ShopTalk Sunday: $100 Shop/Mancave Computer Build

It has been too damn hot to spend much time on the Chineseum model boat project.  So, instead, I got serious about “building a Shop Computer.”

Now, any damn fool can go out and pay Big Money for a screaming-fast high performance multi-terabyte 32 GB Win11 machine which is where I do the bulk of my work.  Like this week’s “deliverable” was my latest book on Amazon for Kindle on electrical Power in the Second Depression.  Oh, don’t worry!  I WILL shout out when it goes live.  Basically, the public distro of the Peoplenomics bookshelf version.  But if you don’t subscribe, it will be Kindlized!

Point is, to do good work – and not be tempted to throw the hood open and start tweaking on things – you want (like the family car or work truck) something that is dependable for real work.  What we’re talking about this morning is to computers what rat-rodding is to shade tree mechanics.

Shop CPU?  Cheap Matters

Eventually, at least in our household, computers have an almost Masonic “going through the chairs” in their service lives.

The high-end (real work) computers – when worn out – cycle into less critical work positions.  Like the recording studio for when I get a podcasting hair again.  Or as Elaine’s computer – which I do real work on every morning while the coffee or tea is toughening up.

For “nice to work, but nothing’s left” conditions (the TV computer for surfing 65-inches in the recliner or pushing a 50-inch monitor in the guest room), you can pick up a 10-year-old but still useful refurb from Amazon.

But the snags to watch for here include making sure that whatever you buy will push current standard video out an HDMI adapter.  Because if you don’t get that in the used box you buy, you’ll need a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter. And now we’re talking investing more in old technology.

Picking Your OS

This really gets to be harder than you would think.  A lot of the recycled/refurb computers on Amazon have Windows 10 Pro.  Damn fine operating system and highly reliable – popular in business.  HOWEVER, that one will not have long-term support forever.

Another key to Cheapo Computing is to toss out Apple.  Nothing personal.  While they are nice little boxes, for the price of ONE Apple, I can build 3-10 lesser computers.  Maybe 20.  Yes, they look fine but this ain’t Jeff Bezos’ shop.  This is Podunk East Texas pole building country.  No designers will be coming through.

Which then gets us to Linux.  The ONLY thing wrong with Linux (and it’s a small nit) is NOT every great piece of software has been ported to (or runs well) on Linux.

Ure’s Pick:  Linux

Real dyed-in-the-wool MAKERS love to get hip-deep in all their toys.  If I have a “money matters” piece of work that needs to get done:  Writing a column, doing charts, writing a book, or timing a day trade?  Win11 and more coffee.

My “Real” computer was $1,300 bucks.  Budget for the shop is zero.

BUT the key thing to remember is what we DO in the shop.

  • I do a fair amount of 3D printing.  With Linux, I can hit or Thingiverse (which went where we told Peoplenomics readers in 2007-2008 about and built the proto of on our old Public Design Library website.  For this, a browser – hell any browser – will do fine.  Download the .STL file and slice for one of our 3D printers.  Ultimaker CURA is in our view best of class for slicing software, and they do have a Linux distro.  So, check mark that.
  • I WANT to do a lot of CNC work.  There are two un-assembled CNC machines with bits, motor upgrades and even a 5.5 watt laser for engraving (did I mention the rotating cylinder kit, too for engraving glasses and round things?).  This means design – but again FreeCAD is the current best of class. Yes – with a Linux distro.  Besides, there’s which is Autodesk’s contribution to STEM (and then some) if you have a browser.  Again, nod to Linux. Kudos to Autodesk, too.
  • I also want to do custom PCB builds. Since I have CNC machines, along with single and double-sided PCB stock on hand, why not find something in Linux (free or cheap) to do that, too?  Sure, as hell Source Forge comes through again:  KiCad EDA Reviews and Pricing 2022 (

Bottom line?  Linux rocks.  For my purposes (a survival/prepping computer system with lots of bells, whistles, and software plus the fun stuff like PCB and CNC play) Linux is actually the ONLY choice because of the top three operating systems, this is the only one that doesn’t APPEAR to have a “call home with permission to keep working” GOSUB built into it somewhere by antihuman corporate coders…

I mean there is a damn good novel that I’ve got in mind (still writing Ancient Children first) about how the entire fate of mankind is lost in the post-Apocalyptic world because an OS can’t log onto the Internet to confirm a user ID. The Internet is gone and…  (But I digress).

Down to the Build

Being a high-reliability computer nerd ( turns 25-years old next year), all of my laptops get a new battery and new charger every three years – need ’em or not.

That’s why – when I spied a dusty old HP Centrino 2 complete with Windows Vista installed – I knew that would be my first effort.  Of course, it had a few things wrong with it.  Like needing some “special skills” to open the DVD reader:

One other problem on this machine was that it had two drive partitions.  (Where the hard drive had one “working” section and one for the backup copy of Vista).

Step-By-Step Build Process

To do this build, you will need two computers.  They can be “whatever” OS but I’m using the Big Box (Win11) machine for some of the dirty work.

Begin on the working (WinX) computer then:

  1. Pick the version of Linux you want.  I chose Mint (20.3).
  2. Download from here: Download Linux Mint 20.3 – Linux Mint.
  3. Patience now.  This is a large file (2 GB) so plan on a coffee break.

The next step is to burn an ISO image.  Essentially, burning a copy onto a DVD that can be run off disk.  To do this, we will need to download a DVD writing software package.  Still on the WinX machine now:

  1. Download Free ISO Burner.
  2. Go to your download directory and [run] FreeISOBurner.
  3. Follow onscreen directions.  The objective here is to get the Linux Mint file (about 2 GB remember) burned onto the DVD.
  4. Press the burn button and have more coffee.

Eventually, the burning stops and the DVD pops open.  You are now ready to take this DVD and insert it into your Linux-to-be box.

Installing Mint

All you need to install Mint will be:

  • A wireless network connection (and password).
  • And a general password which will be used repeatedly.  I chose a simple number (“1”).  Since this is a shop computer and there’s nothing proprietary on it, let’s not make life difficult.

