Kevin Valentine on 16 May 2008 06:55:16 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] hello and laptop question

On Fri, May 16, 2008 at 9:33 PM, Brian Vagnoni <> wrote:
> Actually another way to look at is get something uber cheap and disposable
> as I imagine you have to worry about theft as well over in other countries.
> $200 laptop mite be ok(no WWAN, just Wi-FI mesh for sharing to other laptop
> near by), but HP now makes a $499 with a metal case an options for WWAN like
> GSM and EDVO.

Hah! I was just replying with a similar suggestion to Bridget.

The only cheap AND rugged solution I can think of is to install a very
small Linux distribution like Damn Small Linux (DSL) to CompactFlash
(CF) drive on a really old laptop.  Some of the benefits of using a CF
drive over a regular drive: reduction in moving parts, power savings,
and a dead silent PC.  Depending upon how nasty the environment is, I
suggest using a USB thumb drive to store everything.  Also, get two
laptops in case one dies.  Another benefit of using DSL is that
restoring the operating system very fast - it's only 50MB.

I've built 4 of these CF laptops with DSL for my own use.  They're
almost indestructible.  The only downside is that DSL is not very user
friendly.  So if you're new to Linux it could take some time to get
used to the environment.

When you get back to the states.  Make a visit to Nonprofit Technology
Resources ( in Philly.  In a few more weeks, they should
be selling old laptops with DSL pre-installed and pre-configured.
They plan to have a few running in their thrift store so people can
take test drives.  If you bring a CF card (128MB or greater) +
adapter, we'll show you how to install DSL onto it :)

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