Linux Laptop Project at Nonprofit Technology Resources (NTR)

Team Members (add your name and task)

Team Member Name




Kevin Valentine


kevin dot valentine at gmail

Jim Fisher


(215) 317-1522 / jedijf at yahoo

Ben Agre


nofx forever AT gmail DOT com

(remove the spaces to email me)

Art Alexion


arthur AT alexion DOT com

can also receive laptops at work in East Falls

Molly Crowley


mmcrowley AT gmail DOT com

Randy Gold


randyg at comcast dot net

Tasks can be any of the following:

  • Global_Hacker: one who helps repair laptops and installs linux anywhere/anytime
  • Home_Hacker: one who helps repair laptops and installs linux from their home
  • Distributor: one who drops off laptops to the Home_Hackers
  • Yacker: can't physically work on the laptops but will provide support via forums, email, and IRC
  • Admin: has a variety of tasks that are tbd. first task may be to make a web page for tracking the laptops
  • Ghost_Rider: prefers to help in secrecy. subscribes to the "lightening support" technique. shows; helps many; disappears.

Project Overview

NTR (ntronline.org) is having a real problem with their laptop inventory. They have a big room where they keep them and it has become very disorganized. It's so disorganized that they are having a difficult time pushing them out to their thrift store and they can't find parts to fix existing customers' laptops. I told Stan that I think members of the PA LoCo can help. His reply: to let us install Linux on any laptop that cannot accept Win2k. These laptops will then be sold at Stan's thrift store. We hope this will NTR's name out as a distributor of Linux laptops, create a demand, and eventually get NTR into pushing Ubuntu on some higher end desktops/laptops. Here's the basic plan:

  1. Linux will be installed to laptops that have poor Windows 2k support. This means laptops with:
    1. no drivers for some/most of the hardware
    2. video only supports default VESA driver
    3. OS and applications run too slow
  2. The type of Linux installed with depend on the machine's specs:
    1. 100 - 300 MHz with < 128MB of RAM can use Puppy Linux or Damn Small Linux (aka DSL)

    2. 300 MHz and higher with 256MB of RAM can use Xubuntu or Ubuntu
  3. Use one of our two different Linux installation techniques:
    1. Manual DSL Frugal Install Howto

    2. Semi-automated DSL Frugal Install Howto

  4. Test each laptop before putting it into NTR's Thrift Store. This list is getting long and I plan to branch it off to its own wiki page soon. Here are some tests to start with:
    • does it have its own power supply and is the voltage matched?
    • does the hard drive have its appropriate caddy?
    • when you first power on, does the grub splash image display properly?
    • when you boot to the desktop, is the resolution set correctly?
    • can the laptop be booted successfully times?
    • does the USB port function? test with a mouse or thumb drive
    • does audio work? test by playing an mp3 through xmms
    • can it connect to a LAN? test with a pcmcia NIC
    • if there's a CD ROM drive, verify that it works.
    • are the mydsl extensions (abiword, gnumeric) slowing down the older laptops on bootup?
    • if there are "standby" or "sleep" function keys, verify that advanced power management (APM) works.
    • add/remove/swap RAM so that all laptops have 32 MB or higher.

Location and Information

NTR Website
Directions to NTR
Google Map Visuals & Info
DSL Linux Install INFO
DSL Linux Resource Info

Workshop Times

See our Calendar to keep track of the dates and times

  • Jim Fisher and Kevin Valentine will be at NTR every 3rd Monday from 10am - 12pm
  • Norman will be in the Laptop Room from 2 pm to closing, every weekday
  • We will meet as a group every 4th Saturday of the month

Meeting #3

Date: Saturday March 29, 2008
Time: 12pm to 5pm
Topic: Finish More Laptops!

  1. Randy and Kevin sorted all laptop power supplies
  2. Finished a few more laptops. Up to 21 laptops now. Just need testing.
  3. Decided to temporarily remove any laptops that don't have have a USB port from our queue

Meeting #2

Date: Saturday February 23, 2008
Time: 12pm to 1pm
Topic: Meet and Discuss the Project

  1. Review progress on batch of Dells and IBMs
  2. Demonstrate use of DSL installer script
  3. Plan what laptops should be sorted out next

Meeting #1

Date: Saturday January 19, 2008
Time: 12pm to 1pm
Topic: Meet and Discuss the Project

  1. Tour of the NTR facility
  2. Review layout of Laptop Room
  3. Talk with NTR Staff about solutions

Phase I

  1. Organize the Laptop Room and laptop bins (DONE)
    1. determine what laptops can be used for our project (DONE)
    2. sort our laptops based on condition (DONE)
    3. separated batches of laptops targeted for immediate installation (DONE)
  2. Create a laptop parts bin for these items:
    1. power supplies (DONE)
    2. 2.5" hard drives (DONE)
    3. RAM
    4. hard drives caddies and bezels (DONE)
    5. laptops keyboards
    6. docking stations
    7. pcmcia network adapters (DONE)

Phase II

  1. Image drives with DSL (DONE)
  2. Install drives to laptops and verify basic functionality (DONE)
  3. Match power supplies to each laptop (DONE)

Phase III

  1. Distribute laptops to volunteers for further testing (DONE)
  2. Make any necessary hw/sw upgrades (DONE)
  3. Make blurb about Linux and DSL to print and include with each laptop
  4. Generate a price matrix for the laptops in the 133-400MHz range

  5. Push tested laptops to the NTR thrift store
  6. Spread word about the laptops to other groups: LUGS, schools, computer groups

PennsylvaniaTeam/CommunityOutreachTeam/NtrLaptopProject (last edited 2008-08-06 16:34:47 by localhost)