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Ask Slashdot: How To Donate Older Computers to Charity?

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the curbside-charity-pickup dept.

Hardware Hacking 260

yanom writes "My school gave me several circa-2006 computers with no operating system. I fixed them up, and now they run Lubuntu fairly well, making them great internet/LibreOffice/general Linux workstations. I've been wanting to donate them to local nonprofits where they'll go to good use — for example, I've already given several to a local church for them to use in their afterschool care/tutoring program. However, I'm having trouble finding other places where these machines could go to good use. How should I best conduct this search? How can I find nonprofits that could benefit from these workstations?"

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2006? (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171645)

Are they P4 or Core processors? If they are P4, just recycle them.

Re:2006? (4, Insightful)

Splat (9175) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171665)

Your kind of thought process is exactly the problem. A P4 system is perfectly usable given the correct software configuration, and as timothy already stated they're working well enough running Lubuntu to be a basic word processing/information device. Just because it's not the newest technology doesn't mean it's trash. There are plenty of people out there who would be perfectly well served by a basic computer that can run a web browser to look up information, and type up emails on it.

Re:2006? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171733)

An IBM 5150 is perfectly usable given the correct software configuration. Usable for what, is the question. A 3ghz P4 isn't even fast enough to play flash video smoothly these days.

Re:2006? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43171951)

Are you serious? I JUST replaced a 10 year old 3GHz P4 with an i7. I've been playing a lot of modern FPS games just fine on it. Problems with flash? Give me a break!

Re:2006? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172151)

Yeah, there's one in my house with XP, Adobe Flash, and maybe an nVidia 6800? Stutters constantly. I suppose it might have more to do with flash not liking the video driver, than the hardware itself not being fast enough. But it's got the most current versions of the drivers available, so considered as a system it's crap.

Here's a thought (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172407)

1) Find a charity you despise

2) Throw computer through window

Re:2006? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172007)

Nothing plays flash video smoothly, and flash is proud of that.

Re:2006? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172113)

That's sort of funny. I'm still running a 1.4 GHz Sempron box and it feels like a perfectly adequate tool for me for anything, apart from calculating geodetics around a black hole, which I happen to do very seldom. Even the flash videos are reasonable, although 720p works much better in MPlayer for me. The only qualms I have is that I could use a little bit more memory. (But then, who couldn't?) The last-gen Cedar Mill P4s, while still more power-hungry and less efficient than even an old K8 with small cache, can't be *that* bad.

Re:2006? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43171741)

His point was probably about power usage.

Re:2006? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172009)

Underclock, undervolt, use a non-resource-hungry distribution of Lignux?

Re:2006? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43171749)

Exactly so.

Re:2006? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43171979)

P4's cost a lot to run. I measured a basic P4 machine the other day and it was drawing around 140 watts at idle. My core i5 Macbook Pro was only drawing around 11 watts. For some it would be cheaper to just buy a lower powered machine than to pay the electricity bill on a P4.

Re:2006? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172157)

Key word: buy.

Many nonprofits AND even individuals and businesses DON'T have the budget to buy new computers. They might not even have the budget to buy older computers! 2006 is certainly new enough to run and benefit lots of folks. Paying a minor bit for an electric bill over time is not something they usually consider, and in a number of cases, they may not even be paying for electric in the facilities they make their offices in.

I know nonprofits where 2006 would definitely be an upgrade over what they are currently running! (I was actually about to go solicit donations for them today..)

If you want to buy some nonprofits new Macs, let me give you my contact info..

Re:2006? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172557)

With multiple machines, that electricity bill quickly goes up by hundreds... its a key difference between residential computer use and business.

Re:2006? (3, Informative)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172021)

I did some research on this around Y2K timeframe. My company was throwing away pallets worth of computers that didn't handle the changeover properly. Perfectly functional and usable, but just didn't meet their requirements. I was amazed how many charities didn't want slightly older computers. They listed their minimum specs and

I don't know the reasons but what would realistically be a perfect computer for low income or otherwise disadvantaged people just isn't something even charities are willing to spend the resources to deal with.

A more extreme example would be Africa. There millions of people in Africa who live in modern cities who could use any of the US's castoff computers. But the costs of transporting them make it completely unfeasible to ship them for the worth/value.

