[lug] new Distro

Nate Duehr nate at natetech.com
Fri Aug 31 12:01:25 MDT 2007

David Kritzberg wrote:
> This sounds like a cool project, and I really do not want to distract
> people from the point of your email.  But can I play devil's advocate
> here, and ask why you want to make linux run on such old machines?  I
> have a few of them in a closet.  I was considering running them to
> donate cycles to fold proteins on one of those distributed projects.
> But then I was made to understand that, considering the rate at which
> the hardware for these old machines sucks power, it was doing more
> social harm than good.  What alternative use for an old PIII would
> justify the energy consumption? 
> Dave

They make for great "put it in the corner and have it do one job, really 
well" machines.

An example would be using them to link radio systems, www.irlp.net -- 
lots of old machines in this network, all the way back to Pentium I 100 
MHz or so.

Yeah, they eat more power than something newer, but the break-even 
between using the old machine you already have (free) and the power 
consumption difference, many times isn't worth it.

(And if you worry about the environmental implications, it keeps an old 
machine out of the landfill, and doesn't require a new machine to be 
made at all... saving a lot more in the environment than the power 
consumption difference.  I would argue that keeping almost any old 
machine alive probably is a better net result than buying a newer/more 
efficient machine, but I haven't done the math... to see where the real 
break-even is on that.)

I say "environmental" implications.  Not "social".

Environmental worries are only "social" right now because of a lot of 
FUD about how certain things can "save" the planet.  We're too dirty as 
a species, when you look at the big picture, and many of the "social" 
causes related to environmentalism really aren't helping in the 
net-impact analysis.

Just making the computers in the first place is much more of a mess than 
their energy consumption, and it also requires a lot of energy in and of 
itself.  But we don't see too many folks asking people not to 
MANUFACTURE computers.


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