Free Computer Program.

We take discarded computers from Governments, business and individuals then refurbish them, and make them available to families, the disabled and non-profits.  Most of these computers are commercial grade and have many years of service left in them - they just are not fast enough to run Windows XP and the firms or governments are being required by their software vendors to move to XP - so suddenly these computers are available.  Also many very good monitors are available because firms are moving from CRT to flat panel monitors. 

To qualify the family must have at least one child under age 18 living at home and have no other method of obtaining a computer. Thats all that is required.  

We also make these computers available to Adults with provable disabilities and have no other method of obtaining a computer, though at this time we do not have the means to supply computers with special extensions for the disabled. However, the Linux OS does have some very good software access aids included.  

What you will get

  1. You get a computer with SuSE Linux OS and all the software that we can put on the hard drive with in reason. 
  2. You also get a Monitor, keyboard and mouse at the very minimum. 
  3. Most computers come with a sound system built in, if not we do our best to include speakers. 
  4. We include a printer if we have one.  Ink jet printers are always in short supply. Commercial grade printer are not suitable for this project because it can often cost over $100.00 for a toner cartridge. 
  5. All systems come with a "NIC card" for a high speed Internet connection and you may request a dial up modem if you need one. Dial up modems are in short supply so if you will be using either GCI Cable modem or ACS DSL services we ask you not to request a dial up modem.

Non-Profits and Schools both public and private 

May also apply for the free computer Program.  The equipment will be the same as offered to individuals. Non-profits and schools may request multiple computers at a time. 

We do not accept donations for items that would not be useful to individuals.  We do not accept large printers, copiers or commercial grade servers even though some companies offer to donate such items to us.  So if you are a non-profit you may place a request with us for such items and when we run across the type of goods you requested - we will place you in contact with the firm offering to donate. 

To Apply

First --- You must be able to come to Anchorage (Highland Tech High School) to pick up your computer.
You may start the application process in one of two ways
If you are a individual...
You can send us an email at and place in the subject line "Computer request" and in the body of the email give is your contact information.
You may call Roger Pickles @ 258-5205 if you do not have email yet and make the request.
Non-profits and Schools please send us an email at and place in the subject line "Non-profit request" or "School request".  In the body of the email please include the contact information and a brief description of the help needed.
We check this email address every few days - and will get back to you shortly there after.

Why Linux and not Windows?

Simple answer - Cost!

We save a great deal of time and money using Linux OS on our computers.  

First is the dollars that it would cost to put Windows on all these computers - Most of our computers come from business that are "Site Licensed" for Windows and the other programs they use. This means that the license to use the software can not leave the "Site" where it is licensed for use. When they give us these computers they must remove all the software from the drives so we do not get any software or any rights to use it.  Buying new licenses for Windows is well beyond our budget, then we would have to buy more licenses or other software just to get a basic usable system.  It is not uncommon for the hardware for a low end system to sell for as little as $300.00 and then have $1000.00 of software loaded and still have only a very basic system.  So software is the core problem here - we can get all the free and still working computers we can give away - but without software they are worthless. This why companies fall all over themselves to give us these computers.  You cannot afford to buy the software to make these computers useful nor can we. With Linux we get not only a modern easy to us operating system but gobs and gobs of very useful software and all for FREE.  So those worthless computers become usable again and we all win. You get a computer, we can do what we set out to do and some company does not have to pay to get rid of their computers and perfectly good equipment sees a few more years of service before entering the trash stream. 

Second is the time - With Windows we would have to install the OS then we have to add the software item by item (disk by disk) then we would need to configure each sysem manually. Windows XP home edition (the least expensive) can not be installed from an install server. Open SuSE installs from a install server and can be preconfigured during the install from a file stored on that server.  No special requirements for the server (We use the exact same version of Open Suse that we give away as our server OS).  Now ad the time required to search down all the needed hardware drivers to get everything working. It takes hours to install each copy of Windows XP - even if the equipment could handle it and about 10 minutes per computer to install. 

The side benefits of Linux
  1. Linux is Virus and scumware free.  There are no known viruses or other scum that can infect Linux based computers. So Our clients need not worry about getting infected while surfing the Web.
  2. Linux comes with everything in software the average person needs to use their computer.
  3. Linux works well with fewer resources than Windows XP - We get most of our computers because they just do not have the speed or power to run XP - yet the newest version of SuSE Linux has no problem working on these computers.
  4. Lots and Lots of other free software for Linux. 
  5. Linux is a truly modern OS, and supports most modern hardware right out of the box.  You can update it at will - SuSE updates are free also. For more information goto
  6. Linux comes with great community support - Like Windows you can purchase support for Linux - but where the real differences are is in the community based free support. 
  7. Linux is easy to use and has many features that cannot be found on Windows. 
  8. Fully supported on line. You can find more software and lots and lots of help on line most all of it for free.
The down side of Linux
  1. Linux does not do good job of running Windows software.  True there are both the Wine and Alky projects that are getting may Windows programs to run under Linux - but lets be honest here - you just can't stick a Windows software disk into your CD drive and expect to run it without problem under Linux. 
  2. Linux cannot use all Windows hardware.  Yes Linux supports far more hardware than Windows but in the PC world companies have produced hardware and only written drivers for some versions of Windows. Most of this Windows only hardware will not even work with all versions of Windows.  The solution here is to make sure that the hardware you are buying is "Linux Compatible" before you buy. There are many resources available to aid in this - always try a web search as a starting point - check on the box - call the manufacturer - post requests on web sites dealing with Linux hardware problems. 
    1. Hardware with the most problems -  Software modems - often older ISA will not even work with Windows XP, The solution -  we only use Hardware Modems - as they work with all operating systems. 
    2. "Win printers" Last year I tossed perfectly good Laser printer that I could not find any drivers for anything newer than Win 95.
    3. Wireless networking cards - some manufactures of wireless cards feel that hiding specs and making all drivers proprietary is the way to keep ahead of competitors - yet the firms that practice openness do not seem to have any problems with competitors getting ahead of them. The best fix here is make sure that the card has Linux drivers available before purchasing it. If you already have a non-compliant card then try the "NDIS" wrapper for your card. 
    4. Graphics - Both ATI and Nvida the major makers have refused to make specifications for their equipment available. Both do make proprietary drivers for Linux for their cards so you can at least use the cards and all their high end features.  One bright spot the new owners of ATI have said that they will be releasing specifications and the drivers under open source license. 
    5. The great vast majority of hardware out there is well supported under Linux.  In fact XP has a fairly long list of unsupported hardware -  and the new Windows Vista will have an even longer list of unsupported hardware.  So you must always check compatability before buying.
  3. You can still find web sites that require Internet Explorer and Windows Active X to work. These sites just will not work for a Linux Computer.  Luckily these sites are slowly disappearing as time passes.  Always report these sites to the FireFox broken web sites list.