back to article One person's trash is another's 'trashware' – the art of refurbing old computers

Uplifting positivity is not why The Reg FOSS desk went to Red Hat's conference – but that's what we found. Andrea Perotti is a Platform Technical Account Manager for Red Hat in Milan, but in his spare time he's involved in running an Italian volunteer organization called PCOfficina, repurposing surplus IT equipment …

  1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    What about

    the old equipment that does not meet their criteria for use? I have some old IT (Psion 5, MacBook, and iMac) that almost certainly fail their requirements. Does it have to go to the great metals recycler, or can it be used?

    But all in favour of getting use out of old kit, so have a pint anyway.

    1. xanadu42

      Re: What about

      What about my ZX-80?

      1. f4ff5e1881

        Re: What about

        I think that's pushing the boundaries a bit too much. Feel free to donate it though, if you like.... to the local museum!

      2. Ken G Silver badge

        Re: What about

        I've still got mine too. I kept it when I threw out newer but bulkier kit (pizzabox Sparcstations and PS/2 towers).

    2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: What about

      [Author here]

      > have some old IT (Psion 5, MacBook, and iMac

      Sell them!

      Sell them to retrocomputing fans. Psions are worth real money now. More than when new. Older Macs less so, but some, to collectors.

      This is not for techies, remember. It's for grandmas and busy mums and schoolkids.

      Techies already have *lots* of toys and don't need this.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about

        Oh good. I still have a Psion Organiser II LX64 with black casing (they were a special for a few weeks). I also still have a load of datapacks and even a flashpack somewhere.

        I wonder what that would go for - I know it's in perfect working order because I tried. They were insanely robust, and fun to program.

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: What about

          [Author here]

          > I still have a Psion Organiser II LX64

          I bought one a few years back. Over $100 from the USA.

          I sold mine to a favourite uncle of mine, 30 years or more ago. He died 20Y back. Well, sadly, his wife, my auntie died last year, but when the family were clearing out her effects they found my Psion and I got it back. So now I have 2 of them... but one of them is a touching memento of my Uncle Tom.

      2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

        Re: What about

        This is true. I, for one, would love to repair the busted hinge on my Psion 3a and start using it again, even if just to play the Solitaire game (I played it so much my down arrow key is almost blank)

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: What about

          [Author here]

          > I... would love to repair the busted hinge on my Psion 3a

          That, sadly, is a common problem.

          Psionex will help you:

          They fixed my 3C, and now it works perfectly.

      3. DJV Silver badge

        Re: What about

        Sell it? But I'm still using my Psion 5MX! Mainly when I'm out at events selling my published books... when there's a lull in customer footfall then out comes the Psion and I can start tapping away at my latest story. Damn sight better than lugging a laptop around and the never-bettered keyboard makes it so easy to use.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What about

          Even the Series 3A was good. I once used it to break into a router (console port) in a super secure location (no, authorised - the installer scrwed up so we had to manually intervene to get the damn thing going again). The guy supervising me watched in horror - he had expected me to come in with a portable. The fact that I had all that I needed in a jacket pocket scared the bejeezes out of him.

          That, I must add, made it twice as much fun to do. I'm still like that, sorry.


    3. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: What about

      Got my old Psion 5 too... Just can't throw it away.

      I even recovered an old ASUS Eee PC 700 today. I plan indeed to install Mint Xfce on it (if the HD is big enough, else I'll have to see if I can change it), so I'll have a tiny, rugged laptop for taking on trips and vacations. Don't need much more to check my mail or read the news.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: What about

        I'm not sure if any of the other components will run Mint either. IIRC the CPU is 32 bit only, and they don't have enough RAM.

        Honestly, they were bloody slow running contemporary Linux, let alone a modern version.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: What about

          You're right, I forgot about the 32-bit thing! But there still must be some 32-bit distros out there, I hope?

          I know it works because I had managed to install Lubuntu on a similar Eee PC, many years ago, and it ran pretty well back then, good enough for office, web and mail use.

          Oh well, I got it for free anyway, in the worst case I'll waste a Sunday afternoon trying to give it a second lease of life.

