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February 10th, 2020

Ken Stark’s Reglue Has Moving Blues

Reglue, which refurbishes used computers and installs Linux on them for use by school students who can’t afford computers, has to move to new digs.

Ken Starks working at Reglue

Ken Starks working at the current Reglue facility.

If you’re a long-time visitor to FOSS Force, you don’t need an introduction to Ken Starks. Back in the days when this site was putting up new content daily, Starks penned a popular column for FOSS Force. He’s a yarn spinner whose stories are always fun to read.

These days he’s still writing and entertaining his followers, just not for us. We scaled back our publishing schedule several years back so I could get a day job to keep the bills paid. But you can still find him on the website for his Austin-based nonprofit, Reglue.

Writing aside, Reglue is his real passion. The organization he founded many years ago takes used, discarded computers, refurbishes them as much as needed, then installs Linux on them along with a boatload of educational software. They are then gifted to public school-aged children in the Austin area, where Starks lives and Reglue operates, whose families can’t afford computers.

Being that most of the kids receiving the computers have no experience with Linux, they’re also trained to use the computers — and it’s explicitly explained to the parents that the computers belong to the kids and aren’t to be purloined by them if there’s schoolwork to be done.

Over the years, the efforts of Starks and Reglue have resulted in something like 1,700 computers being put into homes that otherwise wouldn’t have one, making it possible for many of Reglue’s recipients to get grades high enough to be able to springboard into college and university after graduating high school. These days there are people serving as everything from scientists to school teachers who got where they are partially because of the modest help they received from Reglue.

You can learn more by visiting the Reglue website.

Unfortunately, Reglue is currently stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place. The organization has to move — like immediately if not sooner — and they don’t have the funds needed to finance the move.

The move is necessitated by an agreement that’s been in place for seven years. Starks tell us that the location Reglue’s been calling home is in a building that houses local non profits for a seven-year period, and that time is now up. After Reglue moves out, the space will go to another nonprofit.

Starks admits that he’s had seven years to prepare for this day, but that the eventual need to move has been kept on the back burner while he’s occupied himself putting out numerous other fires that the nonprofit has faced. On the best of days Reglue is underfunded, so keeping the organization on track often resembles a continuing game of whack-a-mole.

He’s also been dealing with health issues. As regular FOSS Force readers know, he’s gone through two bouts fighting throat cancer, with the last battle taking away his ability to speak without the use of a mechanical device. He’s had other health issues as well. In fact, one of the reasons why he wasn’t better prepared for the end of the seven year agreement for office space was because at the time the arrangement was ending, he was pretty much unconscious in a hospital, suffering from pneumonia, septic shock, and acute kidney failure.

If you’re interested, he’s written a page-turner of a blog on the later health crisis.

Diane, his partner of many years, is also dealing with many health issues.

To make a long story short, Reglue needs to make some money fast to finance a move to new digs. Starks figures they need to come up with about $3,000 to rent new office and work space and to pay moving expenses. If I know Starks, the later will be mostly DIY to save money.

Last week they set up a Gofundme page in order to raise the money needed to make the move and continue handing out computers to students who can’t afford them. In an article on Reglue’s website, Starks said that a community member has promised to match the first $1,000, “so we’re hoping to raise at least that much.” So far $493 has been raised, putting them $507 short of getting the matching funds, or $2,507 short of reaching the fundraising goal.

What this is getting to, of course, is an appeal for donations. Please go to Reglue’s Gofundme page and give what you can (no donation is too large or too small, as they keep saying during fundraising drives on NPR) so that Reglue can continue it’s mission to make sure that no school child in the Austin area will be disadvantaged by not having a computer (and so that Starks can continue doing what he likes doing best).

Oh, if it’s important to you, Reglue is a 501(c)(3) organization, meaning your donation if fully tax deductable.

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

2 comments to Ken Stark’s Reglue Has Moving Blues

  • Randal

    “These days he’s still writing and entertaining his followers, just not for us. We scaled back our publishing schedule several years back so I could get a day job to keep the bills paid. But you can still find him on the website for his Austin-based nonprofit, Reglue.”

    This explains a lot. Didn’t know why this site died, and I thought that Ken must have passed, because the last thing I could find he posted, was in 2017. He evidently changed blogging sites from his old Helios blog/renamed without posting a link there.
    Seems funny, reporters couldn’t report those things.

  • Well, when I took the job the plan was to continue writing for FOSS Force regularly after hours. That didn’t work out. But being retirement age with no money saved I couldn’t afford to turn the job down. We’re working now to increase coverage here.

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