A Second Life

Nothing beats the feeling of opening a box of shiny new tech. Well, peeling the plastic off that piece of shiny new tech beats the pants off opening the box, but given that you have to open the box and witness the peelable plastic first, I’ll defer to the box opening as the best feeling.

Like most things, though, the tech we use has a limited lifespan. Stuff fails. Older hardware seems to grow slower and slower by the day. If we take the proper precautions, though, we can pass our older hardware on to the next user. My kids use my older mainboards, CPUs, and GPUs in their computers, for example, but only after I secure erase the SSD that goes with them.

We should not shy away from being on the receiving end of that, though. My previous laptop was a Lenovo ThinkPad T460 and, given that the previous statement is in the past tense, you can tell it didn’t end well. I didn’t buy that T460 new, and I didn’t buy its replacement — a ThinkPad X395 — new either. I love the feeling of getting a shiny new piece of tech as much as the next computer nerd, but does it have to be new new? I got pretty lucky with this X395 too, as it looked brand-new when I took it out of the box. Keyboard feels like it was never used, monitor has no smudges, and there was not a speck of dust in the cooling fan. Didn’t stop me from putting a larger NVMe drive in and re-pasting the CPU, of course.

The only problem I had was that it came with Windows, but as you are acutely aware, I have a tried and true solution to that problem. The ThinkPad lineup, especially the older models, run Linux very well and are occasionally certified to run some distributions by their maintainers. Canonical, for example, certified the ThinkPad X395 on Ubuntu 18.04. Now, I’m not going to reach for a 5-year-old OS when I get my hands on a new-to-me laptop, but it’s good to know that someone put effort into making sure the hardware works properly with my operating system (not necessarily distro) of choice.

As a side note, the ease with which I can run Linux on an all-AMD machine is unparalleled. My main machine, a Ryzen 9 5900X on an X570 mainboard with a Radeon RX 6750 XT GPU, runs perfectly with minimal intervention. This laptop has a R5-3500U, which has built-in Radeon graphics, and it’s running great. The only thing that needed extra attention was the fingerprint scanner, but even that was a single extra package I had to install.

So, the long and the short of it is, don’t discount something just because it’s been used before. There are tons of good machines out there waiting for a new lease on life, and with the way Linux has grown over the past couple years, it’s never been easier to slap an OS on there and get down to business.