You may be one of those people who say, “I’m a PC”, but Linux may still have something to offer you in your home or office. If you have an older PC or laptop that you are going to give away or try to sell on eBay, you may want to reconsider. Instead of getting rid of it, try loading a user-friendly Linux operating system like Ubuntu. You’d be pleasantly surprised that you can turn your older hardware into a useful and productive part of your home or small business computing environment.
If you have an old laptop that can’t be upgraded, Ubuntu is easy to install and will run just fine on an older processor like a Pentium 4 and with only 512K of RAM. Turn that laptop into a portable Internet surfing station! For example, my wife upgraded from her old HP Pavilion zd8000 laptop which had a 3.0 GHz Pentium 4 to a nice new Pavilion running Windows 7 64-bit – I took the old laptop and loaded Ubuntu 9.10 Workstation on it. I now use it out in my garage workshop so I can have access to the Internet while working on projects. Sun’s Open Office also lets me open any Microsoft Office documents that I might download from the net.
Another great use of Linux at home or office is for Network Storage. If you have ever shopped around for a small business or home NAS (Network Attached Storage), you would see that these range in price from around $500 up to $2,000, but you may also have figured out that almost all of them are running Linux under the hood. So rather than buy a whole new system for NAS, why not take that old P4 desktop computer out of storage, put some new disks in it, and give yourself 1TB of storage for only a few hundred dollars? I did this exact exercise myself: I had an old PC with a 40MB hard drive, loaded Ubuntu 9.04 Server, installed a SATA card with four 1.5TB Seagate drives, and configured them as a 4TB RAID array. The total cost for my 4TB NAS was around $600! You don’t even need a specialized RAID controller card, you can just use software RAID in Linux – if that’s all the system is doing, the main CPU can handle the load.
There are a number of different flavors of Linux, and most of them have the right price – free to use. Personally, I found installing and managing Ubuntu to be no more difficult than a Windows PC, and in some ways even easier. The key with Ubuntu is to not try and do anything that hasn’t been done already, otherwise, it becomes a real science experiment. But that can be fun, if you’re up to it – you can become one of the contributors to the body of knowledge. For example, you can find information about installing Linux on laptops here: HP zd8000.