How does Linux help reduce electronic waste?


While many proprietary operating system vendors have stopped supporting older hardware, Linux continues to power these low-end devices to prevent e-waste disposal.

Waste to landfill

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is a big problem. As old electronic equipment, including used computers, are discarded, hazardous chemicals are regularly introduced into the environment.

With Linux, it is possible to resurrect old PCs or repair them so that they can be used longer, which, in turn, reduces the amount of electronic waste.

1. Linux lets you reuse old computers

Xubuntu desktop showing Firefox browser

If you have older machines lying around, you can use a Linux distro to get them running like new. You can install a distro for older, slower computers that may no longer support Apple or Microsoft operating systems.

Minimalist Linux distros such as Xubuntu are a good bet because they’re designed for machines with slower processors that may only be 32-bit and have little RAM. This allows you to use PCs that might otherwise have been destined for scrap.

An old laptop can be a good secondary machine for simple tasks like email, word processing, or web browsing. You can also give your old machine to someone else who needs it. It’s much better than throwing it away and dangerous chemicals ending up in the environment.

2. Linux Supports Hardware Longer

Since Linux distros can run on less powerful computers, if you’re using the right distro, you won’t have to upgrade your computer as often. You could even reduce your energy consumption. Even better, you might end up saving money since you won’t have to spend it so much on new machines.

Again, lightweight Linux distros can help you get the most out of your computer for as long as possible. Fewer people are buying new computers means there will be less e-waste in the future.

3. You can use Linux to repair machines

Although you can replace your Windows or macOS system with Linux, you don’t need to switch operating systems to keep your PC out of the dump. You can use a live Linux system like SystemRescue to repair your machine.

If your PC has trouble booting, you can try repairing the bootloader. Or maybe you found an old computer and don’t know the administrative password. You can reset it, even on a Windows machine, and continue to use it normally with Linux.

Even if your machine is a lost cause, you can recover the data before recycling your old PC. If the main system fails to boot, you can boot a live cast and extract data from the hard drive to an external drive.

Linux is not only useful but ecological

Linux’s efficiency on older hardware allows you to use older machines longer by repurposing them. It also helps reduce electronic waste and your computer’s impact on the environment.

But taking care of the environment is not the job of an operating system. Users should also help prevent e-waste by learning more about green computing.

What is green computing and can you balance performance and durability?

Read more

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