raw CPUs aren't cheap. I bet this sort of sale becomes very lucrative, although I am not entirely comfortable with dnet being the ones to do it.

  • I agree. The parent to your comment is either paranoid, a troll, or just lacking intelligence. There is no "selling out" here. The founders of dnet have spent hundreds of unpaid hours building, enhancing and promoting distributed.net (along with lots of other people, yes) and now they get new and exciting jobs out of it... That's not selling out, that's fulfilling everyones dream. Do something cool, get noticed for it, and then get rewarded.
  • Check out http://www.distributed.net/source/ and read more about how to get the public source and what restrictions require that parts of it remain undisclosed.
  • Well. Not too optimistic are we Luke? Need I remind you: Distributed.net won the RC5-56 contest.
    D.net didn't participate in DES-I because of RC5-56.
    D.net won the DES-2-I contest. Took 39 days.
    D.net lost the DES-2-II contest to EFF's Deep Crack machine. The Deep Crack finished DES-2-II in 5 days.
    D.net won the DES-III contest. This was the final DES contest, and the EFF's Deep Crack machine processed the winning key.
    D.net won the CS-Cipher challenge in about 2 months.
    D.net is currently working on OGR and RSA's RC5-64 challenge. I'd say the engineers and coders of distributed.net are NOT a bunch of idiots, thank you very much.
  • If you wanna be famous, perform a differential crypto-analysis of a series of buffer files. When you stop laughing, publish your results (and thus how DCTI's client communications are scrambled.)

    You could do the same thing by disassembling the client, but what would be the fun in that? Besides, DCTI might (correction: would) send a legion of lawyers after you.

    I'm amazed that no one has "broken" the encryption. Especially seeing how many hacked clients there have been -- I guess NOP's are faster to insert.
  • How could dnet, in keeping the same projects, getting support for new projects, getting a new stats server, getting more bandwidth, getting moneys for new projects, and getting more support /reduce/ your interest in them?

    Either you're a troll or you're not very bright and need to re-read the press-release.

  • Man Cowie, you're still bitter all this time after leaving distributed.net? Perhaps an anger management course is in order.

    hogs nad quiches,


    Yup, this will incur the raft of the community, all right.
  • I don't care about money,
    or paytree (buncha bs),
    or what ever you people wanna whine about..

    I'm giddy over a new stats box with people motivated to get it fixed!
    No more weeklong web access downtimes due to stat runs. Maybe we'll get lucky enough for more then 24 hour updating?

    Hey, we may even overload while we're at it! RC5, OGR-24, OGR-25, Let's add a few more projects to the cpu cycles.

    OT: I'd like to see something Chess based, I still wonder how many legal chess moves there are, including promotions.
  • I gotta think long and hard about contributing to online projects nowadays. In the 'good old days', before the web and before script kiddies, the 'net was a place where it was more rewarding to give than receive, and people respected and appreciated the contributions of other, and the DIDN'T SELL OUT AND USE THE GIFT FOR PERSONAL FINANCIAL GAME! Make no mistake, the good old days are VERY over.

    I don't know that I've ever seen somebody so angry at a group of people for trying to make a living out of what they do. It's not like they came to your house and shat on your doorstep; they're taking their own work and trying to get something more tangible than props from the geek community.

    In the 'good old days' of the Internet, a good job meant a long term position at the local university helping to maintain their systems--the pay was OK, and it meant you got to play with the Internet, which was fun, seeing as you could talk to all the other sysops at the other universities on LambdaMOO. Stock options? Six-figure salaries? The ability to dictate terms to your employer at will? Bwa-hahahaha! Aww, that's cute. Now go over to the science building--the circuit breaker probably got tripped again...

    But hey, don't let me stop you gnawing on that hand you got there...

    $ man reality

  • I think that it's extremely unfair or uninformed to describe this as distributed.net "selling out". distributed.net is, and will always be, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization. The projects and activities of distributed.net will continue to be cool, public-interest, and non-commercial in nature.

