Open Source Against E-Waste

It is interesting to see how each new release of hardware brings along a very powerful force in terms of marketing, for computers to be renewed, for people to buy more powerful machines, brand new just released models , and therefore, much more expensive.
There has always been the suspicion that the hardware manufacturers (especially Intel) teamed up with software vendors (especially Microsoft) to release software applications and operating systems increasingly heavy, forcing a constant process of updating, not only processors, but memory and hard disks too.
This process of constant update went well until a certain point. Until they reached a sufficient computing power to run several applications in elaborate graphical environments .
Of course not only the applications and the operating system were the driving forces for constant updating, but also the personal computer being used as a platform for games. Yes, the PC gamer also required a powerful computer, always updated, in order to run the latest games.
For applications and operating systems, the whole thing worked, more or less like this:
Every two years, it was as if you had to change your car, just to continue to be a Sunday driver. And there was a big investment, since the “new” operating system, always announced as the “best ever”, and with promises to solve all the problems it always had in previous incarnations, consuming more memory, more hard disk space and more computing power. Other applications, upgraded to the equivalent version of the “new” operating system also demanded much of the machine.
Result: Buying new computer parts, or, in cases of very outdated machines, end up buying a whole new computer.
And when it reached a saturation point, where there was no way to let the operating system and applications more cumbersome and demanding for memory and processing power, they invented 3D desktop interfaces like AERO and AQUA, and so forth …
But, all this rampant consumerism, all this buying spree is creating mountains of electronic junk, the e-waste, hardware still perfectly usable, being dismissed in droves.
And creating piles and piles of garbage … In third world countries. Yes .. Trash from the U.S. and Europe, will end up in countries like China ( Ghana ( and India (, creating health problems and environmental impact on its residents.
But all this frenzy one moment would have to end, or at least slow down.
The recent software releases disappointed, with many problems of incompatibility and, ultimately, prices too expensive.
On the other driving force behind the upgrades, the games industry, piracy is making the PC Games market less attractive, as the absurd of the game Assassin’s Creed 2, which was cracked in less than 24 hours of its launch. And thus, with all the protections of DRM that Ubisoft has put into the game, the pirated version with the crack will be much more desirable than the original one, because of ridiculous demands (to be constantly connected to a server from Ubisoft)
There is also the global economic crisis, which, for two years now, is sweeping the world and has drastically reduced the budget for non essential expenses .
In this panorama of deep global recession, respect for the environment and the search for new solutions to old problems, there is the open source as an effective, cheap, fast to deploy and legally correct alternative.
With Open Source operating systems and applications, you can recycle old computers, from 2004, 2005, 2006, so they are able to run the latest applications such as Firefox, Audacity, Open Office, and with a little more powerful video hardware, to run the 3D effects of Compiz desktop and KDE 4.
And it is totally within the law because the proprietary and commercial system’s licenses, with their EULA’s, do not usually allow the reuse of software on other machines, making its operation restricted to the machine it was initially installed.
So in these times of crisis, the use of open source systems and software becomes an attractive and viable option, extending the life of your electronics, improving the environment and saving cash.
Think of Open Source. Your pocket and the environment will thank you.
Well, I could not end this post without mentioning Mr. Ken Starks, who performs a beautiful job of recycling used computers that are donated to his “Helios Project”. Mr. Starks recycles the machines with Linux and donates them to his community in Austin, Texas (USA). The link for his blog is: And if you can, any help is welcome.
In upcoming posts, I will discuss how to perform the transition from a closed system to Linux. Although Open Source technology strides forward, the most sensitive part of a migration is always that piece that sits between the keyboard, chair and computer monitor. In other words, people …

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2 Replies to “Open Source Against E-Waste”

  1. This is a great post. Ewaste is a huge problem and extending the life cycle is a critical part of the solution.

    If you have to eliminate hardware recycling is the best solution, but before you recycle you should always try asset recovery or donation first – there is a great widget on that tells you if an item has enough value to go the asset recovery aspect (heck even a pawn shop will give you something for used items) or if recycling is the best solution. That widget can be found at

    Give it a try it is pretty slick.

  2. Good post. I would also urge you to look into how much of the "ewaste" problem is propaganda. Professional factory scale refurbishing is the fastest growing supplier of white box PCs and displays, as contract manufacturing factories buy back used equipment for professional refurbishment. The OEMs see these companies as a threat and are feeding the anti-export frenzy. Africa will be the biggest casualty if it is denied affordable internet as a result of hyped up E-waste Myths

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