Recycling Netbooks

I've had several people ask me what I do with all the netbooks, sub-notebooks, laptops and nettops that I have written about on here. The short answer is, either I continue to use them for installation testing or I find a good home for them and pass them on.

I've had several people ask me what I do with all the netbooks, sub-notebooks, laptops and nettops that I have written about on here. The short answer is, either I continue to use them for installation testing or I find a good home for them and pass them on. When I do that, I always encourage the new owners to use them with Linux.

I've had several good examples of this recently. I think I mentioned here a while back that I loaned an HP 2133 Mini-Note to a friend who was going to a remote location in Eastern Europe to do some relief work for a few weeks. I had originally bought that Mini-Note with Linux on it (SLED 10), but before giving it to him I loaded it with the latest Linux Mint, made sure that it had the various connectivity and mail programs he wanted, and gave him a 5 minute introduction to using it.

Another case that is still ongoing is a family who will be going to Africa for a couple of months in the coming summer. They wanted a sturdy portable system to take along which they could use to unload and view pictures from digital cameras, keep trip logs, and perhaps access the internet when and if possible. Once again the Mini-Note came out, but this time it will be "for keeps". I reloaded Mint, so they would be making a clean start, made sure the packages they would need were on it, and gave them a brief introduction to it.

In both of these cases, the Mini-Note was particularly well-suited to the need. It's very durable, has a solid case and sturdy keyboard, it has the necessary slots and plugs (SD Flash and USB), and it didn't cost all that much to begin with (about 350 Swiss Francs), so if something happens to it during the trip, it's not a big deal. This is one of the situations that netbooks are supposed to be good for, isn't it?

Another current case is a friend who wants a small laptop that she can take along on weekend trips (skiing and such) to stay in touch with email, and on longer trips such as trans-Atlantic flights and Amrican vacations, again to stay in touch but also to be able to watch movies (DVD and downloaded), play music and such. I'm in the process of setting up the ASUS N10J to give to her this weekend. Again, it is well-suited for the purpose - it has an ExpressCard slot, and I have a Mobile Broadband card for that, so she won't have to worry about a huge USB dongle sticking out the side and being vulnerable to breaking off. The N10J was a bit unusual in that it came with an external USB CD/DVD drive, so it isn't necessary to buy a separate one. It's reasonably small and light, but the screen is larger than the HP Mini-Note, so it is more pleasant for watching videos and movies. The batteries in the N10J last a very long time - probably the longest of all the netboooks I currently have - which is nice for long flights and road trips. It came preloaded with Windows Vista Business, and I have left that on it for "emergencies". But I have reduced the size of the Windows partition to 64 GB, and used the rest of the disk for Linux Mint. It is set up to boot Mint by default, of course.

So, worry not, the multitude of systems around here are not being neglected or abandoned. In most cases I am still using them myself, and when I no longer have a use for one, or someone else has a better use or need for one, I clean it up, reload it, and pass it on - and in most cases, we end up with another convert to Linux.

jw 15/1/2020