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How User Revolts Shaped the Linux Desktop
August 11th, 2015

Confusing Treasure for Junk in Linuxland

Growing up in a rural farm and ranch environment, life was a bit different for us kids. Attending school outside the rural lifestyle was nothing if not uncomfortable. Often times, it was close to humiliating. We wore Levi 501s before it was cool to wear Levi 501s. They were considered “farmer pants” or “idiot jeans.” That reference was a jab at those who needed to button their pants because zippers were too complex to figure out. When we were old enough, we would drive our old pickup trucks to school. Everyone else was driving sleek or stylish cars. More than one farmer’s kid was suspended for dental displacement to someone who decided to make fun of their vehicle or choice of attire.

Loading hay

Photo courtesy Rootstock Corp.

But we knew those who made such remarks wouldn’t last ten minutes in our boots. Shoveling hay to feed livestock from the back of a slow moving pickup truck was tough. Doing so when it was twelve degrees was the norm for us. Breaking the ice in our stock tanks so the cattle could water was treacherous, to say the least, but most times a stick of well-placed dynamite was a better solution than walking onto the ice.

Standing in the hay loft to grab hay bales as they dropped off the conveyor belt and stacking them was back-breaking work. Especially when you consider there was only one opening in the loft and that was the large square where the conveyor belt dropped the hay. We considered ourselves lucky; there had been a time when we had to throw the bales up into the barn. It was easily 115 degrees in the loft with no breeze at all. After the first two minutes, hay chaff stuck to your sweat-soaked body, grinding itself into your flesh. You learned not to brush it off as it would only leave you a bloody mess.

The phrases we used were peculiar as well. One of them I still use to this day. If circumstances were going to become difficult or dangerous, one utterance was enough for everyone within earshot.

“Hold on boys…things are fixin’ to get western.”

And indeed, more than often not, they most certainly were.

I used that phrase the other day while at the shop with Pete and James. These guys are two of the get-‘er-done volunteers for Reglue. It doesn’t matter what or where, Pete and James answer the bell every time. Of course my “get western” phrase wasn’t predicting anything dire. It alluded to the fact that the summer doldrums were almost over.

Every year it’s the same thing at about the same time. Requests for computers and laptops come rushing in. And it’s not hyperbole to say it’s more like a pummeling than it is receiving requests. We can get as many as six a day, where normally we see five to eight come in on a monthly basis. Of course, before school starts a good 50 percent of those are requests from people who don’t qualify, but still…we have to process them.

The fact that I cannot speak has been a challenge. I am setting up the phone for reglue to self-answer with a message to text or email me. If it is necessary to contact us immediately, Pete has volunteered to take those calls. One of those calls was from someone who recently moved to Austin, who has been a good friend of Reglue for a number of years and donates generously. Aside from his generosity, it was good to see him walk through our door in person.

During his visit I showed him around. On one of the back desks there was a stack of Lenovo R-500s. We love supplying Lenovo laptops because they are the most durable machines we’ve given away. Pete was working on them in order to make them ready for this school year. As we passed that table on the way to my desk, our visitor jerked his head in that direction and asked, “Are those being prepared for recycle?”

I looked over, trying to see anything that was ready to be recycled. Not seeing anything, I asked him where he was talking about. He indicated the 9 R500 laptops. I told him no, that those laptops were going out in the next couple of days.

“You’ve got to be kidding me, right? This is the kind of junk you are putting out?” He closed the lid of one of the laptops in distain.

There was no mistaking the ire in his voice. I pushed him to tell me what he didn’t consider junk. Instead he began walking down the west wall of the shop, pointing repeatedly at desktop after desktop. “Some of these machines are six years old. How are you ‘helping’ anyone by giving them these pieces of garbage?”

The good host was completely gone from me now. All that remained was a dangerous anger I knew I had to control. I asked him just what kind of computers or laptops did he not consider to be junk. I asked him just where I was supposed to get computers that met his approval. I reminded him that we lived and died by the computers businesses and individuals donated, and that we upgraded every computer to its maximum potential before it left our facility.

WesternThe row of computers he keyed upon were extremely nice Optiplex 745 core duo small form factor machines. In fact, Pete and I will be making a trip to Indiana to pick up about 60 of these same machines. Most of these computers leave our shop with at least four gigs of RAM and a decent video card.

