Thursday, May 10, 2012

For those of you who don't know, I work in a thrift store.  The pay isn't the greatest but there are other things that compensate.  One thing I hate seeing come in is a 2-3 year old computer someone has ditched thanks to an upgrade being purchased.  Sure we take them, but we don't sell them, we have a contract with a major manufacturer to have them recycled.  Yea it's not a bad thing, but there are much better uses for those oldish PC's that won't cost you a red cent and can also get you that tax deduction you are looking for. 

Key to this is Linux, it's free, always has been and always will be.  It's not that difficult to use, and I'm sure if you do a bit of digging you can find a local charity that will be happy to take a PC which you've formatted the hard drive and installed a current Linux distribution on only to give it to a needy family to help their children with their studies.  Now comes the question, Why Linux?.

  1. No Licensing of the Software
  2. Runs adequate software for normal use such as web browsing, and word processing.
  3. Todays Linux Distros are simply to use and don't require extensive CLI knowledge. 
Look if you are going to give away your old PC to a charity so they can in turn donate it to a needy family or other organization,it shouldn't be something these people will fill full of games and use for entertainment.  Yes most Linux Distributions will either include or have a simple means to get the codecs to play DvD's, MP3's, and other non-free formats.  But what the average computer user won't be able to do with a Linux Distro is install World of Warcraft on it and then veg out for who knows how long.  Working with WINE is a much more complex operation than simply clicking install on occasion, and not something a computer viewed as an educational aid should be targeted with. 

So here are a few Do's and Do Not's when donating an old Computer or printer to a Charity, that is if you want something to happen to it other than being sent to a recycling center.

  1. Don't strip down the PC.  Removing a Video or Sound Card is one thing, delivering an empty tower and a box of various boards, fans, and a power supply is another.
  2. Make sure you ask for a receipt this is your proof of donation needed for a tax deduction.
  3. Include any manuals or information that  you may have on various upgrades etc. include it with your donation and make sure to List everything you donate including upgrades for your records.
  4. Wipe your Hard Drive.  If this means getting a Linux Live CD and using it to format the Hard Drive, do it.  I'm a firm believer that everyone should keep a Live CD of Gparted or a full blow Linux Distro laying around more on that in a bit.  But the reason for a format is they don't want those kinky pics from your honeymoon, and you probably forgot they were on there.
  5. If they do re-donate these machines ask what OS they stick on them if any.  If it's a Linux Distribution and you feel comfortable to install it do so if you want, you are only going to make their life easier.  Just make sure you give them the Super-User information, name and password.
  6. Make sure you include all the cables.  Nothing sucks more than checking over a PC and finding out they brought the tower, monitor, keyboard, and mouse and no power, or monitor cables.  For Printers this is different not all printers come with the print cable.
  7. Most importantly if it doesn't work let them know!  They won't be embarrassed or upset many also have contracts to have really old or damaged PC's recycled they'll get a few bucks for them.  Don't waste their time by letting them set up a system only to find out it won't boot.  
Now I mentioned above I feel everyone should have a Live CD of Gparted or a Linux Distribution like Linux Mint or Ubuntu laying around.  Here's why,  imagine if you would you have a major issue happens and you are going to be forced to format your hard drive.  You've got 5 years of baby pictures saved on your hard drive and no way to back them up since the system won't boot to Windows.  Well with a Live CD this is no issue as long as the file structure is still there and the hard drive hasn't failed.  You see they make these wonderful gadgets called flash drives that can be purchased with a 32gb capacity at a rather affordable price.  Now you slap the Live CD in your disk drive, and have your PC set to boot from the CD drive first.  You'll get a Live Session of what ever Linux Distribution is on the disk and you'll be able to browse your corrupted hard drive and move those priceless images to your flash drive!  See I told you Linux can be good, even for non-Linux users.


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