Re:2006? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172035)

"...minimum specs and they just outright wouldn't take them."

Re:2006? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172177)

Isn't Africa where all those "recycled" computers end up anyway?

Re:2006? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172529)

I thought it was asia myself, but either way, they don't end up there in a usable state do they? i.e. it's landfill isn't it?

Re:2006? (1, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172029)

Giving a P4 to the poor is evil. The cost of running it can easily cost more than a brand new computer.

Re:2006? (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172359)

Not really, there's subsidies for power in many places and rarely if ever is there a subsidy for a new computer.

What's more, cash flow is an issue, it might cost more in the long run, but some people only have a few bucks a month and need the computer now. Getting a free or cheap computer that costs a couple bucks more a month in the long run might just be what they have to put up with.

The people who are getting these computers are frequently in a position where they can't save money either way because they have none. Yes, it would be better for them to not spend the extra money, but they don't necessarily have the luxury of money sitting around to buy a new computer when their current one breaks either.

Re:2006? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172103)

Your kind of thought process is exactly the problem. A P4 system is perfectly usable given the correct software configuration, and as timothy already stated they're working well enough running Lubuntu to be a basic word processing/information device.

And what are people going to do with "a basic word processing/information device" that can't even run a modern browser to view current web pages? Write letters? There just isn't that much word-processing that needs to be done anymore. And people who do write grant letters or donor communications or what-have-you are going to want to be able to refer to the web (news, wikipedia, online guides, government sites) as they work, because that's how people think these days.

Maybe if the charity is an organization that teaches laid-off manual laborers to type in the hopes of getting them secretarial positions, or something like that. But most charities can't spare the desk space those dedicated word-processing boxes would take up in their offices.

Re:2006? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172243)

P4s may be capable with a certain amount of work, but they are horribly inefficient. If you compare a p4 to a modern processor it's like incandescent vs cfl.

Why not recycle it and use that money to donate a raspberry pi?

Re:2006? (1)

Splat (9175) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172443)

A full, true, Raspberry pi setup that could replace a computer (including a case + power supply + sd card, etc) will run you around $85. There's not $85 of scrap value in an old P4 unfortunately.

ExtremeTech did an article on this:
http://www.extremetech.com/computing/148482-the-true-cost-of-a-raspberry-pi-is-more-than-you-think [extremetech.com]

There's been many valid points made here about the long term costs of power consumption versus the short term upfront costs of new hardware investment. Unfortunately the issue with most non-profits is they don't have the upfront capital to invest in say 50 Raspberry Pi systems, but they can easily spread out the power consumption over the long term of 50 P4's (as inefficient as they are - agreed!) through operating expenses.

Re:2006? (1)

WuphonsReach (684551) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172269)

No, a P4 is not perfectly usable. Not unless it was one of the rare breed that came with 2 cores or one of the rarer SMP setups with two chips.

There's a huge and noticeable difference in responsiveness between the old single-core P4s and the slightly newer (2006-onward) chips that are dual-core. Multi-core chips and multi-CPU setups age well, single-core chips never have.

In fact, multiple core systems age so well that we immediately jumped on them (AMD X2 64bit) back in 2006 when they started dropping below $200. Those 2006-2007 era machines are still very viable, although we're in the process of refreshing them with Win7, 4GB RAM (or 6-8GB) and Intel 330 SSD series drives. We expect to keep using those 2007 era machines up through 2015-2017 unless something breaks horribly on them.

Total cost for the refresh was $75 for the SSD, about $150 for the Win7 Pro upgrade license and $30 in RAM. Which gets us machines that can probably run another 3-6 years. Better then spending $500 or so on a new white box, and the SSDs were optional (but we got a good price on 120GB units).

Starting around 2014-2016, we'll likely replace them with 4-8 core machines at higher clock rates, more RAM, new SSDs, etc. and go another 10 years. Which might end up just being an operating system install and motherboard / CPU / RAM swap.

