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How to Revive an Old Computer Howard Fosdick (C) 2008 FCI V 1.0 hfosdick at the domain compuserve.com Who Am I ? * Independent Consultant * Oracle DBA (not a PC specialist) * Founded Database User Groups (IDUG and MWDUG) * Author of Rexx Programmers Reference Geek !

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slide1
How to Revive

an Old Computer

Howard Fosdick

(C) 2008 FCI

V 1.0

slide2

hfosdickat the domaincompuserve.com

Who Am I ?

* Independent Consultant

* Oracle DBA (not a PC specialist)

* Founded Database User Groups (IDUG and MWDUG)

* Author of Rexx Programmers Reference

slide3

Geek !

Why This Talk ?

My hobby --

1. Get PC donations

2. Hardware (verify / rebuild / fix)

3. Software (verify / anonymize / install)

4. Give away to someone who needs it

slide4
Topics

1. How to revitalize

an old computer

2. Implications --

What it all means

slide5

I. What can old computers do

II. Hardware

III. Steps to revitalize an old PC

IV. Windows

V. Linux (and other free Oss)

VI. Where to get a Free computer

(and where to donate one)

VII. “Free Computing”

VIII. Resources

Outline

slide6

I. What Can Old

Computers Do ?

slide7

?

?

?

?

Why Older Computers ?

Free

Useful

Fun

* “Old” computers improve capabilities yearly

* Save the planet --> reduce e-waste

* Appropriate technology -- is not always the latest technology

Example -- P-II laptop giving this presentation

slide8
Save the Planet

-- PCs and monitors contain toxic...

-- lead -- mercury -- bromine

-- cadmium -- chlorine -- nbd plastics

-- 400 to 600 million PCs yet to be disposed of in attics

-- Avg PC lifespan < 3 years

One solution -- use them !

Sources:

Galt Global Review

webofcreation.org

slide9

What Can You Do With an Old PC ?

Caveat: end user

running common

software

I II III IV +

  • Word Processing
  • Spreadsheet
  • Presentation Graphics
  • Graphics, images
  • Web surfing
  • Research
  • Wireless
  • Social websites
  • Email
  • Brief web searches
  • IM / Chat
  • Photos
  • Music / Audio
  • Video
  • Current games
  • Older games
  • Office
  • Fast Internet

(Broadband)

  • Slow Internet

(Dial Up)

  • Multimedia
  • Games
slide10

What Can You Do With an Old PC ?

Caveat: end user

running common

software

I II III IV +

  • Word Processing
  • Spreadsheet
  • Presentation Graphics
  • Graphics, images
  • Web surfing
  • Research
  • Wireless
  • Social websites
  • Email
  • Brief web searches
  • IM / Chat
  • Photos
  • Music / Audio
  • Video
  • Current games
  • Older games
  • Office
  • Fast Internet

(Broadband)

  • Slow Internet

(Dial Up)

  • Multimedia
  • Games
slide11
More Uses for Old Computers...
  • Specialized App servers
      • Routers
      • Firewalls
      • Print, File, or Network server
      • Email station
      • Word processor
      • other single-use
  • Run old programs (compatibly)
      • Business programs (eg: Instrumentation, Farming)
      • Retro gaming box
  • Act as terminals (Linux Terminal Server Project - LTSP)
  • Run Free software on Free hardware
slide12

Summary

  • New PCs are required for --
      • Latest games
      • State-of-the-art graphics
      • High-end multimedia
      • Current Microsoft software
  • Pentium III does everything else
  • Pentium II fine for many uses but --
      • 450 Mhz + 256 M tops
  • Pentium I useful but --
      • 266 mhz + 128 M tops
      • Security software overwhelms them

Dial-up

slide13

“TurnoverEvents”

  • Driven by --
  • Technology Examples --
      • Monitors -> flat panels
      • ZIP disks -> USB thumb drives
      • Pentium-II’s -> newer machines
  • Marketing Examples --
      • New releases of MS Office
      • Vista
      • What happens to PCs that can’t run Vista ?

Technology

or

Marketing

slide15

Generations of PCs

Pentium

IV +

III

II

I

pre-Pentium

(486, 386, 286/AT, XT, PC)

Simplified View

slide16

Typical Hardware

* Memory varies widely

* Desktops versus laptops

* Max’ed out versus what shipped

* “Celeron” and “Xeon” mean nothing

Source: Tom’s Hardware, other web sites

slide17

Typical Hardware

AMD Equivalents

Source: Tom’s Hardware, other web sites

slide18

Memory

Maximum RAM (typical)

128m 256m varies

P-I P-II P-III

--- Usually ---

* Use one level slower as next level faster

* All in group cost same -> buy fastest !

