The Top Ten Concepts for Linux Beginners – Number 7, Runs on Obsolete Computers

linux85 The Top Ten Concepts for Linux Beginners   Number 7, Runs on Obsolete Computers
Levi Reiss asked:


onment is in deep trouble. Do you want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem? To avoid being part of the problem don’t toss that supposedly outdated computer onto a landfill. Your discarded computer carcass will take decades to biodegrade and leach scads of poisonous chemicals into the environment during the process.
Several years ago the Utah Department of Environmental Quality estimated that by 2004 more than 300 million computers would be considered obsolete, generating well over 1 billion pounds of lead, 2 million pounds of cadmium, 1 million pounds of chromium, and 400,000 pounds of mercury. Municipal incineration is the largest point source of dioxins into the US and Canadian environments and among the largest sources of heavy metal contamination of the atmosphere. Of course the year 2004 is long gone, and these horrible numbers have undoubtedly been far surpassed in spite of efforts such as corporate trade-in programs.

Why do people toss their computers? That’s simple; given the computer industry’s unending performance advances there is a widespread perception that you can no longer DO anything worthwhile with your old computers. This dangerous assumption is simply not true.

Do you really think that you need Giga-everythings to get your work done and have your fun? Microsoft seems to think so. I remember when 128 Megabytes was a lot of memory. I also remember when “Why would anyone ever need more than 640 Kilobytes of memory?” was the official party line expressed by none other than William Gates III himself.

I’m told that Damn Small Linux requires only 50 Megabytes of disk space, a 486 processor (do you remember what that is?) and 8 Megabytes of RAM. If you want to browse the Internet, you’ll have to move up to 16 Megabytes of RAM and use the Dillo browser. The popular Firefox browser will require additional memory. Frankly, I wouldn’t use such an underpowered computer for moderate or heavy Internet usage. But you can run Linux commands and learn how operating systems work on such computers. And you can play a multitude of games.

For every individual trying to resuscitate a 486 computer there are dozens trying to know what to do with an old Pentium such as my Pentium III 450 Megahertz computers with 128 Megabytes of memory purchased in 1999 or more powerful computers purchased several years later. Without extensive upgrades many of these computers won’t run Windows Vista and may not run Windows XP. But they will run Damn Small Linux or other Linux versions alongside a full range of today’s applications. Let’s put them to work, learn Linux, and do our bit saving the environment.

We next see how Linux lets you control the computer, whether it is “obsolete” or not.



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