Everything You Need to Know About Free-DC

In the simplest terms, Free-DC is a group of people participating in various Distributed Computing projects together. For those of you who aren't already aware of it, distributed computing is a method of harnessing the otherwise unused processing power of large numbers of Internet connected computers. Here's how it works...

First, a problem is found that requires a great deal of processing power. These problems are plentiful and span a great number of disciplines. Some of the more well known are:

Typically these are problems that, in the past, were considered good candidates for time on a super computer. However, super computer resources are expensive and not available to all who need them. Another method of working on these problems was soon found: distributed computing.

During the course of each day, an average home computer will spend the majority of it's time sitting idle when on. Even when a person is actually using his or her computer, the processor is still spending countless cycles waiting for input and doing nothing. With the advent of the Internet, the ability to connect all these idle systems became a reality. Projects were formed that would break down those complex problems into smaller pieces, and then send those pieces out to various systems connected via the Internet to be worked on. While this may seem cumbersome, as the number of connected, participating systems grows (along with the processing power of the average home computer), the plan quickly becomes viable. Some of the larger projects actually have processing power available to them via distributed computing that can rival and even exceed the most powerful supercomputers in the world.

When the people leading these projects started looking for ways to entice users into donating CPU time, they found that offering the users the ability to track how much work they had contributed was one of the best options. Users began to compete amongst themselves. Soon, project leaders allowed users to band together into 'teams' so that they could compete as groups. This approach has worked extremely well. You don't have to participate very long to see just what a lure the competition for rank and high stats can be!

As the formation of teams became widespread, many of the larger communites (i.e. companies, schools, and various web sites) started their own teams. Today, some of the larger tech-oriented web sites on the Internet are responsible for the largest, most powerful teams in many different projects. Anandtech, HardOCP, and Ars Technica are all big communities with large teams. With these communities came a kind of infrastructure that could help to support and encourage users interested in distributed computing. IRC channels, online forums, and even custom stats pages with far more information than the project sites offered became available.

This is where Free-DC comes in. The group of individuals who founded Free-DC all came from one of the bigger teams that sprang from a tech website community. Unfortunately, these communities can sometimes cover far too much ground for someone simply interested in distributed computing. Additionally, some of us had mixed loyalties being avid readers and community members of various competing sites. Free-DC was created to offer distributed computing users all the infrastructure that any of the big established sites could offer, but with a focus on nothing but distributed computing.

Who can join?
Anyone of course! If you have ever thought about joining a team, then you have found a home here. If you are not already on a team, then we can provide you a home with all the comforts of the larger teams and sites. You can make your voice heard while enjoying the luxury of a complete DC community. While we seek unaffiliated members, anyone can join any of our Distributed Computing teams. If you are not happy where you are now, then we will welcome you.

What does Free-DC do for you?
We provide all the team services you need like:

How do I join Free-DC?
Come in and say hi! Post to the forums, pop into the IRC channels, let us know who you are and meet your teammates. We welcome anyone, whether they are actually participating in a Free-DC team or not. Members of other teams are welcome, and are actually a pretty frequent occurence both on the forums and the IRC channels.