A brand new laptop for free!

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Moem
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A brand new laptop for free!

Post by Moem »

Yesterday, we had an Open Door Day at our local hackerspace, and as a part of that, we did a walk-in Linux workshop. Mostly we showed several distros, running on a batch of laptops, and answered Linux-related questions. A young boy (I think he was eleven years old) showed up with his parents, and they were curious about Linux, so we started chatting; eventually he asked, could my old XP laptop maybe run better if we installed Linux on it? I said, that is very likely, but if you want to see it for yourself we can just try it out. He handed me an Acer Aspire. I started up XP, and yes, it was slow; he explained that there were several games that he enjoyed playing, but they would run so slowly and laggy that it was just no fun. There was a newer laptop in the house that was running Vista (I know, I know :roll: ) but that was his mother's, so he could only use it when she did not need it.

On the sticker, it said 512 MB of RAM, so I grabbed a USB stick with 17.2 XFCE and hoped for the best. Once it was booted into Mint, I handed the laptop to the kid, and he really liked what he saw! It turned out that the machine actually had a bit more RAM, 2 GB; I figured that XFCE was still a good option. He tried out one of his favourite games and he was amazed at how well the laptop performed and how much cooler it ran. He wanted me to install Mint for him right on the spot! So I asked him a couple of times whether he was sure, and if there was any important data saved; both he and his parents confirmed that it was fine and we could go right ahead. So we did.

During the installation, they asked a bunch of questions; they were good, sensible ones, and I answered them as best as I could. We installed XFCE right over XP, using the whole disk, and they were amazed at the amount of free HD space that was now available. Then, we managed to get Minecraft installed (the other favourite game!) and once that was up and running, I got big smiles all around and a high five! Mission accomplished!

I showed them the update process, and the Software Manager; I also, as a useful demo, installed GUFW and switched the firewall on. Finally, I explained why antivirus software was not installed and not needed. Then I handed the laptop over to the proud owner who could not wait to start exploring.
Our hero, who was now a beginning Mint user, said that he felt like he had just been given a brand new free laptop. I fully expect to see him and his parents again in the hackerspace one day, and I would not be surprised if the parents brought their own laptops... :wink:

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Parents and children soldering at our Open Door day, yesterday; our young hero with his parents shown at right.
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DeMus

Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by DeMus »

That's the way to do it, make them interested while they are still young and nosy. You'll see how fast he picks it up. If only schools would pay attention to the fact that there is an other OS out there besides that crappy Windows.
I've got a nephew and when he was 10 we came there for a holiday with my Linux laptop. It took him a few minutes and he was using it as if he never had used something else.
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Moem
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by Moem »

DeMus wrote:You'll see how fast he picks it up.
I don't doubt it. He seemed not to find it daunting at all. Much like your nephew, I assume.
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TooMuchTime
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by TooMuchTime »

Moem, you rock!!
...they were amazed at the amount of free HD space that was now available.

...I would not be surprised if the parents brought their own laptops...
Get ready to fix an old Vista laptop!
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Moem
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by Moem »

TooMuchTime wrote:Moem, you rock!!
Don't make me blush now... woops. Too late. :oops:
TooMuchTime wrote:Get ready to fix an old Vista laptop!
Believe me...
I am.
So.
Ready.

I just had way too much fun with this! These people were genuinely interested, and everything I told them made them happy. And the boy was overjoyed when he saw how well his games ran. I told him: next Monday at school, you can brag about how you are now a Linux user! And he nodded and grinned a wide and happy grin. :mrgreen:
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Fred Barclay
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by Fred Barclay »

Yahoo! Great going, Moem!
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by all41 »

Moem wrote:
I just had way too much fun with this! These people were genuinely interested, and everything I told them made them happy. And the boy was overjoyed when he saw how well his games ran. I told him: next Monday at school, you can brag about how you are now a Linux user! And he nodded and grinned a wide and happy grin. :mrgreen:
A seed was planted that will grow and blossom--and perhaps this youngster will show us a thing or two before long.
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jimallyn
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by jimallyn »

Thanks for sharing that, Moem. I have been collecting "Linux success stories" in a file for a while. I post them on Facebook now and then when I come across a good one. I hope you don't mind that I just shared your story!
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Moem
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by Moem »

Jimallyn, that's fine.
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The Old Timer

Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by The Old Timer »

Cool old Oscilloscope on the table in the picture.
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Moem
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by Moem »

Nice, huh. We have a lot of older but perfectly usable equipment like that. It's often cheap or free.
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The Old Timer

Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by The Old Timer »

Being an old electronics technician from the days of vacuum tube electronics I appreciate vintage test equipment as such. 8)
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by millpond »

While I have nothing but praise for the Dutch and their overall benign projects (aside from NATO), and the eviction of M$ excresence is a victory for all that is good and holy - here, in the land of Sauron it might present a bit of a problem.

The problem is that students, from k-12 and college are often required to do homework and other assignments using M$ crapware. While Wine should handle most of it, it may not be able to do all.