          1. snowpages

            Re: What about

            Raspbian should work - still does 32 bits.

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: What about For This Post Only

        Can we have the girl on the beach back please?

      3. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

        Re: What about

        You can install something like 32-bit Peppermint OS if you want a Minty look and feel, otherwise antiX, Alpine or Q4OS Trinity should work well. Haiku OS is even better!

        1. Bitsminer Silver badge

          Re: What about

          Or a *BSD.

      4. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: What about

        [Author here]

        > I plan indeed to install Mint Xfce on it

        Mint is 64-bit only. The old Atoms are 32-bit only.

        It won't work. Almost no modern distro will.

        Try Raspberry Pi Desktop or maybe Alpine.

        1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

          Re: What about

          Many Debian- and Slackware-based distros still offer a 32-bit version. There's also Void.

        2. 897241021271418289475167044396734464892349863592355648549963125148587659264921474689457046465304467

          Re: What about

          32-bit MX Linux runs ok on my Atom powered Sony VAIO P, but I shudder to imagine how glacial it would have been without the recent SSD upgrade - suddenly the slovenly old thing is full of beans.

        3. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: What about

          Even RPi OS is putting on weight these days.

    4. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: What about

      Of course you don't have to throw them away, but it really wouldn't be suitable for their use case. You can do plenty of things with the old Macs running the latest version of Mac OS that's available for your use case or by installing some versions of Linux that still support the hardware (I'm guessing we're talking about the DDR2 limitation, meaning that 64-bit is still an option). They would be good enough to give to a child or elderly family member that you're willing to support. You may have to, because at some point those distros are going to get old and will be more difficult to upgrade, or the person will need more performance than the old machine can provide and you need to be there to tell them when they can do something and when they can't.

      For users you don't have direct contact with, it's not as helpful to give them something that is likely to be insufficient or not easily updated in the near future. That's why organizations like this tend to be somewhat picky about the hardware they pass on. I've helped people use computers that are not really entirely useful anymore, but if it's the kind of machine where I would start by saying "You can still use it, but", then they don't want to be giving it to others. That's also true in my case; I will help someone use their own old computer for longer, but I won't give them a very ancient machine with the expectation that my support will prevent it from causing problems for them.

    5. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: What about

      There are Linux distros that run in 20 something old hardware, as long as you don't mind not using a GUI. For very old hardware there is also Freedos.

  2. 45RPM Silver badge

    I guess it depends what you want to do with your old computer. Perhaps more pertinently, what do you need to do with it.

    For example, you might want to play games - but you probably don’t need to play them. There’s a world of IRL entertainment out there, or you can lower your expectations of what a game is. Ditto video and music. You might need to fall back on physical media.

    Can we throw social media out of the window? Please say yes! Once more, we can dump a whole heap of processing out of the window - and open up the utility of old machines still further.

    For my use case, I want email, online banking, research (so Google, wiki, GitHub, StackOverflow), word processing, text editing, spreadsheet, C compilers. Basically, with the right OS, pretty much any machine from this century will cut the mustard.

    Ditch online banking and you open up most of the machines from the 1990s too.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]

      > I guess it depends what you want to do with your old computer.

      Well, again, no, not really. This is not about hobbyists. This is not about retro computing. This is about helping people who are not in a position to buy new hardware, or software, or possibly anything at all, to get online and to give them usable equipment, where possible running free operating systems, to reduce the problem of the digital divide – of online disenfranchisement.

      It's not about what you want to do with your old computer. If you have a choice of computers, this is not targeting you. This is for people who don't have a computer at all can't afford to get one I don't know how to fix up an old computer and make it useful again.

      This is about enabling people who *do* have that knowledge to help others who lack it.

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        You make an excellent point - but maybe in terms of reliability more than anything else. I maintain that any computer from this century can do anything you’d want to do provided that the appropriate OS is installed - Haiku for example is hugely efficient. But… if that computer is going to be used for work then whilst it may be capable of doing what it needs to it may not be able to do it reliably. Can no one wants a failed cap to blow their work away.

