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With technology advancing at a breakneck pace, we always find ourselves replacing old hardware with newer ones in order to keep up with our ever increasing information technology demands. The idea of old hardware considered out of date and sent for destruction seems to be a waste of resource.While there
are ecologically friendly, charitable ways of disposing your PC, we can do better by giving it a new lease of life through the use of open-source software and some technical know-how.
This form of repurposing would involve putting on a less-demanding operating system than the latest version of Windows. While a 486-based PC won't run the latest Windows software, it will do just fine with Linux. Linux is a much different beast from Windows, and is still not as user-friendly as desktop operating systems from Microsoft or Apple. It definitely packs more punch with less resources though. In fact, there are technical organizations in these countries that help setup and support repurposed computers in poorer district schools and government offices.
Now, instead of just repurposing some computers for office-related use, why not turn our x86 PCs into simple wireless internet appliances for use in third-world nations? Start thinking of applicances such as a cheap web server or an internet access router!
Linux Router Project (LRP)
The Linux Router Project (LPR) is a networking-centric micro-distribution of Linux that can be used in place of a traditional router. LRP is small enough to fit on a single floppy disk, and makes building and maintaining routers, bridges, firewalls, switches, and access servers very easy. [kevinlim, Oct 04 2004]
Internet Appliance: Right and Wrong
Includes five key elements of an ideal Internet Appliance [kevinlim, Oct 04 2004]
Open-Source Software Opens New Windows to Third-World
[kevinlim, Oct 04 2004]
3Com Audrey Hacking
[kevinlim, Oct 04 2004]
I've heard of such programs in India, and they even have custom built wireless PDAs with Linux on them. [kevinlim, Oct 04 2004]
Something to do with the ETHERchip [LoriZ, Oct 04 2004]
Jhai Foundation Remote IT Village Project
[Cheradenine, Oct 04 2004]
Nigerian students powering up their OLPCs
[jutta, Sep 17 2007]
||Quite a few countries, such as India, have embraced Linux (be it desktop or pda) in this fashion, haven't they?
||I once organized a program to send donated PCs, mostly 486s, from the U.S. to a supplementary school for poor children in São Paulo, Brazil. We did finally send the computers, but it turns out that the shipment cost more than the value of the computers. That is, it would have been better for the school if we had trashed the computers and sent them the money we spent on shipping.
||This won't work. Any technology needs a solid support infrastructure.
||If this works, Microsoft won't want the rest of the world to know about it. Cheap huh?...
||If this is done via big shot enterprises or the goverment it would work.