Making computers more accessible and sustainable with Linux

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There are many reasons to choose Linux for your desktop operating system. In Why everyone should choose Linux,’s Seth Kenlon highlighted many of the best reasons to select Linux and provided lots of ways for people to get started with the operating system.

This also got me thinking about how I usually introduce folks to Linux. The pandemic has increased the need for people to go online for shopping, doing remote education, and connecting with family and friends over video conferencing.

I work with a lot of retirees who have fixed incomes and are not particularly tech-savvy. For most of these folks, buying a computer is a major investment fraught with concern. Some of my friends and clients are uncomfortable going to a retail store during a pandemic, and they’re completely unfamiliar with what to look for in a computer, whether it’s a desktop or laptop, even in non-pandemic times. They come to me with questions about where to buy one and what to look for.

I’m always eager to see them get a Linux computer. Many of them cannot afford the Linux units sold by name-brand vendors. Until recently, I’ve been purchasing refurbished units for them and refitting them with Linux.

But that all changed when I discovered Free Geek, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Ore., with the mission “to sustainably reuse technology, enable digital access, and provide education to create a community that empowers people to realize their potential.”

Free Geek has an eBay store where I have purchased several refurbished laptops at affordable prices. Their computers come with Linux Mint installed. The fact that a computer comes ready-to-use makes it easy to introduce new users to Linux and help them quickly experience the operating system’s power.

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