        That said, and this isn’t about hobbyists, some people really do have limited needs - perhaps not even a need for the internet - but they still need a computer for their work. George RR Martin springs to mind as an example.

        Still, have a thumbs up. Good point.

        1. Roopee Bronze badge
          Thumb Up

          Digital Exclusion

          Nicely put Liam.

          Digital exclusion is, from my experience as a “Digital Champion” volunteer at my local community centre’s IT suite for the past few years, mostly about people at the margins of society needing Internet access in order to do the most basic necessities such as apply for Universal Credit, apply for jobs (even minimum wage, zero-skill jobs), apply for bus passes etc. Not playing games, not WFH.

          Typically people are digitally excluded for a reason (and often a combination of reasons) rather than intellectual “hold-outs” (though there are still a few of those too). Poverty, disability (especially mental disability), mental health problems, dementia, social isolation and extreme lack of education (e.g. illiteracy) are the most common reasons I’ve seen. Estimates vary, but it’s probably around 15-20% of adults in the UK! The pandemic lockdowns made things worse as more basics moved to online-only.

          Incidentally, very few of the people I’m talking about would be helped by being given a free PC, or (generally a better option) a free smartphone, though often their children (if they have any) would benefit enormously...

          Also, speaking as the owner of a fleet of >10 year old PCs, I concur with the suggested minimum economically viable spec of Core CPU, DDR3, SSD as they are cheap, fast, and can run a wide range of OSs and apps - apart from Win 11, but who cares... certainly not me :) I run Proxmox and TrueNAS on 2nd-gen i5 laptops.

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Digital Exclusion

            If you need a computer for job hunting, then it needs to be able to run Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet, and you need to be able to access email and modern websites on it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why not go further? For example, you might want email, but you probably don't need it. There’s a world of IRL communication out there, or you can lower your expectations of what communication is. You might need to fall back on physical media.

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        Hmm. That may be so, but it’ll be a very limited number of people. And very few people need to play games or muck about on Facebook (they might want to do these things, but that’s a separate issue)

        On the other hand, communications tools are key to the workflows of most people - especially these days.

      2. keithpeter Silver badge

        i5 and 8Gb ram with 240Gb ssd... oddly enough the specification I used for most of the last two academic years working from home. Zoom, Teams, Chromium logged into the corporate MS 362±2.5 while running Impress, Write and Geogebra. Worked fine along with a dozen Chromium tabs open and all - mains connection of course, the Thinkpad X220 battery would have lasted about an hour with that lot running.

        I can see why the project suggests that for Linux machines being handed out to civilians (i.e. not IT experts). Sounds like a nice practical idea to widen participation in work related activities. See icon.

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Even ignoring all the unnecessary entertainment uses of a computer, there's a reason to stick with newer ones. Can you run a secure OS and modern browser on a computer from 2003? Yes, you can. Can you run one that requires little or no maintenance because the user is not familiar with technology and does not have someone who set it up on call? Not so easy. This group is providing computers to people who have little experience using them. They may not have had one before, and even for those who did, they certainly don't know how to debug a certificate error generated when a browser goes out of support and stops getting updated CA information. The group also doesn't want to give people computers that will be incapable of certain tasks that they might expect it to be capable of doing. If you used that machine from 2003 which probably has about 512 MB of memory, you'll find stuff that does not do well with that limitation. We would understand that and either know not to use it for that or how to get around that. The users getting these machines don't know either part of that.

  3. f4ff5e1881

    "Bring Me to Life", as the nice lady once sang

    One of the good things about Linux is that you can use it to give an old laptop a ‘second life’ and extend its usefulness beyond its ‘normal’ lifespan. If the laptop was originally running a version of Windows which has reached end-of-life and no longer getting updates, I think desktop Linux is, finally, a viable alternative as hardware compatibility seems to be pretty good these days (in my experience, at least).

    Having experimented with several distros, for this purpose, I’ve settled on Zorin. The Core version is suited to more recent hardware - computers up to five years old, whereas the Lite version is optimised to function on machines as old as 15 years.