My guest wasn’t impressed, but neither did he answer my question.

“Where are you supposed to be getting better machines? That’s your job, not mine. Surely you can do better than this, for God’s sake. I’m past the point of disappointed. Do your other supporters know what kind of junk you are passing off as usable machines?”

It was at that point that I asked him to leave. My anger was ready to step across the line of controlled and into the realm of arrestable offense or getting my own ass whipped. He did so without another word.

It’s safe to say we’ve lost his financial support. Support that I might mention is substantial. He donated better than 3K a year to Reglue and his employer matched those funds. Besides that, I am left to wonder if others of you might feel the same way.

The machines we put together are all dual core/core duo computers. We haven’t placed a single core machine in two years. The only exceptions are the fantastic computers Jason Spisak and his organization, Symple PC, donated to Reglue. These have been placed in homes with kids of all ages whose computer needs don’t require a super large amount of power. These are perfect workstations for most everyone who does day-to-day computing. We couldn’t be happier with any donation than we are with Jason’s contributions to Reglue.

Mostly, all of our computers, be they laptop or desktop, carry no less than four gigs of RAM when they leave our shop. We have several quad core and six core machines that we reserve for our Reglue kids who’re going on to graduate studies. And to be honest, we all know that the “normal desktop” sold in the big box stores are ridiculously over-powered.

“Some of these machines are six years old. How are you helping anyone by giving them these pieces of garbage?”

I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t rattled by this encounter. Losing that much money is going to be hard to regain; that’s 30 percent of our annual operating budget. But that’s not my main worry. My concern is others who might feel the same way. Of course, I did remind him that he could up his donations and give us the money to meet his expectations. That pretty much went over like a turd floating in a punch bowl.

I’ll take a deep breath and prepare to go to my shop tomorrow to attempt to meet the demands of those who need our help this coming school year. Hopefully none of our recipients will consider our offering as junk.

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Ken Starks writes and publishes The Blog of Helios, a finalist in our Best FOSS or Linux Blog competition. In addition, he's the person behind the Reglue project, which refurbishes older computers and gives them to disadvantaged school kids in the Austin, Texas area. Follow him on Twitter @Reglue

33 comments to Confusing Treasure for Junk in Linuxland

  • Larry Cafiero

    Wow. WTAF is wrong with that guy? The hardware you mention will run laps around newer equipment because it’s running Linux instead of Windows.

    Not only are you helping kids with adequate hardware, you’re keeping them out of landfills.

    For the record, my main laptop — the one that goes with me everywhere — is a ThinkPad T500, one of the best laptops I’ve ever owned, from the same gene pool as the R500. I like it so much I maxed it out at 8GB of RAM and a 500GB HD.

    Keep on keepin’ on at Reglue, Ken. You’re on the right track.

  • Fred Carrick

    Has this guy never seen your blog? Or that you use Linux? Or even what Linux is? How can he have donated so much and not have known what you did?

  • Ken: you learned a lesson that has nothing to do with computers. Many, many Americans have drunk the Max Waste Koolaid propaganda and think, because they can throw something – including the planet – away, that makes them bigshots. I cut up ALL of my food scraps into tiny pieces using a blender and put them where they belong – onto plants. The worms, algae, nematodes and bacteria chew them up in one day and they are gone, completely reused, without all the labor of composting. What do you do with your food? I hope you don’t use the word food waste and toss it into a dump. Learning to save the planet comes one item at a time. It’s not just computers and not just food systems which must be redesigned so that there is no longer any such thing as garbage. No civilized society includes a garbage can or company. How is consciousness of our joint responsibility to be spread? We don’t have time for little cute changes one item at a time. Your computers are designed for a short life and you have to swim upstream for what you know is right. All of the designs for obsolescence for all goods have to be changed, including computers. We should be a mainstream force for redesign, as strong as forces for wildlife or fish or species preservation. See http://www.zerowasteinstitute.org.

  • Eddie G.

