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Old 09-14-2010, 07:34 PM   #1
schachwizard
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Old PC's - should I toss them, or do something interesting?


My family has been saving several old PCs, and we've been recently considering throwing them out. There are SEVEN of them, and I was able to wipe the drives of five of them with DBAN(most of them were infected with viruses anyway), all of which had various versions of Windows (from 3.1 to 2000). I believe the oldest computer is a little over 20 years old, while the "newest" is about ten years old. I'll definitely throw out the two oldest, since they both cannot boot past BIOS.

However, for the other five, do you guys have any ideas of what I could do to perhaps learn more about computers? I've installed Puppy Linux on the newest one, because it has 128 MB RAM, but the others have 64mb, 0 (I took the RAM, and but it into the Puppy machine), 16mb, and about 4mb. I'm thinking maybe doing a Linux from Scratch installation.

PS - I'm in high school was introduced to Linux a few months ago. I don't know any programming languages.
 
Old 09-14-2010, 08:08 PM   #2
dugan
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Use them to play DOS games.
 
Old 09-14-2010, 08:19 PM   #3
choogendyk
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So, have you got a newer computer that you are using? And these older ones are all extra surplus? My gut reaction would be to take the newest of the older ones and use it as a learning environment to install things on, play around, wipe it, install again, etc. Then you always have your main computer to work on, and you have perhaps a somewhat decent older computer to experiment with.

I've just cleaned out my computer room and dumped (local computer recycling facility) most of the older stuff. I kept one that dated from 1987, because I had proclaimed it to be a Knight of the Realm based on its yeoman service over the course of many years. It carries a lot of sentimental value. Lots of less old stuff that way outperformed that one is now gone, because my newest stuff is just way better yet. That's the way it is.
 
Old 09-14-2010, 08:28 PM   #4
lumak
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Turn it into an internet box?... assuming it can run a browser at any reasonable speed.
 
Old 09-14-2010, 08:42 PM   #5
schachwizard
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Yes, I normally work from a Ubuntu machine that has a 80GB hard drive, and 1GB RAM. Probably the best old computer is the one with a 18GB hard drive, and 128MB RAM. Can anything significant be done on a machine like that? It's currently running Puppy Linux, which boots up very quickly, and generally runs quickly, but while browsing the internet, it can occasionally approach a crawl.
 
Old 09-14-2010, 09:01 PM   #6
moxieman99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schachwizard View Post
My family has been saving several old PCs, and we've been recently considering throwing them out. There are SEVEN of them, and I was able to wipe the drives of five of them with DBAN(most of them were infected with viruses anyway), all of which had various versions of Windows (from 3.1 to 2000). I believe the oldest computer is a little over 20 years old, while the "newest" is about ten years old. I'll definitely throw out the two oldest, since they both cannot boot past BIOS.

However, for the other five, do you guys have any ideas of what I could do to perhaps learn more about computers? I've installed Puppy Linux on the newest one, because it has 128 MB RAM, but the others have 64mb, 0 (I took the RAM, and but it into the Puppy machine), 16mb, and about 4mb. I'm thinking maybe doing a Linux from Scratch installation.

PS - I'm in high school was introduced to Linux a few months ago. I don't know any programming languages.
Google the motherboard specs (maker and model, maybe) to find out what the maximum amount of RAM each computer can handle. Then keep the two computers that seem the most interesting to you and fill them to maximum capacity with RAM. If you can get 256 meg of RAM, you can handle a modern distro (slow, but handle it) and actually do well with a light distro. At 512 meg of RAM, you might even get tolerable speed out of a modern distribution properly configured. At 1 gig of RAM, the world is your oyster.

Then scavenge the other boxes for parts: Cables, floppies, RAM, hard discs, power units, CD players, even the frames if they aren't too bad. Take the remaining motherboards and such the recycler.

Noodle around to your heart's content.
 
Old 09-14-2010, 09:05 PM   #7
snowpine
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I would keep one or two and donate/recycle the others.

Here are some fun ideas for what to do with old computers:

http://kmandla.wordpress.com/2007/09...-old-computer/
 
Old 09-14-2010, 09:47 PM   #8
jaydot
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i've always shoved pclinuxos (where possible) onto those machines to go and folk have been glad of them. where pclinuxos can't cut the mustard, i stick one of my old distros on it. damn small does a damn good job and puppy's handy for old kit.

they make handy learning tools too.
 
Old 09-15-2010, 07:23 AM   #9
MTK358
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schachwizard View Post
I don't know any programming languages.
Try it if you interested! Some languages (like Python) are quite easy.
 
Old 09-15-2010, 10:07 AM   #10
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schachwizard View Post
Probably the best old computer is the one with a 18GB hard drive, and 128MB RAM. Can anything significant be done on a machine like that?
You can make a music jukebox of this one, or attach some external harddrives and make it fileserver, or learn how to set up any kind of server, like webserver, email-server or a torrent-box.
 
Old 09-15-2010, 02:21 PM   #11
dv502
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I would first try contacting friends, family or others if they would want a PC or if they know someone who does.

if not, just keep some parts like hard drives, RAM, PCI cards or whatever and throw the rest away.

Who knows, one day one of those parts can come in handy for yourself or other. You can also sell them on ebay.

Last edited by dv502; 09-15-2010 at 03:51 PM.
 
Old 09-15-2010, 03:43 PM   #12
entz
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now you said you don't know any programming languages....how unfortunate!

if i were you , i would transform those old PC's into embedded machines , possible applications could be things like:
routers , actuator controllers such as switching lights on/off , controlling appliances with them around the house.

i know those suggestions are geeky , but that's just me.
 
Old 09-15-2010, 06:00 PM   #13
schachwizard
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OK, I've cleaned out the boxes for all RAM, and I'll soon try to find the best combination. (Is there any way to tell the amount of RAM on a stick from the stick alone?)

Also, I like the idea of learning some programming. Is Python is good place for me, a beginner, to start?
 
Old 09-15-2010, 06:27 PM   #14
tuxdev
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Quote:
OK, I've cleaned out the boxes for all RAM, and I'll soon try to find the best combination. (Is there any way to tell the amount of RAM on a stick from the stick alone?)
Most sticks are labeled with the capacity, often inside the model number if not directly.

Quote:
Also, I like the idea of learning some programming. Is Python is good place for me, a beginner, to start?
Python's good for beginners, as well as Ruby. Also if there's a local college around, you might try to drop into one of the intro classes unofficially. Most profs would be excited to see someone express early interest. Actually, I'd recommend doing that for any major you have an inkling.
 
Old 09-15-2010, 06:34 PM   #15
mostlyharmless
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Might've been fun to network them all together (if they had network cards) and experiment with cluster computing. I had a couple of 386's I had running condor several years ago.
 
  


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