Love the site design, the creative units of measure, and the stubborn will to keep a decent laptop out of e-waste. Great writeup.
This model series was literally the Thinkpad most of us teens at the local hackerspace had. It was affordable, had a reasonable battery lifetime, was quite heavy for it’s size but could run Linux fairly well and is even powerful to run Sauerbraten.
For Wi-Fi we’d figure out that running sudo iwlist wlp4s0 scan in a loop would make connections not suddenly stop working, a miracle when you don’t know how to patch a Bios and can’t afford other network cards either.
sudo iwlist wlp4s0 scan
In the end I sold 1 Bitcoin I got gifted at a Bitcoin user group and bought a Thinkpad x230, I still use it as a homeserver.
This is some impressive work! It shouldn’t take this much to prevent a laptop going in the bin, but I really enjoyed the writeup.
I’m impressed someone would go to all that effort for an X131e, considering you can usually find faster ewaste for cheap, often free. The going rate on eBay for them is $50 and that feels a little too much.
I have an X130e that was given to me by a friend who got a lot of them from a local school and had to defeat the BIOS password by shorting the pins during startup. This might have been a faster method!
So far, mine has been a lot more reliable than the machine in the article (busted clock?!) Knock on wood.
This seems like a lot of effort expended for the challenge more than the utility; the journey and not the destination. I respect that.
This brings up something I think we as an industry of device consumers and hardware producers need to talk about and harp on more: the policies that inhibit the extension of usable life. Here, shortsighted government policy would have defeated legitimate acquisition and use of this hardware had it not been for significant effort and ostensibly entrepreneurial spirit, even if the author wouldn’t form a business of enabling the use of these devices that would otherwise be unusable. We need to think more about the journey of the computer hardware we produce and consume, and demand and understand the full lifecycle, from dust and ore to dust and ore.
I personally have so many of my old computers because I just don’t know what to do with them. I’ve not encountered an e-waste recycling program that was sufficiently transparent that I could have surety that my old equipment was going to be returned to dust and ore as best as humanly possible. I’ve pushed computer donations to organizations like Computer Reach and they’re breathing another few years of life into otherwise aging hardware by refurbishing it with foundation dollars paying for labor and delivery and sometimes selling the nicer donations to cover costs and then some.