I recently discovered a distributed computing project for COVID-19 DNA research called Rosetta@Home  ( https://foldforcovid.io/ ).  Having 8 Raspberry Pis which are lying dormant after I completed a project with them, I decided to put them online as workers.

For security precautions, I decided to create a segmented guest network on my router for the Pis to operate on: a standard precaution I use.  The software for the Raspberry Pi’s is well-written, and even provides a status web page on the localhost to monitor its progress, and even whether it is active.

There are some places which have enormous computing power available, serving no purpose during the COVID related shutdowns: the Miami planetarium is a prime example. They have donated their server’s CPU time to the project until they re-open.

The University of Washington posted some interesting cost comparisons for this project.  The cost of distributing the work to the community of spare computers on the internet is about $122,000 versus hosting on Amazon AWS at $175 million.

Having worked in the open software community, which I love, I am really happy to see the influence the open computing can have on a project like this.  If you’ve got a raspberry pi (or a unused laptop or desktop computer) laying around, check the site out on how to contribute to the project.