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Replace the Retiring Windows XP with Linux

Windows XP is officially retired as of April 8, 2014. Microsoft has tried to retire XP several times before, but due to enterprise customer demand had to continue supporting it. But this time they really really mean it, for reals.

If you're using Windows XP, it won't stop working. All this means is you won't get security patches or technical support anymore. So what should you do? You can continue using it, as you always have. Or, you can upgrade to Windows 8.1, the newest Windows, or Windows 7. Or switch to Linux. Let's look at the pros and cons of upgrading to a newer Windows.

KDE desktop

Windows 8.1 has a completely re-designed interface that looks a lot like an over-excited automated teller machine. It adds support for touchscreens, and is supposed to be less obese and peppier than 7. Windows 7 does not support touchscreens, and doesn't look much different from XP. If you buy a new computer that comes with 8.1 and decide you don't like it, you can "downgrade" to Windows 7. Downgrading is a huge hassle that requires having the proper "license rights", the purchase of Windows 7 Professional at $139 for the OEM version, or $209 for the full retail version, phoning home to Microsoft for permission to do what you want with your own computer, and then installing it. The OEM version comes with no technical support; otherwise it's pretty much the same as the full retail version. Microsoft considers this a temporary downgrade, until you come to your senses and learn to love 8.1.

Another option is to purchase Windows 8.1 or 7 and install it on your XP computer. If your XP machine is more than six years old, chances are it won't support the newer Windows releases, because they need considerably more power and storage. Your favorite XP applications may or may not work on the newer Windowses, if you even still have the original installation media, and peripherals such as scanners and printers may not be supported. So the most likely scenario is buying a whole new computer, and possibly new applications and peripherals. You can still get Win 7 PCs, though that option is slowly evaporating.

Try Linux

Any option other than keeping your existing Windows XP system is going to cost money, hassles, or both. So why not give Linux a try? It is a mature, rock-solid professional computing platform you can rely on. You can download it for free, copy it to a USB stick or DVD, and try it without installing it to your hard drive. If there is enough room on your hard drive, you can install Linux alongside XP and choose the one you want to run at boot. If your XP computer is powerful enough and you have your original installation media, you can run XP inside a virtual machine on Linux. Yes, you can have it all.

Let's run through the pros and cons of switching to Linux. First the good parts:

  • Immune to Windows malware, and you don't need anti-malware software
  • Offers both free of cost and supported options
  • Runs great on older, less-powerful hardware
  • No insane license restrictions
  • No artificially crippled versions to justify multiple price points
  • No phoning home to the mothership for permission to use your own computer the way you want to
  • Flexible and configurable
  • Easy one-click software installation and removal, from secure sources
  • Great hardware support, without having to hunt down drivers
  • A giant world of great software for free, and lots of great commercial software
  • Maintained by an open, global community of first-rate developers and contributors
  • All Linux software is available on the Internet, so you never lose it.

There are also some downsides you must take into account. Your Windows applications won't run on Linux, unless they also have Linux versions. For example, Web browsers such as Firefox, Opera, and Chrome run on Windows and Linux. Productivity apps like Moneydance (personal finance), LibreOffice (office suite), Thunderbird (email) and a lot of games run on Windows and Linux. Windows apps like Outlook, Internet Explorer and MS Office do not run on Linux. So you'll need to make an inventory of the apps you need and see if they have Linux versions, or if there is an equivalent you can use. I'll be surprised if you can't find equivalent or better alternatives.

You can make Linux look like Windows. You're still going to have to learn some new ways of doing thing, but as it's all just pointy-clicky it's no big deal. Windows 7 is different from XP, and Windows 8.1 is radically different, so any change means you'll have to learn some new things.

Buying a Linux Computer

Installing Linux is pretty easy, but if you'd rather buy a good computer with Linux already installed there are a lot of great independent Linux computer vendors. They are skilled specialists, and you'll get good hardware and great service. The typical low-budget Windows PC is specced to the micro-penny, and built with the cheapest possible components. Linux shops like System76 and ZaReason engineer their computers with reliable, good-quality components, and they stand behind their products.

Which Linux?

Another Linux advantage is hundreds of variants called distributions, or distros for short. Every one is tailored a little bit differently. Ubuntu Linux is very popular, and offers both free-of-cost downloads, and commercial support options. Linux Mint is a popular Ubuntu variant. openSUSE and Fedora Linux are great distros for advanced users who like to stay on top of new technologies. Mageia Linux is a wonderful desktop Linux for beginners to advanced users. Please visit the Resources section (below) for pointers to all kinds of helpful information.