Source: Tom’s Hardware, other web sites

slide19

What Is Free ?

Pentium

IV +

III

II

I

pre-Pentium

(486, 386, 286/AT, XT, PC)

10% 70% 20%

P-I P-II P-III

  • Mix changes yearly
  • Capabilities of

“old computers” constantly increase

  • Where you get free PCs shades the mix
slide20

This Talk focuses on PC Desktops

...Other Computers ?...

Laptops

-- Fewer out there

-- Higher priced

-- Free is less common

-- More proprietary

Apples

-- Proprietary --> even across the Apple line !

-- Parts --> expensive, hard to find

slide22

Steps to Follow With an Old PC

1. Identify what you’ve got

-- Hardware

-- Software

2. Verify hardware & software

-- Check the boot configuration panel & run diagnostics

-- Ensure devices work (hardware and drivers)

-- Check disks, reading/writing CD/DVD & floppy

-- Windows Device Mgmt panel

-- Ensure software is malware free

-- Verify installed programs work

-- Break login password (ntpasswd in Linux rescue CDs)

3. Define objectives

4. Determine whether this old pc can achieve them

5. Download drivers, manuals, etc, from vendor’s web site

6. Fix hardware & software, download, configure, install

to achieve objectives

slide23

Example -- This Laptop

  • IBM Thinkpad 770Z P-II @ 366 mhz / 128M ram / 14g disk
  • CDROM, floppy, 56k modem, USB port
  • 13.7” screen w/AGP graphics and 8M ram

NO --> 10/100 port, wireless card, Writeable CD or DVD

  • All hardware works
      • Config panel * Disk check
      • Config diagnostics * Tested devices
      • Windows Devices panel
  • Software is Windows 98
      • Virus / malware clean * Programs work
      • Registry clean * MSCONFIG and daemons

More at -- www.Desktoplinux.com/articles/AT6185716632.html

slide24

Example -- My Objectives ...

* Office support (word processing etc in MS formats)

* Presentations (in MS format)

* Email (dial-up ok)

* Web look-up (dial-up acceptable)

* Run common Windows and Linux apps

Conclusion ->

  • Keep Windows
  • Install Linux and run from RAM
  • Buy 128M for $20 --> 256M

UpgradeMemory.com

KingstonMemory.com

slide25

Example #2 -- Professional’s Desktop

Objectives

  • Office work (all in MS formats)
      • Word processing
      • Presentations
      • Spreadsheets
  • Email
  • Web use: 0 in 1996 to lots today
  • Doesn’t want to pay $500 for new computer

P-II

P-II+

P-III

Goal -- heavier web use

--> Switched to free P-III

--> Added $10/month AT&T DSL

Goal -- OS outdated

--> Added Ubuntu

Goal -- heavier multi-tasking

--> Upgraded memory to 256M

--> Windows tune-up

Pentium-II

Purchased 1997

slide26

Example #2 -- Professional’s Desktop

  • Dell P-III 550 mhz / 448M ram / 2 x 6 G disk
  • DVD-ROM, CD/RW, floppy, 10/100 card, USB ports
  • From the P-II --
      • P-II monitor, keyboard, mouse
      • Original 6 gig disk
  • From one P-III --
      • System Unit, 320m ram, USB ports, DVD-ROM, CD-RW,

floppy, 10/100 card

  • From the other P-III
      • 2nd 6 gig disk, 128M ram
  • Remaining P-II parts go to other builds
slide27

Easy-to-Fix Problems

Windows

+ Viruses / spyware / malware

+ Registry or software corruption

+ Slow and needing software tune-up

-> Defrag disk, remove malware, prune start-up list (msconfig & Runlist),

check daemons & Services, erase index.dat & other

temporary, set-up, internet, cache, & “junk files”, cookies, URL history...

+ Broken or replaceable device

+ Slow due to needing memory

+ Random shutdowns

-> Overheating - check fans, redo heat sink, clean PC

+ Won’t boot

-> Check wires, card seating, loose screws

+ Bad device driver

Hardware

slide28

O

S

Operating System Choice is Key

OS determines --

* OS overhead on limited computer resources

* Your Apps

* How easy or hard they are to find

* How much they cost or if free

slide29

3 “Operating Environment” Choices

Keep

Windows

only

Replace

Windows

w/ Linux

(or other OS)

Add Linux

to

Windows

+ Benefits of Windows

and Linux

+ Linux co-exists

with Windows

-- Effort

-- Requires 1/2 G disk

+ No malware

+ Simplest install

+ Linux benefits

-- Drivers?