Now insert the DVD and boot the computer.

As it boots, and this will depend on brand, you will hit F2, Escape, or F8 to go to the computer’s Boot Menu.

There, you will see multiple choices (one of which on my build was “Vista”).  Select boot from DVD and press enter.

Linux Mint should appear and begin asking you fairly direct questions.

  • Like which network do you want to use if there are several choices.
  • Then the Network password (which you cleverly have at the ready).
  • Somewhere in the process you will be asked if you want to use the whole disk drive (yes).
  • And do you want to do a whole OEM burn?  (Again, yes.)
  • As this process continues, you will be asked to confirm your OEM choice.
  • Then, you will have to give a password (“1”) which Linux uses much more often than Win11.  Won’t let you continue without a password.

A bit more fiddle-dee-farting around and it will finish up.  Have plenty of coffee, though.  You are loading an old, used, slow computer and these things take time.  Don’t worry about speed.  Apps will be fast – minor hardware lag.

Eventually, you will be told to take out the DVD and restart. At this, you have entered the world of Mint.

Basic Setups

You will get to set up the desktop next.  To do this, go all the way to the far lower left icon (circle with an LM – Linux Mint – logo inside) and click it.

  1. A menu will appear.  There will be two columns.
  2. Scroll down the left column until you get to OFFICE.
  3. In the right menu, you find a word processor (LibreOffice Writer).
  4. Place your mouse over this and right click.  A short menu will appear:  Add to desktop – add to favorites – or Uninstall.
  5. Click “Add to Desktop.”

Now you will go through all the programs in the preloaded 20.3 release and add whatever you want.  Firefox, Inkscape, good stuff.

I do not have any financial information on the Shop computer, nor does it have email.  Thunderbird is nice and all, but no office work in the shop and no shop work in the office.  (Two good rules to break every day!)

See how easy this is?

Set Up Preferences

Hit the (LM) logo menu again.

  1. Click on Preferences – Desktop.
  2. You can show or hide several things from here.

Another key visit is to select (and size) fonts.

  1. Click on (LM) menu and then Preferences
  2. Right columns scroll down to Fonts.

I set most of mine at 16.  Because I do have rather crappy eyes.  I also plugged in a much easier to read “visually impaired” keyboard – wired versions run under $25 bucks on Amazon:

The last steps of getting a basic, workable Mint-Linux box running is getting a Mouse working.

Simple as plugging in a wired mouse and going to Preferences and setting the pointer size.

In my case, it was not so simple.  Everything here is wireless (I wouldn’t be able to move around the office, otherwise!).

So, if you have a dongle that is not paired to your mouse, this is another one of those places where you go back to the WinX machine, fire up the Logitech Unifying Software (if that’s the brand you use) and then “pair” the additional dongle to the mouse.  I had to unplug my main receiver dongle just long enough to link.

Once linked on another computer, the mouse will now work wirelessly on the Linux box. Paired means the dongle will remember.  (Brandon should learn!) Plug it in and go to town.

As you can tell, except for the download and installation times, this is all pretty quick work.

Last step is to go to Preferences-All Programs and right-click Firefox onto the desktop.  We’ll need it for the coming step.

Now We Add the Big Stuff

Here’s what the final desktop product looked like when done.

The two boxes in white are the “business end” of the shop computer – for now.

To add FreeCAD (simple enough) point your new Firefox on Linux computer at FreeCAD: Your own 3D parametric modeler (*

Once it downloads, go to the Downloads directory (under Home) and right-click to RUN it.

After it completes, you may have to go back to Preferences–> All Programs – and then scroll down to FreeCAD and right click Add to Desktop.

Ran great, right off.

The second core program (Cura) was a little more cranky.

Go to Ultimaker Cura: Powerful, easy-to-use 3D printing software

Scroll down to the:


are and left click.  A popup will appear.

You will want to download the Modern-Linux version.

When it completes  the next thing you will do is right click run.  The into Preferences –> All Programs (scroll down) and right-click to add to desktop.


…that didn’t work for me – likely some quirk. The program (Cura) did not show up on my list of programs that could be added to the Desktop.  So, when in doubt, ask questions.

So, we will structure a clear Google search and find the quick answer.  One of the best skills you can ever evolve is writing good Google searches.  You can get so damn much done when you have ALL the answers at your fingertips…no kidding.

[cura install load mint 20.3] ought to do it.  (I forgot the exact search.) But eventually I found a working answer at How to install Ultimaker Cura slicer on Linux (

Essentially, you open the Terminal window (which is akin to the command line in the DOS world).  You do this by CTRL +Alt +T all at the same time.

Then on the command line write:

sudo apt-get install cura

THEN it appeared in the Preferences –> All Programs list and right clicked from there onto the desktop.

Now, everything was working as it should.  About all that will need to be added is a USB expansion so I can go “machine direct” if I wish (down the road).

But the real takeout today was getting basic (EMP proof) 3D printing and CNC capacity.  Toss in one of the Amazon Basics 7 port powered Hubs (we have several) and we should be able to hold our own in Shop-based computing for a while into the post-Apocalyptic world.

Last (but not least) I was pleased to see that Inkscape got a good mention in the recent ALL3DP review of laser cutting software.  In particular we’ll need the Inkscape Laser Plug-In – J Tech Photonics, Inc. for it all to work.  But, Inkscape is an easily added (works dandy in Linux) tool, so should be no issues.

Accounting Note for the picky who miss the point: The headline $100 for the computer was a generalization. This build was done for zero-dollars because we have everything in the world on-hand.  Others may have to buy a $100 used laptop on eBay.  YMMV.

If someone gave us $100 bucks and use of a WinX or Apple to source Linux?    $100-bucks ought to do it.  (Unless you’re reader Ray, of course. In which case you’d end up with a baby Cray with more computing power than NASA – he’s that kind of hawk when comes to seeking salvageable high end CPU deals.)

