Author Topic: Turning old computers into something useful!  (Read 9825 times)

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Offline JeffGrange

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Turning old computers into something useful!
« on: May 13, 2011, 05:42:23 pm »
Got an old computer? Think its just junk? Think again! With so many linux distros, you can easily turn an old computer into something completely useful!
This thread is for ideas, experiences, and general discussion! :)
It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.

Francois De La Rochefoucauld

Offline JeffGrange

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Re: Turning old computers into something useful!
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2011, 05:45:45 pm »
I have recently converted an old old old pentium 2 using a puppy linux distro www.puppylinux.org/
Now that I've got the old thing up and running, (after spending about 3hrs cleaning the damn thing) I have hooked up two old harddrives and am using it to store all my music!
It finally has a purpose!!
It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.

Francois De La Rochefoucauld

Offline galaxytdm

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Re: Turning old computers into something useful!
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2011, 07:08:54 pm »
That's how I got my desktop.
I had an old PC from work when they got new kit but they kept all their hard drives and there was no way I was paying £160+ for an OS.
It gave me a perfect opportunity to try linux after putting it off for years (lazy not afraid).
£40 for a HDD and Ubuntu 10.10 and I have a new PC, I reckon that's got to be value for money.
If you need help ask a professional, then act upon their advice.
Anything less and you're just wasting peoples time.

Offline JeffGrange

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Re: Turning old computers into something useful!
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2011, 08:59:57 pm »
Was just thinking about your post......totally true.
Ive been going through all the old IT stuff at work to see what I could do with it...cant believe they were actually going to throw it all out.

Any suggestions... I found an old dell optiplex 170L....could be interesting.

My rather recent discovery of linux has really sparked my computational brain!
It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.

Francois De La Rochefoucauld

Offline Mark Greaves (PCNetSpec)

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Re: Turning old computers into something useful!
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2011, 10:03:00 pm »
Headless webserver/media streamer ?? .. Bit like an oversized pogoplug :)

Access your stuff from anywhere....
« Last Edit: May 14, 2011, 03:25:54 pm by Mark Greaves (PCNetSpec) »
WARNING: You are logged into reality as 'root'
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Offline JeffGrange

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Re: Turning old computers into something useful!
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2011, 03:58:11 pm »
How would one go about such an idea?
It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.

Francois De La Rochefoucauld

Offline GG

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Re: Turning old computers into something useful!
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2011, 06:21:46 pm »
I've got one and I want to turn it into (obviously very small) webserver.
Is this porssible or are they completely different things? (I'm not counting opera unite webservers here).

Offline Mark Greaves (PCNetSpec)

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Re: Turning old computers into something useful!
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2011, 07:23:25 pm »
If you mean you have a Pogoplug, take a look at these....
http://lifehacker.com/5637092/turn-a-pogoplug-into-a-fully+featured-linux-web-server

You *may* even be able to use Opera Unite, once you've installed Linux onto the Pogoplug... I say *may* because I haven't had a look at Opera Unite yet.

Just SSH into the Pogoplug/Linux then install Opera, or whatever else you need.



Other interesting Pogoplug links -

PlugApps... what else they can be used for :)
http://plugapps.com/index.php5?title=Main_Page
ie. install Plugbox Linux :)

Quote from: PlugApps
The Plugbox Linux operating system boots from a USB drive. It's a natively-compiled Arch Linux-based, full Linux system. You get a new unlocked bootloader, new kernel, and a full Linux installation. However, you cannot run the my.pogoplug.com connector on Plugbox Linux due to Cloud Engines' restrictions. However, you can reboot back into Pogoplug firmware and run it just like an unmodified Pogoplug.


Installing PlugBox Linux on Pogoplug

PlugBox Linux portal

PogoPlug review
« Last Edit: May 14, 2011, 08:01:13 pm by Mark Greaves (PCNetSpec) »
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Offline Mark Greaves (PCNetSpec)

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Re: Turning old computers into something useful!
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2011, 07:36:00 pm »
How would one go about such an idea?

What exactly do you want to achieve ?

  • Serving websites
  • Serving fies/media through a wepage
  • FTP server
  • Remote desktop access
  • All of the above
etc.

