Ideas for old laptop?

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Fred Barclay
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Ideas for old laptop?

Post by Fred Barclay » Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:20 pm

Hey guys! I came across my old laptop today and I'd like to put it to some useful (or cool :mrgreen:) purpose. It's not a powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have a 64-bit processor and 3 GB of RAM. It also has a power cable that won't provide power unless it's held in precisely the right location, so moving it around isn't an option. It also tends to overheat and shutdown if I do anything too taxing (like compiling a kernel, or running Boinc).

Any ideas what I could use it for? I've thought about,
(1). A local media server... but I don't have any TVs or audio speakers that can connect to a network so I don't see this as being actually useful.

(2). A backup server. The hard drive is about 250GB if I remember correctly, so we could use it to back up a few computers at home.

(3). A hardware firewall. This would be really interesting, but I don't know if it would cause the computer to overheat or not. Those of you that have 'em, do they do a lot of CPU-intensive tasks?
Also, with the tenuous charging cable situation, I'm not sure if it's a good idea to rely on my internet connections to go through it. There is a backup battery of course, but it would only last for about 30 minutes or so. If there were some way it could automatically notify me when it lost external power then this probably wouldn't be an issue.

(4). An email server. I've never looked into this, so I know almost nothing about it. If I'd have to get a static IP from my ISP (or contact them at all) it sounds like more trouble than it would be worth. EDIT: and would I actually have a use for it? Maybe not.

(5). An in-house Git server. This would certainly have a "cool" factor, but if I have a project that I want to host on Git but don't want publicly viewable I just use GitLab.

Any other ideas/comments/suggestions?

(Also, if I go with options 1, 2, or 5 it would need to be visible on the local network but not accessible to the world at large. Is that easily accomplished?)

Thanks!
Fred
Last edited by Fred Barclay on Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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catweazel
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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by catweazel » Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:38 pm

Fred Barclay wrote:It also has a power cable that won't provide power unless it's held in precisely the right location, so moving it around isn't an option. It also tends to overheat and shutdown if I do anything too taxing (like compiling a kernel, or running Boinc).
I wouldn't use it for anything remotely approaching critical work, including 1) to 4) in your list up there.
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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by Moem » Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:54 pm

It could show a slideshow of your holiday pictures. Or it could permanently show the weather forecast. Or you could hook it up to a webcam pointed at something you normally don't get to see... a nice view from a spot where your house doesn't have a window? A bird feeder?
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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by jimallyn » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:28 pm

Moem wrote:Or you could hook it up to a webcam pointed at something you normally don't get to see...
I have been thinking it might be good to set up some outdoor cams at my place. A month or so ago, I stepped out of my house and there was a dead deer lying there. Over a period of several days, more and more of the deer disappeared, until now there is just a few clumps of fur. It was consumed mostly by coyotes, I'm sure, but certainly some crows, magpies, and so on also participated. But with my luck, I'd get everything hooked up and never have anything interesting like that happen near my house again.
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Fred Barclay
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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by Fred Barclay » Wed Jan 10, 2018 11:21 pm

@catweasel, good points. I've especially realized that the laptop would be horrid as a firewall. :mrgreen:
I've come across a second lappy with similar problems (but this one has a reliable power cable)...

@Moem, I like the idea of a forecast display! Or I could use GPredict to track satellites.
Unfortunately the most interesting thing outside my place is the wall of another building...


@jimallyn, I used to see all sort of wild critters at my old place, but thankfully (and sadly, too) the only thing that died in our yard was a cat. The vultures alerted us to its presence, and I had to clean it up before they did. :?
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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by Spearmint2 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:01 am

Use some canned air into the exhaust port and blow the dust off the heatsink and fan to hopefully stop over heat problem causing it to crash.
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Fred Barclay
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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by Fred Barclay » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:03 am

Unfortunately, I've been there, done that! :D It still overheated when I tried to use it for anything taxing.
It is, after all, a 10 year old laptop (or maybe older?).
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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by Spearmint2 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:21 am

may need new thermal paste, but not such an easy job on a laptop.
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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by chiefjim » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:31 am

I've got an Acer Aspire 3002LCi from 2005 that fits your description. This machine serves as a ready stand-in for family and friends when their own machine is on the fritz. Certainly no powerhouse but it does allow them to access email and browse the web while the other box gets fixed.

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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by JerryF » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:08 am

Fred Barclay wrote:It also has a power cable that won't provide power unless it's held in precisely the right location, so moving it around isn't an option. ...
I wouldn't trust the power cable or anything else that might be happening there. Just possibly, sounds like a fire hazard waiting to happen.
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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by sammiev » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:45 pm

I have one old headless laptop setup by the TV for playing DVDs.

Keeping all my utilities and Docs that I use on all my other laptops are also stored on the old timer to save time while testing other Linux OS.

If you can think of a reason to play, go a head and enjoy.

Edit: I would fix that power cable first.

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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by Spearmint2 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:03 pm

Put KODI on it and use for entertainment center.
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Fred Barclay
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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by Fred Barclay » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:58 am

JerryF wrote:I wouldn't trust the power cable or anything else that might be happening there. Just possibly, sounds like a fire hazard waiting to happen.
Thanks! I may let this computer rest in peace, and try to do something fun with another old laptop after all.
Spearmint2 wrote:may need new thermal paste, but not such an easy job on a laptop.
Great minds must think alike - I did that soon after purchasing it, and it didn't really help. :(
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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by Citizen229 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:39 am

You could do what i do with an old netbook.
1) fully charge battery
2) remove battery
3) place battery and laptop in warm dry place
4) when your PC gives out, pull out laptop and order parts.
4b) when a storm knocks power out, find wifi and pay bills on time
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Re: Ideas for old laptop?

Post by Nate » Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:43 am

I tend to alternate between two things for old laptops (the ones I don't fix up and pass on anyway).
1. I use them to experiment with different operating systems and to do the things I'm not yet confident doing so if I mess anything up I can just clean up with a fresh install.
OR
2. I look at what I want to be able to take with me and use that to turn it into a new toy. I've turned one into a permanent Lakka OS device that coupled with a few controllers is an amazing way to play classic games with friends when visiting them or on the go and I've turned a few into Kodi devices for videos and music on the go.

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