    If you, as a distributed.net participant, are interested in running a commercial distributed computing client then you now have a way of doing that without turning your back on distributed.net, its community, and the past work you've performed. distributed.net will port its current and future projects to the UD platform, and you'll be able to download the UD agent software and continue to participate in RC5 or OGR alongside commercial projects. If you are as excited about the commercial potential of distributed computing as we are, then this will likely be a very attractive option to you. If, however, you're uninterested in the commercial applications for distributed computing (or your boss won't let you be interested in it on the company kit), then you can just continue to run the good, old dnetc cow and the only change you'll see is a faster, more reliable statsbox.

    We are also optimistic that the support and assistance that this partnership can bring to distributed.net will also assist in its ability to develop and deploy new and exciting projects, which benefits everyone.

    For me personally, it just means that I've traded in my old day job for a new day job which just happens to be something that I've enjoyed doing as an avocation for the past four years. For once, my day job will actually augment my contributions to distributed.net and not simply compete for my time and motivation. Finally being able to get paid to do the work I've been doing for free for so many years doesn't feel like "selling out" so much as it feels like a really great job.

    If if you feel uncomfortable about my turning the work and time I've donated to distributed.net into an opportunity to work hard and contribute time into a commercial venture that I'm enthusiastic about, that doesn't change the mission, focus, and activities of the non-profit that has enjoyed your support and energies. distributed.net is larger than any of us, and will continue to be successful in its mission, hopefully with your continued support.

  • I'd love to see a distributed.net chess project. It's hard to get too enthused about that, though, since my single computer can already do a fine job at kicking my ass in chess even without getting help from everyone else's computers

    There have been a few stalled attempts at designing and developing a chess core for the distributed.net client, but none have ever found any traction or managed to attract a person motivated enough to make it happen. We'd certainly love to assist someone interested and committed to developing one, though.

  • Grub, We all know he still hangs in #distributed and trolls. But, oh well.
  • That happened for me when the CSC challenge wasn't over after 100% of the keyspace was searched. Turns out they were lying and handing out the same piece of the keyspace to multiple clients.
  • Distributed Science/DCypher.Net pioneered the sweepstake pay model, starting to give away $100/week in March. We also have been the first effort to stand up and say that for-pay distributed computing is feasible. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

  • You bring up an interesting point. DCTI, as you have enumerated, has four "core" technologies: RC5, DES, CSC, and OGR. The RC5 stuff started out as genx and eventually became what is now DCTI. (It wasn't DCTI until sometime after genx folded. It was Distributed Computer Processing, or something like that prior to incorporation.) RC5-56 and RC5-64 are the same core. The switch from 56 to 64 was lightning fast -- on the order of days.

    DES. To the best of my recollection -- and I was part of d.net then -- no one within DCTI wrote, from scratch, on their own, a DES core. Everything started out with brydDES and a generic "C" core. Later a "bit slicing" core was provided that made a significant difference to some platforms (most notablly, the Alpha.)

    CSC. An interesting if little known factoid... It took DCTI an excessively long time to include CSC capabilities to the clients despite having had the source for a CSC core for months. And they later announced they would not be optimizing their CSC core -- translation: they are going to take what they were handed and run. (As I was told, the C code core came from Remi.)

    OGR. This was my first "official" involvement with DCTI which eventually brought me into the inner circle (#dcti and the cursed "+o".) I took gasrp (garsp32 as I recall) and made it "core-able" which is to say it could be started and stop from any arbitrary point (well, at a clean stubing point anyway.) That was in late '97 -- the OGR-21 era. It took almost two (2) years and incorporating Greg Hewgill and the entire Golumb Ruler project to begin processing OGR. Granted, it's a different beast, but it shouldn't have taken that long.

    DCTI used to be vary good at giving credit where credit is due. However, looking at the current credits page [distributed.net], they seem to have aquired a very selective memory. The only place you find my name is in the ledger [distributed.net] despite over a year of contributions as a general coder, porter/builder, proxy op, and even keymaster briefly. (One of the NICs got fried. The new motherboard was never used because nugget refused to replace a dual Pentium 200 (233?) with a single but dual capable PII 300. Nugget's rant about SPS to MPS is bull... you can install NT as MPS on a single processor system and then stick a second processor in there later. It's one of the first questions asked during installation -- video card, keyboard, system type. But I'm not bitter.)
  • It's painfully easy to determine the amount of juice your scumpuppy rig sucks from your wallet.

