Build Program

Free Geek can teach you how to build computers. If you agree to complete at least five computers, we will teach you the process. The computers you build go to those in the Adoption Program, local not-for-profits, and the thrift store. This program focuses on learning about building computers, but you can keep the sixth computer you complete.

Build volunteer installing hard drive

What you’ll learn

You’ll learn a wealth of information about computers in our Build Program, which we break down into several sequential steps. We find that most volunteers do best if they work a shift at least once every week or two. Volunteers are generally able to sign up to one shift a day, as available.

    1. Hardware Identification: builders learn to identify computer parts. Shift Hours: 10:00-1:45pm; 2:00-5:45pm.
    2. System Evaluation: builders determine which donated computer systems are up to Free Geek’s specifications by examining motherboards and determining processor speed. Learn about hardware and basic troubleshooting while you work. Shift Hours: 10:00-1:45pm; 2:00-5:45pm
    3. Quality Control, then Assemble Hardware and Load Linux Software: you’ll do this in build workshops, where Build Instructors can start you off and answer your questions. We offer build workshops throughout the week, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that fits into your time schedule. Contrary to common belief, you won’t consistently produce systems during this portion of the program without any hitches. The issues you’ll encounter during this step will teach you about troubleshooting. Shift Hours: 10:00-1:45pm; 2:00-5:45pm
    4. Linux Command Line Class: this class teaches builders some basics about how to navigate a computer using only the keyboard (not the mouse). Alternating Saturdays 10:30-12:00pm & Tuesdays 2-3:30 (subject to change).
    5. Post-Build Options: there are a variety of options for talented and enthusiastic volunteers. Check them out here.


We don’t require any prior knowledge of those entering the program. In fact, if you can closely follow a recipe, you should be comfortable in the program. You should be willing to spend between 60 and 100 hours at Free Geek if you’d like to join.



Build Program shifts are less flexible than Adoption Program shifts. Free Geek offers 10 shifts per week, and Build Program volunteers need to arrive on time so they can take advantage of all there is to learn. We find that most volunteers do best if they work a shift at least once every week or two. It’s worth the time and effort!