Re:2006? (3, Informative)

Grisstle (2798631) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172315)

"Your kind of thought process is exactly the problem. A P4 system is perfectly usable given the correct software configuration" As a person supporting a not for profit, I wouldn't touch a 7 year old computer and deal with the issues involved. Sorry, we get plenty of 3 year old computers donated or offered regularly so we don't need someones ancient crap. A 7 year old computer brings all the issues of lack of available replacement parts, lack of drivers and poor performance and to boot they usually look like shit. 5 years is the cutoff, I wouldn't touch a computer older than that if I have to support it for day to day use by people who are not me.

Re:2006? (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172409)

You're spoiled then. The non-profits around here gladly take any computers that they're given. Some get recycled and others get refurbished, but they aren't in the position of refusing to take a computer just because it's 5 years old.

The thing they won't take for free though is CRTs. Those things are expensive to recylcle because of all the toxic chemicals and it's getting to the point where those old 14" LCDs are flooding the gap that cheap CRTs vacated.

Install Windows XP (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43171653)

I don't care if this looks like a troll. I am a professional Linux developer, but I'm under no delusion that the general public is comfortable using Linux for general purpose stuff. The kind of people using computers at non-profits will just lost interest in a state of WTF if you put them in front of a Lubuntu machine. They'll just want Windows or Apple.

Re:Install Windows XP (4, Informative)

Nimey (114278) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171799)

Fuck that. In about a year WinXP will no longer get security updates, so you'd be handing the recipients a ticking bomb unless they're kept off the Internet.

Install a distro with an easy UI like Mint-MATE and they'll do just fine, really.

Re:Install Windows XP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172217)

Fuck that. In about a year WinXP will no longer get security updates, so you'd be handing the recipients a ticking bomb unless they're kept off the Internet.

Install Linux and you are costing them even more money when a) they are already most likely using windows machines b) something breaks and they have no idea how to fix / patch it, have to find someone who will. All you are doing is handing them another bill and a waste of time.

Say whatever you want about Windows and security, people want something that works with zero effort. Linux isn't that at all. 99.999% would rather pay Office licenses that dick around with LibreOffice when some document doesn't import correctly. Their time is more valuable than some pseudo-geeky warm fuzzy of FOSS.

Re:Install Windows XP (5, Insightful)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171903)

You are right that the general public isn't comfortable using Linux. Unfortunately, you falsely imply that they are comfortable using Windows. The vast majority of people who would be in a position to go to a library or Non-Profit don't know the difference. Point them to the little icon that launches firefox and/or chromium and not only is it true that they couldn't care less if it is Linux or Windows, it is also true that they have no idea that it isn't Windows.

Re:Install Windows XP (3, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171949)

You are right that the general public isn't comfortable using Linux.

Just tell them it's "Android for PCs".

Re:Install Windows XP (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172279)

They have that now, [android-x86.org] you know.

Not sure how well it would run on an old P4, tho...

Re:Install Windows XP (3, Interesting)

1u3hr (530656) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172491)

They have that now, you know.

Yes, I did know. But if If they knew the difference between Ubuntu and Android, you wouldn't need to dumb it down.

We got an old Dell laptop for my daughter, it came with a locked-down corporate install of Vista. After a few hours wrestling with trying to configure it I said fuck it and just put Ubuntu on it and it "just worked" immediately. Predictably, she complained about the funny looking apps but has learnt to use it. Even Libre Office for schoolwork. And now she has an Android phone, she has rooted it so she can install some of the same utilities she has on the laptop... So there is crossover.

Re:Install Windows XP (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172683)

Anecdote == awesome, dude.

Dig the "trial by fire" method of introducing your progeny to Linux. Sink or swim, amirite?

Re:Install Windows XP (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172047)

not only is it true that they couldn't care less if it is Linux or Windows, it is also true that they have no idea that it isn't Windows.

... until someone sends them a Word document and it doesn't display correctly; or they want to print something and can't get their printer to work and the support people can't figure out why the Windows printer driver won't install. :^(

Re:Install Windows XP (2)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172339)

"... until someone sends them a Word document and it doesn't display correctly;"

That problem already exists in Windows. Word does not render consistently across multiple versions of Word. Open Office display them just as accurately (The content is all there, but it isn't rendered identically as the composing system)

" or they want to print something and can't get their printer to work and the support people can't figure out why the Windows printer driver won't install"

I don't think you quite understand how this works. People don't bring in their own printers. They use the one that is already set up and configured.

