FAQ

Can you deliver a laptop anywhere?

re-pute.it was conceived to serve a community, not as a mail-order business. However, communities don’t have strict boundaries and we don’t want to exclude anyone, so if you want to come and collect a laptop from outside our delivery area we can meet you at Durham rail or bus stations, or one of the fine cafés or pubs nearby. Bear in mind that if you want after-sales support, you’ll have to come to the club meetings in Durham.

Why don’t you want to ship your product?

We believe that it’s important to reduce the movement of goods because we want a world with cleaner air, less lorries and fewer roads. That’s why we deliver by bike or by foot in Durham. We’d like to see similar projects in every town, so if you want to set one up where you live, we’d be happy to advise you.

WTF “club meetings”? Y U no offer twitter or skype support?

One of the legitimate criticisms of internet culture is that whilst people can connect with others all over the world, they might neglect their relationships with the people around them. We think that meeting up in a friendly atmosphere, helping each other to solve our computer problems, sharing tips & tricks, or just showing each other cool things we’ve found on the web is a fun way to spend a few hours each month. It’s also an opportunity to see the product before you buy it, as we don’t have a shop.

Most computer sellers emphasise their product specifications, why don’t you?

It’s true, most computer sellers want to draw your attention to the clock speed of the processor or how large the hard drive is. We see this as problematic because it fuels peoples’ desire to always have the latest, fastest, biggest computer, even though that’s probably not what they really need; this unnecessary hyper-consumption is a problem we want to tackle. We have a lot of experience of discussing how people use their computers, and matching people to appropriate machines. We prefer to have a conversation about what you need and then provide it for you, based on our understanding of how computers can be made to meet human needs. If we can’t meet your needs from our stock we’ll offer to order in an appropriate machine, or if we really can’t give you what you need, we’ll tell you why, without bullshit.

Can I have it with Windows installed?

No. We use operating systems and other software that respect your freedom, privacy and autonomy. Therefore the only interaction we have with Windows is to erase it, just as we would a virus or other spyware.

But my boss / teacher says I have to run some Windows software, does that mean you can’t help?

Not at all. Some bosses and teachers who say this kind of thing are lacking information, so you and re-pute.it might need to help them understand why software monopolies are evil, and what good alternatives are available. We have much experience in helping people to find free, open-source alternatives to their previous software, so you could suggest your boss / teacher request a consultation from us. We can even convert whole suites of computers from Windows to GNU/Linux, so please let them know, and hopefully we can find a way to work together.

Can we donate our old (or broken) computers to you?

Thanks for asking – we appreciate your support! re-pute.it is not a registered WEEE (electronic waste) handler, so we can only accept computers as 2nd-hand goods, not as waste for disposal (waste in this context is defined as machines that are mostly non-functional or need cannibalising for parts). But if your organisation has a batch of mostly-working laptops that you would like to see re-used in the most ethically responsible way, please get in touch. We are able to securely wipe hard-drives and issue certificates of data destruction to satisfy compliance procedures.

What do you look for when selecting laptops to upcycle?

These are some of the things we look for when choosing laptops:

  • Well-documented hardware that works with GNU/Linux, as that’s what we use
  • Durable construction, so you can rely on it not falling apart at the slightest knock
  • Designed to be easy to service, rather than wafer-thin, so parts can be replaced if needed in future
  • Good quality keyboards and screens, rather than gimicky what-nots you’ll never use
  • Low noise, energy efficient design
  • Usually, laptops originally intended for the business market between 3 and 7 years ago

Why don’t you work with desktops/all-in-one computers?

We have limited storage space, so at present we only keep laptops in stock. If you have a suite of desktop computers that you would like converted to GNU/Linux, we may be able to do the work on-site so please get in touch for details.

How are you able to offer such high quality products so cheaply?

The computer business is full of scams, and by refusing to participate in them, we can meet your needs in a more honest and effective way.

  • We don’t use software that’s particularly vulnerable to viruses, so most users choose not to install anti-virus software
  • Our computers block advertising by default, so your computer is not wasting resources showing you things you didn’t want to see or tracking your behaviour (most others do)
  • We don’t use software that’s designed to get slower each time you update it (many windows-based computers do this)
  • By using open-source software, you’re able to easily study the way the system works and turn off any features you don’t really need (unlike closed-source software which is intended to avoid scrutiny and modification)
  • All of the above mean that computers which are not quite powerful enough to run the latest versions of Windows are more than adequate to run an efficient, free, open-source software system, serving your needs rather than corporate agendas
  • Hence, they can be obtained at a lower price and we pass the savings on to you

But this component has non-free firmware! And Mint is not 100% free!

You’re right. There are distro’s which are entirely free software, but we chose Mint because we have found it has the lowest barrier to entry for people who are new to Linux. Likewise, there are some people doing amazing work to replace all of the non-free parts of computers with fully free software – we think this is excellent, but the increased labour would prevent us from providing a mostly-free-software computer at a low price.

Whilst we would love to be able to offer computers which would meet the FSF’s standards in future, our priority at this time is to give much freedom to many people, rather than total freedom to a few.

Note that most of the laptops we supply are eminently suitable for retro-fitting with alternative BIOS, wifi and other OS es, and whilst we can’t guarantee what will happen if you try, we fully support your right to tinker and modifiy your computer to the best of your abilities.