I ended up with a Dell 11" Chromebook for ~$0 and had fun wiping all traces of ChromeOS and installing GalliumOS, a derivative of Ubuntu Linux for small lappies. It took a small amount of terminal work but required almost no knowledge as the directions were clear.

The only slightly hacky bit was removing a screw to turn off write protection of the bios. It required just a screwdriver but for folks who aren't used to poking around inside electronics it could be a bit stressful.

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I found instructions for stopping it from going to sleep when the lid closes so now I can tuck it away and treat it like a wee server with a ~10 hour battery backup. I have an SSD that I'm going to attach for bulk storage. Next I want to find/make a web-based photo library so that I can escape Google Photos.

I'm thinking about making this wee lappie into a matrix node (matrix.org) with a riot.im web client, using ngrok to give it a stable public endpoint. I have Slack group fatigue (so many!) and am generally interested in federated networks. I worry that the docs say little to nothing about moderation of harassment and abuse, though.

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