    Assuming you have an electric bill (unless you use your own generator or leech off someone else ;), you can see the cost per kilowatt-hour. Usually, somewhere less than ten cents per. (My place, it runs .085 dollars.) [This is an Americanocentric spiel.]

    Now, look at the back of your box. Not at the expansion slots, but near the power input. It'll have a small sticker saying 100-240 V, 50-60 Hz, 100-200 W (or whatever your particular bastard creation of God uses). That is the amount of power used per hour. You get a fraction, this example assumes 200 W, so 2/10 kWh. Multiply by 24 hours per day and 30 days per month, you get a ballpark figure.

    Now, there are other factors too, like OS (better OS = more uptime = more thoroughput) and boot time (lesser is better), but that's the basics.

  • You can read can't you? I'm "cramer" not "cowie" and I've not been in #distributed for a very long time. And I've not been on EFNet for a few months -- I have more important things to do than hunt for a server.

    As for bitter... nah. What reasons do I have for being bitter? (with this commercialization, I guess I have one more.)
    • How could dnet [stuff] /reduce/ your interest in them?
    Many people will see this as DCTI "selling out". DCTI was formed by a losenit group of people in their spare time, as a hobbie. There was never any commercial intent. It was completely volunteer. No one was paid for anything; they did it because they wanted to. It was something "cool" to take up one's time. The spirit and ethic onwhich DCTI was founded has been betrayed. Maybe this is/was inevitable.

    "new stats server"? When is DCTI going to stop throwing hardware (by translation, money) at badly designed processing?! The daily stats run can be done in minutes, not hours, and not require gigs of temporary database space. Two+ years ago I volunteered to assist in speeding up stats as the poor little dual pentium was dripping blood for hours everyday running the RC5 update. I screamed when I saw how things were done -- in nugget's words, it was designed to run, not run fast. I wrote a logfile processor to handle the tabulation of the keymaster's log files. The initial tabulation is what took 3-4 hours -- ungzip, BCP, sql query to tabulate. Factor in the size of the dataset (much larger than RAM) and how many times it was read from and written to disk and you can see what those hours were spent doing. The processor did the equiv. work in under five (5) minutes; plus the dbm hash storing the tabulation is additive (process each logfile as it comes in from keymaster) and perl compatible. However, nugget never looked at it; it went with me when I left. The process can be sped up even more...
  • Optimistic about what? Where did I flame on about D.net sucking ass and be doomed? It's great news for D.net; I'm glad they've teamed with Distributed Devices; it looks like a good deal for both sides...

    ...but so what? Lots of companies merge together and enter deals with each other everyday. What does this mean? D.net can sponsor larger projects? Nothing? The end of D.net? I'd rather hear about D.net cracking 256-bit encryption with 10,000 computers, 6 toasters, and a half loaf of bread than reading about a deal that may or may not have a bearing on D.net's business.

    Sorry if I offended your sensiblities by calling D.net employees "cracker-jack". Obvivous, Cracker Jacks must disagree with you; frankly, I think they've been skimping on the peanuts over the years, but I still enjoy a box while watching the game at Fenway.

    I think I'll hum the Cracker Jack jingle to myself now.

    George Lee

  • From what I gathered from the article/press releases, United Devices is pumping money into this deal and D.net supplies muscle/brains. I assumed United Devices was a bigger company as far as market cap goes. After all, the story was D.net Joins United Devices, not vice-versa.

    But that's a moot point. Why is this "news for nerds". Big deal D.net has a deal with them. I'd rather hear about new projects D.net is working on, not every stupid little deal they make.