Time for me to take a break and get back into my ADHD Sunday ramble through the shop…

Write when you get rich, (or boot up Mint which I seem to recall long-time reader Ray has been goo-goo over for years…).

author avatar
George Ure
Amazon Author Page: UrbanSurvival Bio:

72 thoughts on “ShopTalk Sunday: $100 Shop/Mancave Computer Build”

  1. This reader too has been primarily LINUX focused for 10 or so years. Tried most of them (many any way). Linux Mint too is my choice. Great write-up for the newbies.

    • Yep. Downloading this whole article to Word file for later reference. Still pounding on the ol’ W7 laptop and wondering how much longer it will go. I hate W10 with a purple passion mainly because of the “”call home with permission to keep working” GOSUB” B.S. on the ones at my wife’s office. They also refuse to let W7 machines read their shared folders and files but will read W7 shares all day on work groups. The software companies killed the “you buy it and it’s yours” business model over a decade ago which makes me wonder how they’re staying in business.

      What limitations keep you from using Ubuntu or is it a defunct platform now?

      • OK, that does it: Phony growth is the last chapter of 100-year Toaster – and you guys have finally turned the light on for the final chapter of that next book which is about ready for Kinglizing. thank you

      • Ubuntu was derived from Debian. Debian and Ubuntu are the most widely-used personal LINUX platforms. Mint is a flavor of Ubuntu. Most modern (meaning “last 10 years”) iterations of both are very easy to use. In fact, the reason Ubuntu was created is newbs were intimidated by Red Hat, even before it went “enterprise” and at that time (early 2000s) Debian wasn’t much easier to use than Red Hat.

        The original intent of Ubuntu was to take Debian, and make it look and act like Windows (minus the blue screens, of course.) Ubuntu first came out in 2004. By 2005 you could build a *NIX computer using Ubuntu and configure it so a typical end user would never know that it was NOT a Windows XP or Windows XP Media Center box (I know, because I did it, just for funsies.)

        Also in 2005, my nephew built such a box because he was tired of resetting his mother’s computer when it blue-screened several times a day. She went from Vista to Ubuntu in two days and didn’t notice for six years (she minored in CS and was a COBOL programmer for several years, so not exactly a computer illiterate…)

      • I don’t know what you have to do in order to blue screen a XP box. Of all the ones I was in charge of – mostly Dells but also quite a few I built myself from pieces and parts off of Ebay which started out with at least W98 – I just don’t remember anything other than those that I left in the care of other schools with some weird educational software we were distributing written especially for W95 and which pretty much would NOT run in W98. (Yeah, planned obsolescence but we cut them off when we found this out. Their screams were sooo satisfying to this tax payer.) M$ was being very careful to make all its software titles run well with each other and couldn’t afford to get too uppity outside of its server software. The only sticky place for NT was requiring hardware to be “NT compatible” which meant, to keep thing moving apace in quick fashion, just getting the server from Dell. It wasn’t until XP had gone through about half its life span, SP2 at least, that I ever went to that OS in the office and most of the bugs were out of it. No reason to let bugs in willfully. That desktop is still emulated in this W7 machine I’m on now. Why change what works?

        But as far as Vista was concerned … jeeze. Talk about a window on The End. Totally useless OS. The only time I dealt with it was to make a co-worker’s laptop dual booting between XP and Vista because she was experiencing the same Grey Screen of Death every day. W7 saved M$’s butt for a while but then like a dog returning to its own … well you know. The only complaint about W7, 64 bit, was losing my Mom’s scanner that I loved which worked so well. We were trying to digitize all the 35mm slides we’d accumulated over the years on her XP box and the only problem was the speed the CPU ran at. Slow going but beautiful results. Tried to install on W7 – not a chance Grasshopper.

      • “I don’t know what you have to do in order to blue screen a XP box.”

        Honestly, I don’t know (and didn’t ask) but I’d not be surprised if she were surfing pirate sites to download movie images for burning.

        I have always hated Microsoft’s “transitional” OSs. ME was crippled Win98SE with a beta XP GUI; Vista was crippled XP with an alpha Win7 GUI. I had a copy of each, so I could repair boxes running them, but I never installed either on anything.

        “The only complaint about W7, 64 bit, was losing my Mom’s scanner that I loved which worked so well.”

        The “fix” is to downgrade to Win7/32. The scanner BIOS or software is making a 16bit DOS call. Even though XP is its own OS and has no native DOS layer, it still answers the DOS BIOS and CPU calls and all but a couple of the (really obscure) NT/XP libraries emulate DOS 16bit calls.

        When you load a M$-64 OS you’re no longer running x86 and the OS will only emu 32bit, so every program, app, or utility with even one line of 16bit code will puke. Running {XP-64 to Win11} in “compatibility mode” and emulating, even Win95 or 98 won’t help because Win64’s emulator also can’t translate native 16bit code…

    • you know I never really thought about using linux.. but am giving it some thought.. I heard that MS was to do another windows program.. and I hate that.. will the programs I use on MS windows work on it.. can you load them in just like you do on windows..

      • Get an old computer and you’ll be surprised at how good Linux is these days. Only slow spot5 is the HDD. So when you put in an SSD even an old 2 or 4 core turd turns into an Indy car.
        Just a different learning curve. (And what real man doesn’t like learning curves, we wonder?)

      • Lol lol ahead of ya there….I have an old computer lol lol.. and a 15 inch monitor.. lol lol I have to almost have my nose on it to read it lol…
        I have been considering a 3d printer..the boss keeps telling me no.. but I keep doing back to ..
        The huge question is would I use it so that it would pay off..
        I’m still kicking around getting a larger generator. Him hawing yes no yes no..and him hawing yes no yes no to a printer.. what I like is this one will work with metal filament and the extended length.. making it possible to make longer the door vent insert on the website videos..
        Now if you can load programs that run on windows then it would be awesome.. I could still use the programs I have already invested in

        • Nice thing in preferences in Mint is it’s easy to set the fonts to whatever turns your crank. Also you can dial back the screan resolution from 1920 down to 1080 or so – and that makes everything bigger too…

      • They will — through a “Windows Emulator.”