    Dude! Ignore that idiot. He obviously only know tech that’s shiny and new. REAL PC users know that ANY tech is good as long as it still has a pulse! (I’m running Fedora Linux on a GATEWAY laptop from the early NINETIES!…it’s got a duo-core and only maxes out at 4GB, but it browses the web, runs LibreOffice, and plays my MP3 collection on an external USB drive just FINE! There’s that fable about the Prince who had everything, who one day while going through his gold and silver treasure came across a rusty, dented, lamp. He was immediately offended that it was in his possession and had it thrown out right away. This lamp hit the poor beggar who sat outside the castle gate dead on in the head. he picked up the lamp and thought it useful if for no other reason that to fill with oil and keep a warm flame going in the dark knight. To make a long story short, he decided to clean it and when he did? there was a genie in it who granted him his three wishes! Moral: Sometimes what someone else classifies as junk, could be the most valuable item to someone else!!

  • Randal

    http://fossforce.com/2015/04/microsoft-education-the-song-remains-the-same/

    Seems to me we have heard this before, recently. Sounds like someone else (hopefully not from the same company), that lives in an Ivory tower.

  • I don’t know how you hold your anger back with such people. My own “new” computer is a Lenovo T520. It’s the most powerful system I have ever had. Hard as it might be, don’t let him get you down. Those kids that get new computers from you are thrilled with them. As long as we keep using linux, we will be saving money.

  • Brendon Gumpert

    Ken, most everyone here has said everything I was going to say. I have someone who wanted me to repair their 3 year old MacBook Pro for cheap because the Apple Store is too expensive… But when I told them that no Mac repair of this magnitude is free, they decided it was also too expensive to pay for my time and are just buying a new Mac. Which is somehow less expensive?

    My “new” laptop is a well-loved T430s, which is not new but will run rings around most consumer laptops. I have a developer friend who’s company issued him a T530 last year – again, not new but a real workhorse.

    Ultimately I think jerks like your visitor need to go on a wall of shame so the world can see the kind of asshole they are. It’s a shame that so many people can’t see beyond themselves and to a bigger picture. Even beyond understanding that electronics can have vastly extended lifespans, by insulting the machines you tenderly craft for those in need he is insulting the whole existence of what you do. It’s unforgivable, and why I think it would be fun to know his name!

  • Uncle Ed

    Interesting. Wonder if your visitor was looking for an excuse, any excuse, to stop contributing. If he has been a contributor for quite a while, he has had the chance to learn what you place in the students’ hands.

    For the record, my wife got an R500 that I had just set up for myself when her W7 computer started locking up. The R500 came as a perk for contributing to Reglue. I was too slow getting her computer fixed and suddenly the R500 became “my computer” to her. So I made another contribution and got another one for myself.

    I just gave a T500 I got on eBay to my grandson. I thought he was a lost cause because all he had at home was Windows and his school passed out baby Apple computers to all the 9th graders. Turns out he didn’t like the baby Apple.

    I haven’t tested Larry’s “run rings around newer equipment,” but I have one W7 computer left–for running tax software–and I had forgotten how long it took to get it usable if it has been off for a month or two. Just about time to go eat breakfast in another town.

    Keep on keepin’ on, Ken. I can’t match what the other guy canceled, but I’ll raise my monthly contribution a dab as a start.

  • John Kerr

    My old laptop running Sparky Linux on 500 MB of RAM gets the job done. I do not need a newer faster one.

    You and I and everyone reading your bits and bytes of wisdom know that the Lenovo and Dell business class computers have lots of life left in them after the lease runs out or after five years.

    IT departments are forced to replace computers every five years because:
    1. the stupid Windows drivers that can be different for every model of motherboard or computer creates a logistics nightmare for IT departments.
    2. At five years the computers are at the age where breakdowns can be expected soon, but not necessarily so.
    3. the people who use the computers are paid too much money to sit idle while a new computer ordered, delivered and set up for them. Other people in the firm who depend on the work done on a computer are paid too much money not to have the work done when they need it.

    Besides, we are choking on our own garbage, especially E-waste. When the computer that you give someone finally conks out then every bit of usefulness has been extracted from that computer BEFORE it is recycled. Recycle is at the bottom end of the three R chain.

    Keep up the good work.

    John Kerr
    Guelph, Ontario

  • amenditman

    Ken

    We’ve heard this before about Reglue and HeliOS Project equipment. From helpful idiots of all kinds. Just keep up what you are doing, time has already proven the idiots wrong.

  • Mac Taylor

    Our corporate tax laws are a big cause of the IT waste also. You can’t write off in taxes after 3-5 yrs. computer hardware such as personal computers.

