Ubiquitous Consumer Junk

I’ve recently been searching to replace my laptop (2010 MBP) with something a bit more lean and portable and I stumbled on this video about porting Ubuntu to a 2013 era tablet. Interestingly, I did some digging and can’t really find any modern day equivalents to the Asus Nexus tablets. Commercial tablet that can boot a Linux OS like Debian or Ubuntu without much hassle.

Spec wise it’s relatively close to a Raspberry Pi 4 but with a large screen, but sans useful I/O. I added a flag to my local buying/trading page and waited. Yesterday a 2013 era Nexus came up for sale a few blocks from my house at a very cheap price (much less than a Raspi 4), so I figured why not and grabbed it. I’m in the process now of porting Ubuntu to the device. Ideally this could be nice portable platform for developing SC scripts, or a portable recording interface. I’m still generating ideas for how I want to use this.

It made me ruminate on all the consumer junk that circulates out on craigslist, kijiji, ebay etc. The Nexus is a uniquely open device, but surely there music be some electronic music application for discarded kindle, or Fire tablets, or android cellphones. They are ubiquitous, cheap and accessible and use familiar tech like the STM32 chip family. There must be some use for all this junk! Wonder if anyone else had thoughts along these lines


Is modern Android useful for music? Maybe things have improved but a number of years ago it seemed that Android had a lot of latency is the audio stack that made Android devices less appealing than iOS for developing music applications.

1 Like

Must an Android phone run Android?

@dianus thanks for creating this thread, I love the idea!

1 Like

Exactly! And in this case I am booting a port of Ubuntu onto the tablet. I am not sure if this will improve or make latency worse but that is not really what I am talking about anyway. After crawling through used tech sites it really struck me how much useful embedded tech is rotting away in peoples closets. Some android tablets, or kindles, or whatever have roughly the same power as SBC used for creative purposes. I’m curious if people are utilizing that tech to create electronic music!

Interrelated idea is re-purposing hardware in order to create music. I’ve seen a bunch of projects that use the sound of the stepper motors in floppy/optical drives. https://www.partsnotincluded.com/musical-floppies/controlling-musical-floppy-drives-directly-via-midi/ this one is particularly interesting, it uses an arduino to address the drives directly with a midi sequence.

1 Like

nope android is still booty :poop:

good topic! following

1 Like

Cubans were forced to use their ubiquitous consumer junk to make all kinds of new stuff because of their socio-political situation, maybe we don’t have enough need to tinker with our old tech yet?

some inspiration:


My dream is a small, rugged device running linux with an 11 inch or so EPaper screen. Basically a device that I can use for programming/writing/music stuff outside, on a plane, wherever. It would have great battery life due to the lower power usage of the display and could be thrown in a backpack.

I’ve always said that an E-ink display laptop would be my “I’m suddenly rich and need to find a project to spend my time and money on” project.


Check out ExiTrip!


It’s a hacking project that repurposes old iTrip nanos. The artists behind it (Ed Bear & Lea Bertucci) both make really good music!


I support this concept politically, as much as I don’t have the skill or time or purpose to do it myself. There’s far too much technology out there that’s just laying around unused, either as waste or old new stock in some warehouse somewhere.

In the very least these old laptops can be used as cheap movie props: