Collecting, Sanitizing and Delivering Laptops: Complete Step by Step Guide


Step 1: Collecting Unused Laptops

This section describes the first step, where you will learn how to collect unused laptops. Keep reading to discover how.


How to Find and Collect Unused Laptops

The first step in the Labdoo process is to identify an unused laptop that can be repurposed for educational means. There are many different ways to identify and rescue laptops that are no longer used. Here are some examples that you can use, among others:

  • Reach out to your relatives, it is likely that one of your family members may have an unused laptop.
  • Ask your neighbors, it is also likely someone around has one or more unused laptops.
  • Contact the IT department at the company you work for, in many cases laptops are unfortunately thrown away when they are replaced.
  • Make a post on your favorite social network asking for unused laptops to your friends and contacts.
  • Get creative and come up with your own strategy to find unused laptops, odds are that you will succeed. After all the world retires every year more than 500 million computers!

Remember that it's important to only accept laptops that have at least 1GB of memory RAM and that actually work (the simplest test is to turn the laptop on and see that it runs fine). Otherwise, the laptop would not be suitable for educational purposes and we can't accept it. Note also that even if the battery does not work, the laptop can still be used and accepted as a valid contribution, since it can be connected to the power grid as any other computer. Finally, it's important to make sure you also collect its AC adapter and power cable.

Once you have rescued one or more laptops, you can move on to the next section.

Tagging a Laptop

Once you have collected an unused laptop, you need to register it into the Labdoo platform by following these simple steps:

  • If you haven't done so yet, start by creating your account in the Labdoo platform by going to this link:
  • Click on the "Dootronics" menu that you will find on the top of this page and then click on the option "Tag it!". (Make sure you are logged into your Labdoo account to be able to access this page). Fill in the form with as much information about the laptop as you can, and click on "Save". If you are tagging the laptop on behalf of someone else, you can fill in the field "Additional notification emails" with that person's email address so that he/she can get email updates every time the laptop changes its state as it makes its progress to a destination school.
  • After saving the form, it is very important to click on the link "Print tags", this will bring up a new screen with the tags. Print the tags and don't forget to attach them to the laptop to make sure the laptop can be properly traced as it makes progress to a project. See this diagram illustrating how the tags should be attached.

Figure 1. To tag a laptop, go to 'Dootronics' and click on the menu option 'Tag it!'.

Figure 2. Example of tagging procedure.


Step 2: Sanitizing a Laptop

This section describes the second step, where you will learn how to sanitize a laptop and install the Labdoo's educational package. Keep reading to discover how.

Creation of a Labtix Bootable USB

1. Download Labtix.iso

Start by downloading and installing the FileZilla FTP client application from here:

Then, start FileZilla and connect to the Labdoo FTP server using these parameters (see also Figure 1):

Host: s
User: labdoo
Password: labdoo
Port: 22

Figure 1. Use the parameters shown in this screenshot to connect to the Labdoo FTP server with FileZilla.

In the 'remote side' window in FileZilla, go to the folder /var/www/download/install-disk. Inside this folder, you will find the file Labtix.iso. Right-click on this file with your mouse and select the option 'Download'. This action will download the file in your local computer.

2. Create a bootable USB with Labtix.iso

Download the Universal USB Installer from this link:

Run this application by double clicking on the downloaded file. You will see the following screen, where you will need to accept the license agreement:

Figure 2. Download and run the Universal USB Installer and accept the license agreement.

Next, insert a blank USB pendrive into one of the USB ports in your computer. We recommend that this USB pendrive has at least 2GB of storage. Note that all the content in the pendrive will be erased, so be sure to make a copy of any relevant data in it.

Then, fill in the fields in the next screen by using the values shown in the next figure. As shown, in Step 2 please select the Labtix.iso file previously downloaded and also in Step 3 select the corresponding USB pendrive:

Figure 3. Use the parameters shown in this screenshot to create the bootable USB pendrive.

Continue by accepting all the next screens as shown in the next figures:

Figure 4. Accept this screen.

Figure 5. Accept this screen too.

That's it. Now you have a bootable USB pendrive with the Labtix ISO. Go to the next wiki page to continue the sanitation process.

Downloading the Labdoo Images

In this step, you will need to have an external hard drive where you will be downloading one or more Labdoo images from the Labdoo FTP server. We recommend choosing a hard drive with at least 100GB, although larger is even better (e.g., 200GB, 500GB or 1TB) if you want to download some of the larger images or multiple of them.

Start by connecting again to Labdoo's FTP server using FileZilla (see the previous section for a description on how to do this).

Then, go to '/var/www/download/install-disk/'. In this location, you will find multiple directories of the form XX_images, where XX describes the language of the image. Each of these directories contains multiple images organized by their size. For instance, inside the English images directory 'EN_English_images', you will find the directory 'PAE64_20_04_LTS_EN_160'. The name of this directory tells us that it corresponds to a (PAE) 64 bit image based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, with English language preconfigured and with a total of 160GB of educational content. The 160GB corresponds to the minimum size of the hard drive that a laptop must have in order to be able to store this image.

In the field 'Local site' make sure you select the external hard drive where you want to download the images.

