In an article on LinuxDevices this morning, we learn that a company called Igel is producing a PCI card that turns older PCs into Linux thin clients in one step—just plug the card into an empty PCI slot, move the hard drive cable over to it, and boot.
This is one of the first serious pre-packaged solutions—and certainly first one have seen that is based on PCI—that helps to solve the e-waste problem as well as addressing the mass migration (back) toward thin clients. The pen-drive Linux folks have been doing this for a while by packaging Linux on a USB thumb drive, which is actually quite easy to do, but not all older PCs can boot from USB, as I discovered about one of my older laptops during my quest for desktop Linux that started a few weeks ago.
The e-waste issues are important to solve. NPR reported recently that huge numbers of older PCs are shipped as “recycled” or “refurbished” machines from first-world to third-world countries, where a large percentage of them are burned as garbage, causing rampant pollution problems in those communities. (Also see Wikipedia’s article on e-waste.)
For a somewhat saner recommendation about recycling gadgets, Wired has some advice. However, there is nothing greener than re-use. Kudos to Igel for grabbing that market!
I also must add the obligatory link to my recent article on IBM developerWorks that discusses Linux thin clients and cloud computing and briefly covers recycling older PCs.