For five days in March 2003 we stayed with Freegeek. We wanted to see how they operate, what works, what doesn't work. Located in an industrial district in Portland it is easy to get to, and a short bus ride from downtown. Our host, Laurel, who works as the education outreach officer gave us a tour of the huge space.
The method is as follow: reception gets old PCs, receives $10 fee for each monitor, and also aims to get a general donation. If there is a problem with this see (A)
The PC is stripped down into identifiable parts, then arranged into Working /Not working. Lets proceed to the 'Build Area'....
Here after everything being stripped, is where the *freeboxes* are created. Every PC is built to roughly the same spec by a large crew of volunteers. To become a Builder you must pass the card test first. This is when Richard, long time activist, programmer and freegeek friendly guy checks that the poor lad who walked in on our chat is asked to correctly identify hardware from a box containg a myriad of different cards.
Builders, after reconstructing 6 PCs (roughly equivalent to 24 hours of volunteering, including pre Build help) are then entitled to keep one of them.
All the PCs run a modified version of Debian, basically simplified down for complete beginners which should enable easy websurfing, document creation and image manipulation.
Anything not capable of being used is recycled using local facilities
Freegeek also was one of the venues for A 48 hour film project called Do You Copy?
(A) If people arn't keen to give a donation , they're normally given a guided tour to show that there's actually a lot of work involved in recycling the computers, and many people benefit
Also of interest: Photos of Freegeek | The Know microcinema