    I have the Core version running on an old Lenovo ThinkPad, and the Lite version running on an even older Toshiba Tecra, keeping both machines happily alive. No doubt in a parallel universe where Linux is not a thing, both those old laptops would’ve eventually found their way into the garage with the rest of my junk, never to be used again.

    1. ITMA Silver badge

      Re: "Bring Me to Life", as the nice lady once sang

      "One of the good things about Linux is that you can use it to give an old laptop a ‘second life’ and extend its usefulness beyond its ‘normal’ lifespan."

      Not as true as you would like it to be.

      Many Linux distros dropped a raft of RAID controller support (PERC 4i for example) quite a while ago which consigned a lot of otherwise perfectly servicable hardware to the bin.

      Let's not kid ourselves that Linux is any greener.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: "Bring Me to Life", as the nice lady once sang

        Your laptop has a PERC 4 RAID card? How many SCSI drives does it fit?

        When people are talking about reusing 'old' laptops, they're typically talking about something that still has some battery life left. So realistically, less than ten years old.

        1. ITMA Silver badge

          Re: "Bring Me to Life", as the nice lady once sang

          Exceopt the article doesn't specifically mention "laptops".

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: "Bring Me to Life", as the nice lady once sang

            True, but it does clearly indicate that they're giving machines to consumers. That will include desktops, but they're probably not giving servers with RAID controllers to them, and if they are for some unfathomable reason, they aren't using that part. I'm guessing they didn't spend any time thinking about RAID.

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: "Bring Me to Life", as the nice lady once sang

          >still has some battery life left

          Not necessarily, a lot of home users never unplug the laptop.

          It's a lot easier to have a laptop on a little desk in the corner than a monitor + keyboard + mouse - especially for those people with more scatter cushions than servers

          1. Allan George Dyer

            Re: "Bring Me to Life", as the nice lady once sang

            Why would anyone need that many scatter cushions?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Bring Me to Life", as the nice lady once sang

        >> Many Linux distros dropped a raft of RAID controller support (PERC 4i for example) quite a while ago which consigned a lot of otherwise perfectly servicable hardware to the bin.

        Parallel SCSI has been dead for almost 20 years, and while controllers from that era may well still work, many (most?) drives from back then are either dead or if they still work are too slow and small to be useful.

        Besides from the fact that any system that came with a PERC4 series RAID controller is likely based on some variant of intel's Netburst architecture (Pentium4 and P4 XEON), which is both slow and excessively power hungry.

        The only reason to keep such a zombie alive is for running a vintage OS and vintage software. For running a modern version of any OS even a RasPi would be massively faster/better.

  4. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

    Last New Computer I Bought Was Bbout 11 Years Ago

    Everything since then has been cherry picked from e-waste (Where permitted) or purchased from re-sellers.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: Last New Computer I Bought Was Bbout 11 Years Ago

      Missed the edit window, I was going to say among those is a HP Thin Client 8GB & SSD with W10Pro running rock steady for light computing tasks, that I RDP into.

      1. sten2012 Bronze badge

        Re: Last New Computer I Bought Was Bbout 11 Years Ago

        Your RDP server is a thin client? What do you RDP into it from, out of curiousity?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Last New Computer I Bought Was Bbout 11 Years Ago

          My guess is that their device is one of those small desktops that was sold as a thin client but is capable of being a basic computer in its own right, and that they're RDPing into it either from a laptop, giving it portability that the original device doesn't have, or their main desktop, which is more powerful but this gives it a new environment and doesn't require moving peripherals.

          1. sten2012 Bronze badge

            Re: Last New Computer I Bought Was Bbout 11 Years Ago

            That's why I'm curious about it, while some clients aren't terribly slow - for it to be worthwhile to rdp into something like that the client itself must be painfully limited in some way or another.

            I have an 8gb laptop and sometimes RDP into my desktop for heavier tasks (some dev usually) needing more RAM (CPU is also crap, but I haven't ever found it THAT limiting to bother) but struggling to imagine a scenario where a thin client would be such a step up to jump through those hoops! So I'd like to know more, really. Maybe an RPi first/second gen or something?

  5. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Can they do anything for my Microsoft Surface Tablet

    Which can't install Microsoft Windows 11 "yet".