The Myth That Must Die

I am not a Windows fan. I've worked exclusively in Linux since the early 2000s, except for occasional forays into Windows to keep up with new developments. I've written books, hundreds of how-to articles, done Web development, and all of my multimedia production on Linux. You'd think the richest software company on the planet would be able to make a bulletproof, secure, easy-to-use operating system. They have failed at this, and are still failing. One of my biggest peeves is that Microsoft's marketing created the false illusion that personal computers are easy to use, and require no special training. This is not true. It has never been true. A personal computer is an extremely complex and sophisticated power tool. Just owning a computer does not magically bestow all manner of skills on you. It does not make you into an accountant, publisher, artist, musician, big data analyst, security expert, writer, scientist, or anything at all. Except perhaps befuddled a lot. Windows is not easy. Linux is many times easier to operate and maintain, and many times less restrictive.

You Might Want Android

If all you really need is a nice little portable device for Web surfing, social media, email, reading books, listening to music, playing games, and watching movies then get an Android tablet. Android is a Linux variant, but stripped-down and simplified. You literally poke it with a finger to operate it. ZaReason has a really nice 9.7" tablet, the ZaTab, that is completely open, and not locked down like so many Android devices. Android is also coming to laptops and desktops, so keep an eye on the market to watch for something that might work for you.

The bottom line is that any change away from Windows XP is going to involve expense and a learning curve, so why not consider leaving Windows-land, and investing your time and money in the solid, reliable Linux world?

Resources

Weekend Project: Linux For Beginners
Ubuntu Unleashed is the best Linux book for beginners
Ubuntu Linux
Linux Mint
Mageia Linux
Fedora Linux
openSUSE
Cynthia Harvey has a large and excellent body of articles on Linux and open source replacements for Windows applications.

 

Comments

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  • Phil Wyett Said:

    Poorly written. Does nothing to a depth that would be useful. Ignores LTS distros/releases i.e. Ubuntu and RHEL/CentOS; and hardly classifies as a tutorial.

  • John Kerr Said:

    You are wrong Phil, it is very well written and does what it is supposed to do: encourage people to try Linux. The technical details are available at the distro web sites.

  • jackie Said:

    I am not computer smart ...Does this mean I have to buy a new computer ,mine is more then 12 years old but works great ?

  • Ben in Seattle Said:

    Hey Jackie, good question. The answer is, as you probably suspected, it depends. How much of a hassle are you willing to put up with? Do you know any computer "power users" who can help you install a new operating system? If not, you do not want to attempt to upgrade your computer to either Windows 8 or Linux. ¶ Now that Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP, it is a bad idea to keep using it. So, unfortunately, you're stuck in a position where you have to either put up with some hassle or pay for a new computer. Since you say you're "not computer smart" (which I think is fine, people shouldn't have to be), you will most likely be buying a new computer. Most new computers come with Windows 8 and you'll probably be happy with it. However, you might want to consider buying an Android tablet or one of Google's Chromebooks. ¶ (By the way, I volunteer to refurbish computers at a local center for low-income and disabled folks and we get lots of computers that are as old as yours. I know for a fact that, with some work, those computers can work fine with modern versions of Linux, so the answer to your question is technically, "no, you do not HAVE to buy a new computer". But, if you have the money, it's much easier to just buy a new computer. If you don't have the money consider bribing a computer expert you know with some cookies or pizza to look into installing Linux for you. Even if they don't know Linux, most computer smart people can follow the tutorials out there and do it for you.)

  • Geek Said:

    Try Lubuntu. It looks a bit like Windows 2000 or 9x, but has a different color scheme. The installer is quite easy and there is a software center (app store).

  • eugene Said:

    Lubuntu is too much heavy for a 12 years old PC. Archlinux could be better distro for theses machines but the instalation requiers some advanced knowleged. Manjaro is a diestro based con archlinux but make the dificult more easier , and the installation is like Ubuntu. Another lightweight linux distro is Puppy linux , come with a lot of app and is easy to use.

  • Caleb Said:

    Lubuntu might actually be a good option... it has an Ubuntu/Mac/Windows install process and LXDE is actually, in many cases, better looxing than WinXP. I once installed it on 18 IBM ThinkPad T42's (for a school), they are nearly 10 years old and designed to be average-power, lightweight, business PC's. It is probably at least worth a try and will be far faster than XP, especially in the long run.

  • Joe Said:

    I tried Lubuntu, but in my opinion Q4 operating system is so much better on low end computers.Its worth a shot.

  • daniel mochan Said:

    It is a well written article,as in helping the fear factor with possible new users.It hasnt complicated the issue.

  • BLiu1 Said:

    This article, although listed as a tutorial, is more of a persuasive/informative type of article. People expecting a tutorial got nearly nothing out of this (it seems) and therefore complain in the comments.

  • adrian midgley Said:

    No, it is a well-written essay on the chosen topic. Your essay or book in depth on other matters aimed at a different audience which includes you might well be useful as well, we may look forward to seeing it, but it is not useful for this.

  • Grant Gillham Said:

    I thought this piece was very informative. Thank you Carla.