-- Loses value of the

installed software

+ Easiest

+ Drivers included

+ Age-appropriate software

-- Cleanup required

-- No MS fixes or support

-- License & COA required

slide30

IV. Windows

on Old PCs

slide31

Windows Benefits

(versus Linux)

Compatible file formats

Easy to use

Efficient GUI on 486 to P-II

Device drivers

Comes on the computer

slide32

Microsoft GUI is Efficient on

486s - P-I’s - P-II’s

Windows 3.1, 95 or 98 with Office 4, 95 or 97

+ Faster than Linux GUIs on 486 or P-I

+ More user-friendly !

+ Retain this software on 486 to P-II

Example -- 486-DX2 @ 25 mhz / 8M ram / Windows 3.1 / WordPerfect 5

Eg -- firewall + virus scanner + malware scanner + intrusion blocker

is required if you connect to internet

But security software sinks them

slide33

Examples

Windows 98 SE plus Office 97

* P-I 90 mhz / 32M

* P-I 166 MMX mhz / 64M

Both work great

Both crawl if you add--

-- Virus and spyware scanners

-- Firewall and intrusion detector

-- Plus try downloading anti-virus updates with dial-up !

Windows 98 plus Office 97

* P-I 90 mhz / 32M

* P-I 166 MMX mhz / 64M

slide34

From: Microsoft’s web site 2006

Windows

System

Require-

ments

Double

Microsoft’s

values for

good

performance !

slide35

Free Software

Required to

Secure

Windows

“How to Secure

Your Windows PC

Using Free Software”

by H. Fosdick

at DBAZine

http://www.dbazine.com

slide36

How to Anonymize Windows PCs

  • When you Delete files, and empty the recycle bin,

those files are still accessible

  • When you Delete IE history, the list of all web sites you

ever visited is still accessible

  • When you Outlook Delete email, & empty the waste basket,

all that email is still accessible

  • When you change personal info in product Options,

that doesn’t change the splash panel or product ownership

Conclusions -- (1) Windows gives users into a false sense of privacy

(2) Anonymizing Windows is hard

slide37

How to Anonymize Windows PCs

  • Re-format hard disk -> Darik’s Boot and Nuke

+ Quick, easy, sure

-- Loses value of installed software

****************************************** or *******************************************

  • Remove personal info
      • Registry (First name, last name, organization, user id, etc)

(Do this for all users, in both Keys and Values)

      • Spash panels (Product Options, Registry, Office 95/97 binaries)
  • Locate & delete personal files (in My Documents & elsewhere)

(*.doc, *.xls, *.ppt, *.txt, *.rtf, *.wab, *.acl, *.pwl, *.pcb, *.pst, *.pps, etc)

  • Address book files (Outlook, Outlook Express, IE)
  • Email (*.mbx and *pst files)
  • Web history (index.dat files and Registry) -> PurgeIE and manual
  • Virus / spyware / malware scan -> AVG, A-2, Clamwin...
  • Delete Temp, Internet Temp files, cache -> CCleaner, FIWW
  • Delete MRUs, product histories, IE history, cookies -> MRU-Blaster
  • Delete user ids and their files
  • Delete info embedded in products (registration, user ids, etc)
  • Defrag then overwrite unused disk (inc slack, swap & dir.) -> BcWipe or Eraser
slide38

“Rescue Disks”

(To Fix Windows or Linux)

Ultimate Boot CD

for Windows

ubcd4win.com

Ultimate Boot CD

(for Linux)

Linux “Rescue Disks”

Knoppix and others

ultimatebootcd.com

slide39

V. Linux (etc)

on Old PCs

slide40

Free Operating Systems

Linux

Minix

Others

BSD

DOS

+ Biggest family

+ Most software

+ Most popular

+ BeOS

+ OS/2 soon?

+ New Deal

-- Not popular

+ Very lightweight

+ Inspired Linux

-- Limited apps

-- Less popular

+ Fast

+ Small

+ Bug free rep

+ Tons of apps

+ Very lightweight

+ Still popular worldwide

-- GUI

slide41

Linux Benefits

(versus Windows)

Co-exists with other

operating systems

No Registry or

DLL problems

No viruses, spyware,

malware

No privacy issues

No WGA, Product Activation,

or stealth updates

No licensing issues

No artificial lockout

from current software

No forced upgrades

Free apps !

