Hardware and the environment, an opportunity for Linux?

These days we get bombarded with news that everyone from governments, businesses and individuals should take their responsibility to realize the effects our daily life has on the environment.

The majority of the people on the planet are aware that we have to change our way of thinking to save what’s left to save on the planet. I’m not just talking about the major protests that are happening around the globe, I’m also talking about the change of habits people are willing to make to add their contribution to the solution on this environmental problem.

Separating paper, plastics and glass has already reached many households habits and having a vegetarian meal once or twice a week is also gaining in awareness. The auto industry is reacting by presenting fully electric or hybrid models in their range and the tech world is delivering more energy-efficient hardware. So where does Linux fit in this picture?

Slow laptop

Slightly less than two years ago, my sister and brother in law bought a new laptop. Their previous model, an eleven-year-old Acer laptop, was all worn out and they bought a brand new Lenovo Ideapad with an AMD A6 processor, 4 gigs of RAM and a 128GB SSD.

As you can conclude from the specs, they aren’t exactly superusers. The most important things that a laptop should do for them are banking, Skype, watching Youtube and Netflix, write the occasional letter and do some online shopping, since my brother in law curses on smartphones to do some of those things, because his fingers are too thick to select the right icons at once. A problem I myself encounter daily when I try to type a message on Telegram or Whatsapp, so I feel his irritation on that subject and somehow a tablet doesn’t “feel” right to type a letter or email on, but I digress.

Lately, the laptop was choking on these simple tasks and my brother in law went back to the store to ask if they could do something to fix it. The store opted two choices, they could do a good ‘cleaning’ to optimize the machine to the best of their abilities, this service had a small price tag of course, or they could offer a good deal on a faster and newer computer. As you can guess, my brother in law opted for the first one and after a proper backup was made by the neighbour’s son, he dropped off the laptop at the store.

By the end of the workday he picked it up and he was told that the specs we’re already outdated, so the speed improvements were there, but not optimal and again he was pointed out on the great deals they had. Slightly annoyed he went home and discovered that the machine was just as slow as before.

‘I don’t care, as long as it works’

This is the point where I come in the story, my sister called me and asked if I could take a look at the laptop. I was a bit weary because I have never used a Windows system extensively in my life, but I decided to give it a look.

All I could see is that the store did a clean install of the system, so all the Lenovo bloatware was removed, it became very clear to me that the recent version of Windows 10 showed no mercy to this entry-level machine that was ‘showing its age’.

By this time, my brother in law already talked to several people and they all said that buying a new machine was the best option and it was better to go for a machine that varied in the price range between 800 and 1000 euro. As you can imagine, my Linux heart was beating faster to grab an opportunity.

After I informed what they did on their computer and since they, more or less, decided to buy a new one I asked them if they would like to give Linux a try before buying a new one and if they didn’t like it, I would bring back the laptop in its recent state. They agreed and after I explained that it works differently than Windows, they both reacted the same: ‘I don’t care, as long as it works.”

Before your mind reaches that emergency state, no I didn’t install Endeavour on it, I don’t want to be the IT department for the entire family.

I installed Kubuntu on it, thinking Gnome would eventually be too resource-heavy on it in the end. After boot up, the laptop wasn’t running, it lifted up and accelerated in speed more than twice than what it did under Windows 10! Then I installed the, for them, necessary apps such as Spotify, Google-Chrome so it looked a bit more familiar and when I was at their home, I helped them set up the office online suite since they already had a Onedrive account for Office and their Outlook account.

They were very impressed by what they saw and experienced. After I explained how things worked, they only called me four times for help and all of these calls were merely to verify that they were performing the correct procedure. Needless to say, the new computer never was purchased, instead, they are saving the money for something else and they don’t have to discard this machine.

Redefining our habits

As I wrote at the beginning of this article, we are living in a time where we are questioning and redefining our habits in relation to our planet.

Most people have this pre-conception that moving a Windows user to Linux is a headache file from the beginning. That opinion is widely shared in both the Windows and the Linux community and this is true to some extent. It applies to an intermediate or power user who has invested in particular software and is set in their ways. This is also a group that has to have the latest and greatest in hardware but let’s not forget one important thing: This group is relatively small.

The vast majority out there are computer users like my sister and brother in law and I know a lot of people who own fancy ultrabooks like the Asus Zenbook, the HP Spectre and Acer Swift, but they use their machines the exact same way as my sister and brother in law do, so they seem to be power users, but in the end when they have to buy a new one, they have to think twice before doing so.

This is a group we extremely underestimate in their ability to adapt. They are more than capable to change their habits, as long as it makes sense.

They perfectly understand that sea-life is suffering from all the drifting plastics in the Oceans, therefore they are separating their plastics and paper for recycling. They perfectly understand that meat and fish consumption has its toll on the planet and that’s why they’re trying to put the occasional vegetarian dish in their weekly diet.

Everyone is redefining their habits, so why shouldn’t Linux use this feature that it can prolong a computers life, without missing out on the mainstream technology used out there?

Trust me, the vast majority out there isn’t interested in buying a new laptop every three years, if they can save money and also do their bit in preserving the planet, they are more than willing to adapt.

You probably are shooting me down for installing Google-Chrome and Microsoft Office but this wasn’t about converting people into complete privacy-conscious users, this was all about showing regular computer users the possibilities of Linux. Those privacy issue steps can be made gradually, once the user already is on board.

This may seem like old hash to you, but re-using and prolonging the life of the things we use in daily life is a hot issue at this moment and people are more than willing to participate to save the planet.

If this reason isn’t a strong marketing tool for Linux, I don’t know what will.

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2 thoughts on “Hardware and the environment, an opportunity for Linux?

  • November 10, 2019 at 18:48

    There are few really good Linux laptops.

  • July 16, 2020 at 03:00

    I very like this kind of related, purposeful and smart, to solve a really problem, to near people.

    I fell this sensation “heart linux” 🙂 . Let’s do a better way to live in our Mother Earth.



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