Introduction: How to Put That Old Computer to Use.

Picture of How to Put That Old Computer to Use.

WAIT! Don't throw out that old laptop or desktop. You can give them a new lease on life. Just take a look at my Instructable.

Step 1: Tools You Will Need

Well as with most instructables you'll need some tools.
I used:
A screwdriver
torx screwdrivers
and a pliers

Step 2: Give It to the Kids

Picture of Give It to the Kids

Are you tired of hearing "Daddy/Mommy can I try your laptop?(That's right the $1600 Mac Book)" and you worry and stress over it. Well you can stop worrying! Just take your kid aside and tell them "Joey I have a surprise for you!" Then give them your old laptop (and some games) and watch them shriek with joy while you can enjoy a world free of stress about the kids breaking your laptop!

Step 3: Use As a Cheap Word Processor

Picture of Use As a Cheap Word Processor

Remember that paper you've been wanting to type forever, but whenever you log onto a computer you always get distracted by your email, games, or this website. Well you can boot up your old PowerBook and type up your paper. Then when you're done you can put it on a floppy and then put it on your main computer to print it up. This would work from Mac(apple) to Mac(apple) or from PC to PC.

Step 4: Covert That Trash to Cash!

Picture of Covert That Trash to Cash!

If none of these ideas appeal to you and you would rather turn you old computer into cash take it to a vintage computer collector. You might get payed lots of cash for a rare old system.

Step 5: Linux to the Rescue!

Picture of Linux to the Rescue!

If your system is old and outdated you might want to consider putting a version of Linux on it.
Damn Small Linux
Tiny Core Linux (10mb)
are both good operating systems for an old computer with a small hard drive.

liquidhandwash reccomends PuppyLinux.
Found here:

Step 6: Strip Down

Picture of Strip Down

If you've got an old machine that uses obscure parts you can take parts from these laptops and fix it. For example you can take RAM cards, Hard Drives, Processors, cables, power supplies ,and cases from the old machine and use it in a project you could also hold on to the scrap parts and use them to cobble together another machine.

Step 7: Last Resort

If you are really not interested in any of these things please take your computer to a proper recycling plant. Don't just throw it in the dump. This releases toxic chemicals into the environment and in the year 2020 nobody looks forward to drinking a nice clear glass of water laced with carcinogens and heavy metals.

Step 8: Do You Know What Done!!

You have successfully kept several ounces of heavy metals and other toxic chemicals out of the landfill and this planet that we call home. When these chemicals are in your machine they are inert(harmless), but when you put them in the weather at a landfill they leech out into the soil around them. SO please do your part to help save the world. Remember it is always better to have computer chemicals in your computer than in the environment.


admin (author)2009-04-29

Hey, this is a great instructable and is very informative. Just one thing is missing... pictures! It really helps a lot when trying to follow directions so you should consider taking some photographs. Once you do that and leave me a message when you have so that we can publish your work. Thanks! Thanks for the cool instructable and we hope to publish this soon!

admin (author)2009-04-20

Hey, this is a great instructable and is very informative. Just one thing is missing... pictures! It really helps a lot when trying to follow directions so you should consider taking some photographs. Once you do that and leave me a message when you have so that we can publish your work. Thanks! Thanks for the cool instructable and we hope to publish this soon!

thepaul93 (author)2009-05-27

my old laptop runs windows 3

dla888 (author)thepaul932009-06-10

Haha I'm still running windows 3.1 on the Texas instruments laptop. I have never had any problems with it. Yet I have many problems with Vista... I wonder if microsoft is going backwards?

GrimRipper1080 (author)dla8882012-12-10

The laptop that I have still runs on the old ms-dos. Any idea what i could do with it?

AlexA3 (author)GrimRipper10802016-01-22

If you have old MS-DOS games you weren't able to play for years due to compatibility issues, maybe you could try and play a few. Or check out Tiny Core linux, which if I'm not mistaken will run on any PC and doesn't look too bad despite its 10mb size.

GrimRipper1080 (author)AlexA32016-01-23

Thanks for the suggestion. But I'm now perfectly content with my new old computer that I cobbled together a couple weeks ago. I would have no use for another laptop around the house.

Jimmacle (author)dla8882010-12-19

I don't agree with you. I'm using a Windows 7 laptop right now, and I think it's great!

dla888 (author)Jimmacle2010-12-19

Cool! I'm glad it works for you. Unfortunately it doesn't work for me.

tinkerC (author)dla8882009-07-16

Yes, they went from a good OS, XP, to Vista, that doesn't even work right, and is a hog.

thepaul93 (author)tinkerC2009-07-16

vista is rubbish. im still using xp. but hopefully 7 will be better. Although ill still use xp for a few more years

tanmanknex (author)thepaul932009-07-19

I tri booted my laptop with xp, vista, and 7!!! I'm so happy that i finally got it done!!! The only issue is with xp, and thats because of the sound driver... oh well, I have a forum post so reply there if you want to.

thepaul93 (author)tanmanknex2009-07-20

now that is skill, must of taken some time to do

tinkerC (author)thepaul932009-07-21

Just partition it three times, and install OS into one of three each time.

thepaul93 (author)tinkerC2009-07-21

cool, i will have to try it one day? ooh, some one told me not to do it with linux? does it mess up the files? thought you might know thnaks

zack247 (author)thepaul932010-06-22

i think the reason linux wont run with windows is because it uses different base code files, ones that make it impossible for windows to run alongside

tanmanknex (author)zack2472010-06-22

I eventually did get it working (right before my laptop's video card died...) though I can't remember how.

