Anyone who has heard of Boinc will probably associate it with the SETI at home project. For those that havent, you are going to learn something.
Imagine the problem, you have data that would take even the fastest machine millions of years to analyise. What do you do? Simple, you get users around the world to help you. Data is spread around hundreds/thousands of volunteers, and together we have the computing power of a system way in advance of anything on the market today (although still probably not high enough specs to run Vista properly!)
Boinc is a package that allows you to participate in these world wide projects. One of the most well known is the Seti@home. What happens is this. Signals from a radio telescope are recorded and sent to thousands of users around the world, where Boinc analyises them for extra-terrestrial signs of life. This allows the telescope to scan much more of space and thus increase the chance of finding ET trying to order an intergalatic pizza. Im being flippant of course, I am part of the Seti@home project and I believe it to be a very valuable one.
There are other projects available, from the Hadron Collider experiments to various medical ones.
The client is quite easy to use (although Ive been with the SETI project before the client was Boinc) but once youve logged in and or created an account it will download workunits to you for your computer to analyise.
In the case of SETI@home, you can see a graphical representation of the signals you are scanning, and the program can be used as a screen saver if you wish.
You can download the software from the repository in your distro, or direct from the site by clicking here
A great package, donate some of your computer time to a worthy cause today!