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February 28, 2024 - @544.99 (what is this?)
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Author Topic: Permacomputing  (Read 458 times)
m1k3
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« on: January 16, 2024 @165.58 »

What does everyone think about the concept of permacomputing? Personally, it resonates with me a lot. In fact I'm currently using an 11 year old ThinkPad X230 to type this and I haven't bought a brand new computer in years. Obviously this doesn't work for everyone, especially gamers.

I think the permacomputing.net wiki defines the concept best so I will just quote them:

Quote
Permacomputing is both a concept and a community of practice oriented around issues of resilience and regenerativity in computer and network technology inspired by permaculture.

In a time where computing epitomizes industrial waste and exploitation, permacomputing encourages a more sustainable approach, maximizing hardware lifespans, minimizing energy use and focussing on the use of already available computational resources. Permacomputing asks the question whether it is possible to rethink computing in the same way as permaculture rethinks agriculture. Permaculture is the science and practice of creating semi-permanent ecosystems of nature. The resilience of any such ecosystem is equal to its diversity and interconnectedness. Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all its forms. It seeks to provide a sustainable and secure place for living things on this earth.

At first it may seems paradoxical to connect permaculture and computation. Indeed, an extractive technology that depends on a wasteful use of finite resources can hardly be permanent. Therefore, by making this connection, what we are truly asking is whether or not there can be a place for computer and network technology in a world where humans contribute to the well-being of the biosphere rather than destroy it? And if yes, how?

Permacomputing wants to imagine such a place and take steps towards it. It is therefore both utopian and practical. We want to find out how we can practice good relations with the Earth by learning from ecological systems to leverage and re-center existing technologies and practices. A radical reduction of wastefulness is a fundamental aspect of it: maximize the hardware lifespans, minimize the energy use. And this is not just about a set of technical problems to be fixed­—the attitudes also need a radical turn. Understandability is aesthetics, virtual does not mean immaterial and doing things with less is not a return to the past. We want to investigate what a permacomputing way of life could be, and what sort of transformative computational culture and aesthetics it could bring forward.
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2024 @298.26 »

i love permacomputing hardware and software. so much tech stuff is socially-focused, so it's good that there's a few folks that still care about our environment. google matters less than global warming to me.

i've used Thinkpads (i'm writing this post on a T430!) but they've been awful to me. the T430 suddenly developed a cracked lid so i now prop it against a surface, and the T410 came with a glued-on (?) battery which died, ergo the device is now unusable.

balancing budget and sustainability is stupidly difficult in tech. i currently use a Raspberry Pi 0W running picore as my main device, because it's cheap and doesn't kill the planet as much as a fully-fleged laptop does. in future, when i'll need to use a graphical display, i'll be visiting the library instead. still, i've been realizing that i need digital technology less and less these days. i wonder if there'll be a time where i donate all the devices i own to charities.

i wonder if we could make computers out of water in future?
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« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2024 @389.06 »

I like the concept! I think trying to keep technology for as long as possible without "upgrading" is super important both for the environment and psychologically/philosophically.

It's so hard though to resist sometimes upgrading or shiny new toys when the whole world is saying "buy Buy BUY!"

Love the idea
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« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2024 @461.08 »

Celebrating the 25th birthday of my Windows 98 machine. What are the reasons for it running for so long? Apart from being well built, I think it has to do with the heat, that the unit generates. More heat = more degradation. The single core processor is having a rather chilled pace either (let's say, useful for 95% of all tasks), requiring a small fan only. In its desktop case, the air can flow around well.

So embrace bulkiness? Well, the average mainframe is certainly more sustainable than the average desktop than the average laptop than the average tablet...

My Raspberry Pi experiments failed unfortuneatly. 400 MHz ARM performs far slower than 400 MHz on an x86 Pentium 2 for example. It was the first Pi model, looking beautifully simple hardwarewise, but the software was really the problem. Didn't look like those Linux distributions were tested for the old Raspberry. It was just far too sluggish for anything graphical. RISC OS was quite responsive on the other hand, but was limited in it's choice of programs.

Nah, I'll go with x86-desktops in the future. And seeing so much useful scrap there on the scrapyards or in companies cellars, we have plenty of options. But like gardening, it requires knowledge to set those machines up for running. I'd say if you encounter an old machine that you want to get back to life, just write about it in some message board, and you probably get some helping hands.
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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2024 @115.84 »

I very much subscribe to the idea of permacomputing. I still use an iPad 2, which I think is from 2011. Still works perfectly fine today. All apps I’ve tried on it still work.

In fact, my daily driver PC is the only thing I have that uses new parts. My monitors are all at least 10 years old, I got 20-30 year old laptops, computers and games consoles that all either works fine, or are simple fixes.

Relevant to the conversation, there’s a tool to circumvent Apple’s planned obsolescence with their MacBook, called OpenCore. I’ve used this to install Sonoma on my 2010 MacBook, and it boots fine, but my hard drive is failing, so need to replace that, ideally with an SSD as latest versions practically require it. (Wirth’s law, baby. RIP Wirth)

I don’t know if repairing old tech falls under permacomputing, but I think all devices short of completely shredded into a million tiny pieces is repairable. I sometimes like to buy untested or broken hardware off eBay to attempt to repair.

I attend and volunteer for my local Repair Cafe, not just to get my own stuff repaired, but to try and help put with others’.

Though the problem is I don’t know enough to effectively help, but I’m looking for ways to learn.
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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2024 @507.65 »

Never heard that term until now, but my current computer is in use for at least 13 years now (although some small upgrades, mostly with used hardware and replacement of broken parts took place), and I hope that I can keep it running for some more :).

