London-based Charity gives 40, 000 PCs a fresh start .... (an Ubuntu opportunity?)

John Levin john at
Sun Feb 6 18:35:08 CST 2005

On 6 Feb 2005, at 23:35, Matt Zimmerman wrote:

> On Sun, Feb 06, 2005 at 11:14:18PM +0000, John Levin wrote:
>> I'm familiar with Computer Aid - did a little work there some time 
>> back. I
>> believe their policy is to send computers without any operating 
>> system, or
>> possibly something very basic like FreeDOS. There are good reasons for
>> this - they don't know what the recipients will be using the computer 
>> for,
>> they don't know precisely what hardware will be linked together, and 
>> the
>> time involved in installing an OS.
> We could work with them to resolve these issues; certainly having 
> Ubuntu
> pre-installed is no worse than having no operating system at all.  
> Perhaps
> local Ubuntu volunteers could be mobilized to help with the 
> installations
> (in cooperation with the development of the Kickstart automated 
> installation
> infrastructure for Hoary?).

Sounds like a task for the LoCo groups, both in the country of origin 
and destination.
(Incidentally, is SABDFL on this list? I don't know what the 
Shuttleworth Foundation does in this respect, but it could be a useful 
intermediary between those with the computers and those needing them.)

>> Also, the boxes CA ship are very low spec, many with CPUs of around
>> 100mhz, which Ubuntu would unduly tax
> Yes, certainly this would need to be limited to systems with enough 
> disk,
> memory and CPU power to run a modern OS like Ubuntu.  Surely there are 
> some?

Not many (I was there a year or two back). There were a lot of 
less-than-100mhz boxes, which were generally stripped for ram etc, a 
decision having being made to supply 100mhz / 32mb ram boxes as 
minimum. A lot of the machines are very (in computer terms) old, being 
cast-off from large organisations (universities and companies) when 
upgrading en masse. That's not done very often per organisation. Don't 
underestimate the persistence of Windows95! (I got a machine today with 
win95/32mb - I'm going to try an install on it, just to see what 
happens, but I know I'll have to bump the ram up.)

>> The way forward for Ubuntu is really to contact the people actually 
>> using
>> the computers - the many and varied projects in Africa, Asia and 
>> Eastern
>> Europe.
> Installation is the single highest barrier to entry for Ubuntu and 
> other
> alternative operating systems.  Having Ubuntu preinstalled is a great 
> way to
> eliminate that barrier, and I think we should pursue such 
> opportunities.

>> I would like to see if there is some way Ubuntu and recycling projects
>> could work together; on our part, I think there has to be further
>> development of 'Ubuntu-lite' for lowend systems (which is being 
>> discussed
>> on the user list).
> I agree.  In many parts of the US, 686-class systems (quite capable of
> running Ubuntu) are candidates for recycling.  Are there any 
> centralized
> organizations which manage operations like these?  How do we get in 
> touch
> with them?

There are a lot of recycling orgs around the world, but they appear 
quite small and disparate - there's no centralized operation. I'll root 
through my bookmarks and post a list. Given the spread of ubuntu users, 
we could get a fairly comprehensive list together and spread awareness 
of 'free hardware' - and the benefits of free software too.

As a footnote, there's various initiatives around the world to pass 
legislation requiring recycling and safe disposal of computers. It's 
something to keep an eye on, as it could have a great impact and 
certainly provide some opportunities.


More information about the sounder mailing list