New-to-you laptop: best for churches or non-profits, part 1

I sent the following note to technology and religion blogger Michelle Murrain two days ago, and post it here with her permission.

Michelle —

I have an idea for tag-team blogging if you’re game. I can’t think of anyone else I know who’s qualified (because I’m not, except as a guinea pig.)

What, not so hypothetically, would be a good model or specification of used laptop to take an installation of Ubuntu or [the lighter] Xubuntu [Linux operating system] suitable for the director of a small, cash-strapped non-profit or the minister of small cash-strapped church. You know: the band between helplessly old but “old enough” to be bought at a small cost or given away.

And then what do you install on it if the user is tech-inexperienced? What features are non-negotiable? (I have opinions.)

Might you be game for a blog dialogue? Or do you have a ready-made resource you’ve written or know of?

Take care,
Scott Wells

She’s agreed, and we’ll link back and forth. Is this of interest of you, dear readers? I have a bit of a vested interest here: I have no laptop, but think one will help me in coming days. I don’t have the cash to buy a new one, and think that reusing electronics is the right ecological and economic move. Plus, I would want to install Linux on it anyway, so I would rather avoid the “Microsoft tax” of getting a new laptop with a Windows package installed. (There are ways around it.)

Later. The reply: part 2

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


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  2. My sister had an OLD OLD compaq presario 1245 or something (hmm 160 MB ram, 400mhz processor (or so), a few gigabytes harddrive) that worked pretty well on Ubuntu Hoary.

    Of course…I think it’s finally dead.
    And it worked well with the wireless card I got for it.

    3 years ago it was very old but it served her well for a year in grad school. It was running win98 tho..until I got my hands on it!

    I got it free from an online friend.

    Good luck with the quest.

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