Replacing Windows XP with Linux – Overview

There are a lot of great features of Linux, and security is one of the best. Viruses on desktop versions of Linux are uncommon—in fact most Linux users simply laugh at the idea of viruses. Microsoft is beginning to phase out support for the now 10+ year old operating system, and is dedicating as little of its resources as possible to fix malware and security issues.

Linux at time of writing is about 150 free open source operating systems, covering a range of PC hardware. Just about any computer from the last 10-15 will likely be able to run some form of Linux distribution or “Distro” as they are called in Linux land.

What do you get?

In addition to the operating system you can also expect loads of free software to replace the majority of what you might have been paying for on Windows. But since most of it is done by hobbyists, open source groups, and small software companies, many of the most popular programs (Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop, for example) don’t have native Linux versions. However, free versions of programs, like Libre Office (replaces MS Office) and GIMP (replaces Photoshop Elements), can fill their role well, if not perfectly.

Most distros will come with a Live CD, DVD, or USB flash drive version appropriate for the user that wants to try it out before committing to an installation. Google Ubuntu and LinuxMint for two of the most popular Distros.

It’s not Windows but it’s secure, free, and a great way to browse and enjoy the internet virtually trouble free. Not to mention, a great way to learn more about how your computer works!

The vast majority of Distros will dual boot with any version of Windows – you simply select the operating system you want to use at the boot menu.

Not a perfect fit

If this all sounds too good to be true there are downsides. Linux is not Windows so there is a new thing to learn, even downloading new software can be daunting to the uninitiated. There is a good chance your printer or scanner may not work and all your carefully purchased Win XP software is not just a mini Frisbee collection! Against that, the big Linux Distros update twice a year cost nothing to run come with all the software available for free and Linux is virtually virus proof.

Is it for me?

To judge whether you can use Linux just consider the questions below:

  1. Does most of your activity on the net take place within a browser – for example Facebook browsing, listening to Spotify, sending webmail like Gmail and Hotmail, using Skype or similar VOIP systems? If you answered yes, Linux will work for you.
  2. Does your use of Word and Excel go significantly past basic, accessing data from SQL databases or writing complex macros. If you answered no, Linux will work for you.
  3. Do you need Access or Publisher? If you answered yes, then consider a Windows OS like W7 or W8.
  4. Are there dedicated Windows software packages you cannot manage without? If you answered yes, then you need Windows 7 or 8 assuming of course one or the other still supports your software

How can I help?

Essentially I can make the migration painless.

  • I can save all your data to copy back after the reinstall
  • I can find you an appropriate Distro to match the specifications of your computer,
  • install it and download any and all software you might need to Desktop, Laptop or Netbook
  • My fee is £30 no hidden extras, no techy nonsense and unless you need a lot of software I can load everything you need in 2 hours start to finish.
  • If you need a lot of software I may need to take the PC home, I am fully insure, I bust it, I pay for it, no quibbles.
  • Depending on your machine, I’ll install either Mint or Ubuntu or Zorin 7 if you want a “Windows Feel” Linux system but if you have a distro you want to try let me know.

Links

Information on Ubuntu http://www.ubuntu.com/

Using Synaptic to download software in Ubuntu https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SynapticHowto

Information on Linux Mint http://www.linuxmint.com/

Information on Zorin, the Windows Friendly Distro http://zorin-os.com/

List of Linux operating systems http://distrowatch.com/

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