Microsoft has released a PowerShell script that helps Windows 10 users safely bring unused processing power from their computers to Folding @ home. The Folding @ home medical research project Collaborative is currently studying the responsible coronavirus for Covid-19.
To help Folding @ home simulate protein dynamics, users have already downloaded the client software for macOS, Windows and Linux. But now Windows 10 users can leverage their processor power in the secure environment of Windows Sandbox, Microsoft’s virtual machine designed to execute suspicious files without risking malware infection to its computer.
A participatory medical research project
The Folding @ home project is led by computer biophysicist Greg Bowman, doctor and associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at the University of Washington School of Medicine in St Louis. The increase in processing power has enabled him to perform simulations of the SARS-CoV-2 proteins in order to understand how they bind to human cells and where to target potential therapies.
So far, Microsoft has offered help to the university through Azure’s graphics processors. But the project has attracted over 700,000 new scientific citizens after starting to focus research on coronaviruses.
CoreWeave, America’s largest cryptocurrency mining platform, also takes an important part in this project, by lending more than 6,000 of its high-end GPUs.
Microsoft’s PowerShell script could help increase the number of Windows 10 PCs participating in the project. Microsoft claims to have provided “a simple PowerShell script that automatically downloads the latest Folding @ home client and launches it in Windows Sandbox”.
The script, downloadable from Microsoft GitHub, will activate Windows Sandbox if it is not already activated, then restart the system. After restarting, the user must relaunch the script, which will then launch Windows Sandbox to run the Folding @ home client.
This script allows the Folding @ home client to operate in the isolated environment of a Hyper-V virtual machine. It works with Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise Insider build 18362, or later.
How to contribute?
After activating Windows Sandbox, users can download the latest Folding @ home Windows installer and generate the client configuration file.
Once the post configured according to Microsoft instructions, users should open Command Prompt or PowerShell as an administrator and enter: Powershell.exe -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -File. Install_folding_sandbox_on_host.ps1.