Sackville-West Clan Wiki/ tech/ Spare Parts

If you're at all like me, you've got a pile of spare parts. Junky old network cards all tangled up with crappy winmodems, ISA sound cards and other bits of computer flotsam are piled all over my office, spilling out into the rest of the basement. more...

These parts can be a valuable resource for keeping systems running. Sure they may be out of date, kind of crappy parts, but these are just the things that are almost sure to work, especially with linux systems. The older (within reason) a part is, the more likely there are drivers in the mainline kernel. And if there aren't, there should at least be a good pile of google hits on how to get the darn thing to work. The best part is the old bits are usually free! They tend to be left overs scavenged from my own machines that died in one way or another. Even better, a lot of them come from old borked windows systems that people would rather throw away than try to use... go figure.

There are entire businesses devoted to just this kind of thing too. I'm sure you've seen them in your town. They are locally owned small computer shops with so much stuff piled up in them that you can't see in the windows. There's usually some only marginally helpful person behind the counter who refuses to come out and help. There are boxes piled high with green computer cards labeled "network cards $5" or "pci video cards $8" or whatever. These places are also a treasure trove of sometimes decent, slightly out-of-date tech. Sometimes you can find a nice haul of pretty good stuff that was scrapped by company in some company-wide upgrade. I once found a whole bunch of what were once top-of-the-line network cards for literally about $4 a piece. A bought a bunch and they work great.

What's the point of all this? Well, my wife's computer broke (ahem) yesterday. So I fiddled around with all the parts I had and determined that I had no combination of spare motherboard and processor that would actually work. So off I go to my usual crappy old parts store. Unfortunately they're GONE! What? I head to the next one up the street and they don't really have any used parts to speak of. You could see in the windows, it was a clean place, and the counter guy was actually helpful. That's no good... So I head to the last place I know of and while they're still there, they are getting ready to close that store and will probably scrap all those old parts! Horror!

This has gone on long enough. Suffice it to say that there is a sad change a-foot in the computer world. The spare parts stores are closing down... Where will I go when I run out of parts here in my basement?

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