    To be fair, I can afford just to buy another Tablet. One that doesn't have a cracked screen, too. I'm just tightfisted with money. So I'm not the customer that they're looking for.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Can they do anything for my Microsoft Surface Tablet

      I don't know about them all, but I've found at least a couple versions of the Surface to be pretty good at running Linux. It was easy to boot and everything had driver support the last time I did it. If software support is what interests you, you could try that. Alternatively, the hardware checks for Windows 11 can be bypassed, though no guarantees that they won't change this at some point.

    2. ITMA Silver badge

      Re: Can they do anything for my Microsoft Surface Tablet

      "Can they do anything for my Microsoft Surface Tablet"

      How about a Surface RT? LOL

      I actually have one of those sitting on my desk - and NO we DID NOT BUY IT.

      Far better and cheaper door wedges are available.

  6. 43300 Silver badge

    There are more profit-oriented resellers looking at flogging old stuff, e.g:

    Why would anyone pay over five hundred quid for this (about half of the cost when new)? It's going to be about six or seven years old, and doesn't meet the W11 system requirements. The going rate on ebay for that model looks to be in the £100-150 range.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Remanufactured refurbishment costs a lot in terms of time and licences.

      The third sector organisations I’ve worked with, have tended to take equipment directly and employ someone to refurbish (the only way to do this when lockdown was announced). Whilst this isn’t “remanufactured” where the system should be fully cleaned, thermal pastes renewed, memory upgraded to modern levels ,HDDs replaced if failing etc. it does save on the OS costs. A refurbisher business, to comply with MS licensing has to wipe the HDD and remove the existing Windows licence and thus install a new Windows licence… whereas in-house refurbishment can reuse the windows licence that came with the box, hence they could take W7 machines and install W10 at no cost.

      As a result of these costs, the refurbishment market tends to focus on older high end kit.

      As for W11, this was an obvious flaw in MS strategy. I’m a little surprised MS are still insisting on EOL W10 in 2025 without there formally being a W11 lite (aka W10) release to market.

      1. 43300 Silver badge

        I get your point about refurbisher costs, but the question remains - who / what is the intended market for this equipment? Because I wouldn't pay half the cost of a new laptop for one which is seven years old, refurbished or not, and I don't expect many others would either.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Yes I get your point.

          Before the new AMD Zen 3 CPUs (ie. prior to 2020) and W11, the remanufactured/refurbished price did represent good value as you could get a (still) good performing system for less than a poor performing budget system, which was more than capable of supporting typical office usage (ie. not gaming or other demanding use cases), with the remanufacturing process giving confidence that the system should last for several years.

          But as you note, at £501 for a refurbished Dell Latitude 14" verses the £541 I have just spent (before cashback and vouchers) on a new Dell Vostro 15" W11 Pro laptop sporting a AMD Ryzen 5 6-core CPU, 16GB RAM etc. doesn't look like good value.

  7. YetAnotherXyzzy Bronze badge

    I love it that someone from Red Hat is steering people to Xfce rather than Gnome.

  8. nautica Silver badge

    How many references would you like?...and a much-needed edit.

    "...Perotti called out that we hadn't heard about previously: that Ubuntu's Snap packages perform poorly on a system using a spinning hard disk drive...

    should read

    " that we hadn't heard about previously: that Ubuntu's Snap packages perform poorly."

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did this in lockdown

    As kids were forced to home learn with no tech other than their dads mobile, I did a visit to the tip and a few local groups, and got some very old kit that with a few quid spent on DDR2 and a few HDs from eBay, were able to run Mint and Open Office without any issues.

    I think over the six months of doing it, I managed to bring about forty systems back to life and gifted via the school's to those most in need.

  10. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    It's nice to see things like this. There are a lot of old PCs out there that aren't really anything special, so probably won't get a decent price on the second hand market, but with refurbishment and decent software with low enough requirements, would make perfectly usable PCs for most people's use. Not everyone can afford the latest high (or even mid) range PC or phone. Certainly in the UK, just to live in society, we are having to do an increasing amount of stuff online. In most cases, if you don't have a computer or phone, you can pop into the local library, but these are vanishing at a rate of knots thanks to funding cuts.