Now go ahead and download the image that you are interested in. For instance, if you are interested in downloading the 'PAE64_20_04_LTS_EN_160' image mentioned above, travel to the directory '/var/www/download/install-disk/EN_English_images/', right click on the directory 'PAE64_20_04_LTS_EN_160' and select the option 'Download'. The image will be automatically downloaded to your external hard drive. Download as many images as you need, provided that you have enough space in your external hard drive. Note that the process of downloading one or more images could take some significant time, depending on the speed of your connection.

Figure 1. Directory structure where you can find all the Labdoo images.


Installation of the Labdoo Image Using Labtix

Connect the Labtix Bootable USB pendrive inside one of the USB ports of the computer that you want to sanitize. Start the computer and verify that the Labtix software boots correctly. You will know that it has booted correctly if you see the following screen:

Figure 1. Initial Labtix screen when a computer is booted.

If you don't see the above screen, it most likely means that you need to modify the boot order to ensure the computer correctly loads the Labtix software in the USB pendrive. In this case, please follow the instructions in this wiki page to change the boot order of the computer and ensure that the USB drive is selected as the first booting device. After this step, reboot the computer again and check that Labtix is now correctly booted according to the screen shown in Figure 1 above.

Upon reaching the screen in Figure 1, select the first option "antix" and press enter. This will take you to the next screen:

Figure 2. In this view, double click on the icon 'Labdoo installer'.

Note that in the upper-right corner of the screen you will see a summary of the key parameters extracted from the laptop. It includes the following information:

  • Vers: the version of the Labtix software that you are using. In Figure 2, this value is 1.01.
  • CPU: the type of CPU (32bit or 64bit). In Figure 2, this value is 64 bit.
  • Boot: The name of the booting USB device where Labtix is running. In Figure 2, this value is sr0.
  • RAM: The amount of memory in the laptop. In Figure 2, this value is 2703 MB.
  • Sdx: The name of the hard drive where the Labdoo image is to be installed and its size. In Figure 2, the name of the disk is sda and it has 100GB of storage.

In the above screen, ensure that you select the name of your computer's hard drive. This name is typically of the form Sdx (for instance, sda, sdb, sdc, etc.), although it could be a different name too depending on the computer. The actual name can be found in the 'Sdx' field located in the upper-right corner of the screen. For instance, in Figure 2, the name of the hard drive is sda. To be sure that this corresponds to the actual hard drive of your computer, you can also double click on the application GParted, which will show you all the drives attached to your computer.

Click on OK, this will take you to the next screen:

Figure 3. Parameters needed to initiate the installation.

In this screen, you will need to specify the following parameters:

  • Shred: This option specifies the number of times the hard disk must be shredded prior to initiating the installation of the image. The operation of shredding consists in writing random zeros and ones everywhere in the hard-drive to ensure any prior personal information is completely erased. Labdoo recommends setting this value to 3, so that three full shreds are carried out, ensuring that all existing information is erased.
  • Target disk: This corresponds to the name of the disk that you introduced in the previous screen (see Figure 2), which corresponds to the disk in the computer where the image will be installed.
  • Disk size: This field specifies the size of the chosen disk. You need to use this size to determine the image you can install by making sure you don't select an image larger than this value. For instance, in Figure 3, the size of the chosen disk (sda) is 100GB. So you need to make sure you don't install an image that is larger than 100GB.
  • Choose and image: In this step you select the image to install. Click on this field, then select the option "Other...", and browse through the directory tree to select the image you want to install. In the directory tree, make sure you go into the external drive where you have the images installed, and travel to the directory where you have the image. Then, click "Open". This will populate the field "Choose and image:" with the right path to your selected image. As mentioned in the previous parameter, make sure you select an image that is smaller than the size of the disk shown in the previous "Disk size" parameter. By convention, the size of the image corresponds to the last value in the image name. For instance, the image PAE64_20_04_LTS_EN_80 has a size of 80GB and can only be installed with disks that at least have 80GB of storage.
  • Hostname:This field corresponds to the hostname that will be assigned to the computer after the image has been installed. By convention, please choose always a name of the form 'labdoo-XXXXXXXXX', where XXXXXXXXX is the 9-digit Labdoo ID of the computer you are sanitizing, which you had previously generated in the section 'Tagging a Laptop'.

After you have populated all the parameters above, click "OK" on all the next screens. Then the actual process of shredding and installation of the selected Labdoo image will initiate. Notice that this process could take long, even more than an hour, depending on the size of the disk and the size of the selected image.

Step 3: Delivering Laptops to a Project

The third and last step is to deliver the laptop you sanitized in the previous step to an educational project. To complete this process, do as follows:

  1. First, check if there is an existing project near your location. You can see the full list of projects from this dashboard. If you find one project near your area, reach out to it directly by using the contact information found in that project's dashboard. Ask them if they need an additional laptop and if they would be willing to accept your contribution.
  2. If you don't find any existing project near your location, try to find a school or a mentoring association nearby that works in the area of education. Examples of valid organizations are: schools, associations working with refugees or, more in general, any organization that provides schooling or mentoring services to those who don't have access to education. If you find one, ask them if they need laptops and if they would be willing to accept your contribution. If the answer is yes, then reach out to the Labdoo team by filling in this form. A Labdoo volunteer will reach back to you and help you create this project.

Once you have completed any of the two steps above, you can now deliver the laptop to the chosen project. Finally, make sure to update the status of your laptop to S4 and assign it to the corresponding project. (If you don't know how to update the status of your laptop to S4, see this wiki page.)

Congratulations, if you have reached this point, by now you have already improved the life of a person by providing education!