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Giving old computers work.


EPhantom
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I recently acquired around 30 computers when a school transferred locations and received new equipment. My main goal was to keep them out of the land fill... now I'm trying to keep them out of the scrap yard as long as possible.

My (and my two friends) goal with this project would be to give these computers some work to pay for their own electricity and internet (how little or lot they use) and give one of their parents a little bit of profit for keeping them in their place. The rest of the profit would go to collecting more used/new computers to add to the system.

The problem that I have now though... is I can't figure out what they can do... They aren't really powerful (parts from around 1999 to 2003ish), so they can't host a big server for anyone, and all the distributive computing places that I've seen so far either look like scams, are too small and don't have enough work for the computers, or are volunteer research operations.

Does anyone have any idea what we can do with these computers to keep them out of the scrap yard as long as possible (and any future ones we happen upon)? is there anything that they can host that I haven't thought about or any kind of computing they can do that I haven't found (CPUsage has too little work, Cash Gopher looks like a scam to me, and B.O.I.N.C. is all research)?

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HTCondor might be a good platform, however whatever program you run needs to be MPI. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condor_high-throughput_computing_system

 

Are all the computers configured the same (i.e. processors, RAM, etc) or a hotch potch? I imagine that constantly trying to find the latest compatibility issue or hardware failure in a cluster of 30, 10+ year old orphan machines wold be a continuous nightmare, especially if you're spinning them hard with big MPI jobs.

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Didn't know I had any responses, will have to change my settings if possible to get emails when I get reponses

@tomgwyther They actually came from an adult ed school that got new computers. And when they/if they can't do any work then I'll move onto the selling comps/parts /scapping them, hoping it doesn't come to that soon though.

@ajb I was thinking about doing something like that, but I don't have a place of my own. They can only be used in one of two of my friends places, so they have to cover their own costs in order to do anything with power. Just haven't found any trustworthy companies for parallel computing to pay for their existance.


@Arete They all seem to be a hotch potch at the moment, hoping it won't be too much of an issue. Will start to sift through the info you just got me in a bit, I have some late classes.

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Computers from 1999 can't make any interesting amount of computations, even if you could bring 30 of them to work together properly. They must be at best late Pentium III like the one I had, and it's 20 times slower than a Core 2 which is already outfashioned. So the cheap way to make computations is to buy one used Core 2 instead and avoid the (impossible) parallel programming.

 

Sensible uses:

 

- Disconnect them definitely from the Internet, make only letters and the like with them. With Win95b or Win Me, NO ANTIVIRUS, and Ms Office 97, all neatly installed, a PIII is damned fast. Offer one to each family that has no computer.

 

- Put a good recent hard disk, if needed a Sata controller card (only SiI0680 chip) on PCI (only Intel is fast), several good Ethernet cards, buy and install Win NT4 Server, use each PC as a home file server. Moderate computing capacity is enough. Even a Velociraptor on SiI0860 +Intel Pci makes sense. Again one computer per home.

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You could try mining bitcoins with them. The more efficient systems use gpus to do the mining so I don't know how much money you could actually make with systems that old. You could try it for a day and see if you make back the energy cost.

Edited by Lance
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If you have any trouble during the using the old computer, your important data will be lost at one time.

To obtain no used old chip board is not easy.

Till finding the no trouble old chip board, you could not use the data or programs in your hard disk.

Good chip board is good for your important computer work.

Edited by alpha2cen
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If you have any trouble during the using the old computer, your important data will be lost at one time.

To obtain no used old chip board is not easy.

Till finding the no trouble old chip board, you could not use the data or programs in your hard disk.

Good chip board is good for your important computer work.

 

Uh...what? Let me attempt a translation and you tell me how close I get.

 

 

 

If your computer malfunctions, your data will be lost.

It is not easy to find discontinued motherboards.

Until you find the replacement, you won't be able to access the information stored on your hard drive.

A reliable motherboard will insure that your important data isn't lost to a malfunction.

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If you have any trouble during the using the old computer, your important data will be lost at one time.

To obtain no used old chip board is not easy.

Till finding the no trouble old chip board, you could not use the data or programs in your hard disk.

Good chip board is good for your important computer work.

When you buy an old computer, you'd better buy replacement boards together.

Heat and electromagnetic waves which are generated form the circuit give a harm effect to the motherboard.

So, used motherboards are an accumulated state of that harm elements, like a rusted iron bar

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When you buy an old computer, you'd better buy replacement boards together.

Heat and electromagnetic waves which are generated form the circuit give a harm effect to the motherboard.

So, used motherboards are an accumulated state of that harm elements, like a rusted iron bar

 

Mamma mia!

 

Electromagnetic waves are to harm the motherboard?

 

Why tell publicly things you obviously ignore?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Remember to take into account the electricity bill in your cost benefit analysis, the watts used by old computers for each calcultion are much higher than modern chips. so the expense of a single new computer instead of a bunch of parallel free old ones could claw more money back from the electricity bill. Especially a cheap power efficient computer like rasperry pi.

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