With Microsoft ending support next month for their Windows XP and Office 2003 products there are not a lot of options available for people still using this software. If you have the money, you can always purchase a new computer with a newer operating system on it. You could also keep your computer as is, and hope that invasion of new malware waiting to be released after the deadline doesn’t come knocking on your door, well it wont knock, it’ll sneak through that open window left by lack of security updates from Microsoft. So you can either pay money or sit on a ticking time bomb? NO! There is another option, and it won’t cost you a dime! You can install a Linux-based operating system on your computer. Linux is a free and open-source operating system that was developed in the early 90s by Linus Torvalds. Without getting too technical Linux-based operating systems are community driven, meaning that many top IT companies and professionals donate their time and efforts to create the software.
There are a TON of great reasons to switch to Linux, better security, performance increase, almost NO malware or viruses and many more. That being said, getting started with Linux can seem like a daunting task at first, there are literally hundreds of different versions(distributions) of Linux available, so I am going to focus on a distribution that I have had a lot of success with, Linux Mint. Linux Mint with XFCE features a rich yet lightweight user experience that makes it perfect for running on slightly older hardware. The system requirements to install and use the operating system are very low:
- x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
- 384 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
- 5 GB of disk space
- Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
- DVD drive or USB port
This operating system is based on Ubuntu, one of the most popular Linux distributions, so that means that there is a LOT of free and compatible software that will run with this operating system. Unfortunately Linux will not run most Microsoft software out of the box without using software like Wine or PlayOnLinux but there are plenty of great alternatives available. Linux Mint features a Software Manager that allows you to quickly find great, free, and safe software to run on your computer. Linux Mint includes a lot of the software you will need or want included with the distribution, but there are tons of options available including:
- Instead of Internet Explorer you can use Chrome or Firefox
- Instead of Microsoft Office you can use LibreOffice or OpenOffice
- Instead of Outlook you can use Mozilla Thunderbird
- Instead of Skype you can use Skype
One of my favorite features of Linux is that you can ‘Try it before you buy it’, no pun intended. You can quickly and easily download the operating system and burn it to a DVD or install it onto a USB drive and without affecting your current computer settings. There is some great software available like PendriveLinux or uNetBootin that can automatically download and install Linux onto a USB drive for you! So you can take the operating system out for a test drive and if you absolutely hate it (hey, it’s possible) you can go right back to XP without skipping a beat. If you end up liking it and want to install it, the user-friendly installation process can be completed within 15 minutes!
If you haven’t thought about using Linux before, give it a look, you might like what you see. I do recommend doing some research on the subject before you take the plunge, especially because there may be another distribution available that you may like better. Feel free to hit me up in the comments section if you have any questions or can think of any other distributions that would work well for replacing XP on older computers.