Your computer isn’t broken – it just needs Linux


Longevity – an interesting word. I use it here to help clarify some of the statements that I hear many people make. These statements are usually along the lines of, “Linux can extend the life of existing hardware,” or “Keep old hardware out of landfills or unmonitored recycling facilities.”

The idea is that you can use your old computer longer and that by doing that you lengthen the useful life of the computer and decrease the number of computers you need to purchase in your lifetime. This both reduces demand for new computers and reduces the number of old computers being discarded.

This is all true.

Keep the hardware relevant

For one example, I have an old Lenovo ThinkPad W500 that I purchased in May of 2006. It is old, and clunky, and heavy compared to many of today’s laptops, but I like it a lot and it is still my only laptop. I take it with me on most trips and use it for training. It has enough power in its Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8GHz processor, 8GB of RAM, and 300GB hard drive to support a couple virtual machines and be the router and firewall between a classroom network and the Internet, to connect to a projector to display my slides, and to use to demonstrate the use of Linux commands. I currently use Fedora 28 on my laptop, the very latest. That is pretty amazing considering that this laptop, that I affectionately call vgr, is a bit over 12 years old as I write this in September of 2018.

Linux can most definitely keep old hardware useful. I have several old desktop workstations that are still useful with Linux on them. Although none are as old as vgr, I have at least one workstation with an Intel motherboard from 2008, one from 2010, at least three from 2012.

Resist malware

Another reason that I can keep old hardware running longer is that Linux is very resistant to malware infections. It is not completely immune to malware but none of my systems have ever been infected. Even my laptop, which connects to all kinds of wired and wireless networks that I do not control, has never been infected.

Without the massive malware infections that cause most peoples’ computers to slow to an unbearable crawl, my Linux systems – all of them – keep running at top speed. It is this constant slowdown, even after many expensive “cleanings” at the big box stores or the strip mall computer stores, that causes most people to think that their computers are old and useless. So they throw them away and buy another.

So if Linux can keep my 12 year old laptop and other old systems running smoothly, it can surely keep many others running as well. Including yours.