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How To Help Fight COVID-19 From Home

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How To Help Fight COVID-19 From Home

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed our daily lives. More and more cities are under quarantine, corporate offices are shutting down and (if you’re lucky) forcing people to work from home. Grocery stores look like scenes from a post-apocalyptic movie – with shelves completely picked over.

It’s all enough to cause even the most level-headed person to become a bit anxious about what’s coming next. There is a feeling of helplessness. But fear not, there is something we can all do from home to help find a cure.

MEET FOLDING@HOME

Folding@Home (FAH or F@H) is a distributed computing project for simulating protein dynamics. This includes the process of protein folding and the movements of proteins in a variety of diseases. It brings together citizen scientists who volunteer to run simulations on their personal computers. Insights from this data are helping scientists to better understand biology and provides new opportunities for developing therapies and cures for things like COVID-19.

To put this simply, the Folding@Home project has made a very small computer program that you download onto any computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux) to run in the background when you’re not using your computer. The program uses your spare computing power to solve very complex problems. Think of it as having a massive super-computer, but instead is spread over millions of computers all working to solve the same problem.

What Can I Do?

But how do you help cure COVID-19? Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Folding@Home has temporarily paused their primary focus on cancer, infections diseases and neurological disorders and is focusing all of it’s computing power on curing COVID-19.

WHAT IS PROTEIN FOLDING AND HOW IS IT RELATED TO DISEASE?

Proteins are necklaces of amino acids, long-chain molecules. Proteins are the basis on which biology gets things done. As enzymes, they are the driving force behind all of the biochemical reactions that make a body work. When found as structural elements, they are the main constituent of our bones, muscles, hair, skin and blood vessels. As antibodies, they recognize invading elements and allow the immune system to get rid of the unwanted invaders. For these reasons, scientists have sequenced the human genome – the blueprint for all of the proteins in biology.

However, just knowing this sequence tells us little about what the protein does and how. In order to carry out their function (e.g. as enzymes or antibodies), they must take on a particular shape, also known as a “fold”. Proteins are truly amazing machines: before they do their work, they assemble themselves! This self-assembly is called “folding.”

WHAT HAPPENS IF PROTEINS DON’T FOLD CORRECTLY?

Science shows that diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, cystic fibrosis, BSE (Mad Cow disease), and even many cancers result from protein misfolding. When proteins misfold, they can clump together (“aggregate”). These clumps can gather in the brain, where they are believed to cause the symptoms of Mad Cow or Alzheimer’s disease and, yes, even COVID-19.

HOW DO I HELP FOLDING@HOME WITH CURING COVID-19

The Folding@Home application will run on any Operating System (Windows, Mac, or Linux). We have outlined each step for each operating system below in simple steps. If you get stuck, or if you want to learn more about the program, visit Folding@Home. It’s worth noting that there has been a significant spike in people using the program in recent days. That means that there may not be anything to process until later this week, but please check back – we’re working on saving lives.

INSTALLING FOLDING@HOME ON WINDOWS

This section describes the recommended method for installing the V7 FAH software for individual FAHClient slot(s) on Windows XP and newer. A first-time installation is assumed. And unless otherwise noted, the default setting for each option is the recommended setting.

Download the V7 Installer from here (see figure 1). The installer includes the new Web Control (client manager) interface software, the new FAHClient (slot manager) software, and the new FAHViewer (viewer) software.  The optional FAHClient (advanced client manager) is also included.

Step 1 installing Folding@Home on Windows

Double-click the Installer icon to start the software installation.

A security warning prompt may be displayed (see figure 2).

Step 2 installing Folding@Home on Windows

If prompted, click Run or click Yes to acknowledge the warning and continue the installation.

The welcome screen is displayed (see figure 3).

Step 3 installing Folding@Home on Windows

Click Next to continue the installation.

Read the License Agreement (see figure 4).

Step 4 installing Folding@Home on Windows

If agreeable, click I Agree to continue.

The Installer Mode options screen is displayed (see figure 5).

Step 5 installing Folding@Home on Windows

Click Next to continue the Express (Recommended) installation.

Note: Express Install will automatically install one or more FAHClient slots to match the computer hardware detected. If multiple CPU cores are detected, a multicore CPU slot is installed, otherwise, a single-core CPU slot is installed as the fallback option. In the case that one or more GPUs are detected, one or more GPU slots are also installed automatically. If neither multicores or GPU are detected, a single-core CPU slot is installed by default. The separate SMP and Uniprocessor slot types are now combined and known as a CPU slot, supporting one too many CPU cores.

Please wait while the installation finishes (see figure 6).

Step 6 installing Folding@Home on Windows

V7 installation is almost complete (see figure 7).

Step 7 installing Folding@Home on Windows

Note: Do not uncheck the box to Start Folding@home so the software will start automatically with Windows.  If unchecked, FAHClient will need to be started manually each time.

