• Ewaste or usable?

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    #2444995

    I have two old laptops that over the next few weekends I’m going to attempt to see what options I have to make them usable. Laptop number 1 was built
    [See the full post at: Ewaste or usable?]

    Susan Bradley Patch Lady

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    • #2445008

      Susan, the first idea that comes to mind is to install some lightweight version of Linux on these laptops.

      There are several Linux distros designed especially for low-spec machines and no doubt you’ll find at least one that’s to your liking. Among these are Lubuntu, Puppy Linux, Zorin OS Lite, and Bodhi Linux.

      Happy hunting!

       

      • #2445026

        I agree with Cybertooth. I’ve got 4 computers running Linux Mint 20.3 Cinnamon. They are:

        1) 2009 Acer Aspire laptop, 4 GB RAM, 320 GB HDD, 1 core Celeron processor. Boots in about 1.5 minutes. Not exactly a speed burner but it handles MP3 files with no glitches, 20 MP Jpegs in Gimp, Libre Office documents, etc. It’s a perfectly serviceable machine and is faster than a 2017 iMAC running Catalina with 8GB RAM, core i5 processor, and 1TB HDD

        2) 2009 HP Pavilion laptop , 4GB RAM, 250 GB HDD, 1 core AMD processor. Same performance comments as for the Acer. I experimented with a 480 GB SSD and cut the boot time to about 40 seconds, and sped up everything dramatically. Another serviceable machine with or without the SSD.

        3) 2010 Gateway netbook, 1 GB RAM, 480 GB SSD, 1 core Intel Atom processor. This came originally with the 250 GB HDD that is now in the HP Pavilion above and was quite slow – not something you would use unless you absolutely had to. So I put the 480GB SSD mentioned above for the HP Pavilion in it and now it too is a serviceable machine with the same performance comments as for the HP and Acer.

        4) 2016 Dell Inspiron 15, 4GB RAM, 500 GB HDD, core i3 processor (5th generation). This is my daily driver and while not a speed demon is noticeably faster than any of the above 3, and I never find myself waiting for much of anything. Boot time is about 30 seconds.

        The first 2 came with Vista, after which I installed W7, but they started to totally frustrate me with their slowness. 3) came with W7 Starter, and became painfully slow doing anything.These 3 computers would certainly be ready for the recycler if they could only run Windows.

        Cinnamon takes more resources than Mate, and as Cybertooth suggested there are other distros that require less hardware than Mint

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      • #2445066

        I’m starting with Chromebook because one of the recent posts on the site was asking about redoing a laptop to be a Chromebook.  Ergo why I’m starting there.  I’m showcasing the options.

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2445024

      Besides using the old machines to run Linux, a system that can run in old computers with limited memory size (RAM and HD) and slower CPUs, etc., which is not at all a bad idea, one could also donate old computers, after reformatting the HD or removing it, to some organizations that refurbish and then distribute them to schools in poorer countries or in less fortunate neighborhoods of not-so-poor countries, and for other useful purposes — and also get a tax break:

      https://www.moneycrashers.com/donate-old-computers-electronics-charity/

      The following article is about all the things the Goodwill would take, including used electronics:

      https://www.joincake.com/blog/what-does-goodwill-take/

      Small electronics and communication devices

      Many people are guilty of holding onto electronics longer than necessary. They think they’ll plug them back in and fire them up “sometime soon,” when in reality, these electronics just sit unused. Don’t throw them away, even if it seems tempting. Many electronics, though outdated, can still serve a purpose for those on a budget or in need.

       

      Ex Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7) since mid-2020. Now: running macOS Big Sur 11.6 & sometimes, Linux (Mint)

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV and Malwarebytes for Macs.

    • #2445035

      Add a 32GB SD card to the Aspire 1, update from w7 to w10, use it as an emergency terminal ?

    • #2445050

      Susan,

      Please send them to me rather than ewaste. I will be able to use them. I have no problem going back to Vista from Windows 7 and using it as is. I have couple old XP that is still use. My Windows 7 is disconnect from internet since fear getting Windows 10 virus/spyware. If Laptop 1 has only Windows 7, than it will be fine for me. I do not want the Windows 10.

       

      Laptop 2, not sure I never used Chrome since it is another telemetry hog by Google. Would have to see if can install Xp on it or may be could get Windows 98 install. My old Windows 98 has failed a few years back. Would be nice to get it back.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2445067

        Remember folks, I said “supported and patched”.  Windows Vista is very much not a supported platform.