If you put a decent distribution like Mandriva or Magiea on the system there is a wonderful little GUI tool for a system administrator to use in the unlikely event they need to replace the one they are using, and the drivers all get installed automagically in most cases as well.

Finally, just as they have to call a competent person when all else fails in a Windows environment, they simply need to do the same with Linux. Your assumption that they don't have the same issues with Windows is mistaken. I have a system in the building right now (Windows 7) that tries and fails to install HP Pinter software every time you boot it. Your belief that Windows "just works" and Linux "is hard" is based on your ignorance, not experience and a solid grasp on reality.

Re:Install Windows XP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172579)

Your belief that Windows "just works" and Linux "is hard" is based on your ignorance, not experience and a solid grasp on reality.

Really?

"While I missed the comprehensive Linux toolchain and userland, I did not miss having to chase the proper package for my current version of Linux, or beg someone to package something. Binaries just worked." [slashdot.org]

Re:Install Windows XP (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43171909)

Download Xange [distrowatch.com] . They'll swear it's Vista. Look at this [wordpress.com] .

Many don't know/care which OS is behind Firefox (2)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172023)

My experience is that a great many users, especially the non-techie types, don't know or care what the OS is - they see the Firefox icon and click it. They have no idea that their smart phone or tablet doesn't run Windows, because they have no reason to care. If there's a browser and perhaps an office suite, it's a computer like any other to them.

They'll just want Windows or Apple.

What's that, is that on Google or Facebook?

Firefox OS and Chromebooks kind of prove the point. The browser IS the computer, to most people. It used to be nobody cared about the process scheduler, anything below the level of the desktop didn't concern 99% of users. These days the browser is the desktop and few care what's beneath. (But some of those who care do care a lot.)

Re:Install Windows XP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172061)

Hello, old BSD fart here, so get your point.

But if he donates to people who have never used a PC, there's no reason why they should not become comfortable using some form of *x, eh?

Also, sure he can install XP, but then he has to go and buy it, presumably on his dime.

Nobody wants them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43171681)

Nobody will want them running Linux. Seriously.

Difficult (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43171699)

They're seven year old computers running linux. Even charities have minimum needs/standars for computers. Some near where I live turn down the older stuff because they end up being a place to dump your old junk and then they have to pay to have the worthless computers carted off to be recycled.

Re:Difficult (1)

Splat (9175) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171731)

They're doing it wrong then. There's money in scrap boards, memory, CPUs, and the metal itself. I can understand turning the things away however if there's not a support structure in place for them.

Re:Difficult (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171803)

There's money in scrap boards, memory, CPUs, and the metal itself.

No, there's not. The "money" that one gets is a pittance next to the effort spent salvaging the junk in the first place.

Re:Difficult (1)

Splat (9175) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171893)

Pittance? I helped a local non-profit earn $3000 last year by salvaging their "junk" through my volunteer work.

Re:Difficult (1)

Nimey (114278) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171845)

But then they have to deal with finding a recycling center that will take them, and that takes time and effort away from their charitable mission, and storage is not free. My local recycling center charges money for computers because they're such a pain in the ass to deal with.

Re:Difficult (4, Funny)

Looker_Device (2857489) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171957)

Even charities have minimum needs/standars for computers.

Nonsense. Those Goodwill boxes will take anything. I regularly put my old broken appliances, worn out VHS tapes, empty soda cans, used toilet paper, etc. in them late at night and I've never once heard them complain about it.

used computers cost too much and slow (2)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171701)

new PC can be bought for a few hundred $$$. comes with MS Windows and you can run office on it. very easy to set up out of the box

used PC you have to pay someone $50 or more per hour to configure them one by one and pay the software licenses

and even 2006 computers without 4GB of RAM are SLOW. try running Chrome with a few tabs open. there are $279 best buy specials with 4GB of RAM

destroy the hard drives if you're paranoid and just junk the PC's

But what are they really worth? (1)

nweaver (113078) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171709)

A circa 2006 computer is in the only ~5x-10x faster than a Raspberry Pi, and has a power cost on the order of 100-200W/hr. So a 2006-era computer, even free, costs ~$90/yr just in power if its left on.

