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That's a rather low price range, I haven't seen many computers that work sell for that on any decent site. Maybe ebay will have something ... however, it's very questionable if it will work or keep working for long.
Some time ago I sold an old broken computer of about $100, it was broken tho.
If where you live you can gain access to a quantity of discarded electronics, you might use the fact that any PC in a tower is a collection of modules and that linux supports most PC hardware without any additional use of drivers to collect what others have discarded and build a PC of your own.
As already noted, $100 won't buy you much unless it is at a garage or charity sale where the quality of what's on display exceeds the knowledge and willingness to buy of any of those browsing the goods.
A treasure hunt for the working parts of a PC and learning how to put them together may even be a small adventure for the intended receivers of your gift.
Last edited by thorkelljarl; 03-25-2011 at 01:48 PM.
In the cities it is usually much easier to pick up old computers than in rural areas.
But even there, you have to put in some footwork. Patrol areas on the evening before garbage collection and try to find hobby/geek shops (not chain stores).
You could just advertise locally that you want an old PC for educational purposes - nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Raising it here on this forum doesn't really help because you don't mention your location, so although there might be people in your area reading this who have old hardware to give away, they don't know that you live nearby.
You're probably not going to find anything manufacturer-certified refurbished for $100. I'd recommend hitting up Craigslist, Freecycle, thrift store, etc. and taking your chances. Depending where you live, you should be able to find Pentium 4 (or better) with at least 512mb of RAM, which is a good minimum spec for Ubuntu.
Dumpster diving. I found three P4 laptops, all in perfect condition. Even the batteries worked. The places to look are behind schools, universities, and medium/large businesses. Expect to fork out for a hard drive though, many have them pulled out and destroyed for data protection purposes.
Pick from the junk of computer repair centers. They often trash good hardware (that didn't work for them because of other hardware being bad, that has no drivers in Windows, that is simply a bit too old) or hardware with minor failures (bad CMOS battery / bad capacitors)
I am writing a guide about capacitor replacement, hopefuly will upload soon
There are retailers that specialise in refurbished PCs, mostly ex-corporate. I know of one in the UK, none in the US though. $100 is a very low price point though; while you may get something that works, how it performs with modern software and websites is another matter. (And if you're planning on running Linux on it, the last thing you want to do is give a machine that runs it slowly, since the users will be more likely to judge it as a failing of Linux, not of the hardware.)