??
« Last Edit: May 14, 2011, 07:47:52 pm by Mark Greaves (PCNetSpec) »
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Offline SeZo

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Re: Turning old computers into something useful!
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2011, 12:38:52 am »
I have a Celeron 400 (originally came with win98) which I have been using as
a headless server for the last 3 years, now running Ubuntu server edition 10.04 Lts

File Server (samba)
Music straming (mediatomb)
Proxy (squid)
DNS + DHCP (dnsmasq)
Local only web server for testing (apache)

Got the idea from LXF102 back in 2008
Certainly worth looking around for old PC's which you cannot run windows anymore

Offline JeffGrange

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Re: Turning old computers into something useful!
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2011, 10:12:41 pm »
How would one go about such an idea?

What exactly do you want to achieve ?

  • Serving websites
  • Serving fies/media through a wepage
  • FTP server
  • Remote desktop access
  • All of the above
etc.

??



Would be nice to able to access files stored on it from anywhere.

But to be honest I haven't really thought it through completely. I've only just finished my semester, found the old computer, and fancied doing something useful with it. Any suggestions would be great!
Point of interest: Ive only been using the wonders of linux for about 6 months (practically a crime) so my skills are rather limited :(
It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.

Francois De La Rochefoucauld

Offline Mark Greaves (PCNetSpec)

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Re: Turning old computers into something useful!
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2011, 11:54:03 pm »
First, you need to know if you have a static (always the same) or dynamic (changes occasionally) external IP address.

If static you're good to go... if dynamic, you'll need to use a service like DynDNS which will track any changes to your external IP address and update its database... so you "effectively" always have the same URL (most modern routers have a DynDNS feature, so if it detects the external IP has changed it alerts DynDNS of the new IP).

There are MANY ways you could access Files from the server... as Sezo points out above...

Samba for sharing of files/folders with any (including Windows) PC (ie. a standard network, usually used for local network access, but can be used across the web, usually through a VPN tunnel for security, and best if you know the IP's of the PC's that are going to be allowed to connect)

MediaTomb for streaming media... so media files can be played without having to download them first... ie. played AS they are streamed.

It could also be a reverse proxy for the other PC's in your house using squid... ie, it handles requests for services on the other local PC's, and if the request meets the filtering rules, the proxy gets/caches the file/service, and forwards it.

FTP server for transferring files between the 2 PC's through a client or most modern web browsers (though AFAIK can't "stream" media)

Technically you could even set up and host your own web site by installing the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, Python or Perl)... then either code your own website, or use Wordpress etc.

As GG mentions, an easy way *may* be to use "Opera Unite". (never tried it myself, so can't really comment)

You can share the desktop if you've installed one (even though the server may not have a monitor or keyboard) with RDP, NX, VNC etc.

You can control (administer) the server through SSH (even showing running GUI apps on the other PC)

If you have a static IP, you can run this all through a VPN tunnel for added security

There are MANY packages to help with all of this... most (if not all) will be available in the default repo's

Seems like you have a lot of reading to do ;), but any questions, we'll be more than happy to try to answer for you.

All of the above (and any I've missed) can either be accessed from anywhere, or locked down to local (LAN) access only.

BTW, you DON'T need a "Server" Linux distro... and unless you are happy with the command line, you may be better off with a desktop edition... or with a server edition and Webmin.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 01:01:52 am by Mark Greaves (PCNetSpec) »
WARNING: You are logged into reality as 'root'
logging in as 'insane' is the only safe option.
pcnetspec.co.uk

Offline JeffGrange

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Re: Turning old computers into something useful!
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2011, 01:58:11 pm »
Thanks, this provides me with a great starting point.
Just when I think I learn a simple linux component someone will mention something that turns my understanding of said component on its head  :o
I love just jumping into something and muddling my way through... I end up with something completely different than I set out to do!  :D
Guess I'll be trawling the forums in my spare time!
Just found 2 more old PC's at work that I have comandeered! Going to butcher them and see what interesting stuff I find!
It is easier to be wise for others than for ourselves.

Francois De La Rochefoucauld

 


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