I have always wondered if there would be a way of selling idle CPU time. I know you can donate (with things like Folding@Home) it but why would I waste my electricity for that? I might do it in the future when I build my new computer that will have more than enough CPU cycles to share but if I was getting paid for it I would be more than happy to leave an array of computers running all the time selling CPU time.
After a bit of research I could only find one service on the internet that offered this service, CPUShare. The way the site works is that you register and create a “Sell Order” or a “Buy Order” depending on your needs. I have not yet attempted t test the buying side of the site but when you create your sell order a a unique ISO file is created that is associated with your order. You can then download this and run it on your system as a LiveCD or within a Virtual Macehine (this allows it to be run while you are using the computer yourself and also means that it can be compatible with Linux, Windows and Macintosh – which all have virtual machine software available to them).
This sounded perfect for me so I gave it a whirl and guess how much I made? In 12 hours I made nothing! Not a penny! You know why? Because there was no one who wanted to buy my CPU time. There are many factors which my attribute to this: the fact the buyer must eb running Linux (unlikely), the fact most people have enough CPU time or wouldn’t think of buying it and the fact it might be cheaer for them to just buy a more powerful PC.
Although this would be great for those of us who wouldn’t mind leaving a computer running all the time and raising money in the process the current business models available do not provide what the market (if there even is a market) needs.