    Schemes like this are good, because if done properly, they make PCs affordable for some of those who would not otherwise be able to afford one. The only remaining problem is the internet connection. if you can't afford to eat, you can't afford internet access.

    1. f4ff5e1881

      > The only remaining problem is the internet connection. if you can't afford to eat, you can't afford internet access.

      To add to the situation, a looming problem here is the switching off of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) in the UK, by the end of 2025. I'm surprised this hasn't garnered more public attention, because it will mean the end of ADSL, and force a great many people to upgrade to a fibre connection (if it's even available), with the associated higher subscription costs.

      1. 43300 Silver badge

        The direct replacement seems to be a SoGEA line, which so far as I can tell is basically the same but without the voice component. Unfortunately it doesn't seem possible to convert existing lines to these, so a new one has to be installed. We've got a number of small sites with VDSL (or ADSLin a few cases) and I'm working through replacing them.

      2. that one in the corner Silver badge

        End of 2025 - that sounds awfully close, and we still don't have a date published to fibre-enable our exchange.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing New (in the UK)

    Companies like ICT Direct have been selling refurbished computers - mainly to education - for years (25 in their case).

    I always buy refurb kit because, not only is it good value and warrantied, quite often its had very little usage. I'm typing this on a HP computer that was brand new in a doctor's surgery 20 months ago.

    Although it means my school can get more kit for their money, I do wonder at how much money is being wasted by the NHS in replacing non critical kit that's barely a couple of years old.

    1. 43300 Silver badge

      Re: Nothing New (in the UK)

      I can't generally see the point of replacing any functioning hardware which is less than five years old, with the exception of that used for things like heavy number crunching (but even then the old stuff can be cascaded to a less demanding use). For basic office use, a five year old computer is normally more than adequate - I quite often get six or seven years, or even longer, out of desktops used for undemanding work.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Nothing New (in the UK)

      > I do wonder at how much money is being wasted by the NHS in replacing non critical kit that's barely a couple of years old.

      Shush! A client (charity) recently picked up 8 such computers at £60 each...

  12. Downeaster

    Great Idea

    I've refurbished computers and given them to kids where I teach school. The specs given in the article i3, 128GB SSD, and 8GB of Ram are more than reasonable for most people's needs. The machines that are refurbished are often better than some of the cheap Atom and Pentium laptops for sale out there. The machines with Linux will last a long time or they can be turned into Chromebooks for schools . Many can also run Windows 10 fairly well and will be good till 2025. Older machines also have easy to replace batteries that slide in and slide out rather than newer one with built in batteries. The computers are good enough for most everyday uses. It also reduces the computers going into e-waste. This being written on a 2009 Core 2 Duo that works great with an SSD and 16 GB of RAM.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Great Idea

      >more than reasonable for most people's needs

      One of the things I've learnt is that older people actually need a reasonably specified system as it will tend to work at a similar pace to their thinking process. Get a mismatch and they are either repeatedly clicking - making matters worse or losing their train of thought. Obviously, with dementia, it is important to plan ahead, which is probably where Linux has an edge over Windows ie. there is a greater probably todays desktop will still be supported on a distro in ten years time. Up until W8 I thought MS, whilst changing and "refreshing" the desktop with each new edition understood the importance of long term consistency so someone who had only used W95 could readily find their way around a W7 system.

  13. nautica Silver badge

    "...The Year of Linux is the year that you look at your distribution, compare to the year before, and you have that sense of stability, the knowledge that no matter what you do, you can rely on your operating system. Which is definitely not the case today. If anything, the issues are worsening and multiplying. You don’t need a degree in math to see the problem.

    I find the lack of consistency to be the public enemy no. 1 in the open-source world. In the long run, it will be the one deciding factor that will determine the success of Linux. Sure, applications, but if the operating system is not transparent, people will not choose it. They will seek simpler, possibly less glamorous, but ultimately more stable solutions, because no one wants to install a patch and dread what will happen after a reboot. It’s very PTSD. And we know Linux can do better than that. We’ve seen it. Not that long ago..."