  • Richard Chapman

    I’m writing this on a 10 year old, single core AMD computer with 2GB of RAM. My other computer is a dual core with 4 GB of RAM and it too is 10 years old. It has a flaky motherboard so I don’t use it much anymore. It will be replaced with a mid-ranged Chromebook early next year. I can do everything with my computers that I need a computer to do. And that includes recording and editing original music. Yes, my computers that are worse than junk according to Ken’s recent guest.

    It used to be, back in the 80’s and 90’s, that you needed to upgrade to a new computer every 2 years (or less) to stay current. That is no longer the case. A 5 year old computer can run Libre Office as well as a 1 year old computer. In my case my 10 year old computers run Libre Office just as well too. And since I run Linux, my desktop looks just as shiny as the newest ones too.

  • I rarely respond to my own threads unless asked to, but I have to bring up one recent donation. We were given 5 Lenovo X220 laptops. They have netbook size (12.5 in) but mega lap-monster performance. These came with Core i5-2380P (quad release early 2012) chips and 320 gig 7200 hard drives with 8gb of RAM. When I saw these on the donation cart, I wanted to push the cart out with, “Hey…I got this, you don’t need to help me unload this or anything. No really, I got it…”

    Turns out he knew exactly what he was giving us. Hooo-leee cow. I could stand donations like that on a weekly basis.

    But back to the R-500 laptops. I have upgraded them all to 6GB of RAM because I had a lot of that ram donated recently. I really don’t know any regular student or professional that needs much more computing power than that. Oh, they are Intel® Core™ Duo mobile processor T9400s. More than enough power for the majority of laptop users today. Yeah…the i7 quad I have (latitude E6520) is nice, but I only have it for bragging rights.

    It is scheduled to go to a grad student studying geophysics at UT Austin this year. For her, a laptop with this horsepower is fully justifiable.

  • Somewhat Reticent

    Never lament the loss of potential future contributions, especially those carrying unstated extra expectations. Next time a contributor expresses such concerns, patiently insist on a detailed explanation of their understanding.

    If you benchmark for performance requirements, you shouldn’t regret what you’re giving out; sometimes adding RAM is just adding to the electricity bill.

    As-I-Recall, scrap-value donation can be a business expense.

  • Kevin

    It was about 3 years ago I was working corporate IT at small to midsize company and I was struggling to get my CIO to fight to get us dual cores with 4 GB of RAM and something better than XP. Workers had old pentium 4 machines which sometimes took over 30 minutes to become usable in the morning. The machines would struggle to run Excel with anything more than a basic spreadsheet.

    I think I can understand your guest’s concern, but those same pentium 4 machines would likely be okay for light home usage with a lightweight Linux install. Maybe you should have shown your guest to the oldest computer and had him use it for a few minutes. He likely would admit it was adequate for most normal uses a student might have.

  • Bernardo Verda

    I don’t suppose it was possible to sit him in front of one of those R500s set up with Linux, and see what he had to say after actually seeing it in action?

    You know — Fire up Firefox, and fire up Rythmbox, too, maybe set up a Linux torrent download on Transmission as well, and bring up the office suite… and then, just to grind it in, launch the update manager 🙂

    Of course, his response might have been even worse if he was faced with a Linux desktop… Maybe he’s a Windows user, and doesn’t realize how efficient Linux is in comparison?

    I use a core2duo machine every day, as my main work machine. The reason I actually upgraded it from 2 GB to 4GB RAM was… because I wanted to play with running some VMs as well.

  • Richard Clinker

    As a previous commenter observed, perhaps a sign of the general throwaway consumer society we live in. Reglue is (among many other things!) an inspiring example of how wrong that can be! Ken, keep turning junk into gold!

  • Clark Wade

    Wow, my newest computers are just single core and I can run Debian just fine. What did the comedian on TV say the other day? I think it was “You can’t fix stupid”. Keep up the great work!

  • Tom

    At work, I do clouds with Dell R420s with 6 cores, 3GHZ, 64 or 128GB RAM.

    At home, I’m moving my main file server from an (10+ yr old) AMD dual core w/ 3GB to a newer AMD w/ 8GB because one of the cores keeps failing. I have T61p laptops I got surplus w/ 1400×1050 upgraded to 8GB RAM. I also have a newer Kindle Fire. I find the laptop browsers to be faster & meet all my needs better than the tablet.