Similarly, for a non-profit trying to be uber-cheap, why not just go with ChromeBooks? If you are in a position where you can have a network (e.g. like an office environment), they are cheap, and the office and so-on that are needed for productivity.

Here is an idea if you are not picky... (1)

Vexler (127353) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171735)

Alan Ralsky.

Like I said, if you are not picky.

Re:Here is an idea if you are not picky... (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172549)

Alan Ralsky.

Like I said, if you are not picky.

Well, I suppose you could bludgeon him to death with it...

Goodwill (3, Insightful)

cod3r_ (2031620) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171757)

just take them to goodwill and let them figure it out.

Re:Goodwill (1)

Desler (1608317) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171817)

Yes make Goodwill have to lose money recycling your junk computers. Grand idea.

Re:Goodwill (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171987)

Yes make Goodwill have to lose money recycling your junk computers. Grand idea.

Not in my experience. Goodwill sells plenty of working used computers for $15-$50 each.

Now if the computers were non-working, that would be another story.

Re:Goodwill (2)

Dynedain (141758) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171993)

Actually Goodwill does computer recycling now, and at least in CA they make money at it.

Re:Goodwill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172189)

uhm, that's not how it works.

goodwill most certainly does make money on old systems.

they even have a setup where they get benefit from old CRTs.

Re:Goodwill (1)

wesk (2662405) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172213)

Will Goodwill really accept them? Seems like they're more particular these days about accepting stuff that's not like new.

Recycling a better option (3, Informative)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171759)

With the current state of things, computers and electronics are ubiquitous, cheap, and rapidly evolving. At this point, I consider machines from the era to be essentially trash, even when they can function well enough using your favorite distro. They take up too much space and use too much power, and they struggle to handle the world's new common platform: HTML+CSS+js. They will also accelerate down the slide to obsolescence much faster than newer equipment over an equal period of time.

I feel like dumping those things on charities is just giving them a burden. They may have to spend money to put the machines to use, and they will have to take care of throwing them away soon enough. I say use your energy to find a good recycler so that the metals in those old junkers might be reclaimed for tomorrow's tech.

A 2006 processor is 400X faster than a 2013 drive (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172135)

As for the hardware, a 2006 processor could be a Intel Core 2 running at 2.6 Ghz - 2.6 TRILLION operations per second. I sure did a lot of productive work on with a 500 MHz machine, so one five times as fast seems fine to me, for office work.

If it wasn't waiting on IO, a new processor might be 50% "faster" for a single threaded application, but in reality they are both sitting idle waiting for a disk drive that peaks at 38 MB/s. A new green drive does about 38 MB/s. The 2006 processor does 10,000 MBs / second. Assuming both have SATA drives, then, an old computer and a new computer will both take the same number of seconds to load the word processor from disk and launch it. For that type of thing, there's practically zero difference in new vs. 2006 - computers were already "fast enough" in 2006. (Except for hard drives, if they are switched for SSD.)

Re:Recycling a better option (1)

WuphonsReach (684551) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172353)

Anything multi-core from 2006 onward is probably fine. That means the Athlon64 X2s, the Core Duos, etc. I know I was purchasing 45W and 65W AMD CPUs around 2006-2007 which run cool and quiet.

The multi-core machines also age well because they have at least 2 physical cores to handle both processing and the UI. In fact, my primary laptop is still a T61p Core2 Duo @ 2.2GHz. It has a SSD and was upgraded to Win7 Pro and 8GB last summer. So we purchased that laptop in 2007 and I plan on using it for at least another year or two.

Sure, an Intel i5 or i7 would be nice, but it still handles everything I throw at it for systems administration, programming and other tasks.

Donate your time or recycle them (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171781)

Unless you're willing to donate your time to administer them and keep them running (including replacing hardware when it fails), just recycle the computers, non profits don't have the staff to keep old hardware running, and though they may have someone that understands some Windows basics, they aren't going to have anyone that knows anything about Linux.

My wife works for a non-profit and when well meaning people donate old computers, they thank them, then hand them off to an eWaste recycler (who fortunately takes them for free)

Remember: No good deed goes unpunished (4, Insightful)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171785)

I applaud your altruism; but I've done the same kind of thing in the past, and regretted it.

