How Linux Can Bring Life To Your Old PC

Posted by jun auza On 3/21/2012
Despite all the excitement that comes with buying a new computer, it is rather hard to bid adieu to the old one, even more so, if you've invested a lot of money and time in building it. That said, it’s not always the case that we have to throw the old one out of the window. If we’re a bit tech-savvy, we can utilize the outmoded personal computer as a secondary device; however, with the latest versions of Windows and Mac being incompatible with outdated computers, it’s not always possible to resuscitate a dying PC.

Don’t worry though, because this is where our friendly neighborhood Linux operating system steps in. Linux, apart from being a popular desktop and server operating system, can be used to turn a computer into a torrent downloader, firewall or a full-fledged media server. So, if you too are looking to bring your old PC to life, here are some handy tips that could help you do it with the help of Linux:


As a Firewall

If your home has more than 2 computers, it’s not too late to start thinking about your network’s security. A firewall functions like the security guard at your door by keeping a watch on everyone who goes in and out. By allowing only legitimate connections to pass through and blocking connections based on a certain set of rules, the firewall secures the network from most kinds of threats that lurk around on the Internet.

Linux can be used in this case to turn your old machine into a watchful firewall device. To do that, all you have to do is download a firewall distribution and install it. Here’s a list of the best firewall distributions to get you started: 5 Best Linux/BSD Firewall Distributions


Torrent Downloader

If you use your brand new computer mainly for your work, you might not have the time to manage all your torrent downloads. Thankfully, though, your good old PC can transform itself into a full-fledged torrent downloading machine. To get started simply download your favorite distribution, install it, and then start up your preferred bit torrent client. If you’re new to the world of torrents, we recommend you check out our earlier article (How to Use BitTorrent in Linux) wherein we've explained the basics of the file-sharing program in great detail.


File/Print Server

If you have a printer at home, it’s not a bad idea to turn your old computer into a print server. You can then use the computer to handle all your printing jobs regardless of the fact that other computers in your house are running Windows, Mac, or Linux.


Media Player/Server

If you have a lot of movies, music, and TV shows loaded on to one of your computers, and you want to share it with the rest of the family, here’s a nifty little tip for you. Use your old computer, install Linux on it, and store all your media files in there. You can then share those files with the rest of the devices in your house using a simple Linux setup.

Though you might not want to spend any more money on a dying computer, it’s not that bad an idea to invest in a hard disk with a slightly large capacity. To get started, you’ll need your favorite distribution and a small amount of free time. Once you’re set up, there’s no need for any more tinkering.


Web-browsing Kiosk

There are days when your friends pop in for a drink or two and they ask you if they could browse the net from your computer. Then suddenly the possessive, prissy devil on your shoulder comes up with some fancy excuses for not letting them do so. If you’re one of those people who value their privacy yet want to keep their friends, keeping a small web-browsing kiosk at home is not a bad idea. It doesn't matter how old a computer is, just load one of the lightweight Linux distros around and then install Chrome on it. Not only will it be easier for your insistent friends to browse the web, it will also be a useful tool that all your family members can use for browsing the web quickly.


Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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