    For home use, a decent browser is all most need. My 5th grader’s school has everything on Chromebooks and works very well. And tey need very little support as google does it all.

  • Mike S.

    I think the only reason to replace a laptop made in the last six or eight years is to get a better display resolution. 1920×1080 is much easier on the eyes and more aesthetically enjoyable than 1366×768 or 1280×1024.

    But in terms of pure usable performance, my first-generation mobile Core 2 Duo with 2GB of RAM (soldered to the motherboard) runs XFCE desktop plus Firefox just fine.

    The hard part, for me, is convincing people to make the switch without browbeating them. My sister switched for fun. (yay!) Two of my brothers only switched because their Windows installs were corrupted and they were unemployed at the time and couldn’t afford a retail copy of Windows 7. They reluctantly gave Xubuntu a try, and by the end of the first week were completely comfortable. But my other brothers, my parents, and even my wife have watched me use Linux for years but are happy to keep paying for a proprietary product that doesn’t respect their freedom or their privacy. 🙁

  • iain mckeand

    Just keep on what you are doing. I have worked for two or three companies who donate used equipment to recyclers and I have always found them to be courteous, helpful, undemanding and grateful. The most that was asked for was that the working units were separated from the non working units. You people do a great job providing resources to families who are financially stretched. I am sure that you will find that there will be few who would have the mentality of your erstwhile supporter and I am sure you will find more worthwhile supporter to replace him. Good luck and keep your chin up.

  • CFWhitman

    Wow. This man didn’t know the first thing about the practical operations of what he was donating to. Then, when he found out one small thing about those operations, he assumed that he knew everything about them. However, he couldn’t be troubled to learn what was actually going on either before or after he discovered one small fact. He assumed he knew everything, and then on finding out that he didn’t, immediately assumed he knew everything again. You might expect that he’d take the time to think at some point.

    To be fair, hardware like that isn’t the greatest experience with a fully updated version of Windows on it, and this man probably is completely unfamiliar with the practical difference between running Windows and running Linux on old hardware.

    My hardware:
    A desktop running an 8 core AMD processor, 16 GB of RAM, and an AMD video card. This I put together new from parts a couple of years ago.

    A Chromebook with an Intel Celeron 2955U, dual core processor and 4 GB of RAM. This is upgraded with a 128 GB emmc drive and Chrome OS has been replaced with Xubuntu Linux.

    A 17 inch HP laptop with a Core 2 Duo, 4 GB of RAM and some Nvidia business graphics card from 7 or 8 years ago when the laptop was new.

    A 15.4 inch HP laptop with a Core 2 Duo, 4 GB of RAM and an AMD graphics card from 7 or 8 years ago when it was new.

    My server is a single core AMD Athlon64 chip and 2 GB of RAM. I had to add a 1 Gb Ethernet card for it to keep up with the demands of streaming video and doing file transfers at the same time (with the 100 Mb card it would kill any streaming video, for example, in the living room, every time you transferred a file from the desktop). This machine is probably 10 years old. It’s one of the first models to have a PCI-E slot for video.

    I maxed out the RAM in the old computers, but that’s it. I also have various older machines that I use sometimes, but are a bit too long in the tooth for me to feel comfortable giving away.

    The only thing that has me considering getting a new laptop is the desire to have a good IPS screen on a laptop (while also coming close to matching the battery life on my Chromebook).

    I sometimes get the opportunity to take written off hardware from the company where I work. They are always at least 5 years old, usually more like 6 or 7. I scrounge as much RAM as I can for them (generally from other computers that are also being written off, but don’t work anymore). I give away these extra laptops to nephews and nieces. They don’t complain about the speed of these machines. They are just happy to have them available. The fact that they are running Linux does not even seem to make them skip a beat. They take to it right away. There is no feel of sluggishness to these machines when they have Linux on them.

