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!
Parenthetically, Macbooks (at least pre-2018) are remarkably repairable (*despite* Apple's intentions). They have relatively few hardware designs with lots of units sold, so economies of scale kick in. Tools, spare parts and howtos are probably available for any specific Macbook.
(Post 2018 is another story; the "security" chip means replacement parts won't work without proprietary cryptographic keys.)
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