@Cobra! From a environmental stance, repairing hardware is a good thing to do. So for me "it counts". Whatever reduces waste - and prolonging the life of your other components does - is a good thing to do.
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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2024 @196.12 »

I love the concept of permacomputing. One thing I will say is that I personally feel like this is so much easier to do with older technology than newer technology. Planned obsolescence and all of that. When I was younger, I had one laptop for my entire childhood. I got it when I was 11 and up until I was 18, when I donated it to my sister. I never had any problems with it. I currently own multiple older machines, spanning from 1996 - 2011. All of them run great, feel very sturdy, i've never had any problems. But when it comes to my newer laptops it's a totally different story. I've had 4 laptops since 2019 because they keep breaking! I bought my current one in 2022 and it's definitely still usable and has some life in it, but i'm already having multiple problems with it. I started getting BSOD within 2 weeks of buying it, and randomly get one every few days and have to do a total restart. The hinges are basically falling apart. These aren't cheap laptops either! I think I spent $700 dollars on this one. I only use it for office work, not even anything as intensive as basic gaming.

I've been leaning more towards using my 2011 thinkpad recently. It's just so nicely constructed and it's running Windows 7, my favorite OS. I've really only been using my modern laptop for basic things where I need the extra security, or in the rare case that I can't get something working on my thinkpad.
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2024 @896.54 »

I'm all in favor of permacomputing. I've been using my HP Pavilion for over 10 years now, and I have a desktop that I've been extending the use of through upgrades for a while. I've been switching everything over to Linux to keep it going, and I'm so much happier without Windows these days. I'm mostly drawn to it because I hate creating more waste, and I hate planned obsolescence. I also like to save money, obviously, and it just kind of fits with my lifestyle. You can totally be a gamer and use older hardware, though! I'm drawn towards older and less graphically intense games, and I haven't run out of things to play yet!

If you're into permacomputing, you might also be interested in this: Collapse OS, which I think I found over at another forum? My apologies if it's recently been posted here. Anyways, it's an 8-bit OS built to extend the life of computers in an environment where we aren't able to build or maintain them anymore. An OS for scavengers, if you will. There are some interesting articles about the philosophy behind it. I haven't used it myself, not having any appropriate hardware for it at the moment.
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Y2KStardust
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2024 @87.28 »

I think I understand the concept and I like it! I really hate that so much of our society, even the electronics, are designed to be thrown away. I love the concept of thrifting and second-hand... well, just about anything, and computer parts are no different! I plan on using my current PC until it's *literally* unusable, so far the only thing I've had to replace is the graphics card and it's getting "old" by a lot of people's standards for a device (four years this year!) but - hey, if it runs games fine, what's the issue?
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« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2024 @141.86 »

I have never heard of this and I love the term!! I think part of me i hesitant to merge the idea of ecosystem and technology because of the harm tech has brought by being put in the hands of greedy capitalists, but it's true isn't it? This thing we've created is a part of the planet we live on, and a part of how we interact with the world, and so it interacts with the world too. We should be trying to curb planned obsolescence and be knowledgeable and aware about the thing that is so meshed with humanity instead of just using it. I'm excited to reclaim and help my technology function in a more sustainable and self-fulfilling way instead of being so detached and mindless about my consumption of it!! :ozwomp:
Also love the resources y'all are linking, that's sick :))
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« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2024 @153.89 »

I wish I could say that I've been running devices for as long as you all have.

Meanwhile I have to use a newer Mac because Glyphs, my font editor of choice, is Mac-only. I also have to use Blender sometimes which can be pretty resource-intensive. However, I have more than enough computing power and my goal is to use it for as long as I can. My last main computer, a homebuilt, was used for 6.5 years, I bet I can use this laptop for at least 10 years. Furthermore, I plan on transitioning over to more custom software, which will allow me to use it for even longer.

At least I still do use an iPhone SE 1st gen. I have some old iMacs as well but I don't have a good enough reason to use those right now. I would love to get an SGI Indy though.
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« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2024 @463.63 »

I hope I can do just this with my current desktop setup and especially my phone, the Pixel 4a. I need this to be my forever phone because this form factor + 3.5mm jack combo is turning nonexistent. Unfortunately I am quite adept at killing my phone's batteries. I will be reading into this topic, thanks for bringing it to our attention.
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m1k3
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« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2024 @204.29 »

I would love to get an SGI Indy though.

You're in for a treat if you don't already follow flexion on Mastodon: https://social.lol/@flexion@oldbytes.space
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TheFrugalGamer
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« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2024 @634.07 »

You're in for a treat if you don't already follow flexion on Mastodon: https://social.lol/@flexion@oldbytes.space

Ooh, this reminds me of another fedizen, Scott Small: https://oldbytes.space/@smallsco. I started following him because he's been developing a Mastodon client for System 7 MacOS called "Macstodon." Small and a number of others I follow frequently post about development for System7 and other old OSes, getting them to talk to modern networks and protocols; it's really neat! I believe someone has also been developing a Gemini client for the same OS (can't remember who).

Enthusiast communities like these are always doing such amazing things to continually make their old hardware useful, and even though they don't always have permacomputing as their goal, many of their efforts line up nonetheless.
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« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2024 @162.72 »

This sounds really cool! I have a pen pal who uses a Heaven-only-knows-how-old PC as his main computer (although he bought it second-hand) and I'm thinking of doing the same thing and seeing how long I could use it! I could do the basics but couldn't use modern social media sites, so it'd basically cut me off from social media and make me more present, I feel. Plus, it's sustainable and just generally cool to use the same computer for as long as possible! As long as it functions well, of course—my mother had a 10+-year-old PC until recently that got to where it would take twenty minutes alone to boot up. :/
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