I wrote a quick post to the Ubuntu Forums about a week ago, in reply to a thread that asked about underestimating the abilities of hardware and Linux.
The point of my reply was masked a little in the geek details, which was a shame because I have a feeling the essence of almost everything I’ve learned over the past few years is encapsulated there.
The problem isn’t old hardware. The problem is how people look at old hardware.
If you can realign your viewpoint to see how things work best, and learn to adapt your requirements to fit that angle, an old-old-old machine is every bit as functional as a new one.
In essence, the problem isn’t the computer, it’s you.
And chances are, you just proved my point. If your initial reaction was, “Yeah, well, your 133Mhz Pentium can’t show 1024p flash videos, so into the dustbin with it” … I thank you.
I don’t expect it to run Crysis in wine, or show 1024p flash video, or recompile gcc in under an hour. It can’t. It was never meant to.
But I do expect it to double as a slideshow picture frame, while playing streaming audio and holding my meager ogg audio collection with Debian Lenny.
I do expect a 120Mhz machine to handle my instant messenger, mail reader, file manager, system profile, appointment calendar, web browser, blog client, personal wiki and to-do list, maybe improve my typing skills and possibly throw in a game or two.
Anything beyond those points is relegated to the domain of faster, heavier machines.
But I’ve used a 550Mhz Celeron for that in the past, and the only real difference between the two was the size of the screen.
You have to make the mental switch that allows you to use a machine beyond what the corporations and advertising executives want.Nobody can do that for you.
But you have the tools, even if you don’t feel you have the experience or the know-how. Give yourself the time and the patience, and maybe you’ll start putting your leftovers back to work. Maybe even on the front line. :)