The Freecycled Laptop Project

Posted: 2009.10.14 in General
Tags: ,

So, I had this little idea.

The idea centered around the idea that somewhere, someone is throwing out a laptop.  Actually, I’d wager there are many people currently throwing away many, many laptops.  Why?  Simply because they have outlived their usefulness to those specific users.

Everyday, thousands of people throw away items like this – they are no longer useful, and they no longer have a need for them.  I went to our local dump to drop off some construction waste yesterday, and there were no less than ten televisions and computers sitting in their recycling center, and the televisions weren’t small, junkie ones either.  I saw more than a few that were easily 32″+, and likely working, tossed out in favour of a new flat-screen plasma or LCD…  Anyway, on to the point.

I’m going on a Mission to find a free laptop to use for work.  (Yes, you heard right.  Free.  I don’t want to spend any money on it, and that’s going to include both the hardware and the software.)

I work nights as a web developer, and I’m looking for a laptop which I can take with me, and work on anywhere.  I’d rather not be confined to working in my home office.  I’d much prefer to be sitting at the kitchen table, or in the living room with my kids, or even in bed.  (Sleep is a big plus when you’re a workaholic, so anything I can do to reduce the number of steps from ‘work’ to ‘sleep’ is a positive.)

I have a good hardware and software background, so the ‘good news’ is that if I find a few laptops with some hardware ‘quirks’, I hope to be able to consolidate them into a single working unit.

There are some minimum specs I’m looking to go for, but as long as the system is able to use wireless networking and run my programs, I’m going to be more than happy.  In the end, if my project is successful, I will have spent no money, and will have a computer that I can work on where I want.

What kind of software will I be running?  I have a nice short list.

For the OS, I’m planning on running Ubuntu Linux.  Nothing beats Linux when it comes to ‘free’, and another plus is that it’s extremely secure.  (Sorry Bill, but unless you’re willing to front me a nice copy of Windows 7 pro bono, I’ve gotta go Linux this time.)  For an Office Suite, I’ll be running OpenOffice, which is a nice all-around office application.  Being a web developer, there’s a couple of programs I’ll need to build sites and create graphics.  I’m still researching a nice HTML editor, (hopefully something that rivals ExpressionWeb) but for graphics, it’s a no-brainer.  Gimp is the program of choice.  It’s free, and open source.

So, I’m on my way to fulfill ‘Step One’ of the Freecycled Laptop Project.  First off, post on Kijiji and Craig’s List for my requirements.  Wish me luck, and I’ll post back here with updates.

Rick // The DurhamDev

  1. NP says:

    Hey Rick,

    your site popped up in my server’s log files (referrer), so I gave it a visit. I’ve been buying old laptops on eBay for about two years now. I usually repair them, make one out of two or just collect single parts. When they are up and running again, I sell them (or keep them for my own for some months) and regularly earn some money that way.

    That way it’s no problem to get a laptop for free. Just repair + sell 4-5 laptops and you can buy one for yourself with the profit you made. However it takes a lot of time to clean, check, disassemble, repair and reassemble those notebooks. But it’s worth it and can be a lot of fun, if you’re a little technically skilled.

    Good luck for your project!

    Kind regards from Germany,

  2. durhamdev says:

    Hi NP,

    I appreciate the post, thanks!

    I have bought and sold PC’s over the years as well. Having worked in the computer industry, manufacturing and servicing for over 20 years, it’s always been both an occupation and a hobby. You’re right, there’s absolutely a way to get yourself a ‘free’ PC or laptop just by working for it.

    (On another note, you gotta love the Internet. I’ve only shared my Blog with a few different people, and here I am receiving posts from Germany. Seems like a world away to me!)

    Thanks again!


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