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The low cost computing challenge

I was wondering if I could do everything I need/want to do on a computer with only free software. So I’ve set myself a challenge.

I only had one computer at home, and I didn’t want to cause a hassle with the rest of the family, so I jumped onto TradeMe to see what I could find. I wasn’t looking for the greatest/latest computer, as I had read that Linux can often run on older computers. I spent $12 on a computer. It has a 20Gb HDD, 384Mb RAM, 850MHz processor – it’s not that greatest computer in the world! I then bought a 15” monitor for $1 (which the fantastic trader ended up giving to me for free)! I already had a spare keyboard and mouse, so I didn’t have to worry about that. So for $12 I had my computer to try this out with.

Okay, so I do already have broadband, so I was able to download the latest version of Ubuntu Linux to install on this computer, but you can request a free disc (or buy cheap from a number of distributors). Included in Ubuntu is Open Office and a whole stack of other programs.

So far, so good. I have spent a total of $12 and have a fully functioning computer with an office suite.

Oh and by the way, Ubuntu is great at finding things you plug in to the computer. I connected wirelessly to the internet using a USB wireless adaptor that I already had, and it installed it instantly! Windows didn’t do this as easily for me!


A number of the students that I teach don’t have computers. Money is often a factor in this. I have demonstrated already that for less than $20 a computer can be set up with a fully functioning operating system and office suite!


I’ll keep you posted on how things go!

2 thoughts on “The low cost computing challenge

  1. I understand your point of seeing if you can make a cheap computer but I think you’ll find Ubuntu is even more great on a great computer. When I said more great I did mean more than windows.

    1. Hi Jeremy
      Thanks for the comment. I completely agree with you, and to be honest that has been one of my frustrations. I have a great computer running Windows 7 at the moment, and it is difficult to go from that to an old, slow computer running Ubuntu (I would quite like to buy a good computer and run Ubuntu as well as have my Windows one at this stage – simply because I know how it works better at the moment). However, for students/families that do not have a computer at all, this could be one solution if they cannot afford much at this stage. I wanted to try out to see if it could be done. Unfortunately many other things have been happening in my life, and I have not really got back to it much, but hopefully soon I’ll be able to update more.

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