Recycle and reuse your old computers

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

I spent this weekend at the Kinder Living Show manning a stand with my cohort Cliff Jackson of Easyline Solutions. Now rather than having separate stands plugging our own businesses and in the spirit of the Kinder Living Show itself, we chose to reuse the Kinder Tech brand from the previous show we were both at.

There was an interesting mix of stands at the show, but we were concentrating on recycling and reusing computers and had a range of laptops on display that had been patched up and reused.

In some cases it may only be something as simple as stripping out all of the unnecessary programs on a device in order to get it running smoothly again. However, if your old PC or laptop is running an unsupported version of Windows (XP or Vista for instance) that may not be in your interests. Any operating system that is unsupported will no longer be receiving security updates to fix those annoying vulnerabilities that get discovered by hackers. Additionally if you want to run the latest software, you could well be out of luck.

Other than a couple of netbooks which both had Windows 10 on them, the rest of the computers we had on display were running various different kinds of the Linux operating system.

As I am sure you have heard me mention before, Linux is free to download and install as there is no licence fee. There are also many different distributions available, some of which have been specifically designed to work on old or low powered hardware. With the added bonus that malware is virtually non-existent on Linux (it really is secure), it means you can turn your old PC that was gathering dust into a working machine that is also safer to use than before.

A lot of Linux distributions come with software preloaded, so you can be up and running in no time. Ubuntu for instance comes with LibreOffice and Thunderbird preloaded, which means all of your office and email needs are sorted without you having to worry about additional downloads, or forking out on some third party product.

We had a couple of Chromium based machines at the show, which are essentially the same as Chromebooks. CloudReady was one that I was using. It is nice and quick (even on an old Vista laptop) as most things are done in the browser.

For anyone that wanted a more Windows like experience, we had a laptop with Zorin installed. Zorin is based on Ubuntu, but has been designed to look and feel the same as Windows XP. So anyone worried that Linux is completely different and will confuse the heck out of them, should be pleasantly surprised.

Now people have mentioned to me in the past that they don’t know where to get Linux, or how to create a bootable disk or USB stick. Handily you can buy a USB stick with Ubuntu on it if you want to try it out. I bought one to show people over the weekend. It is very handy if you have a slow internet connection or one of those annoying download limits. It cost less than a tenner, including postage and packaging and you are told you are free to copy it and share it around.

Now for comparison a new Windows 10 Home licence will cost you £99.99, while Windows 10 Pro is a whopping £189.99