With antiquated components flooding the surplus-parts market and free operating systems only a click away, building a fully functional computer has never been such a bargain. No, the $72 PC won´t replace your new dual-core, Vista-shredding laptop. But with its compact size and solid-state components (no hard drive or CD drive), it´s perfect for building into custom enclosures and for specific tasks like Web surfing or playing games. The computer boots from a USB flash drive running an operating system called Damn Small Linux that can handle just about any job. Got any grand ideas for a sub-C-note PC? Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Build a $72 Computer
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Insulated wire for switch
NOTE: If your BIOS is too old for permitting USB booting, you might need an IDE drive (floppy, CD-R, or fixed disk) for flashing a more modern BIOS release into your system memory.
Carefully insert the Intel Celeron processor into the PPGA Socket 370 on the Intel SU-810 motherboard and seat the heatsink on the top of the processor. Insert the two PC100 SDRAM modules into the two DIMM sockets. Slide the motherboard into the riser card´s system board connector. Plug the power supply´s ATX connector into the power supply receptacle on the riser card. Wire the SPST switch to pins 6 & 8 of the front panel header on the front of the NLX riser card. Attach the keyboard, mouse, and VGA monitor.
Now fire her up (press the SPST power switch) and press the F2 key. Inside the BIOS setup, select USB drive as the startup disk. See the optional note for updating your BIOS.
Measure the dimensions of the assembled Linux Lunchbox components and cut the metal joist duct to fit. Leave the top and bottom panels open for ventilation. If you´re using the optional Lilliput LCD VGA touchscreen monitor, cut an opening in the back for holding the screen and bezel. Fasten the duct work together and glue your salvaged cereal box panels to the four sides of the Linux Lunchbox.
Configure the Linux driver for the Lilliput LCD VGA touchscreen monitor. Reboot the system and remove the keyboard and mouse. Just slap the Linux Lunchbox down on the breakfast table, plug â€er in, and experience the pleasure of reading and interacting with the back of cereal box, again and again.
Four Things You Can Do with Your Linux Lunchbox
After you´ve poured your bowl full of cereal, it´s time to read the back of the cereal box. Here are four things that you can do with your new breakfast of champions companion:
Now press both â€esc´ and â€x´ simultaneously to obtain the emacs prompt-â€M-x.´
At the emacs prompt, enter the name of a game to play. You can obtain a listing of valid games by typing on the terminal (not inside emacs):
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.