In all such exorcisms, the rescued should be given instructions to also create a small USB stick contining a live image of the Gates of Hell, so they can boot to it for required projects.
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by MMcD488 »

That's a great story Moem! I also recently recycled a 10-year-old laptop that originally came with XP. I started with Puppy Linux, switched to Lubuntu, but ultimately decided to go with Mint 18 XFCE. I'm now using it for schoolwork since I've gone back to college. It really is amazing how well older machines respond to Linux with the right desktop environment. I think it may even give my wife's 4-year-old laptop with Windows 7 a run for its money...
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by thom_A »

Moem wrote:Our hero, who was now a beginning Mint user, said that he felt like he had just been given a brand new free laptop. I fully expect to see him and his parents again in the hackerspace one day, and I would not be surprised if the parents brought their own laptops... :wink:
Nice story. Seems many people have those old computers with typical specs, 2gb ram, single/dual cores... I had 2 of them with Vistas in them that are no longer supported. Precisely why the Linux option became an attractive alternative. I'm just wondering why 17.2 and not Mint 18?
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Moem
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by Moem »

It's what I had at hand. I was at a location with slow internet. Furthermore I've not tried 18 yet, and I did not want to recommend something I had never seen.
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by sphyrth »

I want to prepare myself when people like these come my way. May I know some of the questions they had?
I have a favorite game. It's on my Youtube Channel.
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Moem
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by Moem »

Sure! Some of the questions were:
- How safe is Linux when compared to Windows?
- How can all of this be free (as in gratis)?
- Why is Linux not more widely known/used?
- Can a Linux computer read documents that were created in Windows?
- Can Windows programs run on a Linux computer?
- Does this OS get security updates?
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by millpond »

Moem wrote:Sure! Some of the questions were:
- How safe is Linux when compared to Windows?
- How can all of this be free (as in gratis)?
- Why is Linux not more widely known/used?
- Can a Linux computer read documents that were created in Windows?
- Can Windows programs run on a Linux computer?
- Does this OS get security updates?
1. What here is meant by 'safety':
If security, then Linux is infinitely more secure than Windows (which has engineered in back doors). However If I was a terrist/Trump supporter I still would still not trust Linux because of some of its dubious software funded by gummint sponsored agencies (Heartbleed, anyone??)

As for stability 'safety' I have seen systemd issues here freeze the system requiring a hard reset multiple times. XP rarely requires a hard shutdown, though 7 has locked up on a few occasions.


2. TAANSTAAFL (google it): Originally, software was designed as a tool for real products, not an end product itself. Companies like RedHat make money not selling Linux, but the support services for using Linux in corporate settings. Open Source keeps corporations from the extreme expense of having to reinvent the wheel at every turn, and many, if not most corporations hate selling to the consumer market anyway. In short, its a win/win situation where free software to the unwashed untermenschen is an unintended, but welcome consequence, that also generates great publicity and public relations - which are considered a sine qua non of corporate 'citizenship' these days.

Aside from that, individuals and communities have banded together under *co-operative* efforts to create and maintain software that meets their needs. Even hardware, such as Arduino.

It also looks great on a resume if an aspiring programmer can come up with a popular Open Source software that prospective employers can examine microscopically for style used in programming.

3. Linux/Unix is in fact widely used: It is the backbone of the Internet and the primaary OS of many nations, corporations and institutions. The CERN atom smasher runs it, as does Amazon and most other IT oriented companies.

Its been slower to adapt to the the consumer market mainly because it has only recently been modified to target the home market, particularly drivers for home type hardware such as printers and gamer video cards. That said, there are many desktops and laptops designed these days with Linux in mind. Generally older hardware will be more compatible since there will be time for drivers to be written for it by the large developer community on Linux.

4,5. Linux LibreOffice can read any document created in M$ Office. Its Calc version of Excel is is little different, enough to annoy me, so that I run M$ Excel in Linux under the Wine program. Most of Windows programs, especially older ones, will run under Wine. Even older games.

6. Debian issues security updates regularly through a special repository. This is applicable to LMDE especially, and any Ubuntu programs that are derived from Debian. Security updates are processed MUCH faster, usually days in Linux, rather than the weeks to months for the korporate behemoths like M$ and Apple.
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Re: A brand new laptop for free!

Post by thom_A »

Moem wrote:Sure! Some of the questions were:
- How safe is Linux when compared to Windows?
- How can all of this be free (as in gratis)?
- Why is Linux not more widely known/used?
- Can a Linux computer read documents that were created in Windows?
- Can Windows programs run on a Linux computer?
- Does this OS get security updates?
And if he's satisfied with the answers and asks you to install Linux in his computer I would then ask:

1. Do you have a backup partition of this pc? (Probably none.)
2. Have you at least made a backup of your personal files like docs, xls, photos, vids, etc.

If yes to both questions, I'd still prefer not to overwrite the existing Windows partition and just install the Linux distro on a separate partition. A messy menu list would, of course, come out after the installation/reboot, which still included the Windows partition. I then let it boot to the default, which became the Linux distro that was just installed. I would then install Grub Customizer deb file, which is at hand from my storage drive or USB, and clean up the menu list, ie, delete advanced folders, memtest, etc., and rename the main entries to their appropriate names like Windows XP, Linux Mint 18 Xfce Edition, etc. Then proceed with the updates, install drivers, etc. If both of us have time, I'd also clean up the Windows partition, remove viruses, unnecessary startup entries, etc.
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