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menagerie

What should I do with my old computer?

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Hey guys,

By sheer luck I somehow stumbled onto this site and have been hooked just reading it for the past two months now. Im not a hacker at all but reading about some of the topics on here keeps me up for hours.

Anyways, I have a10 yr old PC that quit working about 4 years ago. I took it to a service center and it was gonna take around $200 to fix it or whatever. Instead of paying that I just got a completely new PC....So It has been sitting in my closet for the past 4 years doing nothing..... I now have a Mac that I use and do all my computing with but figured I am wasting a good computing mechanism that could be doing something awesome.

The specs:

Windows XP

Pentium 4

80 GB harddrive

512 RAM

1.60 Gighahertz

I Did a google search on some possible things I could use it for.... results included using it as a firewall... a server, etc etc. Problem is I have no idea what I'm doing so I think those options would be more of a headache than a fun little spare time project. There are apparently even organizations you can allow access to your old computer to do their computing needs... (ex: http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/)

Anyways... I am coming here to ask you guys what YOU would do with it! Any other suggestions from you group of smart, technologically inclined people???? I feel like those suggestions from google just aren't cool enough ya know?! If you can think of something way cool drop a line!

I am not looking to get rid of it and will have to do a Disk reformat to get rid of whatever is causing the computer issue. I don't mind using a different OS other than windows either.....

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Hey guys,

By sheer luck I somehow stumbled onto this site and have been hooked just reading it for the past two months now. Im not a hacker at all but reading about some of the topics on here keeps me up for hours.

Anyways, I have a10 yr old PC that quit working about 4 years ago. I took it to a service center and it was gonna take around $200 to fix it or whatever. Instead of paying that I just got a completely new PC....So It has been sitting in my closet for the past 4 years doing nothing..... I now have a Mac that I use and do all my computing with but figured I am wasting a good computing mechanism that could be doing something awesome.

The specs:

Windows XP

Pentium 4

80 GB harddrive

512 RAM

1.60 Gighahertz

I Did a google search on some possible things I could use it for.... results included using it as a firewall... a server, etc etc. Problem is I have no idea what I'm doing so I think those options would be more of a headache than a fun little spare time project. There are apparently even organizations you can allow access to your old computer to do their computing needs... (ex: http://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/)

Anyways... I am coming here to ask you guys what YOU would do with it! Any other suggestions from you group of smart, technologically inclined people???? I feel like those suggestions from google just aren't cool enough ya know?! If you can think of something way cool drop a line!

I am not looking to get rid of it and will have to do a Disk reformat to get rid of whatever is causing the computer issue. I don't mind using a different OS other than windows either.....

Just a thing...install a linux distro!! ;) If you look for using Google you will find many distros that may interest you and which will run very well on your pc without any problems!!

Try Ubuntu( and all its derivate distros), Mandriva and also Fedora!! ;)

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you can use it as an asterisk server...

you can purchace a multi channel DVR card for it, and use it for security cameras...

you can use it to back up all of your important files on your network..

you can set up a web server (if your ISP allows you to host a web server, and does not block port 80)

you can connect it you a HDTV and use it as a HTPC... (adding a TV tuner card you can build your own DVR/TiVo box)

i would consider upping the ram to at least 1GB and upgrading the HD if you plan on using it for any type of storage... but you can still do plenty with a P4...

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service center and it was gonna take around $200 to fix it or whatever.

I am not looking to get rid of it and will have to do a Disk reformat to get rid of whatever is causing the computer issue.

First welcome to binrev :smile:

Second, are you sure it's a software issue. I cant imagine a repair shop charging $200 to reinstall Windows (maybe if you had to buy a new licence).

I think most of the common ideas have been mentioned but i'll just add that I only use two desktops. One fileserver and the other is my main computer. All my other machines (can spot 4 desktops and 2 HP servers from where i'm sitting but there are more around the flat) have been superseded by virtual machines, except for those projects which require actual hardware. Even then I prefer laptops as they are quieter and use less power.

Let use know what you decide to do with it :biggrin:

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I made a Smoothwall box on an old machine like yours a while back. Its a specialized Linux distribution that provides a firewall and intrusion detection system for your home network. It was pretty interesting to see all the traffic trying to get into my home network from far away places. Its also a good way to learn more about Security if you are interested in that. To run Smoothwall you will need two network cards in the machine. Other than that it will run on a pretty simple system. Check it out if you are interested. Good luck.

http://www.smoothwall.org/

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Unless you have a specific need, I'd say just donate it to somewhere like hackers for charity or some other organization that will get a good use out of it.

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I think you should remove all the bulky stuff like unused disc drives etc and build a robot :) Just remove the motherboard and make a smaller case for it so you can use less powerful motors.

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If I had an old pc i would like to install on it a very minimal distro and on it i'll go to do all my test and tries!!

