Free Computer!


Amazing what some folks will throw away.

I was driving to work, and I happened to see a computer sitting on the curb in my neighborhood. This means it is for the garbage collector to pick up. I went to the house and asked what the story was, and the lady who answered the door told me that her husband had also found it on the curb somewhere else, but had been unable to make it work and didn’t have the time to continue, so he was throwing it out. She said I could have it, so I went to take a look.

No hard drive, no video card, dual SLI PCIe slots, a nice case and power supply, DVD writer…. and a gigabyte of Corsair RAM (PC3200) (!). Bonus!

So I took it home and a weekend later, had a monitor, PCI video card (no AGP slot), speakers, keyboard and mouse. I also had a couple of Linux CDs ready.

After checking all the connections and parts, this is what it had inside:

  • A 500W modular-plug power supply
  • A PCI Broadcom wireless G card (no antenna, but I had a spare)
  • A SoundBlaster Audigy PCI card
  • A generic PCI LAN card
  • An ASA A8N-Premium motherboard
  • A slew of USB ports
  • Onboard sound and dual gigabit LAN ports
  • 3 PCI slots, two 16x PCIe slots, and four memory slots
  • Eight SATA ports onboard, evenly split across two onboard RAID controllers (one supporting RAID-5)
  • Lots of case fans
  • And a partridge in a pear tree.

After checking it out, pulling the PCI LAN card, rearranging the WLAN and sound cards so the video card would fit ok (a puny NVIDIA 5500 with 128 MB RAM), and installing an 80 gig SATA-1 hard drive, I fired it up.

Everything worked. It was very very quiet.

I entered the BIOS first and checked it out. The hard drive wasn’t there, until I enabled both SATA controllers. Then it showed up fine after a reboot.

Holy crap! The thing had an AMD64 4400+ X2 processor – I had snagged a 64-bit dual core AMD for nothing!

It gets better – I went to install Linux, and there was already a CD in the drive – the OEM recovery CD, for Windows XP Pro! The license key was on the side of the case, so just for S&G I let it boot.  Hahaha.

After waiting for about 10 minutes into the blue “Initializing Windows Setup” screen with no sign of this changing, I rebooted, threw in a Linux Mint CD, and had it installed about 20 minutes later.  As I figured – maybe I’ll try to load XP in a virtual machine later…

Linux Mint came up fine, with everything found but the WLAN card. It was running a 2.6.17 kernel, so I reloaded with Kubuntu 7.04 to see if a more recent kernel would make a difference. It seemed a little better in seeing the card, but still wouldn’t configure it. Oh well.

I’ll Google it and get it running manually (that’ll be a new post). The SoundBlaster card seems to work well, and every thing else works fine. This thing is pretty quick.

In the mean time, I need to get a better video card for it, for starters. And yeah, “cat /proc/cpuinfo” shows two CPUs.

It just floors me what some people will toss out. I did some checking around, and I figure it had to have cost around $1000. I wonder if they decided to get a new computer with Vista pre-loaded?

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2 Responses

  1. Lucky bastard 🙂

  2. ^______________^

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