Possible uses for idle XP box
October 29, 2007 3:10 AM   Subscribe

What are some things I could do with an old XP box?

I just got a new iMac and I'm left wondering if there would be any useful purpose to which I could put my four-year-old XP Dell to... or should I just scrap it?

It's a 2.4 gig Celeron with 700 megs of ram, a dvd and cd drive, and I have two external hard drives for it, plus a monitor (that i'll now likely use with the mac). Oh, and a 40 gig internal.

It'd be too slow to use it as a dedicated media streaming box over wifi, right? (at least, for video anyway).

Any other thoughts as to what use I could put it to?
posted by Hat Maui to Technology (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It will not be to slow for being a streaming media server of some kind. The reason you should scrap it (or preferably give it to charity) is the amount of electricity it will draw running as a dedicated server.

Your old computer is a fine machine and is good for anything but playing hi-def video or modern games.
posted by uandt at 3:25 AM on October 29, 2007

It'd be too slow to use it as a dedicated media streaming box over wifi, right?

Absolutely not. Serving up files (esp. to a single other computer) doesn't take much speed or memory at all. I used to have a P3 700 mHz with 128 megs of RAM serving up my files.

That said, unandt is right. With only one other computer, there's almost no reason to run a separate server, rather than just putting everything on your new mac. It'll probably cost you 15-20 bucks a month in electricity just to keep the sucker turned on.

I'd sell it on craigslist for say, 200 bucks. Either that or wipe the hard drive, then donate it to charity and take the tax write-off.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:11 AM on October 29, 2007

Oh, and there's also Myth TV - like homebrew Tivo.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:12 AM on October 29, 2007

Install Linux on it?
posted by sophist at 4:32 AM on October 29, 2007

My streaming media server is a 733MHz P3 with 256MB RAM and 1.3TB of disks, running Ubuntu Dapper Server. Works extremely well.

Put some huge drives in it (320GB/drive is the bang-for-buck sweet spot right now), install a non-graphical Ubuntu, remove the video card, and run it as a headless NAS.
posted by flabdablet at 5:53 AM on October 29, 2007

If it's got a DVI-out and you've got an HDTV you could use it as the display end of a streaming media setup. Sort of a high-def replacement for the XBMC Xbox, if you're familiar with it.
posted by nervestaple at 7:08 AM on October 29, 2007

I second the idea of turning it into a file server. I've used FreeNAS (an open source NAS server) and ClarkConnect, box linux based NAS but I found it hard to configure because I'm not a linux guru.

Easiest way is to just keep your XP installation and download Hamachi which creates a virtual private network. This is perfect if you dont have a static IP address. I didnt have to do any funky configuration or reinstall a new operating system when i converted my old box. Hamachi lets you access your files anywhere and will save you the headache if your a linux-idiot (like myself).

Another way you can go is to turn the computer into a WAMP development server. WAMP stands for Windows Apache MySQL PHP. There are tons of free WAMP installations out there that are easy to install and setup and you dont have to reinstall your operating system.
posted by deeman at 7:26 AM on October 29, 2007

You could make a dedicated firewall, but this machine is sort of overkill. If you want to spend a little cash, you could swap out the power supply for a newer more efficient (and quiet) one.
posted by tracert at 7:36 AM on October 29, 2007

With all the storage you can make a decent file server with it. Dedicate one disk just to do backups or even try raid-0/1.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:23 AM on October 29, 2007

Notes on the two previous suggestions:

- 1. While not an expert on Dell EULA's I'm pretty sure that moving a XP license from your Dell to your mac would not be legal
- 2. While not being an expert on dell hardware I would not trust a standard atx power supply to be compatible with the Dell. Proprietary crap and all...
posted by uandt at 8:27 AM on October 29, 2007

Linux + Asterisk = really cool answering machine.
posted by nicwolff at 9:14 AM on October 29, 2007

Build a PVR.
posted by WizKid at 9:21 AM on October 29, 2007

Install Windows Home Server on it to serve as file repository, media streamer, redundant backup.
posted by mphuie at 10:39 AM on October 29, 2007

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