Not long ago Linux wasn’t for most users; because it requiring a total commitment to switch, or a large hard drive and somewhat complicated dual-boot installation.
Along with the somewhat bigger issues of hardware support, limited programs and clunky interfaces that were somewhat computer expert focused often times requiring some text entry low-level coding to do even basic tasks. A lot has changed in the past couple of years; now there are numerous Windows user-friendly distributions, with nice graphics interfaces that can nicely run most hardware from an initial boot without additional configuration or downloads.
Most of the more popular versions can run live from a USB or DVD/CD letting users try; or take a second look at, several versions of Linux, without committing more than a couple of hours of their time. This makes it easy to decide if they want to perform a fairly simple dual install alongside Windows; or even install a full version of Linux to a larger USB pen drive, which could be used on more than one computer.
Where to Find Linux for Windows XP
Looking at some of the more user friendly versions of Linux those who haven’t tried or used Linux in a while will be pleasantly surprised at just how nice some of the distributions have gotten like Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Linuxmint, and Peppermint come in user-friendly 32-bit and 64-bit versions – that can be run easily on most computers.
Once you have downloaded the ISO for a distribution you have chosen to try from there website. You just need to make bootable USB Flash drive using one of the several simple programs for bootable UBS drives one of the best programs for this is YUMI which you can get from Pendrive Linux.
You can also burn the image to a blank DVD to boot from, note most current Linux ISO images are too large to burn to a CD-RW disk. Then you simply reboot your computer from the USB which may require you reset the boot sequence to have the USB and CD/DVD drives before the hard drive on most computers this can be done by pressing F2 immediately after startup to enter the Bios menu.
Once the computer is restarted you should get a nice friendly start menu; like this one from Peppermint, in about a minute. Select the Try option and in just a few minutes you will be running Linux.
Installing Linux from a Flash Drive
For new users not sure of what distribution to loading Lubunto to a USB flash drive with persistence using YUMI is a good choice.
After you have tried it, you can simply can simply shut down your computer, remove the USB and restart to go back to Windows and there won’t be any changes to your computer. If you do decide you want to use a distribution of Linux the various websites have pretty good walk-throughs on how to install it alongside Windows; so you can use both, or install it to a larger USB; which will allow one to use a full-featured version of Linux without change.
Using Linux and Windows XP
Now looking a bit closer are there any real compelling reasons for using both Linux and Windows or even just Linux? The answer is yes there are some good reasons for the majority of computer users to have a bootable version of Linux on USB flash drive.
One of the best reasons is to get a current secure 64-bit web browser for older systems that are 64bit compatible but have a 32-bit operating system; which is about half of the Windows XP computers still in use. This can be checked by using Windows System tool to determine a computers CPU specs then looking them up online if ones not sure.
Another and about the best reason is to start and check a computer that is having Windows problems. One can use Linux to verify that computers hardware is functioning properly, and retrieve access data files from the hard drive in most cases. Also, a live version of Linux can be used for secure browsing with nothing saved or left on the computer or USB drive.
Making Linux work with Windows XP
Switching and going to only Linux it doesn’t make sense for most users who have a good working version of Windows XP or higher that there using.
Yet one good use for Linux only is to set up an older Windows Laptop as a netbook, lightweight 32-bit versions of Linux; like The LXLE Desktop and Linux Lite, will work for this application on computers with 512-MB of RAM; and a 700MHz processor or better and 10-GB of space, that can even be on a USB there are numerous reports of people successfully running older Laptops with no hard drive or a bad hard drive.
Some thoughts on the current state of Linux distributions for Windows users; Linux has come a long way recently. It is no longer a somewhat scary OS for computer specialists; and Open Source idealists, like it, was only a few years ago.
The long scary text-driven startup and boot sequences; where you have to enter several line of commands to start are mostly gone and nearly all the distributions have nice looking well-functioning graphical interfaces that can be configured nicely in only a couple of minutes like this one from Lubuntu.
What Linux can do for XP users
Unlike in the past, the basic OS runs most hardware with no setup or downloads needed making a working version of Linux bootable from a disk or USB with only minimal computer skills needed.
It also runs slightly faster and allows the nice feature of being able to upgrade some applications to 64-bit from 32-bit on a lot of computers; without having to buy a full current version of Windows or a new computer. All of these are great features making it worth a try.
Yet it hasn’t quit reached the point of being a viable replacement for most users because it doesn’t readily support a lot of popular software most notably Microsoft Office or most major copyrighted games which is a deal killer for this author. Also it still has a lot of annoying quirks.
What really annoyed me were the startup sequences with long periods of scrolling text or blank screen making one think there may be something wrong. Almost as annoying was that the fact that none of the versions includes a DVD player that works, because of copyright law. Instead, you have to enter and run several scripts from the command terminal in text mode; which makes the players slow and awkward when compared to the Windows-based DVD players.
Most of these issues are largely part of bigger issue that will likely always hold Linux back from being a good standalone option for most users. The open-sourced nature means that a lot of copyrighted programs and media will never be officially offered or supported for Linux.
So in conclusion Linux can be a great addition to an older Windows system that most users should try. The following are links to some of the better distribution of Linux that are worth looking and some good resources for users new to Linux.
Some Great Linux Resources for Windows XP