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raymac46

10 Rules to Cheat the Dumpster

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raymac46

I have a bit of experience recycling old computers for folks in my town. In addition to keeping perfectly useful machines out of the landfill, this process makes available a working system for someone who may not be able to afford one otherwise.I thought I would post my thoughts on how I do this in case other members might decide to do the same. Of course your additional comments are most welcome to help me out.1. Know when to fuggedaboudit. If the machine is older than a PII 266, cannot support more than 128MB RAM or won’t boot from a CD-ROM I just don’t think it’s worth my time to work on it. Better to send it to the shredder and move on to a better candidate.2. Use Linux for the operating system. Yeah some of these old junkers would work fine with Win 2000 but I don’t have the cash to buy a CD every time. Win 98 or Me aren’t supported for security so why would you want to install them anyway if someone wants to go online?3. Have hardware available. For sure you’ll need more RAM. Most old computers I get have 64MB and often some of that is shared video. I buy used PC133 RAM off eBay and it works OK in older systems, right down to PC66. Anything older than that I don’t fix (see point 1). You might need an old video card as well - sometimes onboard video is SiS which sucks with Linux. Audio can usually be configured even if it’s ISA. An Ethernet card is always handy as well as some of these old junkers were used on dial-up.4. Know your customer. Can they afford cable or DSL? If not, set up the machine to play music and Linux games. If they can afford it, encourage anything but dial-up. In my area light DSL and cable are the same cost as dial-up anyway. 5. If your client has no previous experience with a PC, so much the better. They won’t expect to have Windows and will happily use the Linux desktop. If they are Windows conditioned be prepared for a harder sell and maybe rejection. If that happens, move along to another possible user.6. Install the right desktop. KDE and Gnome are probably going to be slowboats on the old hardware I get at the thrift store, even if I put in gobs of RAM. On the other hand Fluxbox is going to scare the pants off a new user, especially if they have seen Windows once or twice. Xfce seems to be a great compromise and both Vector Linux and Xubuntu offer very classy Xfce desktops.7. Don’t always go for the cutting edge distro. The old graphics cards prefer something a bit more trailing edge. You aren’t going to enable much eye candy anyway. I find that Xubuntu 6.06 LTS works fine in most situations.8. Configure, configure, configure. Make sure your client gets all the right codecs, printer support, scanner support etc. because sure as shooting the precocious ones will want to try hooking up a digicam or something.9. Be prepared to offer long term tech support. Linux is pretty user friendly but you can’t expect a new user to have no support if something goes wrong. I don’t tell my clients the root or admin password but they still manage to mess up the icons or worse at least once or twice. Also make sure they know how to do basic tasks like email and web surfing before you leave them to it. Remember there are not that many Linux tech support folks out there – yet. So this means you.10. You have the final word here…any additional rules you can think of?

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Bruno
I don't tell my clients the root or admin password but they still manage to mess up the icons or worse at least once or twice.
Nor do I tell them the root password . . . . :thumbsup: . . . and because sometimes the mess up more then just the icons I make a hidden backup of the /home/<user> directory when I am finished configuring / customizing. This way I can easily fix things to their original state. ( like restoring the /home/<user>/.kde folder when KDE gets messed up :) ) Beyond stuff in their /home there is little they can mess up without the root password so I can sleep at ease at night :PB) Bruno

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raymac46
Nor do I tell them the root password . . . . :thumbsup: . . . and because sometimes the mess up more then just the icons I make a hidden backup of the /home/<user> directory when I am finished configuring / customizing. This way I can easily fix things to their original state. ( like restoring the /home/<user>/.kde folder when KDE gets messed up :) ) Beyond stuff in their /home there is little they can mess up without the root password so I can sleep at ease at night :PB) Bruno
I had one of my more adventurous clients go into the BIOS and change the processor and bus speed specs. She called me and said she couldn't get into the GUI- she's lucky the machine would even run.

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Bruno

Right . . and that brings us rule # 11: password protect the BIOS and set the HD as first, second and third bootdevice ( so no booting from either floppy or CD ) ;):thumbsup: Bruno

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raymac46
Right . . and that brings us rule # 11: password protect the BIOS and set the HD as first, second and third bootdevice ( so no booting from either floppy or CD ) ;):thumbsup: Bruno
Some additional information:That Compaq Presario 5360 system I couldn't give away last week went to a developmentally delayed young man. Jonathan's family are too poor to afford to buy him a computer to keep in touch with his friends via email. All is well that ends well.