Small distros

Many distros

slide42

“Small Linux” Strategies

Small distro

1.

Older release of big distro

2.

Tailor distro during install

3.

slide43

Some

Small

Linuxes

See --

DistroWatch.com

DistroMania.com

Review

System

Requirements

slide44

3 Favorite “Small Linuxes”

Damn Small Linux

BeatrIX /

BeaFanatIX

Puppy

+ For end users

+ Runs on any Pentium

+ 128M to run in ram

-- Not widely used

+ Smallest (486 w/ 16M)

+ Popular

-- Geekiest (not for end user)

-- Minimal apps

+ All the apps you need

+ Popular

+ Not as geeky as DSL

+ Small

128M -> 320M to run in ram

-- Not as friendly as BeatrIX

All run from memory with 128M +

slide45

Ways to Install Linux

1. Live CD

-- To verify product, video, drivers, etc

-- To evaluate and learn product

2. Full Install

-- Co-exist with Windows

-- Needs its own partition

-- Most Linuxes recognize Windows

-- They create boot selection list

-- Little disk required

(Continue to use Windows partition for your data)

3. Frugal Install

-- Stores Linux as file(s) in existing Windows partition

4. Windows Program

-- Icon on Windows desktop

5. USB memory Stick

-- Leaves Windows un-changed

6. Updatable CD or DVD

-- Leaves Windows un-changed

Almost all

Linuxes

Some

Linuxes

slide46

How to Co-Install Linux with Windows

Linux includes the Partitioning, Boot Selection, and

Windows-recognition tools you need… free

1. Verify Windows disk is good

(My Computer | Properties | Tools | Disk check)

2. Defrag Windows volume

3. Live CD to boot Linux

4. Resize Windows partition smaller if you need space

5. Create new Linux partition

6. Create Linux Swap partition

7. Install Linux

8. Verify boot selection menu (/boot/grub/menu.lst)

slide47

GUI is Key to Resource Usage

* Always in use

* Memory-consumptive

* Gnome & KDE

+ Linux “standards”

-- Require 128 M

* JWM, IceWM, Xfce, FVWM, Flubox, others

+ Much less Memory ( < 64M)

* Command line

+ Fine for App Server

+ Ok for geeks

-- Not ok for end users

See xwinman.org for GUI details

slide48

Pick Light Apps !

Lite !

Good

Bad

Abiword OpenOffice 1 (64M)

Gnumeric OpenOffice 2 (128M)

Dillo Firefox, Mozilla

Terminal window GUI apps

JWM, FVWM Gnome, KDE

Older releases Newer releases of

(Acrobat, Winzip, etc) the same products

Office 97 Office 2000, 2003, 2007

Notepad Word

K-Meleon IE (any version), Firefox

ImgBurn, FinalBurner Easy CD Creator, Nero

TinyFirewall, Sygate ZoneAlarm

Ad-aware, AVG ClamWin

Windows 98, 3.1 GUIs Vista GUI

Linux

Windows

slide49

Free BSD

BSD requires minimal resources for

older versions -- originally released in 1993

Minix 3

  • Inspired Linux
  • Fast and light (down to 486s)
  • Apps cover all the bases... but not as many as Linux
  • Open source
slide50

CTL-

ALT-

DEL

Free DOS

  • Tons of apps
  • Best on really old equipment (486/386/286/XT/PC)
  • Great for non-GUI systems
  • Some GUIs available
  • Modern DOS overcomes old DOS limitations

1. FreeDOS

2. OpenDOS

3. DR-DOS

Learn about today’s DOS at --

www.devedia.com/dosghost/dos/dosw31.asp

Collectable Computers -- www.vintage-computer/vcforum

slide51

Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP)

PC Linux

Server

100 mhz and 64 M +

X-terminal PCs

Running LTSP Linux

Big Money Saver !

See: FreeSoftwareMagazine.com article by Robert Pogson

http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/articles/linux_terminal_server

Also: www.ltsp.org

slide52

VI. Where to get

a Free PC

-- or --

Give one away !

slide53
Where to Get a Free PC--

Phoebe Jane does the job !

slide54

(or very low-cost PC)

Where to Get a Free PC--

* Trash

* IT co-workers

* Friends

* www.FreeSharing.org

* www.FreeCycle.org

* www.CraigsList.org

* Rummage sales

FreeSharing

works !

