When I started my blog, I wrote a few posts about why people should consider using an old computer. I suppose most of my readers have not followed the blog from its humble beginnings. The following might, however, still be worth reading.
Linux runs on old computers, doesn't it? Many people have heard or read that also old computers can run Linux. This is true, but you should not expect to be able to run newest multimedia programs or play 3D games on old hardware. If you just want to read and send email, write a book, browse the Internet, learn to program, or maybe write a book with your computer, read on. Only your imagination can limit the uses of old hardware or modern hardware with low specifications.
Save your money for better uses. You don't have to buy a new computer just to update the operating system. Even computers one can get free or buy for a few euros or dollars can be used to run a modern desktop with lightweight software. Everyone living in the industrial world can afford a used computer for running a free operating system. Thus Linux helps to cross the digital chasm between those who can afford to participate in the modern computerized world and those who cannot.
If your computer is not older than ten years, it definitely can be used as a Linux desktop. You can either use a distribution specifically tailored for older hardware or you can use almost any modern distribution and customize the installation for your needs. You might have to hack some configuration files with a text editor and forget using the latest GNOME or KDE. Use OpenBox or WindowMaker instead. You might even have to install the distribution of your choice in text mode. You might need some help in tweaking your system to run as smoothly as possible.
But it can be done. And you can do it, too!
You can also help to save our environment by using your old computer or by using recycled hardware. Nowadays, computers that have very low power consumption (less than 10 W) are also available. This usually means that their specifications are rather low on modern standards. Information on this site could equally well be used for building a usable desktop on such a box. Using low specs or recycled hardware is truly green computing, a part of modern and sustainable way of living.
Modern low end computers are often used for running Linux. Ultraportable laptops known as netbooks often come with a preinstalled Linux system. Users of this kind of computers can also benefit from reading this blog.
Only you can decide, whether to install Linux on an old computer or to recycle the hardware. Even if you have another, modern desktop computer, you could use the old one with Linux. You could use this as a learning experience: you will learn a lot about how the operating system works. This knowledge can be useful, and learning is always fun!