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Author Topic: Old Computers = false ecology  (Read 3062 times)

Offline PDP-8

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Old Computers = false ecology
« on: July 24, 2020, 07:02:53 PM »
Over the years, I've seen various recommendations to use TinyCore, or other small distros as a great way to keep old computers alive and kicking.

Nevermind the fact that they run great on modern hardware too, but quite often that is the only "selling point" in reviews, and quite frequently touted as a great way to keep the machine out of the landfill.

"Saving the planet" with old computers is false ecology.

The "carbon footprint" to make those older machines in the first place is much larger than modern equivalents to start with.  THEN, there's the power-draw, which can be up to TEN TIMES worse than a modern computer.  Nevermind the power/performance ratio operationally.

So you really aren't doing the planet any favors.  If I kept my wall-sized PDP 11/780 proudly running all these years as my sole computer, the harm I did to the planet would be immense - even if I could afford the power bill.

What concerns me about recommendations to use TinyCore with older computers is not so much with the one-off machine dragged out of Grandpa's closet, but something more problematic.

My main concern is the temptation to divert e-waste, and try to reintroduce gas-guzzlers back into the ecosystem - all under the pretense of ecology.  TC and others are quite capable of providing that life support to these ancient things that should have been shredded long ago.

It's a sad fact of today's world.  E-waste diversion, like supplying "rejuvenated" toxic lead-acid batteries to the underpriveleged, is likewise bad for a number of obvious reasons.

All I'm saying is that when plans to make tiny linux distros the "planet savers of the people", think again.






That's a UNIX book! - cool  -- Garth

Offline PDP-8

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Re: Old Computers = false ecology
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2020, 07:56:32 PM »
Just realized I may have stated my concern incorrectly about diverting e-waste (which is a good thing rather than just going to the dump).

What I'm talking about is siphoning-off hardware out the back door from the normal e-waste stream.

What might have been avoided by not being able to boot something like Knoppix, TC and others can provide the opportunity to siphon off the REALLY old guzzlers.  Beware.
That's a UNIX book! - cool  -- Garth

Offline hiro

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Re: Old Computers = false ecology
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2020, 06:44:38 AM »
i agree, and that's why every 10 years or so i buy a new computer for 100$. thankfully the architectures have stayed so far compatible. but i often run older software, modern software (given more power available) is often wasting more resources.

Offline PDP-8

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Re: Old Computers = false ecology
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2020, 10:51:35 PM »
I tend to do the same, but mainly because they are waay more convenient to use.

Use what makes you happy.  I have an older machine I'm comfortable with, and it's not because it cost $$ and is worthless now, except for nostalgia.  Look at my membername - I get a real kick out of running old software (*nix itself!) on modern gear.

I'm just wary of attempts to repurpose trash on a wholesale basis, using small efficient distros, without regards to the ecosystem as a whole.  "Look, Libreoffice thrashing with only 512mb of ram!  That xvga crt monitor looks a little diagonal, but just put a book under one end.  On a 20 year old computer pulling current like crazy compared to just handing out a raspberry-pi with a wallwart to the needy...

Anyway, I've made my point - you guys get my drift.  I'll stop...
 

That's a UNIX book! - cool  -- Garth

Offline xor

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Re: Old Computers = false ecology
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2020, 12:11:28 AM »
« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 12:19:44 AM by xor »

Offline hiro

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Re: Old Computers = false ecology
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2020, 01:22:25 AM »
no, it's not free at all, it's trapped in the soil and not coming out unless we mess up the soil.
and moore's exponential law cannot continue unless we exponentially increase the amount of planets with such soil (which i doubt will happen considering how our technology is generally becoming more and more unusable).

Offline PDP-8

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Re: Old Computers = false ecology
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2020, 01:40:29 AM »
A more practical way of seeing how inefficient old computers are is to put an inline ac wattmeter inline, and do stuff, like shut down hard drives and run from usb sticks etc etc.  You'd be surprised.

The easiest to find and use are the "Kill-A-Watt" inline meters.  Easy to use.

Spinning down / removing the hard drive is a biggie, and then using things like powertop, you can actually see results, rather than rely on blogger conjecture.

Sometimes what they say mean nothing when measured at your wall outlet, and then sometimes it does!  Best to verify for yourself.  Good to have.

Re: dirt energy and all that stuff.  Makes me smile and listen to Capt. Beefheart songs:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSxxmAK6iYg

Just joking guys....  but do grab a Kill-A-Watt and see what makes a difference and what doesn't.
That's a UNIX book! - cool  -- Garth

Offline xor

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Re: Old Computers = false ecology
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2020, 01:47:50 AM »
energy accumulated in the soil; (It is the energy coming from the sun.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiant_energy
In this respect, it becomes + and - neutralized in the form of lightning, which is loaded from the ground after the process of accumulating more energy than the need of the world.
but we usually perceive it in a top-down form!

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=lightning+rising+from+the+ground

no, it's not free at all, it's trapped in the soil and not coming out unless we mess up the soil.
and moore's exponential law cannot continue unless we exponentially increase the amount of planets with such soil (which i doubt will happen considering how our technology is generally becoming more and more unusable).

Offline hiro

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Re: Old Computers = false ecology
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2020, 02:58:41 AM »
oh dude, leave me alone with your armchair astrology please.
and why does every half-hearted argument from you end with a youtube search query?

Offline hiro

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Re: Old Computers = false ecology
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2020, 03:03:51 AM »
@pdp8 certainly we should use tools to make ourselves aware of actual energy consumption.

and one very important advisor: turn off your computer safely sometimes. and all other devices you have at home. as long as there's light you could read a nice book, for example  UNIX: A History and a Memoir by Brian W. Kernighan. hahaha.

Offline xor

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Re: Old Computers = false ecology
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2020, 03:42:11 AM »
all our technology is built on mistakes
because of patent monopolies,
alternative reactor models with low security make the world more insecure.

the only way for technology to develop correctly;

"World health organization" like name "Establishment of world common technology organization

Offline PDP-8

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Re: Old Computers = false ecology
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2020, 05:35:06 AM »
and one very important advisor: turn off your computer safely sometimes. and all other devices you have at home. as long as there's light you could read a nice book, for example  UNIX: A History and a Memoir by Brian W. Kernighan. hahaha.

Guess what?  I agree and I have that book.  I absolutely love Prof. Kernighan's writing style.  Right next to it is the classic 1983 "UNIX Programming Environment" feat Rob Pike co-author.  And any other number of good Unix book authors.   Something about staring at paper with good lighting, instead of the screen seems to make things sink in a bit faster for me.  Maybe even a bit more meaningful compared to online material that is surrounded by distracting click-bait.

Since I'm more of a user than a programmer, I didn't realize that the first half of the book is for mere mortals!  For decades!  It wasn't until about 5 years ago that I picked up the paperback.  STILL highly useful.  I wish they'd reprint it in hardback in volume again.

Doug McIlroy called Brian an "expositor par excellence" in regards to unix.  There are some great videos online with him today where his good-natured character just makes you wish you could have worked with that crew back then.  Or take a class with him today in a university setting - he's still teaching I believe.

Interesting thing about that early crew:  So good natured and full of grace.  They were allowed / paid just to be themselves and at that time, no commercial pressure or interest - just do research and maybe someday something might come out of it.  Sure did!


« Last Edit: July 27, 2020, 05:36:47 AM by PDP-8 »
That's a UNIX book! - cool  -- Garth

Offline xor

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Re: Old Computers = false ecology
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2020, 05:56:44 AM »
creating a better operating system
it is either a job that will be simple or it is possible with an artificial intelligence that can do the work of 1000 software engineers.