Dear Aunt TUAW: I made the switch. What do I do with my old system?

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Dear Aunt TUAW,

I did it. I made the switch. Mountain Lion and those hot Retina display MacBook Pros finally brought me to the Mac Side.

So, what do I do with my old Windows system? It runs Win 7, is reasonably functional, and in need of a task. What do you suggest?

Your loving (new) nephew,


Dear Colin,

Auntie is sure there are many fine uses for your old system. There are always flowers to press, doors to hold open...but she thinks media servers and public web installations are two of the best.

Whether you're running XBMC in the living room (plays back nearly everything you throw at it, letting you watch a wide range of video files) or Firefox in the Kitchen (great for news, weather, and recipes), old computers provide the perfect solution for always-on items that need to perform with minimal intervention.

There's also the SETI project, which uses distributed computing to help analyze radio telescope data. Or you could go wild and install Linux, to see how the other other half lives.

Your system is emotionally end-of-lifed anyway, now that you own your new MacBook. By trying out these projects, you ensure that when the PC does conk out and you're tired of performing fixes, you'll feel more as if you got your full worth out of it.

If you're not in the mood for an in-home install, you could just sell your system on Ebay. Make sure to wipe your drive, and ship any OEM Windows disks that came with your computer.

Auntie is, admittedly, not a Windows expert, so she's going to turn the question over to her nieces and nephews. What solutions can you recommend for Colin's old PC?


Auntie T.

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