[ExI] homebrew cold freon bath super computer

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Sun Mar 11 09:19:48 UTC 2012

On Sun, Mar 11, 2012 at 07:46:21AM +0000, BillK wrote:

> I enjoy rebuilding old pcs, putting a lightweight Linux on them and
> making them do useful stuff as well.

Very commendable activity, that.
> But nowadays it is not really worth spending the electricity on, if
> you have a useful application in mind.

That is the core problem in keeping old hardware alive.
> An old pc can be converted to act as a hardware router for your home
> network. But why bother? You end up running a whole pc instead of a
> little cheap Netgear box.

There are very good reasons some us run powerful (but low-power)
machines as routers. Consumer routers are typically incapable of
dealing with with modern (>100 MBit/s) residential broadband,
plenty of state tables (also IPv6), VPN, IDS, proxy and sundry 
other activities. 
> You can use an old pc as a database store for your network. But why
> bother? The old disk drive is too small and you have to run another
> pc. Instead you can have a little box external hard drive that holds a
> terabyte of data, or use memory sticks for storage.

I convert old (but still low-power) PCs into reasonably powerful
home file servers with RAID. They're a lot more versatile than these
100 EUR ARM NAS appliances you can buy at the food discounter.

> Anything you can make an old pc do can be done better and cheaper
> using modern equipment. That's Moore's Law in action.

Due to smaller structures modern systems have a short life time,
while we have 20+ old systems still in operation (though we've
gotten rid of the oldest VAX and according washing mashine drive).
> Pcs are so cheap and powerful now that old pcs are probably better
> given to charities for refurbishing and sending to third world
> villages.
> Though I'll probably never need to buy another pc again for myself.
> The 2 or 3 year old pcs that friends throw out do me just fine!  :)

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