Church rummage sales

slide55

Free Hardware

  • Free Software
  • You pay labor
  • Maybe you buy a part (eg: Memory)
  • Internet “subscription” is not free
      • $ 10 avg / month SLOW ($5-10)
      • $ 30 avg / month FAST ($10-40)

What Does “Free” Mean ?

AT&T / Yahoo

DSL is

$10 / month !

slide56

Works?

Resources?

Where to Donate a PC ?

  • Environmental Protection Agency

www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/recycle/ecycling/donate.htm#local

  • Craigslist.org, FreeSharing.org, FreeCycling.org, rummage sales
  • People’s Resource Center (www.peoplesrc.org) Wheaton

-> 500 mhz or better

  • If too old for re-use

-> Sims/United Recycling

166 Harvester Ave, W. Chicago

$0.25 / lb.

slide57

VII. The New World

of “Free” Computing

slide58

How the PC Industry Works

  • Wintel monopolizes U.S. computer market
  • Over 50% of Microsoft’s revenue is from Windows & Office
  • They have to force you to upgrade
  • Each release soaks up new hardware for new functionality
  • This Planned Obsolescence is artificial
  • Conclusions --
      • Word 97, 2000, 2003, 2007…. Who cares?
      • Non state-of-the-art PCs are useful
      • Vista -- a great example of a needless upgrade
slide59

How Microsoft Forces You to Upgrade

  • MS software is designed not to run on older computers
  • Software prerequisites are marketing-based (not technology-driven)

(eg: you must have IE to get Windows Updates or run XP or etc.

Or, you must have a certain level of product to use an unrelated product)

  • Older MS software doesn’t run on newer machines

(eg: Win 98 needs bug fixes for > 512 M and > 2 ghz)

  • MS terminates security fixes, support for older software (key due to Windows security flaws)
  • WGA & PA kill old copies of software
  • Registry prevents porting a Windows disk across computers or even an upgraded computer
  • Registry locks / controls installed software
  • Intentional incompatibilities between different versions of the same product

(eg: older version of Word can not read *.doc file from newer version)

  • EULAs say you can’t legally transfer software to a second owner without COA and all doc
  • Very difficult to anonymize Windows without wiping the disk
  • New Windows versions are bundled with all PC purchases

(no consumer choice due to coerced vendor lock-out)

slide60
Ability to Enforce

Planned Obsolescence

High

US

Automotive

Industry

Low

PC

Industry

1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020

slide61

Trends !

The Monopoly is Ending

End

of

Monopoly

Cheap commodity

hardware

Free software

Result --

Planned

Obsolescence

Appropriate

Technology

slide62

Low-end Machines Proliferate

OLPC --

  • 433 mhz, 256M ram, 1G flash
  • Self-powered
  • Linux
  • $175 -> $100

Laptop Projects

  • Millions to be produced
  • Built-in WIFI
  • Kid-tough case
  • Specs, cost in transition

Intel Classmate --

  • 900 mhz, 256M ram, 1-2G flash
  • 4-hr battery
  • Windows XP Pro or Linux
  • $225 -> $200

Household appliance

Consumer PC

School requirement

Purchase at Walmart or Target

slide64
Example Computer Charity Programs

People’s Resource Center (www.peoplesrc.org) Wheaton

-> 500 mhz or better

-> Give away > 5,000 computers in Dupage Country

-> 100 / month

-> Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR)

-> Linux on old PCs (Suse or Ubuntu)

-> Give away 5,000 to 10,000 / year

“Re-use, then Recycle”

“Obsolescence is just a failure of imagination” -- James Burgett

Alameda County Computer Resource Center (www.accrc.org)

slide65

Recommended Resources

Free software websites--

Windows-- TheFreeCountry.org

MajorGeeks.com

Download.com

Linux-- SourceForge.net

Freshmeat.net

Hardware Info websites--

1. TomsHardware.com

2. PCGuide.com

3. Computer.HowStuffWorks.com

4. PCMech.pair.com

5. PCSupport.About.com

Hardware books--

Upgrading & Repairing PCs by Mueller

Complete PC Upgrade & Maintenance Guide by Minasi

Where to get Drivers--

Windows -- DriverGuide.com

Linux -- Linux-Drivers.org

Articles --

http://www.linux.com/article.pl?sid=06/02/13/1854251

http://www.linuxforums.org/desktop/a_linux_distribution_for_an_old_laptop.html

http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/articles/free_computing

slide66

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