zack247 (author)tanmanknex2010-06-22

alas, the great video card cripples beneath the the ultimate power that is triple booting.

tinkerC (author)thepaul932009-07-21

Go for it, but google it first. It is two steps longer. They must have something against Linux. You need to back-up all of your data, as partitioning deletes everything. I do know, but Google knows better. You're welcome.

thepaul93 (author)tinkerC2009-07-21

If i try it with second HDD, I should be ok if it crashes?

tanmanknex (author)thepaul932009-07-21

Yep. I actuall was going toinstall fedora instead of xp, but it wouldn't install... Oh well, maybe when 7 expires, or I get rid of vista.

zack247 (author)tanmanknex2009-09-27

you could have vist, minus the "having vista" part. if you like the look of vista, just check out the instructable on how to make it look like it. search "Vista-lizer" here on instructables.

tinkerC (author)thepaul932009-07-22

Probably. Just remove your old drive.

tanmanknex (author)tinkerC2009-07-21

That's what you think! I started with vista installed on my hp pavilion dv2213cl laptop, and I didn't want to lose data. Do some research on google, and there's no guides for my laptop, which made it much harder. There are a few forums, but they aren't much help...

tanmanknex (author)thepaul932009-07-21

Actually, i just worked out all the bugs yesterday. I couldn't get sound in xp, and it wasn't installing programs correctly. The sound is what takes the longest... My laptop has a weird sound card and had to use an old laptop driver disk to even get it to be detected. It works great now, though.

tinkerC (author)tanmanknex2009-07-21


tanmanknex (author)tinkerC2009-07-21

Thanks! If you don't mind, please post replies to my forum.

tinkerC (author)thepaul932009-07-16

Hope. The Mac TV ads are more accurate than they realize. Good for you, the older the better.

BenM65 (author)2015-11-20

I made it!
Puppy is awesome. Turned an old xp dell laptop with 1 gig of memory and 60 gb hard drive into a speedy little machine. Kind of like a brick version of chromebook.

AlexA3 (author)BenM652016-01-22

You think a laptop with 1 gigabyte of RAM is OLD? I'm trying to boot Puppy Linux on an old (surprisingly XP-compatible) Inspiron 8200 with 256mb of ram and a 30gb hdd.

www139 (author)2014-02-11

welcome windows 8!

techboy411 (author)2012-01-07

I've got a IBM Thinkpad iSeries 1500 from my cosin and it is full of stickers and w/ my mame on the botom of the LCD

Computothought (author)2011-05-26

Do not forget Mepis AntiX and WattOS for older computers.

dla888 (author)2009-05-12

Puppy Linux on a PowerBook? I've never tried that. But I'll attempt it to-night. Please rate my instructable.

zack247 (author)dla8882010-06-22

how did it work out? i have a powerbook and im trying to do the same thing. (author)2009-05-23

The fact is, PuppyLinux will NOT run natively on a PowerPC CPU; you'd be better off looking for more information here:

That page has a LOT of information about the various PowerPC Linux distributions, and which ones will work with old(er) hardware. For really old (NuBus) systems, you should look here:

Hell, even Ubuntu and SUSE were ported to the PowerPC architecture:

though the Ubuntu distro is no longer being supported or developed; I'm not sure about the status of SUSE, but it seems to still be available:

I hope this information helps to clarify the confusion about running Linux on PowerPC-based hardware. Linux will run on almost any type of modern processor you can name; the trick is to know what type of CPU and hardware you have (for example, NuBus or PCI bus), then search for a suitable distro.

zack247 (author)reactos.org2010-06-22

can you help me with this? i have a powerbook 190 and i dont know where to start. i downloaded the kernel but how do i install it? all i have a a 1.44mb floppy card slot, no cd drive. can you help?

sarath12445 (author)2009-12-24

can anyone suggest a gadget for my old laptop keyboard and touch pad??

my keyboard model number is NSK8214 its from acer. pls mail me

AzurusNova (author)2009-09-03

Would puppylinux work on an old Fujitsu Milan laptop like this one? Hmm, well I cant find anything about it online except the power charger. Product No: FPC05004A Part No: FPC91-00080-00 Serial No: 68112273 FCC ID: MU7-7500

ChiJoanPC (author)AzurusNova2009-10-06

See above for possible real name of your laptop. There are tech tools that will give you more info on the internals of your laptop, too. Some are packaged in the Hiren's Boot CD.

Good luck,
ChiJoan in Reno

stephenniall (author)2009-05-10

HAha i remember buying a lappy for £3 (About $5) and I took the ram and stuff out Turned the touch pad into a mouse (The laptops screen didnt work btw lol) and i sold the ram for £5 the hard drive for £6 I made money off that lappy lol

Coliflower (author)stephenniall2009-06-14

gojng to london this summer, ill be sure to say lappy. lol

stephenniall (author)Coliflower2009-06-15

Well dont make sure you say Laptop or Notebook Computer as most londoners are percieved as posh snobs Oh one more tip Dont hire a car lol u need to pay Congestion charge etc and The traffic

liquidhandwash (author)2009-05-02

Ive tryed many linux distros, the best one ive found is puppylinux.

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