Recycle your old machine at home
You've just bought a shiny new PC and you're wondering what to do with your old machine. Throwing it out makes you feel guilty as it's perfectly functional. You can do plenty of things with an old PC besides sending it to the recycling heap. Let's take a look at a few ways you might put that old system to work.
5. Dedicate it to 'Distributed Computing'
Want to do a little good for humanity? How about dedicating your old PC to one of the various public distributed computing projects?
The best known is probably Folding@Home. Folding@Home uses computing resources from all over the world to help study protein folding, an essential element to understanding how many diseases operate. If your old PC has a fairly new graphics card, that hardware can often pitch in as well, and offer up even more computing resources. Other distributed computing ventures include:
- SETI@Home, where you can participate in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
- The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search which is dedicated to finding new Mersene Prime Numbers.
- Plus many more based on the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.
6. Use it as a dedicated game server
Do you have a favourite multiplayer game? If so, check and see if it's a game where you can host a server on a local computer - you might consider making your old system a dedicated game server. Most multiplayer games capable of playing online often support dedicated servers. I ran a Civilization 4 'pitboss' server for a few months.
The great thing about many of these dedicated game servers is how little system horsepower they actually need. I ran a Freelancer server on an old Pentium 4 laptop system, at times supporting eight simultaneous users, with no performance issues.
7. Use it for old-school gaming
Related to the idea of using an older system as a dedicated game server, consider repurposing that box for old school gaming. You can go as nuts as you want. For example, install Windows 98, so you can run those older Windows 95 and DOS games, if you have some around. Note that this isn't as necessary as it used to be. Online services like Steam and Impulse are offering older games that have been rewritten to work under newer operating systems, and DOSBox lets you emulate a legacy DOS environment to get your classic gaming fix.
Perhaps the most complete site for older PC games is Good Old Games. GoG, as it's often called, offers a large number of older titles, all of which work fine under newer operating systems. So if you've always wanted to go back and play Planescape: Torment, now is your chance.
If you want to go really old school, install MAME (multiple arcade machine emulator) software. That will allow you to play arcade games and games written for older game consoles, provided you have access to the ROMs and other related files to run the games. MAME can become a gigantic time sink (albeit a very fun one), so you've been warned!
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