        Lots of “Windows programs” are LINUX-native (were first written for *NIX) and then rewritten or “ported” to work on Microsoft’s operating systems. Open Office and Libre Office are both LINUX-native, but if you HAVE to have Micro$oft Office, it’ll take longer to start up in the emulator, but once it does, it’ll run the same (or better) than it does in Windows.

      • Now If linux mint worked with pre windows 10 then I’d be in heaven..I could use my photoshop and digital darkroom programs that when windows 10 came out it wouldn’t operate with the new updated windows. and I’ll be damned if I will spend that kind of money again for something I already one point in time after I gave up on the being the next Ansel Adam’s.. I had invisible getting a good camera .. and the instant professional photo printer..( keep in mind I would also have had the lab that also makes photos on photo processing from digital. Amazing to see it work)
        Then do team photos.. could even print up magnets buttons and game cards..
        Hit all the local shot coach and player player.. cardboard frames on the spot printing with option for regular photograp processing.
        Anyway.. they started flipping windows and left programs in the dust of advancement..

      • “Now If linux mint worked with pre windows 10 then I’d be in heaven.”

        It probably would support them, but you don’t know until you try it. All non-enterprise flavors of all LINUX distributions “distros” are free, and so is nearly all software.

        Most LINUX distros (Mint included) can be burned to either a DVD or to a USB thumb drive. (I have half a dozen distros, including “Debian for HAM Radio,” on different USB “sticks.”) If you are interested in Mint, you should go here:

        The DVD and USB are bootable “live images.” A live image is a fully-working LINUX, which you can use to see whether you like the distro’s appearance and featureset/functionality or not. You can “configure” the live image (and even download files from an Internet connection) but you can not save anything you do in it. To save your stuff, you’ll have to actually install the distro onto your computer’s hard drive. With some live images, you can even “trial install” existing hardware or software, just to see whether it will run on that particular distro.

        If it doesn’t, simply download another distro flavor:

        {A proper use for wackypedia…}

  2. List me as another satisfied Linux Mint user. I switched over 10 years ago due to Windows updates devouring my limited bandwidth with its updates. I told it I was on a metered connection, but if I didn’t run updates often enough to satisfy it, it would sneak them in when I wasn’t looking. I finally got fed up with MS using the service I was paying for just to keep their bloatware afloat.

    At first I was a little dismayed by the fact I couldn’t run my favorite software (yes, I tried Wine, but it still wouldn’t run my Windows stuff). Gradually I was able to find Linux programs to replace all the MS junk, and I’ve been happy as if I had good sense. With the advent of Appimages, installing software has become plug-and-play simple (for software that has been converted into an Appimage, at least).

  3. As long as a piece of equipment still works and supplies are available, I see no reason to replace a printer or other computer peripheral. I upgrade to Windows10 a year after it came out, and discovered a printer and a couple of other items were now obsolete. That and the MS penchant for constant updates were the impetus I needed to switch to Linux (Ubuntu). Had some issues with WINE so I had trouble with porting Office 2010 (bought and paid for, no annual subscriptions for me) so switched to LibreOffice. It took a little bit of work, but got my 12GB Outlook PST file ported over to Thunderbird. I

    I keep a standalone Windows 7 for the ancient software and peripherals. And then there’s two employer provided laptops periodically open up on Monday mornings with an ‘Updates are being installed’ message.

    Before my mom passed away in 2010, I was her tech support, and maintained a cloned version of her Windows98 (eventually XP) computer and could walk her through Office and Publisher.

    • Thanks WO – (you are further proof the smart people in the world have picked Anderson Co. Texas for their last stand)

      The only problem I have with the Windows product lines (incl. Office 365) is that planned obsolescence is really phony growth. I am typing the same as when Electric Pencil was the WP of choice on my Trash 80. Over the years between MultiMess, WordPervert, and Windon’t derivatives, I’ve spent thousands on software that still does the same basic shit. Phony growth!

      I plan on keeping (at least one) Win11 machine alive as long as the world holds together because there are so many “gotcha by the Nutz” programs (TurboTax comes to mind) where it is incredibly hard to find something as robust for Linux.

      As you now doubt read here ( with Linux if you have FF or another browser running, you can use the IRS online App Free File. Problems about though: Not sure I would trust an IRS (lowest bidders, right?) s/w to handle a complex situation (Like under farm ops here, how do I report a Patronage check from my land bank? In TT it’s not too hard to find a place to allocate as farm income.

      I have done a lot of tweaks to W11 to make it play nice with our lifestyle. Things like not restareting in the middle of writing a column comes to mind.

      You may wish to investigate the Linux app Brisqi – offline capable and free KANBAN – which I found runs on both W11 and for $50 bucks a year will synch with a wintel box. Other than synching of my to-do projects – it would be nice to synch my current writing projects from O365 to Mint/Libre Writer – if anyone has a cheapo hint on that bi8t o’ witchcraft, please pass ‘er along – thanks

      • Save Word documents in *.RTF

        Back about Word 3, I pitched the proprietary formats and started saving everything in rich text format because it’s totally generic and completely portable. I HATE Microsoft’s office obsolescence model (the one where they tweak Office’ formats to force upgrades.) I’m too old school. In my world, if you “adjust” a filespec to access different calls or perform different functions, you have created a different file format, and should create a different suffix.

        99.99% of the time, the user doesn’t need the proprietary gofasters in Word or Excel, so unless you’re printing your own books, why increase your document’s bloat by 28k+ and make it proprietary, just to save the imbedded and unused carriage control coding…?

      • “gotcha by the Nutz” programs (TurboTax comes to mind)”

        Turbo Tax has now cost me THREE upgrades to newer Mac Powerbooks. Damn thing keeps insisting on the latest OS. My old machines were nicely obsoleted to NOT run the newer OS… I’m now on my third Mac just to run my Turbo Tax. Why the hell does a simple numeric accounting program need the latest OS to perform?? Methinks next year I will dump TurboTax for one of the ‘free filing’ things. 1040SE for retired folks without a schedule C business filing is dirt simple now. I used to love Apple. No more. I just discovered now that apparently I cannot purchase music in iTunes. They want me to sign up for Apple Music for unlimited ‘plays’ for only $9.95/month subscription service.