    ...the entire article, very entertaining, very 'spot-on', and extremely prescient can be found


    Written on my production, working computer, a ten--or more--year-old Lenovo Thinkpad (one of three; "...just in case..."), running a Linux distribution installed in in 2016. BECAUSE THE SYSTEM JUST WORKS.


    “We notice things that don't work. We don't notice things that do. We notice computers, we don't notice pennies. We notice e-book readers, we don't notice books.”― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

    1. Max Pyat

      Sort of in the same vein, you find GNU/Linux (or more broadly free-unix) in more and more places.

      Like I discovered that my kobo ebook readers are actually running Linux under the hood. A quick addition of koreader and now I can even ssh into my ebook reader.

      Android is the same.

      Home routers too (I installed openwrt on my most recent one, but the stock firmware was in any case a customised version of one of the linux-router projects)

      Apple systems are based on BSD, etc.,

      And lots of this stuff is just in there doing a job, and not being noticed.

  14. razorfishsl

    Even linux only moves forward...

    The whole industry is eating CPU cycles to produce banality...

    Hay look the window has rounded corners.....

  15. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    Smart. I mean, the minimum of core i3 is a LITTLE high, but I can see it as an easy cut off. My dad is still using a Dell Optiplex 755 with a Core 2 Quad (that is about to turn 18 years old) as a daily driver with Ubuntu 22.04 on it, and it gets a hell of a workout (he loads 100+ page documents full of graphs and figures almost daily, scans both photos and documents, lots of printing, and Zoom conferences at least weekly if not several times a week -- monitor-mounted web cam...) Zoom maxes out 2 cores, but luckily it has 4. It'll hit 200-300% CPU usage as chrome loads up those more bloated web pages (then dropping nice and low once the page is loaded of course.) It is VERY slow to boot however (it's not just because it's using spinning rust, the drive was priced very low when new because it was an unusually slow model. I guess my dad starts it up then just goes and does something else while it boots.) I think the top of the line Core 2's would be "OK" but I could see drawing the line at a Core i3 rather than seeing a "Core 2" sticker and taking the risk that it's a lower-end model that would not be fast enough to keep the user happy.

    The first several Core i3/i5/i7 models, I think it's Sandy Bridge (2nd gen) where it could be SHIPPED with Win10 but after-the-fact upgrades are not permitted. So the first several generations of Core chips don't support Win10 at all. In addition, my understanding is that later Win10 releases REQUIRE "UWP" drivers, and the earlier Core series CPUs don't have them (since Intel dropped support for these series before UWP drivers became a requirement), so those series MUST use a several year old version of Win10 LTSB (Long Term Support Branch.) Of course quite a few can't run Win11. So I could see plenty of fully-functional systems that business will retire simply due to not being able to keep the (Microsoft) software on them up to date. Of course, you now have Zoom and software like this that will NOT let you conference if the software is more than about 3 months out of date (which I suppose is for both security reasons, and maintainability since you don't have to ensure backward-compatibility with years-out-of-date client software). So you don't have the option of just running older software for certain uses. I'm running a Ivy Bridge (3rd gen) right now and it's fully up to date; 16GB RAM, loads of storage (really, I have like 22TB storage hanging off this thing), and a GTX1650 video card; courtesy of wine/dxvk/vkd3d (and proton for steam games) it even runs every game I've thrown at it. I may expand it to it's maximum 32GB since the DDR3 RAM prices have utterly collapsed, I got the 16GB for like $90 a few years back, now the 2x16GB kit is about $40.

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. 897241021271418289475167044396734464892349863592355648549963125148587659264921474689457046465304467

    Kobo have killed my Arc 7 HD! Did a hard reset and now it refuses to start without trying to update, which Kobo won't allow, so it's stuck. The Arc is still, or was, a useful device with a gorgeous high resolution IPS screen. I can't even replace the OS - there's no way to get into debugging mode. It's just a big but low capacity flash drive now... or if I tear out the LCD panel, a short-lived photography light.

    Kobo has pulled a Sonos! It's forced obsolescence and Kobo should not be able to get away with this! :ANGRY:


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