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady

    • #2445060

      FYI,

      Linux Mint Reqs:

      Linux-Mint-Reqs

      May the Forces of good computing be with you!

      RG

      PowerShell & VBA Rule!
      Computer Specs

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2445068

      Your old computers will make excellent test guinea pigs.

      And remember those funny connectors that you thought you would never need again? The ones that were so last century? I hope you kept them in the computer junk drawer, too.

      On hiatus {with backup and coffee}
      offline▸ Win10Pro 2004.19041.572 x64 i3-3220 RAM8GB HDD Firefox83.0b3 WindowsDefender WuMgr
      offline▸ Win10Pro 20H2.19042.685 x86 Atom N270 RAM2GB HDD WindowsDefender WuMgr GuineaPigVariant
      online▸ Win11Pro 21H2.22000.675 x64 i5-9400 RAM16GB HDD Firefox101.0b6 MicrosoftDefender WuMgr
    • #2445077

      To me, my time is the issue, then the cpu – the oldest laptop I keep has an i5 processor and is no slouch – so I keep it as I can put near anything on it. I won’t waste my time with anything slower, and I have more respect of the folks I might give it to than to saddle them with a long coffee break every time they want to do something – not respectful!

      Personally I would trash them and if a person needs a cheap computer search ebay for a used one with i5 or more. They can be had for cheap if you look carefully, and with an ssd they are VERY usable.

      - ThinkPad T570-20HA, i7-7600U, 2.8GHz, UEFI/GPT, 16GB, Sammy 256GB M.2 NVMe PM961. HP laserjets (M254dw, P1102w, P1606dn), Epson 2480 scanner -

      • #2445101

        Let me add to what I said above. All of my Linux computers are serviceable in the configurations described above. No one would feel disrespected by using any of them. They make fine computers for most family members and for people who don’t own a computer, can’t afford one, but need one.

        3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2445075

      I said “supported and patched”. Windows Vista is very much not a supported platform.

      I know that you said that. But for me, I would use them as is. I am happy with unsupport and unpatched since I am using Windows Xp now. Vista would be a much better batched. If you do not want these two laptops, please sent them to me. Thank you. I will not ewaste them until they fail beyond repair.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2445081

      For the installing Linux on an Acer C710, this does a good job of outlining the steps:

      https://www.linux.com/topic/desktop/how-install-linux-acer-c720-chromebook/

      It’s focused on the C720 but the C720 & C710 are quite similar.

       

      For installing Mint on the ZA3, the graphics drivers are apparently the biggest challenge.  This gives some key info:

      https://community.linuxmint.com/hardware/view/3924

      ===

      Personally, I wouldn’t waste time on old laptops/chromebooks that have less than 4gb of RAM and are incapable of upgrading memory & disk.

      On the other hand, I’ve had great success taking old laptops, upgrading the RAM & storage (if needed) and then turning them into nice Linux laptops. But I’ll only do this with laptops that have a CPU with at least 4 physical cores (that can do at least 2.6GHZ) and can physically support up to at least 16GB of memory.

    • #2445085

      Base Debian 11 ‘Bullseye’ (pick default extremely simple/small window manager, openbox).  I still have Thinkpad T40 (2000 era machine 32-bit 1.5 GHz proc and 1 G Ram).  It is actually usable but slow.  You would not want to use it for modern browsing.  Note latest patched ESR Firefox (don’t try videos as they are slide shows) and recent LibreOffice basically both work but not a good idea to use both at the same time.

      Your hardware will work fine with basic file browsing and email.  Depending on the video cipset you may even get hardware accelerated video with Youtube/Firefox.

      I have an 2011 dual core 1.0GHz AMD laptop with 3 GB memory, old HDD and it plays 1080 HD videos from YouTube smooth with hardware acceleration!  No joke.

    • #2445096

      I also installed Linux on my Compaq laptop bought in 2009, specifically lubuntu.