I think it's very amazing for someone who loves programmation and computer!!

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Hey guys I appreciate all of your replies!

I got some great ideas.

Ive decided I'm going to probably use it to just play around/test with other software like linux distros and try out johnnymanson's suggestion of Smoothwall

thanks again!

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If you get bored with playing with the box itself you could always pull the HD and get a sata/ide to usb cord from newegg. I had an old box with a fried motherboard and thats what I did with it... would be a shame to let 80gigs go to waste. But yeah, have fun doing whatever you do!

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Like you stated, use it to learn how to trouble-shoot and repair hardware or software issues. When you get it fixed pickup an extra hdd and make it into a NAS with FreeNas. Almost anyone can use a NAS device these days.

As others have stated, you can use it to learn other operating systems w/o worrying about having to back-up or wreck the install on your main system. Yeah, one can use VmWare or the like for this, but sometimes installing with real hardware is more of a challenge.

Edited by tekio
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If it isn't noisy and if you are willing to let it run 24/7, I suggest you make a (small) investment on two gigabit ethernet cards and turn it into a nice powerful router running vyatta (one card for WAN, the other to connect a switch). With the specs you've given, it's going to be much more powerful than the routers you'd find at best buy :P Plus, vyatta is a Linux-based router operating system made to mimic the Cisco operating system, so you'd have a lot of fun playing with that. It supports a lot of stuff, you can make a firewall with it too, but also a VPN or virtual networks. Check it out here. The project is made by ex-cisco employees who wanted to make a cisco equivalent at its true value, without all the overpricing :P

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I recently got some old computers from my father who is a janitor on a school and im going to set em up as servers...

Irc, http, ftp and stuff for testing purposes and the irc server will be hang out for me and some friends....

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If it isn't noisy and if you are willing to let it run 24/7, I suggest you make a (small) investment on two gigabit ethernet cards and turn it into a nice powerful router running vyatta (one card for WAN, the other to connect a switch). With the specs you've given, it's going to be much more powerful than the routers you'd find at best buy :P Plus, vyatta is a Linux-based router operating system made to mimic the Cisco operating system, so you'd have a lot of fun playing with that. It supports a lot of stuff, you can make a firewall with it too, but also a VPN or virtual networks. Check it out here. The project is made by ex-cisco employees who wanted to make a cisco equivalent at its true value, without all the overpricing :P

What exactly would a more powerful router do? would that just extend my wireless range capabilities?

and btw. IT IS LOUD AS HECK! I completely forgot about what a headache it was until I fixed it a couple weeks ago. Would a simple replacement of some better fans do the trick or does noise also come from other sources?

Edited by menagerie
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If you get bored with playing with the box itself you could always pull the HD and get a sata/ide to usb cord from newegg. I had an old box with a fried motherboard and thats what I did with it... would be a shame to let 80gigs go to waste. But yeah, have fun doing whatever you do!

hmm. good to know!

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What exactly would a more powerful router do? would that just extend my wireless range capabilities?

A more powerful router wont necessarily extend your wireless range but it will allow you to do more with the system. You can (for example) install a full OS on the system which will allow you to use intrusion detection systems, log activity, install services or anything else you can think of.

and btw. IT IS LOUD AS HECK! I completely forgot about what a headache it was until I fixed it a couple weeks ago. Would a simple replacement of some better fans do the trick or does noise also come from other sources?

One of the machines I was given was like that. Way to loud to use. To fix it I first made sure that the fan was causing the noise (stopped it from spinning on bootup, just not for too long else something may burn out). I then wired the fan to the spare internal usb connection points on the motherboard (i.e. where you would plug in the usb points from the case). This gave the fan 5 volts as opposed to the 12 volts it was getting from the motherboard.

Of course this is a little risky if the machine is put under heavy load but i've been using the machine as a file server for around a year (on almost 24/7) with no problems.

You can also buy/make components to allow you to manually control the voltage of the fan so it can be set higher or lower as needed.

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What exactly would a more powerful router do? would that just extend my wireless range capabilities?

A more powerful router wont necessarily extend your wireless range but it will allow you to do more with the system. You can (for example) install a full OS on the system which will allow you to use intrusion detection systems, log activity, install services or anything else you can think of.

As phr34kc0der said, it wouldn't extend your wireless range capabilities, but it would enable you to do much more with the router itself. The usual linksys router you buy at best buy is an all-in-one cheap solution that's pretty much plug & play and works for most people. However, it does not have all the advanced capabilities of a "real" router you'd find in a larger network, where you need more services such as a firewall, activity log, IDS, VPN, etc. The list is much longer, you can do a lot more than just that. Vyatta is a clone of Cisco's IOS, but Linux-based. You can get a Cisco equivalent for dirt cheap with it.

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