Advice needed - prepare old iMac for gift or sale

I have older 24” iMac, core 2 duo with 4GB RAM, early 2009, that has not been used or accessed the internet for about 4 years. This was used by my wife but was replaced with another iMac years ago. We plan to dispose of the computer, perhaps donate it to a charity. OS X 10.9 Mavericks is currently installed. What steps are needed to “safely” reset this back to a clean configuration so that individual data is removed?

An apparently reliable source recommends removing the computer from my wife’s iTunes account, then booting into recovery mode, erase the disk and re-install OS X as a “clean install”. I understand that the latest version of OS X appropriate for this computer is 10.11, El Capitan.

At what point is it safe to launch iTunes, log in and de-authorize the computer? There have been no security updates installed since 2015 or 2016, so I am reluctant to access the internet to log into iTunes.

Should I just boot into recovery mode, erase the hard drive and install OS X from a USB stick? (I have a USB stick with the El Capitan OS X). Even after this is installed, There still will have been no security updates since the USB stick was created, probably in 2015. Would it be safe to install the OS X version from the USB stick, then connect to the internet to check for updates? And then launch iTunes to sign in and de-authorize the computer?

I understand that it is possible to access iTunes from the new computer, de-authorize all computers, then re-authorize the computer currently in use. Is it true that this can be done only once per year? Or can this be done repeatedly?

Any advice would be appreciated …

Use diskmaker x to create an installer for 10.11 on usb stick or external FW drive.
Boot from this installer
Use disk utility to erase the HD
Install OSX

Alternatively you can install Linux Ubuntu on it!

Thanks! This is exactly what I needed to know.

Yes, that would be an excellent use for this computer. For someone else perhaps, but not for me.

Checking eBay and filtering for “sold” listings, this model computer (24" iMac early 2009 core 2 duo, 640 GB drive, 4 GB RAM) currently sells for $100 - $125 plus shipping cost. Considering the hassle of dealing with eBay, I’ll probably donate it to a local charity.

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I hear you, I have 3 very nice 21.5" iMacs for sale but Ebay is just not possible given the shipping hassle.

And I hear you. Shipping can be a hassle, especially if you don’t have the original shipping box.

The eBay problem I had in mind is the buyer return hassle. Current eBay policy enables buyers to return items almost with impunity. If the buyer ticks the reason-for-return checkbox a certain way the seller can get stuck with paying for shipping both ways. In addition, there are well-known scams in which buyers return damaged or inoperable items that are not the same items sold by the buyer. In a long-ago episode of MPU podcast Katie briefly referred to difficulties with eBay that sounded suspiciously like the ones I described.