If you’re not in my particular niche communities, you might not know about the community that exists around old ThinkPad laptops. But I’m going to tell you about it, because I think it’s awesome!
ThinkPad laptops from years ago are enduringly popular, because they have great support from free software, and they’re extremely repairable.
Not only are new or used parts extremely easy to come by, people are even designing new parts for these old machines, so you can upgrade rather than replace!
People will combine parts from different laptops to create a “FrankenPad” that’s their favourite combination of different things.
I love this so much because rather than wait for some capitalists to deliver on their greenwashed promise of “modular” computing if we first buy their totally custom thing and hope they don’t go out of business, we’ve de facto standardised on computers that ALREADY exist, and can be obtained fairly cheaply.
Additionally, there’s a social benefit beyond the environmental one — these computers are not luxury hardware at this point. Since a lot of the users of these computers are software developers, they’re much less likely to develop software that only works on the latest premium hardware most people don’t have access to. It’s a stark difference to the new MacBook Pros a lot of us were using previously.
Things I can upgrade/customise one at a time in my laptop, relatively cheaply:
• Motherboard / processor
Hell, you can gradually work your way to a whole different computer, Ship of Theseus style. But you don’t _have_ to. You can change only the bits that matter to you, and the parts that you’re done with will be useful to somebody else!
@eryn Raspberry Pi is getting close. There is also an impressive array of small form-factor systems floating around. Whether or not these let you cobble together a bits'n'pieces modular mobile system I'm not yet sure. But it's pretty dang near.
CPU, disk/storage, networking, power, keyboard, screen. No real need to stick it all in one box.
Generalistic and moderated instance.