        The ham shack computer is running Windows 7 Pro… no longer supported, but all I need is a browser and to run a few ham ‘widgets’ and interface USB to the radio

        When digital HD television came along, the old TV standards of recording on tape were thrown out also. Digital TV is handled on special purpose, high-throughput servers, usually attached to large RAID arrays of disk drives. Avoiding failure is paramount. Manufacturers could not rely on windows for reliability, so they built their own OS for the TV servers…. All on LINUX.

      • And while I’m ranting… I just threw out my HP printer/scanner. I’m tired of paying outrageous prices for ink cartridges if only ONE color runs out. Then the so-called ‘refurbished’ cartridges do not work with all the hidden sensing and digital authenticity crap built in to the cartridges. So I bought genuine HP cartridges at the store, and when I put them into the printer, it says “These cartridges were not made for this printer”. The whole thing was escorted out to the trash. I bought a BROTHER printer, with individually replaceable color ink tanks.

      • @ Hank

        ” I bought a BROTHER printer, with individually replaceable color ink tanks.”

        You’ll like it. I dunno if they’re still like that, but for years Brother was the only major player who didn’t chip their inks. This meant you could refill your own, indefinitely. The chipped cartridges will tell the printer when their algo tells them they’re empty, and once the chip says “E” they no longer dispense ink, regardless the amount that’s actually in the cartridge. When Epson and H-P went to chipped cartridges, someone did the calculations, and determined they were selling printer ink for ~$220,000 per ounce. This is why that fabulously-engineered Canon inkjet was selling for 40 bucks at WallyWorld. The manufacturers were willing to give their tech away, just to enable people to buy their ink…

      • @Ray
        Yep, sign ’em up cheap & soak ’em for ongoing charges. My OralB power toothbrush is the same way. $25 for a replacement plastic brush head?! I found a cheap chinesium knock-off brush maker on eBay. Maybe down to $5 a head… still outrageous. I try to avoid that corporate ‘rent your life’ business model whenever I can.

      • “I’m now on my third Mac just to run my Turbo Tax. Why the hell does a simple numeric accounting program need the latest OS to perform??”

        I quit using quick books just because of that and windows 10.. @ Hank in Hawaii.. I reconcile my books daily.. anyway quick books forgot how to add and subtract.. then on top of it.. the account was no longer kept on your computer but a copy was kept in asia.. I was always seeing a discrepancy of a few cents.. on the phone daily to either Taiwan or the to know the kids pretty good..first name basis. Anyway.. my thought is IF your account is being accessed and managed in another country.. let’s say 100 million.. and 50 cents is miscalculated or harvested.. a day.. what does that add up to..
        I had been a long term user.. but quit.. I use an old version program where I have control.. and.. the figures all add up..
        A story my sibling told me of a neighbor of theirs.. high end position..during the Reagan recession his position was downsized. The guy was upset.. so he set up a dummy printing shop.. then picked big businesses with huge organizational personnel large inventory etc.. and sent them each a bill for six bucks and change.. my sibling said he made millions until he got greedy and got caught..

      • It just bothered me that the program couldn’t process simple math.. and with the story my sibling told me scared me..
        In my mind it was better to be safe than sorry and a few pennies is a fortune if you don’t have a few pennies to toss away..

    • “I keep a standalone Windows 7 for the ancient software and peripherals.”

      I keep a Windows for Workgroups 3.11 (+Win32S) box for oldware (it also boots up everything from DOS3.3 to DOS7 and features Windows-1 to Windows Vista GUIs) ‘cuz you never know when it might become necessary to repair one of those operating systems or GUIs…

      • Actually, I have two archive boxes. My NexGen Nx586 box is the one on which I did my small part to create the firewall you all are using. I restored it in about 1999 or 2000. It still has the genuine 3com 3c905 LAN, Ensoniq audio card, and STB Lightspeed video card, and probably a Connor 170Mb or Western 540Mb hard drive (although I don’t remember the drive specs.)

  4. Morning George;

    Hope everyone is having a good and safe day in the shop.

    Wanted to run this by you …

    Watched this video and #1. tells of a mystery object just outside of our solar system … Object 2015TG387.

    Looked it up and it was discovered in 2015. – But still being played out as a some new info.

    I noticed the first comment which reads;

    “The size, density and orbital period of planet Xena was published in “SCIENCE” journal 2 decades ago by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC. No mystery here!! It re-enters our inner solar system in 2028.”

    I thought that was pretty damn interesting. So, I looked up “Xena”

    Found out the name was changed in 2006. Discovered in 2005.

    Interestingly, says here it was discovered in 2003. (Wtf?)

    From Wikipedia:

    “Eris (minor-planet designation 136199 Eris) is the most massive and second-largest known dwarf planet in the Solar System. It is a trans-Neptunian object (TNO) in the scattered disk and has a high-eccentricity orbit. Eris was discovered in January 2005 by a Palomar Observatory–based team led by Mike Brown and verified later that year. In September 2006, it was named after the Greco–Roman goddess of strife and discord. “

    Xena … Eris (wtf-ever ya call it) has an orbital period of 559 years.

    I find it intriguing, the discovery date, who discovered it changed and, the name change. – we’ve seen those kinds of changes lately and they’re not good. Remember repackaging and renaming Ivermectin ??

    I have to wonder about that guy’s comment mentioning 2028. Who knows, the thing might pick up speed as it gets closer. I don’t know.

    Wondering if this is something G.A. Stewart might know about, or would be interested in. Any predictions possibly, about this thing coming in?

      • Conversion efficiencies are a bitch. That’s the hole in all the virtue selling climate crap. No way around btus per pound, pure and simple.

