Anything about old PCs, their uses, related OSes and their users
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I rested a bit, opened the case of this PC to ensure that it is clean, then attached all the cables and booted it with Slitaz Linux loram version. It booted and is working amazingly well and I am typing this message using this old P3 tower that pretty much no one in this city wanted. I am glad that I waited really well and long, verified no one else wants it and only then did I get it. Keeping a ready OS, knowing all the basics and possible issues in advance really helped get this PC setup fast.
I already have so much hardware, however if I keep this up, in the next year or so, I will have a lot of PCs, atleast once every 3 months I can get one.
P4s are not yet dead but are almost dying. Local stores are still selling them for 80 bucks or so with bigger hard drive, ram etc., One person even advertised on local kijiji a P4 for 25 bucks. So the market for P3 is dead and is no man's land pretty much. This is for desktops only. I assume that there is still demand for P3 laptops as P4 Laptops are still going for about 150 bucks locally. It will be another 5 years or so before used laptops come to 50 bucks, this is just my guess.
I was a bit tired from all this, so was not thinking clearly. Now, I am rested well. This P3 Tower accepts floppies, so this is good for most normal writing etc., However, if I wished to save anything bigger on it such as a puppy linux sfs file etc., I can easily stick in a USB key, they are very inexpensive these days, I can even use a 16GB USB key as a permanent hard drive for this PC if I wanted to. For now, I don't see this need tho.
Govt. and certain organizations buy backup PCs in bulk when price is right. However, if the need doesn't arise, then they are just sold later at a much cheaper price. Such PCs have never been used. Same with most parts also. Again checkout the site above. This is only one such site I know off. There are also auctions etc., If all this is considered, there is all the more reason to get used PCs. But most are recycled via a good recycling program I was adviced.
what about using it without X11 with mutt, ... , or alternatively using omapfb or fbdev ?
These are very good suggestions and this is a vital post here.
This post made me realize that I am interested in Linux more from the point of reducing eWaste at this point. The fb option did comeup when setting up X but I never really looked deeper into it before as it was meant more for laptops and I am less of a laptop user.
With P3 being the dead zone in North America and P4s being available real cheap, there are enough distros to serve these chipsets comfortably. It is very hard to find anything beyond P4 even in used PC shops due to no demand. Most of the earlier PCs have been recycled, the lesser few may remain gathering dust in attic in few homes.
However, from theoretical interest, it will be good to know about these things. I already looked these up on the net. In the future, when the time is right, I might even try these things.
One of the best distros for older PCs that is tempting to try is AntiX, it is based out of Greece. Given the economy there, folk are less likely to upgrade their PCs there and hence there will be more demand for maintaining older PCs. Also, Debian has like 10 CDs now for software I think, this is quite a bit indeed, makes these all the more tempting to try. But even this, I will reserve for the future.
Edit: After this post, I felt a deep desire to check eBay for 75Mhz PC which is P1. There are almost none, 1 PC for sale in Canada that is 200Mhz, P1 CPU for sale as vintage at Cost of 10 bucks or so. Otherwise, this generation is totally out of the scene. So as much as this is not desired, practical observations also confirm this.
These are quite good. It is a real pity that I upgraded me P1 and then threw it, real pity.
Here is my rough estimate of how much actual old PCs will cost since used P4 Costs 30 Bucks:
P3 would cost 15 bucks
P2 would cost approx 5 to 8 bucks
P1 would cost 1 to 3 bucks
this is the entire PC. Also, they are heavy and bulky. So, too much for work for too little money. No wonder, we don't see these PCs even in dollar plus stores. However, further down the road, we can easily see the pi being sold at a dollar plus store as it is small and convenient. What we can see down the road tho. is simpler parts like Ram being sold in dollar stores as they are easy to ship and stock.
This may sound weird but with the economy tanking etc., perhaps it is time to build a custom home or atleast parts of a home with old PC cases. Hopefully, some architects may get this idea. Here is a home built from shipping containers: http://www2.canada.com/vancouversun/...4-1b00133ff93f
The used P3 tower that I recently got was setup with Puppy Slacko 3.3.3
I had an old USB drive of 2Gb that I plugged into it. Able to save the pupsave file to it. This is recognized on boot by OS on CD.
Takes 4 minutes to boot now, broswer is sort of slow but otherwise ok.
Sounds works great on this, so it can be used to stream net radio.
I will use this as my main PC for sometime unless something changes.
This PC will last as long as the PSU lasts.
Edit: On a different note Dell 410 laptops on sale for $69 locally, lowest price for local used laptop. Saw the P4 adn the P2 advertised on craigslist again, this means that there are no buyers for these yet.
I am looking for a printer/scanner locally on freecycle, I respond to all offers for the same. This is more green. However, these seem to be in demand more. There is a chance that I might get one in the future. Then can use it with this PC.
It will be interesting to extend the linux philosophy to other hardware and even in other aspects of our lives. This will encourage out of the box thinking and give creative solutions to some issues perhaps. I will try to brainstorm in this regard and see what I come up with.
See after I got these older PCs, my uptime has slowly increased from 10mts per day to 6 hours even daily.
It is more green to not have PC on for so many hours per day.
I need to walk more, then I will come across more hardware on street, specially
on days when garbage is cleared:
There is no more space for used PCs in my tiny apartment. So, it is better to find
users for older PCs, so if I come across anymore these can be donated. Either
that or I have to just keep the main parts and discard the rest.
Alternatively, as and when I get better PCs, the older ones
can be donated away on freecycle.
Interms of parts, the following are interesting:
1. USB flash drives
4. Ethernet Cards
5. Video and Sound cards
6. External hard drives
8. DVDRW, CDRW drives.
9. CD/DVD media
Everyweek it will help to ask for one of these on freecyle
When we look at the above, our PCs are far better.
I mentioned here before my interest in learning LFS etc., However, there is a question:
Does it help to reinvent the wheel ? The P4s are pretty advanced and a wide variety of distros
are available for them. Used P4s are also pretty cheap. With this in mind, most older PCs
have been recycled and it is getting harder to find them. So, rather than reinventing
the wheel, it seems better to customize existing distros for efficient use of the P4s
before even these become obsolete. From the theoratical point tho, learning the basics
is still good.
Need to find and read Dillo browser manual. It is a good browser but tricky to use.
Familiarity will help in its use it appears