I received an ancient Compaq Deskpro late last week … and gave it away on Tuesday with Ubuntu on it.
It was the same deal as most of my other giveaways: A battered, scratched up case, mildly nonfunctional but with potential just the same. In this case it was a 400Mhz Celeron with a 4Gb hard drive and — of all things — a 52x Creative CDROM. That alone was worth taking home. And it was a fanless processor — totally silent. Although the heatsink looked like something out of Aliens.
It wasn’t quite starting up. It had Windows 95 on it, but started badly and kept crapping out on the desktop. Boot time was something like three minutes.
I traced the problem to a defective memory stick and replaced that with two sticks of 128Mb PC100 (I have a lot of that stuff lying around these days). It needed a new CMOS battery too, and since it was the standard CR3206 (or whatever), I found two at the recycling center and put one in it. Then I swapped out the 4Gb drive for a 13Gb 5400rpm drive, the Creative drive for a 48X Samsung one and installed a fresh copy of 6.06.1.
I added Openbox, Iceweasel, some office applications, a horde of games and slick wallpaper (with desktop icons courtesy of iDesk), and set it under my desk at work for the masses to peruse on a Tuesday after lunch.
When I got in to work that evening, it was gone. Never underestimate the power of “free.”