I work in an area known as 'forensic computing' for the UK government - basically it's the investigation and submission to court of criminal evidence found on digital devices.
Without giving too much away of course, we have a cluster of computers (100 or so) that run a special piece of software that enables distributed cracking of password protected documents. Basically, there's a master client that receives the password protected documents from the user, and then the 100 or so army of computers work to crack it 24/7.
Currently this is all Windows based - a Windows OS, and a Windows client on each of the machines.
Is there anything in the Linux world that could do the same thing? I ask for the simple reason that if there is not, I might try to make one for my masters (MSc) project and then release it to the law enforcement community for free (as is often the case in forensic computing). A big deal, and probably beyond me (cause I aint no Einstein!), but it's worth giving some thought. Currently we pay a few thousand British pounds for an annual subscription to the software alluded to above.
Any info, links, contact points warmly received.