They need love too!

I cannot believe how people can throw away their computers when they are working fine. Last month, as I was walking along the street where I live, I saw a gentleman discarding some of his old stuff. Right when I was passing by, he brought a laptop out and threw it away. I asked him what was wrong with the machine. He said it was not working (That doesn’t say anything, of course). Then I asked him if I could take a look. He said it was ok. It was a relatively new laptop from Dell and I took it home for testing. First thing I realized was that the hard drive connector was loose. Once I sorted that out, it was absolutely fine. The machine started fine after that. No problems whatsoever.

So I took the machine back to the gentleman and told him I fixed it. But he was not interested and told me with a straight face that he doesn’t take something back after having thrown it away. Quite a philosophy I must add. So, I took it home and upgraded the RAM and did some minor quirks here and there and it was ready for its life v 2.0.

My first choice was FreeBSD, which wouldn’t even boot. OpenBSD worked fine up until hard drive recognition. It wouldn’t budge. So, my next choice was NetBSD. Well, what would you know, it installed just fine. Next up was X, followed by pkgsrc. No issues. Only issue was wireless card. It comes with a Broadcom chip that doesn’t have support. But I had a spare Ralink USB wireless adapter, which was pretty easy to set up. Took the machine for a test ride, even LINPACK benchmarks gave satisfying results. Wireless worked fine too. So, another machine salvaged.

Since it was Christmas time, like the year before, wanted to donate this machine as well. I found a smart kid from a not so well to do family through one of my friends and donated it to him. It was totally satisfying to see how happy he was. He has never used BSD before, but he has worked with Linux for a long time. So I gave him a crash course on BSD and NetBSD in particular.

Here is a screenshot from the laptop before I gave it to him. Click on the image for full view. Window manager is ScrotWM and the font is Dash, which is a mod of the famous font, Smooth (from misc family). I will release it sometime this month.

NetBSD 5.1 on the donated laptop

That makes it 28 computers donated until end of last year. Let’s see how it is this year.

6 comments on “Illogical!

  1. I totally agree with your politics. Old hardware (or new but ‘not working’) should be reused instead of throwing it away. May people might find the useful in a number of scenarios. For myself I hacked an old P3 and use it ever since as a mail/gateway in my home. It runs FreeBSD smooth and does the job well. The only problem I had with it in the past was the upgrade process (compile from sources – OS related stuff, not ports), but that has been resolved since freebsd-update came along. I do not need anything more from it. As for the mobile section, I have an ‘old’ (4 years) Vaio which runs Ubuntu Linux. For Windows and it’s apps it is a bit too old and slow, but Linux (or BSD?) works perfect.

    Nice screenshot as well. Keep it simple and share πŸ™‚ Also thumbs up for helping out that guy with your BSD knowledge.

    Cheers mate!

  2. A very fine act! Hope you keep lighting the fire of knowledge. BTW, you can’t imagine how eagerly your mod of the Smooth font is awaited πŸ™‚

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