Fun project ideas for a twelve year old laptop?

I’ve “inherited” an old laptop, a Dell Studio 1735 with a pretty big but dim screen. Am right now cleaning (both physically and with regard to “dban-ing” the data) and resetting it. Wondering what to do with it. Should I simply donate it after resetting or is there a fun project idea around here, somewhere? (OwnCloud, DNS/DHCP servers are already in place via Raspberry Pis)

Pihole is a good start. Central tracker, advertising and malware protection at the DNS level.

In looking at Next loud myself, but I’ll probably use a raspberry pi. I have a 10 year old Sony with an SSD upgrade, which I’m using as a test bed. I’m looking to switch to Linux on the desktop.

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Both implemented via Raspberry. :slight_smile: I think I got the encouragement to try PiHole here in the community. NextCloud works very well, too! Moved there from OwnCloud. I suppose the laptop will also be much more power hungry than the Pis - that’s what is still keeping me from using it as a server, round the clock… the awesome and unique feature of the old laptop is that it’s the only device in the household that could play CDs…

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You could also put an SSD in it and run Linux.

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You could run WireShark 24/7 in FIFO mode and have a device permanently logging all your network traffic. (It would need special setup to do so, but I presume you could figure that out if you thought that was a useful tool to have running.)

That’s an excellent idea - tried this out before, too, using PoP!_OS. Turns out the machine is simply to anemic, being from 2008. It still has a Pentium Core Duo Chip (two cores running at 1,8 GHz). Struck me that my phone has a faster chip than this machine. Everything crawls like a snail and the (freshly cleaned) fan is ramping up almost immediately. I could use a command-line-only version, but then the question is: what to use it for, really… :S But a good idea, tried it, sadly too slow - thanks! :slight_smile:

That’s an intriguing idea! The thing has a RJ45 socket and I do have an USB-NIC lying around here somewhere, too. I could actually turn this into a rather substantial (physically, at least) firewall of sorts. WireShark sounds interesting, too. PiHole already tells me quite a lot of horror stories on how much my devices are calling home without me knowingly interacting with them so this might be next level. I will consider it! Takes me back to playing around with OpenBSD and building a packet filter router set-up (which 90% of the time did not work since I screwed up some part of the configuration). That might be fun, too!

Just a quick rave for the technology of a dozen years ago: the thing is slow as molasses, heavy as a brick, dim as sum, and as thick as the kitchen counter top, but EVERYTHING is socketed. The RAM, the radio modules, the CPU, and even the cooling solution is only held in place by three screws and comes right off.

While this is awesome, it’s also a painful reminder that it does not really matter if something is socketed or not if the socket went out of fashion a decade ago (so mere ability to replace does not help if standards are not up- or downward compatible). Which really made me reconsider the general snub of machines coming with many parts soldered to the board. These things are so complex that it will likely not come to the situation that you will benefit greatly from upgrading one or a few components.

Repairability: wonderful. Suggestion of refreshing leases of life: only if you’re extremely lucky and buy into a platform early that will remain compatible with many future iterations of hardware (like, e.g., the early Ryzen system architecture).

If you have a managed switch, can you put one of the ports in promiscuous mode and mirror all switch traffic to the port, then you only need one port on the laptop and it doesn’t affect the performance of the rest of the network.


I am really pleased with my NextCloud installation running on a Pi. Running on my own domain and with a Lets Encrypt cert.

  • Back up all relevant folders/files from our phones Media/Signal/Threema/Docs/Contacts etc.
  • Back up all computes/laptops.
  • Runs our calendar.
  • Shares with family/friends/Business/KeePass sync
  • Acts as our contacts manager and back ups.
  • Video chat via Talk app.
  • Deck app task/to do manager

I say back up but it is really sync. But then the NextCloud drive is backed up continuously to the cloud and locally to a NAS.

Just treated the NextCloud Pi to an upgrade too. Thermal throttling be GONE!


I have had fun with OpnSense firewall a split from PF Sense.

I am trying to get away with passive cooling wherever I can, aiming for silent solutions where possible.

That said: that is one powerful and fancy cooling solution - now I kinda want one. :slight_smile: Do you overclock the Pi? Seems like the cooling solution has to transport a lot of heat.

Guys, I think I’m going to put Lubuntu on the laptop and offer it as a free-to-grab on our neighbourhood platform to people living close-by ( The machine is still in good shape, hardware wise - very little wear and tear. Just needs a light-weight but up-to-date OS and then maybe some kid can do their homework on it.

Thanks for your ideas! :slight_smile:


The Pi runs stock, no over clocking. I just liked the look of the cooler so much too :laughing: You can plug the fan into the GPIO header on the 5v or 3v pins. So I plugged in to the 3v for slower very quiet operation.

The kit comes with everything you need and a thermal pad(plus two spares). I wanted to use thermal paste but the kits standoffs leave too much space as due to the intended thermal pad. I ground down the standoffs to make the cooler and cpu touch. Then thermal paste was fine. :slight_smile:

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I’m thinking of using a Pi 3, given that it will often be used through the Internet connection, so the limited speed of the USB-2 Ethernet shouldn’t be a problem. I was thinking of using an iSCSI connection to a LUN on my NAS for storage.

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