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Cluttermagnet

A great list, ray. I can't think of anything to add. Maybe later. I did learn one interesting thing myself- your comment about the P-II boxes. So happens my first 'real' computer after my 486-66 Win95 box was a P-II 333MHz. So there's hope for that one. :thumbsup: You think VL for it? BTW it can handle at least up to 512M (in 3 sockets). It has 393 or whatever right now.It so happens I still use that box occasionally for amateur radio applications. For example, it runs an RTTY program (radioteletype). Therefore it will remain as is until I can get around to configuring something else to do the several tasks it does over several different RS-232 links. I'd like maybe to update that to a Linux box with the same capabilities, then I can spare it for a Linux retread box.

Edited by Cluttermagnet

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raymac46
A great list, ray. I can't think of anything to add. Maybe later. I did learn one interesting thing myself- your comment about the P-II boxes. So happens my first 'real' computer after my 486-66 Win95 box was a P-II 333MHz. So there's hope for that one. :thumbsup: You think VL for it? BTW it can handle at least up to 512M (in 3 sockets). It has 393 or whatever right now.
Oh sure, Vector Linux would work fine on such a system. I run VL5.8 Std. on a PII 266 laptop maxed out at 160MB RAM. Even have a wireless PCMCIA card in it. You might want to try the option of IceWM instead of Xfce to speed things up though.The other good choice for Ubuntu addicts is Xubuntu Dapper. As stated above, the trailing edge distros are often safer with aging graphics solutions.

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Cluttermagnet

I'm running right now in a live CD sesion of xubuntu 6.06. It works. I like it. It set up the xfce desktop. I launched it in safe graphics mode since this box has an ati video card. It found the ethernet no problems. I'll play with it a while... :thumbsup: This is the first time I've ever tried an 'ubuntu light' distro.Oh, this box is a 2.4GHz Celeron D (256K L2 cache), 512M RAM.

Edited by Cluttermagnet

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raymac46
I'm running right now in a live CD sesion of xubuntu 6.06. It works. I like it. It set up the xfce desktop. I launched it in safe graphics mode since this box has an ati video card. It found the ethernet no problems. I'll play with it a while... :thumbsup: This is the first time I've ever tried an 'ubuntu light' distro.Oh, this box is a 2.4GHz Celeron D (256K L2 cache), 512M RAM.
It should fly on that setup if installed. Also it'll use the ati driver (open source) with no problems.I'm playing around with Mandriva on my "second city" desktop. It's a PIII 866 with 512MB RAM. Very nice KDE desktop and seems responsive enough.

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Cluttermagnet

It's very likely I will try xubuntu on some of my minimal hardware- and VL will get a close look as well. :thumbsup: I will eventually start learning some of the other distros. Mandriva is indeed one I have in mind. Mandrake had a very large following; it continues today. Obviously a lot of satisfied Mandy's out there.

Edited by Cluttermagnet

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raymac46
It's very likely I will try xubuntu on some of my minimal hardware- and VL will get a close look as well. B) I will eventually start learning some of the other distros. Mandriva is indeed one I have in mind. Mandrake had a very large following; it continues today. Obvilusly a lot of satisfied Mandy's out there.
If you like Ubuntu - and by inference the Gnome desktop - you should take a look at the Mandriva Gnome Live One distro. I am playing with it and posting this note from it. Very nice indeed.

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Cluttermagnet
If you like Ubuntu - and by inference the Gnome desktop - you should take a look at the Mandriva Gnome Live One distro. I am playing with it and posting this note from it. Very nice indeed.
I sure will. To date, I'm a de facto gnomie. Mainly by accident, however- Ubuntu chose to go that way, and Ubuntu is a good solid implementation of Linux for all sorts, including beginners like me. :thumbsup: I intend to give KDE a fair shake, however. I do have some experience in it already..BTW I'm posting this from that live CD session of xubuntu, which I left running on this box. I still like it, and will try it on some minimal hardware later. Sure is responsive on a 2.4GHz Celeron. Edited by Cluttermagnet

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Urmas
Sure is responsive on a 2.4GHz Celeron.
:thumbsup: >_< <_< Try Vector. :wacko:

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Cluttermagnet

Just wanted to mention that I burned a CD of Mandriva one GNOME and am running from a live session on the Cluttermaster. It started well, fits this platform just fine, found ethernet, etc. I'll play with it for a while. I'll take further comments over to your Mandriva 'old school' thread... :thumbsup:P.S. "Kid in a candy factory..." :thumbsup:

Edited by Cluttermagnet

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