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Repurposing laptops

Russell argues (when talking about Mark’s proposed high-end Free Software-based laptop) that laptops are hard (or expensive) hardware to modify and repurpose - Maybe your laptop will one day go to your child or something like that, but it’s hard for it to be a server.
I disagree.
One of my most faithful and most beloved home servers was my old laptop, a Compaq Armada 4120 we originally got (used, for that matter) in 1998 and that was my main laptop until 2002, when I got my first Dell. 120MHz Pentium, 16 MB RAM (later upgraded to 32), 2GB hard disk.
From 2002 and until around 2005, it was my home server - Think about it: A low-power, compact machine you can store anywhere, and that has (still today! Wish I could say that for ~2 year old machines…) a two hour battery with the LCD on. We swapped the hard disk for a 40GB one around 2003, and it was just perfect for DSL sharing, Samba file serving to our internal network, and simple, personal HTTP server. Of course, it started aching when Nadezhda and I started running our blogs - MySQL and Apache didn’t fit in the memory at the same time :)
For some months, we had an old 1GHz Athlon as our server, but it was too noisy and ate too much electricity - We now have a nice Mac Mini, but share the UPS with Nadezhda’s main machine. Which is fine, but takes a bit off the coolness factor :) Oh, and -of course- it does not have a built-in screen anymore. Nadezhda uses an iMac, so whenever we need to directly use the server, I have to go find our clunky 17” CRT and work sitting on the floor…


gary ng 2007-07-17 12:36:05

Re: Repurposing laptops

Indeed. Notebook is just perfect to repurpose into home server, for the power saving alone.

In fact, repurpose a modern PC(say with P4) for home server type usage is quite environmental unfriendly and actually cost more than even buying a clearance notebook(like those with Pentium/Celeron M).

Joel 2007-07-17 17:49:50

Re: Repurposing laptops


Simply installing a better OS than Windows, can breath new life into so called ‘obsolete’ hardware.

Obsolete laptops, with a 802.11 PCMCIA NIC, used to make great wireless routers. They even have their own inbuilt UPS. Although, not so relevant these days, with devices such as the WRT54GL and friends.