Monday, February 2, 2009

New Life for Old Laptops.........FREE

Being in the tech industry, I am occasionally given old outdated and slow laptops. My idea was to give them to less fortunate students at the local high school. However, I found many of these Windows based units to be just too glitchy, pitiful and slow to even give away.

After reading a few articles on how Linux based operating systems use less resources and are becoming more "noob friendly", I decided to install one on a Jurassic laptop and see how it worked. After a little research, I chose Ubuntu 8.10 which seems to be the most popular and is also free. Yes, that's right, free.

Not only was I pleased with how it worked compared to Windows, I was shocked and inspired. Ubuntu installed quickly and easily. The video, audio and ethernet worked automatically without driver downloads and the performance increase was stunning to say the least. I went on to find that the download came with Firefox Browser, Open Office and Pidgin.

Firefox is a great internet browser that most "in the know" people consider to be superior to Internet Explorer and Open Office is an open source, free (there is that word again) software that will work with excel, word and powerpoint files. Pidgin is an instant messenger application that will work with Yahoo, MS live messenger and AIM. When you conisider all of these free apps, in my opinion means that this operating system can do just about anything that your average student truly needs.

An additional pleasant surprise was a substantial improvement in the stability and speed of the wireless internet cards that these older units use compared to when used with Windows XP. In fact, one older Sony unit was abandon simply because the wifi never worked well and the owner cursed it straight to the trash bin. Yet, once I installed Ubuntu, this old sony was flawless and peppy on the internet when using wifi.

Now that I see what an old computer can do with Ubuntu, I look forward to giving students these revived units. I can't wait to see what they can achieve together.