FAQs

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Volunteering

Who can volunteer? Do I need to know about computers?

Anyone who wants to volunteer time at our Free Geek facility is welcome. No computer experience is required. Our facility is mostly accessible and we welcome people with different levels of ability. Volunteers under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult who will work alongside them.

Can I get a laptop or a Windows/Mac computer?

We are now able to give laptops to volunteers after 24 hours of volunteering, but we cannot give a Windows or Mac computer. However, we have these items for sale in the Free Geek Store.

Do I get to build my own computer?

You can learn how to build computers through our Reuse Education program, launching in October 2018. All computers built for and given to volunteers have the same technical specifications. 

What kind of computer is it?

We call our computers FreekBoxen! (The singular is Freekbox or Freektop.) They are built from used equipment that has been donated to Free Geek. They run the Linux Mint operating system and are loaded with free and open source software.

Can I play games on my FreekBox?

The short answer is: it depends on the game. For someone with patience and some degree of computer expertise, there are ways to play certain Windows-specific games on a FreekBox.

How do I sign up to volunteer?

To get started, drop by for one of our volunteer orientation tours at 11 AM or 4 PM; these are held every day that we are open. No appointment is necessary — just show up a few minutes early to check in at the reception desk.

The tour takes 30 minutes and explains how our different programs work. At the end of the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for the prerequisite Anatomy of a Computer class or schedule your first volunteer shift.

I don’t have time to volunteer. Can I just buy a computer?

Absolutely! The Free Geek Store has a wide variety of affordably-priced refurbished computers available for purchase.

I noticed that you keep upgrading the specs of your FreekBoxen. Can I trade mine in for a newer one?

Our policy is that a volunteer may earn one FreekBox per year. If you’d like a newer FreekBox, you will need to complete another 24 hours of service after one year.

Does Free Geek accommodate handicapped volunteers?

Our facility is mostly accessible. We are sensitive to issues related to accessibility and will work to accommodate people with different abilities.

Can you accommodate volunteers who don’t speak English?

While there are some people on staff who speak other languages, they are not always around to translate. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have the resources to accommodate non-English and non-Spanish speakers without translators. Volunteers who speak other languages are welcome to bring a translator with them when they volunteer or take a class.

Can I earn another computer for someone else?

Of course, granted one year has passed since you earned your last one. We only give one computer per year to each volunteer.

Can kids volunteer at Free Geek?

Kids can earn a computer from Free Geek, just like anyone else! If they are under 16, they will need to have an adult with them while they volunteer.

Do I get a printer with the FreekBox?

We do not provide printers with our FreekBoxen. If you’re a current volunteer, you can buy a printer from The Free Geek Store at a 20% discount.

I’ve never used Linux before and I hear it’s hard to use. Is it?

It’s a common misconception that Linux is difficult to use. Many of our volunteers tell us that Linux is very easy to use, and even that they prefer it over other popular operating systems.

When picking up their FreekBox, volunteers can take the ‘Getting Started with Your Free Geek Computer’ class, to help them set up, personalize, and learn to use their new Linux-based computer. Likewise, we offer 'Intro to Linux Mint' for store shoppers and members of the public (bring your computer). If you have specific questions about using Linux, check out 'Linux Open Questions,' a drop-in Q&A time. Check out our classes for more details

In addition, Free Geek offers one year of free tech support to all volunteers who retain the Linux operating system on their FreekBoxen and complete our Getting Started class.

I don’t live near Free Geek so I can’t come in to earn a computer. How can I get one?

The good news is that (unaffiliated) Free Geek organizations are popping up all over the country. (See our list of other Free Geeks around the world.) If there’s no Free Geek in your area, try searching the name of your town and ‘free computer’ on Google.

You can also seek out a Linux Users Group in your area, as many Linux aficionados can help you set up a computer affordably.

Donations

What does Free Geek accept? 

We take almost everything electronic with a very short list of items we cannot accept: major household appliances, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, vacuums, microwave ovens, smoke detectors, fluorescent light bulbs, alkaline batteries, copiers, and bottled liquids. We are also not able to recycle large amounts of plastic (like VCR tapes and floppy disks). Please see other recyclers that take items we do not. Oregon Metro’s website is a great resource for finding a recycler.

Can you back up the data from a computer I am donating? 

Our Tech Support team would be happy to backup the data from hard drives on computers you are donating to Free Geek. Please visit our Tech Support page for the latest pricing and instructions on how to prepare the computer for back-up. 

How can I cancel or change a monthly donation? 

If you've already set up a monthly donation to Free Geek and you want to change your email address, billing information, monthly donation amount, or anything else, use the link below to cancel your current monthly donation.


Once your current monthly donation is canceled, you can create a new one with your desired changes. Click here to cancel your monthly donation. 

 

Finding a local e-cycler

Do you have a location in my city?

If you're not in Portland, Oregon, we recommend looking at the AFTRR Map Locator or using the E-Stewards Find a Recycler tool to find your local e-cycler.  

The Free Geek Store

What can I buy in the store?

The Free Geek Store sells computers, monitors, printers, networking equipment, stereos, and other A/V equipment. We also stock a variety of computer parts!

How much are your laptops?

Laptop prices vary on their capabilities and features, including size, battery life, memory and speed. Please contact the store and speak to an associate for more information.

Do you have (insert product here) in stock?

The store doesn’t keep a list of inventory. We can’t tell you if we have something on the shelf because it might not be here by the time you make it in.

The stock in the store varies on our donation stream, so we can’t guarantee that we have any certain item. Your best bet is to come in and look for yourself. If you’re coming from far away, we’ll try to find a store staff member to help answer your questions!

Do you take returns?

See our return policy on The Free Geek Store page.

Does the store do trades?

Sorry, we don’t perform any trades of equipment or hardware.

Plug Into Portland

How soon will I hear back after I submit my application?

You can expect an eligibility decision from a staff member within one month.

What will I learn in the ‘Getting Started’ class?

The class will teach you how to set up, personalize, and use your computer. After taking the class, you are guaranteed one year of free tech support.

Do volunteer hours that I completed as a requirement for my school count?

Absolutely!

Can I share information about this program with my school/class/group?

Of course! Email education@freegeek.org to get flyers in the languages you need. Thanks!

 

Don't see your question answered here?

Email us at info@freegeek.org.