The Last Computer

This is a project I’m calling, ‘The Last Computer’. It boils down to these questions: What if I could not buy another computer? How long can I keep the computers I already have in working condition? When I say working condition, I mean in actual use by me in my day-to-day professional and personal lives.

I am not very technical. At my best I can remember a rudimentary sequence using the terminal to run ClamAV, a free and open-source virus scanning program.

I’m certainly not the first person to try this kind of project. I’m inspired, for example, by Kris de Decker at “Low Tech Magazine” and similar thoughts, like those from elioat on “forever computer“. These aren’t just technical questions. They need:

storytellers, designers, folks dreaming of how a forever computer could be something wholly new…not just a really sturdy PDA with a keyboard and easily serviceable parts.


I have a desktop and two laptops. The desktop is a MacMini (mid-2012). One of the laptops (pictured below and on which I am writing this post) is a MacBook Pro (also mid-2012).

The project began on Oct 15, 2022 which was International Repair Day. I took some time to load Ubuntu on to the MacBook Pro.

Since then I have I’ve been able to load all the additional software I need from free and open-source instances. As users of Ubuntu will already know, the OS comes with LibreOffice suite preinstalled. I’ve used LibreOffice in other circumstances and feel quite comfortable with it. Most of my work is writing and LibreOffice integrates smoothly with Zotero. I also depend on Standard Notes which offers end-to-end encryption and syncs across all of my devices, including between the laptop running Ubuntu, my desktop running the macOS, and my iPhone.

The one area of difference that is noticeable for me with Ubuntu is that it has no built-in speech-to-text abilities the way macOS does (at least so far as I am currently aware). Until relatively recently this would not have been an issue for me. However, I’ve been experiencing pretty bad carpal tunnel in the last few months. Using speech to text has really been helping me heal (as well as offering me a whole new ways of writing, but that’s a different subject).

I thought I might’ve found a work around with the Brave web browser. I was surprised to learn that Google Chrome is premised on open source software and that the Brave browser has used it to create a web browser centred around privacy. One of the amazing things about Brave is that because it’s based on Chrome, all plug-ins for Chrome also work in Brave. But…the examples of speech-to-text plug-ins for Brave that I have found don’t seem to work on my Ubuntu laptop.

At this point I’m not sure if it’s a software issue or a hardware issue in the sense of the plug-in being unable to recognize the built-in mic of the laptop or the headset that I use. So far neither have worked. I’ll keep looking for alternatives.