[GLLUG] Recycling computers with Linux

Rick Crust rick at bold.org.uk
Thu Nov 10 15:31:18 UTC 2016

Hello ...

I have no experience with *selling* refurbished Linux PCs, but for several
years I have been installing Linux on old laptops and desktops that were
previously running under XP or Vista. This has always been for an
underfunded computer centre for older people (like myself) and for
individual users of the centre.

Best Linux distribution in this context: Linux Mint (very few tweaks

For a multi-user computer suite, Linux Mint is actually the *best* OS to
install -- not just the cheapest, it generates the fewest maintenance

For users of the centre network: don't mention that the OS is not Windows.
Nobody cares. Most users now do everything online -- all they need is
working web browser.

For individual users who will use their computer at home: a quick guide is
generally sufficient

Hardware: do this only with old *business* computers that sold well at the
time (old Dells and Thinkpads are reliable). Absolute minimum RAM: 1 Gb.
Practical minimum RAM: 2 Gb. Target minimum: 4 Gb.

Old business laptops are surprisingly robust. The batteries die long before
anything else. I recycle the dead batteries, and use the laptops with mains

I have recently rescued a batch of Dell Latitude D620 laptops from a
landfill fate, cleaned them up, installed Mint 18, and handed them over to
a group of older digital beginners. I have given them a series of tutorial
sessions on using browsers, Pix (for image work) and Dropbox for backup.
None of them have reported any problems -- and it's not because they are
shy. I've been supporting pre-digital oldies for 12 years, and *by far* the
most problematic OS has been Windows since Windows 8.

Cheers :-)

On Thu, Nov 10, 2016 at 2:10 AM, DL Neil via GLLUG <gllug at mailman.lug.org.uk
> wrote:

> Is there a way to offer recycled computers for sale to 'Joe Public', which
> takes care of relative ignorance (of Linux) and embodies both
> realism/common sense and ethically-sound principles?
> I give my 20% time to the local Hospice who raise funds through 'OpShops"
> and by holding a weekly yard-sale of items generously donated by locals for
> locals... The funds-raised approximately double the number of nurses and
> counsellors 'provided' by government funding, to provide palliative care of
> patients and their families.
> The donated computers have all been WinXP or Vista driven, and of that
> vintage. Clearing the HDD is a requirement. Re-installing the OpSys is the
> easiest way to do this, but with WinXP being loyally-unsupported, seems
> unsound - to say nothing of time-consuming. A Linux installation has the
> potential, both to give the machine a new life and to provide a secure and
> capable computing environment.
> Do you think that members of the public (cf 'us' computer enthusiasts and
> professionals) might be perfectly happy to purchase a machine they know to
> have only modest capabilities, running a familiar-looking web browser,
> email client, word processor, etc?
> Thereafter, expecting such people to understand the implications of Linux
> cf MS-Win is but a fantasy - even the garage sales manager who suffered
> through the COBOL and FORTRAN 101 courses I enjoyed so much, all those
> decades ago, and who uses a PC every day, confesses a lack of
> appreciation... Accordingly, we wouldn't want folk buying a box and then
> attempting to add some MSFT-compatible package purchased from Argos, et-al!
> Such machines are likely to sell for less than $100, definitely in the low
> hundreds, even for a 'big one'.
> I have a backlog of at least seven, and the 'arrival rate' seems to
> average one or two monthly.
> So, whilst I would appreciate advice about the methodology of preparing a
> viable user-image which could then be rapidly copied/ghosted onto the
> various sizes of old HDDs; what's really occupying my mind is the
> customer-relations and reputational aspects of ensuring yard-sale customers
> know what they're getting into (and how little).
> Will welcome any and all advice, particularly that born of experience...
> --
> Regards,
> =dn
> _______________________________________________
> GLLUG mailing list
> GLLUG at mailman.lug.org.uk
> https://mailman.lug.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/gllug

Rick Crust
rick at bold.org.uk
020 7272 5512
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