      • There is an immovable problem here. It takes ~8kg of H2O to make 1kg of H2. With a serious increasing shortage of fresh water in the world, this does not seem like a viable solution. The amount of water required to make syngas to replace current fossil fuel usage would be astronomical. Perhaps one of the math geniuses on this site can do the calculation.

        As George says “conversion efficiencies are a bitch.”

      • BIC, just use salt water instead of fresh.

        Then you can have TWO levels of conversion inefficiencies!

        (Backs off slowly, holding up a shield against the rotten tomatoes)

        • Actually – due to higher abundance and greater conductivity, salt water MAY be more useful,. Besides, it would give of chlorine as a bonus, right LOOB? ;-)

      • “Swiss Airline first on track to use solar fuel , syngas (made from steam & CO2), bye bye petroleum addiction,”

        Hmm.. not the first and won’t be the last to discover intercooling LOL LOL… back in 78 a gentleman drove from Texas to DC to sit in front of Congress on ten gallons of gas.. the process.. was an age old one.. engine intercooling with vapor.. texaco use to have a yearly contest to see how far a car could drive on a gallon of gas.. I believe it was a fifty six chevy that drove and got almost seven hundred miles to a gallon.. the guy that was on all networks news reporters followed him the whole way.. well he was arrested and the car confiscated… another one did the same thing.. in I believe the late eighties.. but was chased out of the usa.. the television show sixty minutes did a whole speel about him.. then the bloombox.. about the size fo two decks of cards.. can power a home.. all of this was old technology.. hydrogen oxygen.. etc.. as far as I know Herman Anderson was the only one that lived and drove a car on water.. has over sixteen hundred patents.. none of them to be sold or shared to the general public.. every patent a US govt patent.. its all about the business model.. who benefits..
        Just like solar.. we should as a nation and the power grid be promoting it.. building towers at the furthest point from the main power plant and working back at every sub station.. ( OH MY I AM ON MY OLD RANT AGAIN LOL) and offering a rate freeze to all that allows the utility companies the option to sell the excess.. for the cost of one two mw wind turbine there could be a slew of towers.. or one solar power system on every home in a third of our state.. for the price of three of them the whole state.. and instead of getting six mw of power they could be getting 9800 mw of power.. ( more power prices went down on equipment) when we put in our first set we were the first in our state.. we did it to show the kids that this was the future our legacy.. what I failed to realize at the time and was just as shocked as the power company.. was it works.. LOL
        Now.. the point is with the business model. .. SALES….. what is the ramifications of energy from water…. water is everywhere.. the fact that the people today forgot the technology from a thousand years ago or even just a few hundred.. isn’t anything surprising.. we take everything for granted…I have made syngas it is really easy.. usually sixty forty mix.. but that doesn’t make any difference.. in the thirties.. tractors burned corn cobs to plant their fields because of gas rationing.. no issues.. I first seen one back when I was a child and my friends dad explained it to me.. I have built a couple of units and a couple out of a paint can you can build a nice one out of plumbing parts or an old used semi muffler.. the ash can then be utilized for other processes…. nothing new.. fracturing on carbon into hydrogen through heat… just like separating oil from seeds.. heat and pressure .. Oh I could go on.. love tinkering with crap.. FEMA use to have it in their emergency rebuild shtf booklets took it out in the late eighties..
        the picture in the next gov pamplet is like the one I seen.. I was so enthralled with it.. I kept having to go back and ask questions from my friends dady.. I was just a little boy.. we used that old tractor as a toy a pretend plane etc.. LOL
        the big issue for me.. was how do you get it smaller.. the guy that drove from texas to dc on ten gallons had it the size of a soup can.. using the heat from the engine and the at the time new catalytic converters to do the processing..
        in the end.. all of this is already known a million patents on it.. the soup can.. ever car manufacturer has it on patent in one shape or another every branch of the military has a patent on it.. the man that showed them.. spent his life in prison.. the thing is.. look who would be affected.. the guys drilling the drivers delivering all the fuel stations everyone along the road. you cannot have free fuel.. it would collapse modern society.. a friend that worked at darpa.. he had hydrogen had it figured out just about there.. when gentlemen destroyed his lab and took his research and suggested he never try to share it again.. he didn’t either.. it is already known.. the planet isn’t in the business model yet where it could be beneficial to anyone ..

      • I forgot Adolph used that same principle on his airplanes and tanks to.. it was the size of an air filter on the side.. I believe they were originally manufactured in detroit..

      • “Actually – due to higher abundance and greater conductivity, salt water MAY be more useful,. Besides, it would give of chlorine as a bonus, right LOOB? ;-)”

        Exactly G….air wells..
        Salt was so valuable wars were fought over salt.. even today we have a salary paid to an employee.. the term is from salt.. used in cleaning preserving medical.. my favorite salt and the one I use in my steak ager is Himalayan salt. is a great place to purchase a simple chlorine unit..I like them because kids make them and for each one they make they make one for a village for water purification..

      • @ BiC

        “There is an immovable problem here. It takes ~8kg of H2O to make 1kg of H2. ”

        This is why I refer to hydrogen as a “battery.” I’ve been trying off-and-on for 52 years to solve that problem. It takes exactly as much energy to make a quantity of hydrogen as the maximum possible kinetic energy the hydrogen can provide.

        An aside: I had History Channel on last night. There was an “every-half-hour” TV ad for a portable generator — 2.3kw, LP-gas powered, electric start, “inexpensive LP bottles which last a full eight hours” and the “buy before the end of this commercial” price was $899. IOW I could buy a portable genset that would run my refrigerator, at a cost of ~$60/day, for $300 more than a 5kw gasoline or $200 less than a 7kw diesel generator, either of which would, even at today’s prices, run nearly 3x cheaper, and power my ‘frig, A/C, and lights at the same time with enough juice left over to grind some flower…

        Folks always go for the brass ring, and never run the numbers…

      • G, your doom scrolled mind can’t handle environmental improvements, never turn the CO2 broiler off, in your world, pollution rules! After production plant built, syngas can be cheaper per litre than regular aviation fuel:

        plane fuel $1.40 per litre:,Per%20Liter,fuel%20costs%20%241.40%20per%20liter.