    Unless this article was supposed to make us scream "D.net is doomed! They sold out!" In that case, I think the author and editors here should be shot. There's too much BS about this, that, and some other company and how insanely great/unbelievably evil they are and not enough news about *what* they are doing.

    Or maybe I've been reading with comments set to -1 for too long. ;)

    George Lee

  • The spirit and ethic on which DCTI was founded has been betrayed.

    I'm sorry you feel that way. And you're wrong. It would be a sellout if UD took over distributed.net and the non-profit status of DCTI would disappear, forcing the users to switch to a commercial entity.

    No one is forcing you to switch to UD. You have a choice. distributed.net will continue to live, the only thing that changed is that 14 of the distributed folks (including myself) will change their real-life job to one where the job (UD) and the hobby (dnet) are very closely tight now.

    When is DCTI going to stop throwing hardware (by translation, money) at badly designed processing?!

    I invite you to come to EFnet once again and talk to "bwilson". He does SQL for a living and has revamped the stats engine completely. Partial statsruns are done hourly, almost invisibly. And once a day, a quick totalization is performed. That every now and then statsrun fail miserably is partly because this new system is still beta, and because decibel doesn't have enough time and resources to work on it. And guess what! That's going to change! Decibel will actually work on databases for distributed stuff full time, and getting paid for it. How much more motivation do you need.

    No what were your other complaints?

  • Being first doesn't mean being ahead.
  • This wasn't a troll, it was on-topic humor. Can another moderator change it? I don't like having negative karma :-\
  • It's only been up for a few months or so and they have almost finished OGR-24.

    New projects are good for newbies who want to get a high ranking. Personally I stay with rc5, ranked 28,905 and rising ;)

  • Having looked through the cvs tree [distributed.net], I wouldn't say it was "revamped ... completely." There may be conciderable redesign of the table structure and interaction ("schema"), but the system still uses the same basic design. The most time consuming part of stats processing is the initial tabulation. The fact that it's spread out over the day -- when everything is running properly -- without disabling access doesn't make much difference.

    DCTI is still decompressing logfiles in place:
    • open GZIP, "gzip -dv $workdir$basefn 2> /dev/stdout |";
    And copying the result into the database:
    • open BCP, "bcp import_bcp in $finalfn ... -c -t, 2> /dev/stderr |";
    And then performing the tabulation:
    • if(!open SQL, "sqsh ... -i integrate.sql 2> /dev/stdout |") {
      stats::log($project,139,"Error launching sqsh, aborting hourly run.");
    At least, integrate.sql uses a running total instead of Nugget's original summation to the beginning of time method. There are still significant issues to be dealt with that DCTI hasn't suggested they're even aware of. (Just how big are the tables? How fast are they growing?)

    [Note: It's actually less efficient now... logmod_rc5.pl reads the entire decompressed logfile and spits it back out with a 4-digit year and project code. Gez, that's a 5 second modification to the proxy source.]
  • Waaahhhhh!

    I'm going to stomp my feet and take away all my toys!


    Sheesh, get your mommy to change your diapers, you're far, far too cranky and you're embarassing yourself.

  • I'm the one who's supposed to be embarassed? Leto asked and I answered. Did you ever see the old nugget-stats? The bwilson-stats isn't significantly different.

    DCTI has had problems with stats for years and years. There were problems with statsbox being heavily overworked back in March/April of '97 when I first became aware of d.net. Problems have remained to the present -- insufficient processing power, too little drive space, missing logs, incorrect processing, database corruption, intermittent instabilities ("nothing changed, but it failed today."), etc. One would think after three years someone would have shoved a clue up DCTI's ass; I, at least, tried -- it sat on foobar for months and nugget never lifted a finger to even look at it (it's still there, btw.)

    I know it's a volunteer effort (or was), but come on, this isn't quantum physics. If the keymaster or proxy network were handled in the same manner as stats has been, d.net would never have gone anywhere. Of course, the bottom line is that Nugget had nothing to do with the design of the proxy network.

  • now that is funny. i point out a spammer and i get modded down. Sheesh, it really is true that most mod points go to morons.

I came, I saw, I deleted all your files.