Not to be too paranoid, but please make sure you've got all your paperwork in order, (you have to right to pass on the PCs etc.), and explicitly state 'no warranty' etc. What if one of the PCs catches fire, and burns down the old folks home you donated it to? Yeah, I know I sound nuts, be we live in a crazy world.

Oh yes, and regarding support. They'll drive you nuts. Really.

Junk the things and just give some cash to a worthy cause.

I hope you plan on donating your tech support (1)

a_big_favor (2550262) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171787)

Find some charitable organization to distribute them, like your church. Or possibly a store like goodwill.

Re:I hope you plan on donating your tech support (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171955)

A church will turn their nose up at it. Over the last 5 or so years, Churches have hopped on the Apple bandwagon big time. From the Audio/Video department to the pastors, everybody is using Macs Ipads, and Iphones.
I play piano at my Church and for awhile they made me use some program on a Mac to play sounds instead of the built-in sounds on the keyboard which was purpose built to play those sounds. The user interface was much more difficult to use on the Mac, and I had to use two hands to change sounds, which I often had to do between songs. Also, after playing for awhile, it would start to not hold notes out even when you were holding the notes down on the keyboard. Only rebooting the Mac would fix it. I have still never in my life had to reboot a keyboard.
I have become a very vocal detractor of using technology for the sake of technology. Old process X works. New process Y works, but not as well, but it uses the latest Technology! No thanks.

Re:I hope you plan on donating your tech support (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172355)

A church will turn their nose up at it. Over the last 5 or so years, Churches have hopped on the Apple bandwagon big time. From the Audio/Video department to the pastors, everybody is using Macs Ipads, and Iphones.

Churches with money have jumped on the Apple Bandwagon.

Churches without money continue to languish on old, outdated crap.

FYI, not every church in the country is one of those modern, 'rock-n-roll show' megachurches making serious, untaxed bank off of tithes.

Willful acceptor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43171791)

I had the same problem with some P4 computers that ran Ubuntu with plenty of speed for internet and office applications. After a while where no organization would take them, I printed and taped on a sheet of specs and a description for a lay-person about what the computer was ready to do. Then I took them to Goodwill and got a receipt for tax writeoff. I have a picture in my head that some poor single parent picked it up for under $50 so their kid can do homework. If that's not what really happened, it's not my problem anymore.

United Way (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171819)

The United Way distributes cash donations to local non-profits, so they may well know who would need the computers.

Charities are not a waste disposal service (3, Interesting)

xelah (176252) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171849)

Charities are not a waste disposal service. Have them disposed of properly and safely, and the useful materials extracted and recycled. Even if you find a charity who'll take them, you're just dumpling that problem on them a year or two from now - and, as several other commenters have said, they probably use enough power the charities would be better of buying something newer.

Re:Charities are not a waste disposal service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172769)

Charities are not a waste disposal service. Have them disposed of properly and safely, and the useful materials extracted and recycled. Even if you find a charity who'll take them, you're just dumpling that problem on them a year or two from now - and, as several other commenters have said, they probably use enough power the charities would be better of buying something newer.

Recycling centers are a waste. You do know most of them don't actually recycle anything right? To extract anything useful from electronics is a waste of time because anything useful is in such small amounts and separating them is wasteful in the long run. Like the silver in them costs 100 times more money trying to get the little tiny amounts of the pcb boards and so on. Most places just junk it and call it recycling to get the tax breaks and funding. Infact most recycling waste more money, more time and more energy than its worth and generally create as much waste as they salvage. Besides, the parts not used don't magically just disappear they still go to the dump so there is still a ton of waste. I don't know why people assume recycle means everything is somehow reused completely with nothing wasted.

And most chairities don't have the money to throw around on new computers, if they did they would already own them. And if they get a year or twos use out of them isn't that better than no use? Boys homes, homeless shelters, community centers and so on don't exactly swim in cash. But its easy to say "They could just buy new stuff" that usually is what arrogant people say that have no real idea of what its like to have a shoestring budget at some center.

Thrift stores (3, Interesting)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171867)

You might donate them to a local thrift store, along with a printout of how to use Linux (although it seems obvious to me, it may not be to others). For a while, I was checking out and repairing computers for a thrift store associated with our church.