Click Finish.

A prompt from Windows Firewall or another security software may be displayed (see figure 8).

Step 8 installing Folding@Home on Windows

If prompted, select Unblock or Allow Access for V7 software to connect to the internet.

The Web Control (client manager) interface will start automatically after a few seconds. The Web Control page will prompt to configure a FAH user identity (see figure 9).

Step 9 installing Folding@Home on Windows

Click the Set up an Identity radio button unless choosing to fold Anonymously.

Click the Start Folding button after making a selection.

The Web Control Change Identity window is displayed (see figure 10).

Step 10 installing Folding@Home on Windows

Enter a FAH user Name, Team #, and Passkey as needed.  Always use a Passkey.

Note: Using a Passkey adds an extra level of security, and is also a requirement to receive quick Return Bonus points.

Click Save to continue.

The Web Control Home tab is displayed (see figure 11).

Step 11 installing Folding@Home on Windows

V7 software is now installed and folding.

INSTALLING FOLDING@HOME ON MAC

Standard Installation

This section describes the recommended method for installing the V7 FAH software for individual FAHClient slot(s) on Mac OSX 10.6.x and later. A first-time installation is assumed. And unless otherwise noted, the default setting for each option is the recommended setting.

Download the V7 Installer package from here (see figure 1). The installer includes the new Web Control (client manager) interface software, the new FAHClient (slot manager) software, and the new FAHViewer (viewer) software.  The optional FAHControl (advanced client manager) is also included.

Step 1 installing Folding@Home on Mac

If you have “Open ‘safe’ files after downloading” selected in Safari, the zip file will be automatically expanded for you (see figure 2).  Otherwise, double-click the zip file in figure 1 to expand it.

Step 2 installing Folding@Home on Mac

Double-click the package to install.

The informational welcome panel is displayed (see figure 3).

Step 3 installing Folding@Home on Mac

Click Continue.

The license agreement is displayed (see figure 4).

Step 4 installing Folding@Home on Mac

Please read the agreement, then click Continue.

The option to agree to the license is shown (see figure 5).

Step 5 installing Folding@Home on Mac

If agreeable, click Agree to continue.

A Select a Destination panel may be displayed.  Note that installation is only allowed on the boot disk (see figure 6).

Step 6 installing Folding@Home on Mac

Select the boot disk, then click Continue.

The standard install panel is displayed (see figure 7).

Step 7 installing Folding@Home on Mac

The option to customize is presented.  The default settings are recommended for the standard install.

Click Install to proceed.

The installer prompts for an administrator name and password (see figure 8).

Step 8 installing Folding@Home on Mac

Enter an administrative Name and Password.  Click OK to continue.

After a successful installation, this panel is displayed (see figure 9).

Step 9 installing Folding@Home on Mac

Click Close.

The installer will quit and the web browser will open to configure the running client.

The Web Control (client manager) interface will start automatically after a few seconds. The Web Control page will prompt to configure a FAH user identity (see figure 10).

Step 10 installing Folding@Home on Mac

Click the Configure an Identity button unless choosing to fold Anonymously.

The Web Control Identity tab is displayed (see figure 11).

Step 11 installing Folding@Home on Mac

Enter a FAH user Name, Team #, and Passkey as needed.  Always use a Passkey.

Note: Using a Passkey adds an extra level of security, and is also a requirement to receive quick Return Bonus points.

Click Save to continue.

The Web Control Home tab is displayed (see figure 12).

Step 12 installing Folding@Home on Mac

V7 software is now installed and folding.

INSTALLING FOLDING@HOME ON LINUX

Terminal installation for Debian / Mint / Ubuntu

Download the installation package files; 64-bit versions shown. If using an i386/i686 32-bit OS version, download those files as appropriate from the client download page.

wget https://download.foldingathome.org/releases/public/release/fahclient/debian-testing-64bit/v7.4/fahclient_7.4.4_amd64.deb 

wget https://download.foldingathome.org/releases/public/release/fahcontrol/debian-testing-64bit/v7.4/fahcontrol_7.4.4-1_all.deb 

wget https://download.foldingathome.org/releases/public/release/fahviewer/debian-testing-64bit/v7.4/fahviewer_7.4.4_amd64.deb

Install the FAHClient

sudo dpkg -i --force-depends fahclient_7.4.4_amd64.deb

The package will prompt for initial setup information, user name, etc. Enter information or change as needed, and click OK.

Install the FAHControl application  

Root privileges are required.  FAHControl will show “offline” or “connecting” status until the FAHClient is running, either started automatically (strongly recommended) or started manually.

sudo dpkg -i --force-depends fahcontrol_7.4.4-1_all.deb

Optionally, install the FAHViewer.

sudo dpkg -i --force-depends fahviewer_7.4.4_amd64.deb

Done. The FAHClient is installed and running as a service. Manage, monitor and update settings using the FAHControl.

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