I had the pleasure of speaking with James Burgett of the Alameda County Computer Resource Center and Andrew Fife of Untangle.

James and Andrew are driving Installfest @ LinuxWorld with the goal of bringing together unwanted hardware with community elbow grease to provide computers to needy schools.

James has refurbished approximately 17,000 computers and given them to needy recipients over his career.  Yes, that’s 17,000!  James and Andrew hosted the first Installfest for Schools in March 2008 and were able to refurbish 350 computers.  The software installed on these refurbished computers is largely free and open source (i.e. Ubuntu and OpenOffice).

I’m certain that they’ll be able to refurbish many more than 350 computers; but not without your help!  If you’re going to be at LinuxWorld, here’s how you can do your part:

  1. Bring old hardware that can be donated to the Alameda County Computer Resource Center for a tax receipt.
  2. Drop by the Installfest and spend whatever time you can spare to refurbish some computers.  Don’t worry if you aren’t much of a tech wizard, James and Andrew have work that is suitable for all levels of skills.  All the way from insert Live CD and hit enter to figure out what’s wrong with the machine, fix it and then install the required software.

Just think of the benefits of donating an hour of your time:

  • Helping needy students to build computer skills
  • Introducing students to free and open source software at an early age
  • Extending the life of computers using a less resource-intensive operating system
  • Preventing over 50 Lbs. of toxic material per computer from prematurely reaching a landfill, when the machine can still be used for a variety of computing tasks

Kudos to James and Andrew for setting a great example for the rest of us!