Some came it with a usable operating system; some had to have one installed. I'd always stick Ubuntu on.

None of them ever failed to sell. After all, the price was right, and the people usually needed whatever they could get. I felt good about it, because a computer that would have seen the scrap heap got reused. Let's face it: for word processing and simple spreadsheets, it doesn't take that much computer. You can also browse the web, if you stay away from overbloated sites. Email is a no brainer.

And, if they didn't like Linux, they were free to install Windows or whatever they chose. Given the financial state of a lot of these people, I doubt they could have afforded Microsoft's price. But Linux at least let them see the machine was funcitonal.

Re:Thrift stores (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172175)

I remember you saying that you installed Gentoo on those machines, and bundled a copy of GIMP so that elderly folk could look at pictures of their grandchildren.

Re:Thrift stores (2)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172737)

Nope, wasn't me. I don't think I've ever even tried Gentoo. There are just so many Linux variants these days, that I just don't get around to trying them all.

Re:Thrift stores (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172179)

Granted they work and use for word processing jobs, what about the printer?

Re:Thrift stores (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172727)

Actually, I checked a bunch of those out, also. Some went with a printer; some didn't.

ask someone local who knows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43171929)

Try your local hackerspace/makerspace. They might be involved in some donation programs, and if they won't take them, might know where you can drop them off. I would also check out any youth/social services organizations in your area.

You could always set it up as a vpn gateway and ship it off to parents or other technically disinclined people that you feel obligated to provide tech support for.

I volunteer as an IT guy. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43171939)

I volunteer in the IT department at a free clinic. If you're in Georgia - Georgia Free Clinic Network [slashdot.org] . We could use those machines.

If you're in another state, check out the free clinics there. I'm sure they could use them too.

On another note, if you have old hardware, unless asked, I suggest you don't bother installing an OS or any other software. Your heart is in the right place but to be frank, we'd wipe the machine and put XP Pro and then set them up to suit our network - which is Microsoft based, obviously.

Arrg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172033)

Georgia Free Clinic Network [gfcn.org]

I get distracted when typing and I totally mess up - I can't multi task ....

Recycle (1)

Ultra64 (318705) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171967)

Donate them to your local electronic recycling facility.

Forget it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43171981)

You'll be asked to do all the tech support for them.

It's better to just build a Beowulf cluster out of them in your basement.

I end up giving old PCs to neighbours and friends (1)

gQuigs (913879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43171985)

who otherwise don't have PCs. They usually use them to just browse the web and other basic tasks. Firefox is better on older hardware than Chrome in my opinion. Especially if you are memory limited or if you want to watch Flash videos. Chrome is actually laggy in those situations.

It's slow going giving them away, though. Most people think that a newer PC will work better for them, but usually because of crapware it never does. And for a novice user re-installing Windows is hugely more difficult then installing Ubuntu (or Fedora, or OpenSuse, Mint, etc). I should note, I have no direct experience with Windows 8 yet.. so maybe it's much better...

Re:I end up giving old PCs to neighbours and frien (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172237)

Yup, our county dump stations have sheds with tables for "i don't want this anymore, it isn't junk, it shouldn't just be tossed, if you can use it please take it" stuff. I've taken old computers, wiped drives, put Linux on 'em, and put a sheet of instructions along with a re-install disk with them. They last about 10 minutes before being taken by someone.

Put them on ebay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172017)

Put them on ebay, collection (no delivery). If nobody buys them, they're worthless.

Toss them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172055)

Toss them in the trash and then smack yourself in the balls with a hammer for being stupid enough to let your school sucker you into taking them, so they wouldn't have to pay to recycle them.

Criagslist (3, Interesting)

NewWorldDan (899800) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172097)

Post them for free on Criagslist. It's possible someone might want them, but I wouldn't count on it. If no one claims them in a week, take them in for recycling. Right now, there's a glut of crappy old single core CPUs out there that no one wants. I've got a few in my basement that I haven't recycled yet.

Re:Criagslist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172265)

This is the way to go, it's amazing what people will come take away as soon as it's free.

Re:Criagslist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172441)

Agreed! I've gotten rid of a big pile of dirt and grass, 1/2 full oil containers, scrap wood, cardboard boxes, just off the top of my head. Say it's free and it's GONE.

