WIth having a background in IT and a keen interest in reducing waste, I’m going to start experimenting with recycling old laptops and Android phones. It’s also a step towards increased privacy, as we’ve all been blindsided by Big Tech giving us free things while harvesting our data to sell us more stuff we don’t need. With living costs rising we can save a fortune by keeping devices running for longer.
Laptops – Waste For Profit
Modern versions of Windows have so much extra crap installed and a lot of it is intended for selling us things or stealing our data. Most recent laptops are more than powerful enough for web browsing, writing letters etc. when all this guff is removed. This makes it a great option for extending the life of laptops and reducing cost of ownership. Privacy invading data mining is baked into commercial operating systems and planned obsolescence leads to us being pressured to buy new devices every few years when there’s not much wrong with our old machine.
My Macbook Air is getting slower and slower as Apple introduce new things I don’t care about, and they will drop support for my laptop entirely soon to try and make me buy their newer laptop containing their own processors.
I’ve been learning about the operating system called Linux lately and trying it out on my old computers. It’s an alternative to Windows and MacOS that is free and open source and comes in various flavours that focus on particular things. Some flavours are for beginners, others for servers or developers. Linux often works on laptops after official manufacturer support has ended, and often uses fewer resources as it’s not busy tracking everything we do and serving ‘news’ and adverts.
Android Phones – Data Mining At Source
Android is a version of Linux that’s been hijacked by Google to harvest our data at a base level. It’s not even the apps we install, or the junk apps like Facebook that come pre-loaded – it’s the base operating system that’s invading our privacy. This doesn’t have to be the case though, as there are lots of versions of Android that don’t rely on Google or their products.
In both cases – Linux on computers and de-Googled Android – it means less convenience is the price to pay for increased privacy and lower cost of device ownership. The default app stores won’t work and there can be a bit more configuration required. Some software isn’t available for Linux or de-Googled Android but there are often free, open source alternatives available. I’ve read success stories however of Linux actually being easier to use for some folks! If the end user is just checking emails, browsing the web and doing other things in their web browser they probably won’t notice the difference.
I’ll be securely wiping all the devices that are donated to ensure no user data is shared with the new owners. I’m hoping to supply these laptops & phones to local people who can’t afford to buy or replace their devices, and to local educational establishments. There are probably issues around teaching people to use the new operating systems but reducing waste and cost is too important to let that get in the way.