        The way around btus per pound, syngas can be mixed 50/50 with aviation fuel:

        • Go read Rays point: Takes as much energy into the water as you’ll ever hydrogen out, lol.
          You are really good at politics (bit too libby, but it’s entertaining) but when comes to hard physics>? Um…

      • “G, your doom scrolled mind can’t handle environmental improvements, never turn the CO2 broiler off, in your world, pollution rules! ”

        IT takes energy to make energy.. the circle of life.. @C….there are more efficient ways.. but each has their cost.. just what is cost efficient.. and as far as CO2… even if we shut it all off now.. it would build just from what we have and do now.. for about fifty to a hundred years.. then consider the natural CO2.. its an unending cycle the cycle of life.. what we could do and even if we did that right now it wouldn’t stop what will be .. is greenscape.. and because we devour crop lands af fifty five acres a minute.. we would need to put in CO2 filters.. on every lamp post of a city.. and.. I did suggest it.. and they are doing it.. but I didn’t get the prize from the contest.. was spray the upper atmospher with co2 filtering particles.. some innert particle that would speed the natural CO2 filtering process up..
        and power.. to strengthen and secure the grid.. solar towers set up at every sub station.. starting at the furthest point from the power plants.. the tree.. a tree depends on its roots.. the leaves produce electrical stimulation to keep the photosynthesis process going..we will always need the power plants but if we were the tree.. and promoted solar.. we would be secure.. I actually believed that pyramids was some sort of power grid.. if you look at the earth they are laid out in grid fashion.. but then I would digress into my age old rants.. instead our grid is set up so a few can profit with money that isn’t backed by anything at all.. we won’t greenscape because of the same thing my god… what if a child or any member of a family picked a couple grapes or a carrot its the exact same reason why department stores shred clothing to the landfill rather than give it to someone that could use it.. they wouldn’t be buying…. you can reconvert plastics and foams back into oil.. but there again it takes energy to do it.. a thermal mass.. I have always said we should use all forms of energy I for one love coal.. but I don’t think we should use Nuclear.. we know a lot today.. but not enough to make it safe and to dispose of the waste materials efficiently.. (I know the USA told the indians that it was healthy for them if they would let them bury it on res grounds )

    • Benu/ Arit-Kheru (the Eye of Sound)..caused the Great Flood/flipped the poles, scrapped atmosphere off Antarctica..

      ..been grazing by Earth the last couple cycles-passes – current calculations suggest


    • A billion dollar telescope to take pretty photos of places we’ll never get to? Try harder. The same device to track Niburu as it plays billiards thru our solar system, wreaking havoc with the planets’ EM balances? Okay, what else can it do?

    • “I refer to hydrogen as a “battery.” I’ve been trying off-and-on for 52 years to solve that problem.”

      I believe that It’s all in the frequency @Ray.harmonics..tesla almost took down a skyscraper with a 4 ounce weight.. native children break a Boulder in half using a small stone..
      DC voltage takes a great deal of power ac takes less…and g ones further..

  5. Yes, LINUXL (Ubuntu) did all this stuff eons ago, and it brings back memories. Unfortunately, I cannot follow the discussion about it any longer. Today I’m just glad to be left alone with my good memories.
    I operate WIN10 on two laptops (one as a pure backup!). I’m just glad when things work like the 100 year old toaster ;-0.
    However, the other day I was listening to one of
    Beethoven’s piano concerts while doing other things on the same laptop when 3/4 through the sound of the music simply stopped. So far I was unable to fix the minor problem ;-(( and I don’t feel like mucking around with it. Any simple advice out there?
    Thank you!

    • We’d need to know what the source was (something on the web, Alexa for PC, a CD or…what?)
      And then- the hardest and easiest of all: Did a system restart fix it?
      Followed closely by what else was running and down the chopping list from there…

      • a) piano concert was on U-tube.
        b) neither system restart nor restore fixed it.
        c) nothing else was running at the time.
        Thank you, George!

        What vexes me sometimes that problems show up that need expertise that an older person no longer is able to w/o jumping through hoops.

    • Beethoven…what a wonderful selection… there’s nothing I enjoy more that sitting on the veranda in the evening air watching the sunset..gentle breeze listening to nature.. the gentle swaying of the trees.. the birds singing their songs..
      Another good one is a little clair delune…
      You can totally see where the greatest composers got their inspiration..
      Enjoy and have a wonderful day..
      I also like Tibetan meditation music to..

    • If your audio app was still playing the file or recording, then:

      You hit [Mute] and zeroed your sound output.

      • I installed: iTOP VIDEO EDITOR that reconfigured my settings on FIREFOX to scratch and ‘lo and behold’ the sound came back for me to enjoy my music.
        No problem to redo me settings on FIREFOX.
        I fixed it not because I’m smart, just lucky! ;-)

  6. I left Win ME and went to linux many years ago. Tried a lot of distros and ended up with Solydx (because I prefer xfce and Debian). Believe it was started by some exiles from Mint. Very stable, plenty of apps from Debian. Not a gamer but do run Dune 2000 from appimage. No complaints with Linux.

  7. I have supported UNIX/Linux systems since 1984. When the AT&T breakup happened, and UNIX became commercially available, I started supporting UNIX version 3 systems running on ONYX computers that we installed in 1500 KMart stores. We would poll them every night collecting insurance information and downloading drug information. Should any of you want to see a pictorial history of UNIX and all of it’s offspring, there is no better site to visit than . Check out the pdf historical pictures… Also, on that site, there is a history of Windows, and the different programming languages on there as well.

    • In late 80s/early 90s I spent 5 years stationed at a small NATO unit in Heidelberg that made the switch to desktop PCs, starting with Zenith 286 PCs, green monochrome monitors & DOS 2.0 for the initial purchase, with later purchases being 386 PCs, color VGA monitors & Windows 3.1. Someone had selected an all-in-one office software suite called Enable/OA that utilized colors to identify bold/italics/underscore/etc. so the ‘in color’ upgrade was a big improvement.