  • bjrosen

    I’ve been designing computers of various sorts since the 1970s so I can speak with some authority. The rate of performance improvement in desktop CPUs dropped off dramatically about a dozen years ago so seemingly very old machines aren’t much slower then the very latest systems. The iCore2 was the last CPU that was dramatically better than it predecessor. There are a number of things that go into CPU performance, the clock rate, the number of instructions per second, the memory bandwidth, and the number of cores. In the 90s the clock rate increased dramatically from around 20MHz to > 2GHz, a hundred fold improvement. The very latest Intel CPU, the Skylake which is coming out this week is 4GHz, barely 2X the rate at the start of the century. The next factor is the number of instructions per cycle, this is limited by the available low level parallelism to about 4 per cycle, beyond that number you don’t get a significant speedup. That number was reached in the iCore2, the current iCore7s are only marginally better. The next factor is the number of cores. Going from one core to two in a desktop system was a noticable improvement, going from 2 to 4 much less so and beyond that there is no improvement, that’s why Intel hasn’t increased the number of cores from the original iCore7 (Conroe), Skylake still has 4 cores. The final factor is memory bandwidth which has improved to keep pace with clock rates improvements. The bottom line is that your oldest machines (iCore2s) are no more than 3X slower than the very latest systems. For most desktop use that’s actually not very noticeable. The one thing you can do that will make a big difference is to increase the amount of RAM. I’d put a minimum of 8G in your systems, more if you can. But even 4G is adequate for simple web browsing, I have an old netbook with an Atom (a terrible processor) and 2G of RAM and it’s able to run Fedora just fine if it weren’t for the uselessly small screen.

    The reason Windows machines need to be replaced is because of the software, not the hardware. If you have an XP or Vista system that’s not eligible for a free upgrade to Win10 then your best option is to buy a new system rather than pay for a Win10 upgrade and go through the pain (which is much greater for Windows users) of upgrading the OS. Installing Linux (which is what you are doing) makes complete sense on older hardware because the results will be almost as good as they would be on recent hardware.

  • O.Sinclair

    Ken, forget it. The guy clearly does not get what a somewhat older but good computer can do to someone who needs it. My own (and I work with IT) is from 2011 and though I have swapped drive and screen it ticks on just fine. A friend has a refurbished Lenovo Thinkpad and was almost /just almost/ jealous. They are workhorses, near indestructible.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Malkav

    I think I missed the part of your story where you showed him a side by side comparison of a Windows 7 and Linux system. Are those machines bad, compared to the best you can buy, of course they are. Are they great for doing simple basic computing… sure they are. You don’t need a top end i7 to use Word or LibreOffice. Those times you encountered are the best to smile and educate sponsors rather than lose them. Perhaps you could set up a funding level specifically for donors that want to support the best of the best (or middle). You can use it to highlight how few donations go to quality computers for the needy and how you could make use of a larger donation… /grin

  • Actually for laptops espically I have a laptop that is nearly 6 years old compared to an ill-advised windows laptop my mom bought and I find the thing is not the age of the hardware but rather that anything with a 5400 rpm hard disk will perform badly. I think 4 gigs of ram and an ssd will be good unless you are gaming or like trying to run a ton of virtual machines which is really the only reason I got a new desktop last year. Actually ssd matters more at low ram as you are not hitting cache in ram and you have to go to the disk more often. Also if you find screen a problem I wish it was easier to see in linux what resolutions your hardware is able to output before you decide to buy a new monitor. I am pretty screen rez and disk io acess is why I don’t want to boot pentium 4s apart from them being loud and noisy.

  • Patrick Elliott-Brennan

    Hi Ken and All.

    First: What an idiot! It does seem, as someone else has commented, that this person was looking for a reason to no longer commit funds. A very strange series of statements from them indeed.

    Re: Lenovo X200 machines.

    We have two running Ubuntu 12.04. Seriously fantastic 🙂 These things are powerful, tough and lovely to use.

    My wife has an Lenovo X1 Carbon running the same (me, jealous? Nah ;))

    Her machine is for her clinic (Clinical Psychologist). She runs her psychometric testing software in a Virtual Machine operating Windows. The rest of her work is done in Linux. Her desktop machine at the clinic is another Lenovo running 12.04. Again, it has a VM running Windows for her psychometric software.

    Without going into to too much detail, as anyone who has to use psychometric software knows, the environment and presentation has to meet certain parameters and this, unfortunately, can only be met by running it natively on Windows.

    That said, she’s had great fun watching the surprise on people’s faces when, as a non-tech interested person, she swaps effortlessly between Guest and Host :))

    We have three children. They have second hand PCs running…well, you guessed. The eldest also uses a Chromebook which she takes to high school. Does everything she needs, great battery life etc and VERY light.