      4 GB, 120 HDD, basic laptop originally with Win 7.  It still boots up and updates, used just for browsing and email.

    • #2445111

      Linux runs in all kinds of computers with the same Intel CPUs as Windows PCs, and in some that are not: on Amiga and Raspberry PI machines. I wonder how this discussion would translate to old Macs (if at all) that, until a year ago and even some new models now, had those CPUs and also Intel GPUs. It seems possible to install Linux in dual-boot with macOS, at least in some models:

      https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/install-linux-macbook-pro/

      As to using Linux in old Windows PCs, Linux may not be the only option but is probably the best, mainly because of the number of people using it and the numbers of those knowledgeable about its details and its applications (for example here at AskWoody) and its large variety of distros.

      One such other option could  be FreeBSD:

      https://www.freebsd.org/

      I used it once, when visiting at Nagoya University, in Japan, where  a group I was working with had it running in all their PCs that could also run Windows. I noticed no difference with Linux, at least for the things I did there. It was also compatible with GNU software, for example a compiler I needed, from the GCC library, could be installed and used with this OS, so I did that. Both Linux and FreeBSD are UNIX-like. Its Project is at least as old as the Linux one.

      Ex Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7) since mid-2020. Now: running macOS Big Sur 11.6 & sometimes, Linux (Mint)

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV and Malwarebytes for Macs.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2445118

      Good question. Always better to emphasize the REUSE in the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra. It takes a LOT for me to get to the point where I have to e-waste a system.

      For the Acer, I’d suggest either changing it to a Chromebook using Google’s new Chrome OS Flex (see the instructions for its installation and use at https://chromeenterprise.google/os/chromeosflex/) or put Linux on it. Linux Mint should work fine for that system, and would be a great tool for browsing and email as those are pretty lightweight tasks. There are also ways to make Mint (or any Ubuntu derivative) look very much like Windows, for your convenience. I’ve used Linux on systems with less than 4Gb of memory and a small hard drive, and it works fine.

      Not sure what to do about the Chromebook system, as I’ve never had one to fiddle with, but you might be able to use the Recovery Extension Tool for Chrome (see https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/chromebook-recovery-utili/pocpnlppkickgojjlmhdmidojbmbodfm for info) and try to install a newer version of the OS or maybe Chrome OS Flex would work on it. Don’t know for sure, but it can’t hurt to experiment. It MAY also support Linux, again it’s worth trying.

      //Steve//

    • #2445112

      I am curious about the results of this.  Using Chromebooks past their end date is a subject that is comes up a lot.  Repurposing old hardware using cloudready or chrome os flex is an interesting idea.  For those who have not been reading, most devices running cloudready will be upgraded to chrome os flex when it is declared stable.  Maybe the end of the year?   https://www.cnet.com/tech/computing/chrome-os-flex-turns-an-aging-laptop-into-a-chromebook-for-free/

      My hunch is for some users, especially ones with bad internet, that either windows 10 or a more traditional Linux feels better.  I guess a Chromebook can work without internet, somewhat?  A used (I agree, look for an intel i5) laptop can be bought for $100-$300 and adding an SSD ($50-60 for a 256gb) makes it feel basically brand new.  That could be good enough to run Windows 10, if you can get 8gb of ram in it.  If you have or can only get a worse laptop, it can be made useful with a light Linux.  -BB

    • #2445157

      Yikes, 2 GB of RAM–of course, this makes things more difficult.  🙂  I would give Lubuntu, MX-Linux, Linux Mint (with Xfce), etc, a try.  Good luck.  Of course, if you can, upgrade that RAM; I did on a couple of recycled laptops clients gave to me and now, I use modern-day Linux distributions on them, quite nicely, thank you very much.

    • #2445255

      Sounds like perfect use cases for Lubuntu or Xubuntu.

    • #2445331

      Linux, particularly Mint, is a very fine operating system that can be used on nearly all old computers, when used for browsing, libreoffice, email, and such. They still fall down on drivers for scanners and many printers. I also had trouble with some USB hubs.

      I had been using it for maybe 3/4 of a year but then tax time came and I went back to windows for turbotax and (surprising myself) have stayed on win 11. At least for the moment.

      Deciding to sell my old Lenovo V570 laptop I searched my keys and came up with a Win 10 Home retail that I got a while back by mistake so put it on and fired it up and it’s ready to go – with an i5 and eSATA it does (Macrium) backups near as fast as my T570, and with an old Sammy ssd 840 it is near as snappy. Now I am inclined to hold on to it…

      Also Linux can’t do windows games (wine burns your cpu) though it can be great for the old games (scummvm and dosbox and the like) which I used to love to play.

