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Old Hardware

How to infuse new life into your old computer hardware…

Like many businesses, the chances are that you’ll have several old PC’s tucked away in a cupboard somewhere, all of which were set aside for one reason or another; old age, insufficient specs, malfunctioning software or hardware, etc.

 

So what to do with them?

Well, you could call a computer recycle company (we use https://www.recyclingyourit.co.uk/), who will pick up PCs, servers and all manner of old equipment and ensure the content is deleted – for a fee of course!

Or you could take a sledgehammer to the hard drive, which should pretty much guarantee that not even the most zealous of hackers will get to your juicy data. But wait! There might be a better way…

Why not try a different operating system and use your old devices as backups or simply as ‘surfing’ tools. A lighter operating system means you won’t need the processing power required for Windows, and associated applications. And that’s exactly what we did with a struggling laptop that belonged to a colleague of ours. Here’s what happened…

Tom loved his laptop, but he did not enjoy the time it took to boot up, or the numerous problems that happened every time security updates were required! One sad day, it refused to do anything at all and Tom reluctantly resigned himself to saying goodbye to his not-so-very-old friend. Faced with the prospect of shelling out for a new laptop or the digital equivalent of going cold turkey, Tom was not a euphoric rabbit. Touched by his plight, we decided to attempt rejuvenating the laptop and rebuild it with a different operating system – Linux Mint.

 

Linux Mint is a modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to navigate and is used by millions of people. It works out of the box, with full multimedia support. We chose Linux Mint because the look and feel is very similar to Windows. We also installed an application to replace the Windows Office suite, LibreOffice.

 

LibreOffice is a powerful office suite – comparable to Windows Office suite. LibreOffice includes several applications that make it the most powerful open source office suite on the market. So, if you think only Microsoft Office can fully support Microsoft Office document formats, think again.

Fortunately, Tom didn’t have much processing-hungry creative software installed, but we thought installing the incredibly powerful photo editing suite, GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) would be a nice touch. Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, illustrator, or scientist, GIMP provides you with sophisticated tools to get your job done. It should perhaps be pointed out that Tom is, in fact, none of those things… but GIMP is great for the simple things in life too, like cropping and resizing an image quickly and easily!

When Tom was reunited with his laptop, he was pleasantly surprised at the familiarity of the interface and even more pleasantly surprised at the speed. He found the interface extremely easy to navigate, not least because it was so familiar to his last operating system, Windows. The LibreOffice suite was a joy to use, too. It opened all his old Word and Excel documents seamlessly and included some pretty neat features, such as the one-click pdf creator. And he’s using the image editor, GIMP, too. When those party photos get uploaded to Facebook, some savage editing is often a must!

 

So, if you’re planning to replace an old PC or laptop give Linux a try. Who knows, you just might decide you like Linux better than Windows. And consider these advantages:

1. Unlike Windows, consumer versions of Linux are completely free. Simply download and install the Linux distro of your choice and you’ll be good to go.
2. Updates are also free, and they always will be.
3. The vast majority of Linux applications are free, including all the applications mentioned here.
4. Linux is famously reliable and highly secure.
5. Most of the servers across the world run on Linux – not Windows.
6. Linux is used by business, scientific and academic organisations of every size. It’s used to power the development machines and servers at Google, Facebook, Twitter, NASA, and the New York Stock Exchange, to name but a few.
7. On the desktop, it is used by technically proficient users who prioritise system security and reliability, and by enthusiasts who want to learn more about computers and how they work.
8. And, of course, what we’re talking about here: it’s used to give new life to older hardware, to enable low-budget computing projects to succeed, and serves as the operating system on single-board computers such as the Raspberry Pi.
9. If you want to take advantage of the speed and security of Linux without giving up your beloved Windows apps, you can set up a “dual-boot” installation where you can choose to boot the PC into either Linux or Windows with a simple menu selection.

Yes, it’s true that some technical knowledge is necessary to rebuild the laptop using Linux Mint, but because the open source community is so vast, knowledgable and enthusiastic you’ll find plenty of resources to help if you get stuck. And we are also more than happy to help those eager to learn.

So, get the most from your IT budget. Try something new, turn those old dogs into bouncy young pups. Our solutions work today and evolve for your needs tomorrow.

Jane Chakravorty is Director of Open Source IT Solutions Specialists Invicta Linux