Freecycle them (2)

Anonymous Codger (96717) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172109)

Join a local Freecycle group (www.freecycle.org) and post an offer. Someone in your community might have a use for them.

If they're in working order (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172131)

Veterans affairs has listings of many such charities dealing with veterans.

Goodwill, Red-Cross..

My 2 Cents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172267)

I really don't have any experience in donating old computers, but perhaps someplace like a women's shelter, where you have people who are trying to better themselves to get out of a bad situation, could use them to do on-line classes, search for jobs, etc. Or anyplace that dealt with children, like a kids rehab center (computers used frequently for speech therapy) the kids would probably just take to the computers, oblivious to what OS they had on them. The therapists, maybe not so much.... Anyway, I hope this gives you a few ideas.

St. Louis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172357)

In the St. Louis area, Wits [witsinc.org] takes both function and non-functional computers and electronics. Some them they repair/build and give to disadvantaged areas. Anything they can't reuse, they recycle. If you are not near them, I would still give them a call. They might know of other organizations that do the same thing.

A Use for Everything (1)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172373)

Look for non-profit schools in your area and offer these systems for teaching keyboarding and intro to programming. These functions don't require much horse power or graphics and free (as in Beer) software and courseware is readily available.

Ask your local clubs (e.g, Lions, Rotary, Exchange, Optimists) whether they have a need for free office automation.

Here is an idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172383)

Call me crazy now if you must but maybe you could call some local charities and well, ask them yourself? I know this is a far out idea, doing something on your own and all but maybe you should give it a try sometime instead of having to ask people on the internet every little thing.

Jesus, I cant imagine how you people survived before the internet.

Don't. (1)

sidragon.net (1238654) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172387)

Recycle your old junk, then donate cash and let the charity decide what hardware suits their needs.

Light weight linux distro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172545)

I'd just put a light weight (and easy to use) linux distro on them like XUbuntu or Lubuntu and donate them. Since they were in a school, I doubt you need to go through the time of zeroing the hard drives first. A P4 class machine is still perfectly fine for the internet regardless of what some snobs in this thread say... An older computer is a lot better than no computer! And it should run LibreOffice just fine. I'd recommend a veterans charity like Purple Heart because they offer computer labs, so the vets would directly benefit from the machines. The Boys and Girls club is also a great place to donate because they too offer computer labs for children. Do some research into what charities around you offer computer labs and donate to one that can use them that way, it's better than if they sit in a thrift store.

How about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172601)

"How should I best conduct this search? How can I find nonprofits that could benefit from these workstations?"

Have you tried the Internet?

Literacy Connection (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172671)

The Literacy Connection has a computer tutor program. Maybe some of the students could use them since only about half own computers when they start classes.

Kids on Computers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172681)

http://kidsoncomputers.org

Wounded Warrior Project and Craigslist (1)

timholman (71886) | about a year and a half ago | (#43172749)

Contact the Wounded Warrior Project. They have taken several donated P4 Dell boxes off my hands.

Like the OP, I have found it very difficult to find donors for older desktops. Craigslist may be useful in that respect, as individuals and small nonprofits sometimes ask for computer donations.

Personally, I have given up on reconditioning and donating desktops. Very few people want them. As others have mentioned, it really is better to recycle them, even if it goes against your grain to toss out a working piece of hardware.

Donate to the Students (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172753)

Why should you seek to donate the computers to a charity? You'd be surprised how many students and families don't own a computer.

My wife taught middle school English for 7 years at a "poor school" where the majority of the students were Hispanic. Many of the students were extremely poor whose parents only spoke Spanish. My wife had to completely rethink the lessons plans that involved the computer lab due to most of the student has little to no prior Internet experience.

Talk to the English teachers, I'm sure they would know which students could use a machine.

By recycling your junk and writing a check... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43172755)

Recycle your junk and write a check for something that is "older" in the sense that it's not the latest and greatest; but still has some years left in it. Saddling non-profits with these quirky power drains that are likely to break isn't charity. It's just dumping your problem on somebody who doesn't need to be dumped on. Most non-profits are smart enough to realize this and won't accept such things anyway. If they do, they'll just end up recycling it themselves.

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