A group of US-based engineers has developed a way of enabling businesses to turn their old PCs into Linux systems and networking devices.
The Linux Router Project (LRP) is distributing free software that enables outdated machines to act as routers or firewalls by distilling the contents of the open source operating system.
The software takes up less than 2Mb of memory and can fit on a floppy disk. A hard drive is not required, said one of the developers.
The software is available for download at LRP's website and there are no other costs involved other than time, said James Troutman, a contributor to the project and a principal at network consulting company Troutman & Associates.
Transforming old PCs into Linux systems or networking devices is not difficult, although general knowledge of networks helps, he said. "This is something that is geared for someone who has a good idea of how networks work. But it is not difficult to set up a personal router at home.
"There is a web-based project that a guy in the Netherlands has put together called LRP Jet. At the web page, www.lrp.c0wz.com, you can specify how many ethernet interfaces you have and whether you have a modem, and the site gives you all the files you need and walks you through the creation of a router."
Bret Berger, an engineer with real-time database access firm Stonefly Technology, has found a number of uses for retired PCs and said the main benefit is cost.
"A lot of projects I have wouldn't take off if I had to spend $2000 on a Cisco router. But if I can throw together some throwaway hardware and a little time with the LRP [software] they probably will," he said.
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