    I do a lot of work from home, swapping between my X200 and my desktop. This is a Linux household through and through.

    Summarising my own points:

    A) Older machines run really well using Linux (my X200 dual boots Win7 and the wireless is ALWAYS dropping out)

    B) You don’t need brand new machines to do a good job. The machines you’re identifying are fantastic for 90+% of the population when running Linux.

    C) Linux has fantastic application for professionals and non-professionals.

    Keep up the brilliant work!

  • Charlie

    Take a look at it from another angle. You had one guy who stopped donating money because he failed to see the value in older machines. Sounds bad and stupid, BUT, all those who cannot see the value in slightly older computers may just be the ones who donate older computers to you. If they understood the value in older machines, you’d never get your hands on one.

    The more I know about using a computer, the less horsepower I seek out. After years of stupidly buying the latest and greatest, I’ve figured out that the discarded castoffs from business will do almost everything I need, so I grab old used machines with no OS for $35.00 and see what Linux distributions I can run on them.

  • JFM

    @Larry Cafiero.

    Linux is no megic bullet and is plumbed by X that is a piece of crap (remember this was a _research_ project, atht was adopted to counter the NeWS system from Sun). Too low level to begin witrh so applications are forced toperform my expenseive interactions with X.

    The real point is that the days where a six years old computer was blown of the water by anew one are long gone and for a simple reason: we are hitting limits set by the speed of light. By 2015 standards a 2009 processor is not slow for single-threaded applications. A 2015 processor will have more cores but that only matters if you are running a lot of applications or, rare and difficult to implement, multithreaded ones. Anyway I am still happy with my 2008 Core 2 Duo. Even my 12 years old Athlon remains usable, its main drawback being that the motherboard only supports 1G of memory and that is a bit low by today’s standards. In the early nineties an AMD 386DX40 was 40 (fourty) times faster than a 8088 and the latter was quite simply unusable. We are no longer in the early nineties. What I told applies to desktops. Could be different in laptops but I doubt it is THAT different.

  • Douglas Jenkins

    I use a T61 with 1.5gigs ram at church boots into Mint 17.2 (XP on as small a partition as possible, this is the church’s machine, afterall!) It is slow, but it runs!
    We have a T400 with 4 gigs at home as well as an Acer S3 also with 4, both running mint 17.2, solo.

    I can’t replace the $3k, but I’ll get my card out after a meeting tonight, and send you some!

  • Someone_Somewhere

    Sounds to me like a smug someone needs to be given a good and proper.

    Hopefully someone else comes and fills the gap this cretin left behind.

    Chin up, carry on and all that; you do a good thing…so remember, no good deed goes unpunished, but we do them nonetheless.

  • Raphael Sanches

    First… Congratulations once again Ken for the wonderful job you do!

    – What is garbage to some might be gold to others!
    This guy probably never realized the true value of anything in his life!… probably just what’s on the outside of package matters for him….
    As a guy who could only dream about owning a Computer for years (my whole adolescence), and there are many of us out there, I can truly see what that guy doesn’t when I take a look at a PC.

    – Powered by Linux!
    He also probably forgot that all Reglue machines run LINUX!!!, which means that all those problems all PC’s have and Microsoft made you believe the cause was your old, dated hardware, don’t exist anymore!
    Any form of computer running Linux will always be faster, safer and simply do what you want, instead of to do what Microsoft/3rd Party Apps want your PC to do (Live Tiles, Hidden Advertising, Buy this, Subscribe that, Etc….)

    So after all Ken, next time someone have doubts about the performance the machines you deliver have keep in mind to explain how a machine works once you install the LINUX – The Great and Powerful – on it!

    As someone who once donated and would like to donate more often I do not feel or doubt about the quality of the PC’s the project Reglue deliver and never will !!!

  • […] 2.Confusing Treasure for Junk in Linuxland by Ken Starks. Published August 11, 2015. In this article, our writer admits to giving perfectly usable, but previously owned, computers loaded with Linux and tons of goodies to schoolkids who need computers. Despicable, we say. Downright despicable. If he can’t afford to give them each a brand spanking new MacBook Air with a three year warranty, then the kids should do without. […]