Refurbished Ubuntu Laptops

Over the weekend, I updated an old laptop that I have to the latest version of Ubuntu, Karmic Koala. For those who don’t know Ubuntu, it is a very nice version of Linux that you can download and install on your computer.

The computer that I loaded it onto is an old IBM ThinkPad R51. The R51 came out about five years ago, and the one that I have, I am using third hand. It is in pretty good shape, and works very nicely as a spare laptop.

I’ve been running a previous version of Ubuntu on it for a while, and wanted to test out some new things, so I decided to give it a try. The update ran slowly and I had a few glitches, so I had to restart the update a couple times. However, when it completed, now runs very nicely.

The Ubuntu distribution that I’m running came with Firefox on it, so I can surf the web. It has Pidgin, a nice IM client that works with most IM networks. I’ve been using this to connect to a special IM server I’ve been working on. It comes with OpenOffice, which gives me spreadsheet, document and presentation capabilities, similar to Microsoft Office. It has Evolution Mail, which seems fairly similar to Outlook, including the ability to connect to an Outlook server, as well as calendars, tasks, and contacts.

I also installed Google Chromium, a version of Chrome for Linux and use that fairly often, and have installed lots of geeky programming tools.

However, my eight year old daughter always wants to steal the computer for going online. Since it is my spare and a development machine, I let her do this and it does seem like a great introductory machine for elementary school kids.

A quick check on Ebay showed these machines going for between $140 and $240. However, additional looking around showed machines preloaded with Ubuntu for under $100. So, I’ll keep an eye on good inexpensive laptops running Ubuntu.

I’m wondering, have you installed Ubuntu on any refurbished laptops? Which laptops have worked well for you? Which ones have been nightmares?

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