Hugh Barnard has helped recently to create two Linux based computer drop-ins, one on the Exmouth Estate: http://www.web4residents.org/exmouth/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=85&Itemid=60 and one on Barleymow Estate [picture and link to be done].
Both of these use older computers, given a new lease of life with Linux. There are some important ecological benefits, since a computer ‘costs’ an enormous amount of energy to create [far exceeding lifetime energy to run] and recycling creates externalities in the form of toxic waste.
So, simply put, once a computer is built, it’s beneficial that it have a long lifetime. Also, much of the upgrade cycle is, in fact, artificial, pushed by increasingly bloated commercial software and a desire for ‘revenue streams’.
This ‘informal’ recycling can benefit the borough and area, since it provides workable computers to those who cannot afford them at low or no cost.
Hugh also helped set up the Hackney Environment Network: http://www.hackney-environment-network.org.uk/ and currently supports the current network website which uses Elgg: http://elgg.org/ an open source social networking tool.
Finally, open source energy telemetry in social housing [where huge amounts of energy are wasted, each year] is the subject of recent experiments using owfs: http://owfs.org/, boiler automatic meter readings: http://www.barleymow-estate.org.uk/?p=78 and recently rrdtool: http://www.mrtg.org/rrdtool/ for graphing. More on this, in a while.