      I had seen a 386 running UNIX System V/386 in use, supporting 10 workstations, so tried to switch the office to UNIX. Ordered the OS, but the 50MB required by the OS equaled the size of the desktop hard drives so that was a no go. With a two year budget process for new hardware, I had already returned to the US by the time any of my requests had been purchased.

  8. “If someone gave us $100 bucks and use of a WinX or Apple to source Linux? $100-bucks ought to do it. (Unless you’re reader Ray, of course. In which case you’d end up with a baby Cray with more computing power than NASA – he’s that kind of hawk when comes to seeking salvageable high end CPU deals.)”

    You know you want those dual Xeon servers.

    Even now, you’re trying to figure out how to explain to Elaine, why you’re going to have to drive to Purdue and back, and you’re looking at U-Ship to see what it’d cost to ship a 4″x19″x 48″ 110lb box, just to see where the value point is, on such a purchase.

    Let me help. 16 days left, current bid is $1.00… {Big Evil Grin}

    • Mean, mean, mean – I can buy one Xeon to play with on Amazon for less than the hotel o/nite up to load up… (with dinner and drinks and a NoTell 6

      • A dual Xeon with a 4x RAID array and redundant power supplies…?

        If you are actually interested, Jim might hold ’em for a while — long enough for you to get the U-Ship bids down into the hundred dollar (or less) range. He’s a PHD, but “good folks” and not stuck on his wall plaques.

  9. “Write when you get rich, (or boot up Mint which I seem to recall long-time reader Ray has been goo-goo over for years…).”

    No, not Mint, Debian (although I have “Mint for Debian” on a thumbdrive…)

    Why Debian?

    Debian Astro . . . . . .(astronomers)
    DebiChem . . . . . . . (Chemistry)
    Debian Games . . . . .(games)
    Debian Edu . . . . . . (educational)
    Debian GIS . . . . . . .(GIS)
    Debian Junior . . . . . (children)
    Debian Med . . . . . . (medical research)
    Debian Multimedia . . (multimedia work)
    Debian Science . . . . (scientists)
    FreedomBox . . . . . (personal servers)
    Debian Accessibility . .(people with disabilities)
    Debian Design . . . . (designers)
    Debian EzGo . . . . . (tech w/native language support
    Hamradio . . . . . . . (radio amateurs)
    DebianParl . . . . . . (parliamentarians)

    AFAIK these packages aren’t available for any of the Ubuntu forks. The Ubuntu website refers back to the Debian Pure Blends page…

      • Ubuntu is a Debian fork. Mint is a Ubuntu derivative. I have no idea what “Mint for Debian” is. Theoretically any LINUX can run any LINUX program. The distro package for Ubuntu is different than the Debian package, which is different than the Fedora package. I’ve never looked to see if the contents and GUI config are the same, and am not in a position to do so right now. Maybe an actual *NIX guru (which I’m not — I’m just a user) will chime in…

  10. A few years ago I picked up a new chromebook and fell in love with the hardware – small, light, and very long battery life. But I strongly dislike the Chrome OS as Everything goes up to the Google mothership.

    My workaround: I scored a good used chromebook on ebay for $40, dumped the Chrome OS, and tried to load Mint. No luck (not enough memory?) Found Gallium OS (Linux made for chromebooks) and loaded it. Had to flash the CMOS which was scary but went well. Loaded LibreOffice and I now have my dream machine for simple typing and word processing needs.

  11. I like linux a lot
    just finished the tweeking of my newest acquisition (hp pavilion for £50) ubuntu studio now fully functional, always needs a little prod in whatever version to sort dvd playback
    I use 32 bit versions too on my older machines, got an IBM R50e thinkpad ( only paid £30 for that ) running mint and studio very nicely (it was fun finding ssd to fit) and a T22 that needs a touch more coercion to behave, or a trawl through the archives to see what older options are viable…………
    am getting close to needing a network switch so I can try to remember how to get shared files to work …….

    within 15 feet of me is 5 laptops an apple, and 3 pcs
    I’ll get ’em all talking nicely to each other eventually, hopefully without having to apply the rubber hammer…….. ;)

  12. Love the article on up-cycling George. We are going to be more reliant on that as the S&#t Show of the century progresses.

    And don’t look past an intel based Apple. Writing this on one as I type. Was damn fine workstation for the Mrs. [ makes her Coin on Graphic Design]. I don’t get to touch her Mac’s until they literally no longer power up. That’s when they make their way to my office for resurrection and updates. [RAM bump from New Egg, new to me Power supply sourced on ebay, SSD from uCenter, and a Mac Hard Disk temp probe adapter from OWC]. Viola. what was once an [over priced] 27″ work station from ten years past is saved from the trash heap. Also makes for a great Linux Box.

    And don’t forget the fan speed control app [ Macs are notorious for running hot, which led to said death in the first instance]. Bump up the airflow.

    Newer Macs are all soldered , and require an nice de-soldering and reflow workstation station for such adventures, but hey, why not make a cottage industry out of it?

  13. Fat fib 73 you never talk about money velocity . Is that edict from bobby pretzel or Jerome the jerk . I noticed your love of red or green on the market . Buy gold gold gold gold gold

  14. LOOB:
    “…what I like is this one will work with metal filament and the extended length.. ”

    I think you misinterpreted the ad. The extruder itself is metal, no indication it will extrude metal filament. It lists max temp of 240 C, and that’s not even hot enough for ABS filament. There is probably a high temp upgrade extruder to cover ABS and nylon filaments, but I haven’t seen any actual metal filaments for consumer grade printers.

  15. I have gravitated back to Windows 11 because support has been dropped for pretty much all the resident Linux antivirus distributions I could get to run. I still have one server box running Linux because the application it runs has it’s own antivirus module.
    So what kind of security software are you running on Linux? Batch scans are of limited value. I want something that runs full time.

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