It is a great opportunity for LUG's to get involved. I have personally
installed Linux on about a dozen old PC's (deleting all the prior software
on them). I gave away most of these- most recently one to a family who
would never have been able to afford a new one. (also got them an account
on LA Freenet for 40 dollars for the year).
Dealing with PC's that can boot into windows is pretty easy. It is the
really older PC's that have broken components (main-boards and disk drives
being the most common points of failure) that are a pain and require time
and hardware upgrades to get working. Also ran into lots of "dead"
monitors that came with these systems.
If we could get over some of these limitations and "recycle" 10 PC's /
month per LUG that would be about 100 / month that we could "donate". Of
course there are many political, social, tax and financial issues
surrounding such a project if it were to scale up- but yes, this is a
great opportunity for us all.
Often all a PC might need is some more memory and a larger hard-drive- this
cost could be carried by the "purchasing" person or group while we could
donate our technical expertise in installing Open source solutions
hopefully tailored for the user. (For example we could use this for
Spanish and Portuguese users http://en.conectiva.com/conectiva/)
Eventually as this scales up we would need "manufacturing" facilities to
deal the huge load. Tax exempt status could be one way to approach this-
of course you could also develop a revenue / profit based company if you
can sell the value added services of "upgrading" the software along with
Another thought would be to give companies or individuals the ability to
send in the the PC paying for round-trip shipping and a "handling" fee.
In return they get it returned with custom open source software
solutions (firewall, print/file server, workstation etc.. it might be
possible to even remotely administer these boxes using things like
Then of course you open up many
The main limiting factor is having the physical plant available to get the
project underway. Then of course we need the volunteers, network access
and financial backing / plan to get started. No doubt getting the
project to scale could be tough. No doubt many of the
installations and upgrades could be automated as the various geometries
and model types are categorized and brought into the "system".
There even might be other sources of revenue that could be generated- for
example it might be valuable for hardware manufacturers to gather
information from the database that we develop regarding hardware failure-
model # etc...
I don't know , but with the millions and millions of recycled PC's out
there it looks like such a project would be very helpful in moving along
the adoption of Open source software solutions and development. Imagine if
we could populate the world with these boxes - then we would be
contributing to Linux and open source projects in a very profound way. It
would certainly complement and support Linux/Open source development.
Of course then who would be entitled to these PC's? How is "ownership"
transferred and then there is always the liability "ball" that gets
thrown about. ( we could ship them back with no warranty and no support-
but this might serve to create bad press for Open source and Linux)
Then the issue comes up as to why the PC is being donated in the first
place- i.e. is this a business upgrade of a functional PC or is it just
a 10 year old 386 that was sitting in the basement that may or not boot.
I wonder of the millions of PC's that are being "trashed", what percentage
are functional. If it is a large number then this project could quickly
become overrun with broken systems and we would be left with the cost of
disposal of potentially toxic components.
So all in all it looks appealing to just limit ourselves to working with
folks through our respective LUG's to offer such guidance that would come
with any "install fest" session to get their "used" PC upgraded to great
software. Then the individual can deal with the disposition of the
hardware. This would be a way to grow the membership in our local LUGs at
the same time increasing public awareness of the potential uses for what
maybe considered "outdated" PC's.
On Sun, 21 May 2000, Dan Kegel wrote:
> -> http://www.ktvb.com/news/newstory.html?StoryID=1933
> mentions that reselling old computers that have Windows
> on them is illegal. I wonder if there's an opportunity here
> to refurbish those old things by putting open source os and apps on
> Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
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