      Definitely should be tried for old computers before discarding.

      EDIT: I would add a caution here and NOT say “great for kids”… – kids are our future and they need to learn the latest hardware and software, and possibly c++ and the like for their futures – with an old computer and linux they are not helped into the future job market…

      - ThinkPad T570-20HA, i7-7600U, 2.8GHz, UEFI/GPT, 16GB, Sammy 256GB M.2 NVMe PM961. HP laserjets (M254dw, P1102w, P1606dn), Epson 2480 scanner -

    • #2445370

      Yikes, 2 GB of RAM–of course, this makes things more difficult.

      I’m running Linux Mint Cinnamon 19.1 on a 2007 Sony VAIO with only 2 Gigs of Ram, a 1.6 GHz Core 2 CPU, and updated with a Samsung 860 EVO 250 GB SSD.  It boots up quickly and everything runs quickly except for Firefox 99.0.1 which is now slow loading.  The version of Firefox that came with the Linux Mint ISO ran quickly back when I installed it.

      A special note that I just found out that I have a swap file but it hardly ever gets used.  I found this to be quite amazing.

      Edit:  But having said that, I do support the advice of using a Linux version that’s easier on RAM if you don’t have at least 4 Gigs.

      We're getting Sticker Shock everywhere now, not just car dealers.

      • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by Charlie.
      • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by Charlie.
    • #2445381
    • #2445390

      The old Chromebook should be usable as is, in Guest Mode. Even without bug fixes to the OS, Guest Mode throws away all changes made while logged on. Not for the most sensitive websites, of course, but should be fine for other sites.

       

      Get up to speed on router security at RouterSecurity.org and Defensive Computing at DefensiveComputingChecklist.com

    • #2445423

      Note that neither cloudready or chrome os flex will run android or google play store apps.  So they are not quite as good as a chromebook for some things such as playing games.

    • #2445481

      In 2025, with W10 EOL ? What will be available to load onto old, slow Windows machines ? DUNNO !
      I’ve 2-Toshiba machines that might take a rebirth. So, currently; what’s the best free alternative OS, with the greatest compatibility to all the bells & whistles, that we utilise today ?
      CHEERS ! 👀

      • #2445603

        I think that has pretty much been answered in the posts above.  #2445331, #2445111, #2445370, #2445060, 2445026 for example.

        We're getting Sticker Shock everywhere now, not just car dealers.

    • #2446129

      x86_64 devices can be turned in routers running firmware like OpenWrt.

      Add a managed switch, and a couple of wireless access points.

       

    • #2446312

      About four years ago I had a very lame eMachines computer (2 GB maximum of RAM) which I was trying to still get some use out of. The only thing I found that ran well on it was Windows 8.0 (remember that?). Windows 8.0 32 bit ran decently on it. But nothing else would. (Windows 8.1 ran horribly on it.)

      Long story short, I installed Elementary OS (Linux) on it, and Elementary OS ran decently on it. Elementary OS was not only a light version of Linux, but it was a well-written, robust OS. You can probably get some life out of the two laptops by putting Elementary OS on them.

      The only caveat is, Elementary OS has a MAC-like interface. If you are strictly a Windows person, that will probably drive you crazy.

      Here’s a post I wrote about Elementary OS:
      https://www.askwoody.com/forums/topic/elementary-os/

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      • #2446320

        MrJimPhelps: I thank you for the description of your experience using a light Linux distro: it gives me some reason for reviving my long-dead IBM/Lenovo machine that used to run Windows XP.

        I do disagree, though, with your comment on the Mac’s interface: speaking for myself, it has been as easy for me to begin to use, and generally as familiar, as that of Windows 7, the last OS from MS I have ever run. Or as familiar as the usual Linux interface. All three follow the same basic design criteria with the same basic elements: clickable icons, task bar, folders, with window controls that are also much the same: nothing there I can think of, to “drive one crazy” an “strictly Windows person.” Of course there is also the customizing of the interface, that requires some savvy and some work, but that is no different from what is required to customize those other two types of OS. I believe that both macOS and Linux graphical interfaces have been designed to resemble Windows’, without obviously violating the intellectual property rights of MS.

        Ex Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7) since mid-2020. Now: running macOS Big Sur 11.6 & sometimes, Linux (Mint)

        MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
        Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
        macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV and Malwarebytes for Macs.

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