This is going to sound really strange, but there are times when I don’t have enough computers.
Now that you’re finished laughing, let me explain. I have one machine that I rely on for day-to-day tasks — checking e-mails, chatting, keeping notes, scheduling my work day.
Another machine is a test bed, mostly because it’s sufficiently fast to allow for quick installations. But it’s also sufficiently slow as to not outstrip anything else in the house, and prove an unreliable subject.
Aside from that I also have one machine that I rely on as a network transfer client, a Crux ports server, an rtorrent slave, and an fttps client. It sounds like a lot, but all those things combined don’t require much muscle, except if they’re all happening at one time.
Ordinarily I have a battered laptop that lived some years at the top of a garbage heap to handle the task. It works because it doesn’t need much love, the network connection is fast, and it’s low on power consumption.
In recent days though, the idea of repairing that computer’s only flaw — a busted LCD — has become more appealing. I tried once already, but the leftover LCD I bought had different mounts and was impossible to connect. I think however, that with the proper replacement part, the machine would be a viable giveaway, or at least a secondary machine for someone else to enjoy.
And I only spent about US$80 total, shipping included, to try and fix it the first time. It’s been a year and I’m willing to spend another small sum to see it reborn. US$80 a year is about what I want to spend on computer repairs.
So here comes the role reversal — the last member of the family right now is really just a curiosity: that 100Mhz Pentium machine you probably heard about. I’ve already proven its ability in all three functions (most importantly as an rtorrent slave), and while network speeds are significantly slower through a wired PCMCIA card and occasional reboots are a possibility, it can do the job.
And so it is. Yesterday I rebuilt the entire system on another machine, transferred the hard drive, booted it up and it’s now downloading torrents, serving the house Crux machines and downloading files in the background. And if I want to transfer something between machines, it is available as an intermediary.
In the mean time the battered Thinkpad will be on the sidelines, awaiting an LCD replacement. If that goes well, its future may be with a new user. If it goes poorly, its future is likely to be a return to its former responsibilities. Either way, it will find work. And that’s the most important thing.