Linux Reduces E-waste

It seems like the tech industry is in a mad rush to go green. Every time I turn around I’m reading about reducing power consumption in data centers and recycling old equipment.

I would put this trend in the broad category of “good thing”. Green tech usually saves businesses money, particularly in the long run, and consuming fewer resources and producing less waste is positive in all kinds of both tangible and intangible ways.

As a computer user, what would be a good way to go green? Linux.

From CNN (who is quoting from EcoGeek):

True or False: Switching from a Windows-operated computer to a Linux-operated one could slash computer-generated e-waste levels by 50%.

The answer is: TRUE

The main problem is the rate at which Windows users have to swap out their PC. The average refresh time for a computer running Windows is 3-4 years, while the average refresh time for Linux is 6-8 years. A Linux user waits for her or his machine to die; a Windows or Mac user waits for the OS to kill it. Every computer not needed would prevent the use of 240 kg of fossil fuels, and the number of computers that get tossed out each year is staggering (the article lists a figure of 17.5 million, but that sounds low to me).

There are other benefits as well:

There are also potential Green Agenda benefits, through reducing the energy and resources consumed in manufacturing replacement equipment, and reducing landfill requirements and costs arising from disposal of redundant equipment.
Not only will you throw away less stuff, but the stuff you do buy can cost quite a bit less.

Recently Wal-Mart got its Green Linux Machines back in stock (they sold out in a hurry). These PC’s use a low-power Via processor, sipping a mere 20 watts, come with a really cool Ubuntu based OS called gOS* (Enlightenment desktop), which integrates Google and other web services into the desktop, and come with professional productivity software - a complete office suite, pro image editing software, music and movie software, DVD and CD burning software, and a ton of other stuff. Wal Mart has 96 reviews with an average of 4 out of 5 stars. The price? $200. That’s half the price you’d pay for Microsoft Office 2007 Standard.

If you’re a geek** and you’re serious about going green, take Linux out for a test drive. All it will cost you is time, and time’s green footprint is fairly small.

*You can read about and download gOS here. The operating system and all of the software is free, and almost all of it is open source (open source exceptions are things like Skype). I ran it in a virtual environment, more to check out Enlightenment than anything else, and it’s pretty slick.

**Reading anything on this site does not immediately brand you a geek, but it does put you on a waiting list.