  • Don Tabler Said:

    Englishmen judge all vegetables by how closely they resemble Broccoli....this article is about should you take a chance on a new operating system for people like me who have expertise in XP and are thoroughly sick of the great god micro soft throwing out a miracle every two years and fixes for it every six months. The English also call corn on the cob, "Green Corn" , they insist that the yellow stuff is green, and Phil my friend... you would be right at home there... Pip Pip...I am an old dog , but still possessed of the ability to learn and am .... because of this article ... going to try to fetch some ability to the Ubuntu dragon. It seems to me that Microsoft could make an operating system that works, and chooses instead the Harvard School Of Business Administration Solution of simply patching up something and throwing it to the hungry populace with larger and more brightly colored packaging, and the same old stuff inside. I hope you are happy with Vista, and that it works for you with the same level of perfection it brought to the computer for six weeks.. Yes i will have problems with a change , but i have played in the dancehall with the scarlet painted Jezebel 8.1 and the spinster 7 snd damn if i dont have problems with those and they require all new software all along the line too. .... enough already, if there is a war let it begin here., i am going to give it a try. ... so where are the Ubuntu t shirt stands?

  • Glyn Rowland Said:

    Utter nonsense about Broccoli, I`ve never seen a vegetable that resembles a film producer and I`ve never heard anyone here mention Green Corn, it is either corn on the cob or sweet corn.

  • JS Said:

    Nonsense! This is an excellent article if you're on the fence. The bullets especially are well used to show advantages. Most people reading this are not looking for a super-technical linux overview, but a "move to linux" brochure, and this is well done as far as content strategy is concerned. I benefited.

  • Steve WAgner Said:

    As someone who has also had it with the arbitraries of Microsoft, I found this article very useful. I knew of Linux but didn't know if it were realistic to switch to it from XP. Ms. Schroder's article was very informative for this newbie.

  • Mike Said:

    A nice introduction discussing the Pros and Cons. You touched on it, but you might want to explain what a Live CD/DVD is and how all the most common tasks can be run at lightning speed straight from RAM and completely impervious to viruses. MS has done a great job convincing people that you need fancy overpowered systems with huge amounts of storage. Linux is also good for gaming since many of the most popular titles are being ported to Linux. Chances are linux is already in your SmartTV, Bluray player, phone, etc.

  • Erik Wilkinson Said:

    I thought it was well written for those who are looking into an alternative to Windows XP. If you are new to Linux then specifics like LTS Distros and other more complex details are unnecessary for beginners. Give them a direction and let them learn to love Linux as so many have.

  • Matt Said:

    No objectivity. Filled with personal bias. NO instructions. This has to be the worst tutorial I have ever seen written, and I wouldn't be even remotely surprised if you were a microsoft technician to begin with.

  • Ben in Seattle Said:

    What the heck is up with guys like Matt and Phil slamming Carla's article? The article is fine so I have to question what their actual motivations are. While I admit it is more likely that they are your garden-variety YouTube-style Trolls, those idiots who waste their lives pouring negativity on things they could never do better, the swift timing of the responses is suspicious. Who has a vested interest in tearing down any gentle, not too technical article that makes Linux sound like a reasonable alternative? Who is particularly vulnerable at this cusp where a large group of customers are unwillingly being forced to endure the pain of switching to a new operating system? Who is known to have hired employees to post comments on blogs and news sites as part of "marketing"? Now, I'm not saying that Matt and Phil are payed shills of Microsoft, but I have to point out that Microsoft *is* paying people to do exactly this sort of thing. —Ben in Seattle P.S. Nice article, Carla. I think it was well aimed at the demographic that is most likely to be Linux-curious but wary of the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. P.P.S. Phil and Matt: Don't bother replying claiming that you are neither shills nor trolls but real, live, honest-to-bob people. The free software community works by people contributing not complaining. You've shown us your criticisms, now show us that you can do it better. Send us a link to an article you've written that gently explains the costs and benefits of replacing XP with Linux. P.P.P.S. Did anyone else start cracking up at the accusation that this article on LINUX.COM is biased towards Linux?

  • John Kerr Said:

    Ben you are right on the money when you said " the swift timing of the responses is suspicious."

  • BrianNfromTX Said:

    Well said. I agree with each of your points. And, Carla, you did good.

  • Pieter Said:

    Hi Carla, a WELL WRITTEN & CLEAR article ! Thank you and keep up the good work, writing nice articles about the wonderful OS that is Linux !! :-)

  • John Kerr Said:

    Excellent article Carla, There is too much discussion in the media about the end of XP without mentioning Linux as an alternative.

  • Aamir Shahzad Said:

    One should try Linux even Windows XP support continues :P

  • John Kerr Said:

    Gee Matt I think most of us were Microsoft technicians at one time, then we saw the light. Was the article really meant to be a tutorial?

  • erinn Said:

    Some people are unhappy no matter what. It is a good high-level analysis of the options available to XP users. I would like to see the grouchy ones write a migration howto in one short article. I think most casual users are better off with an Android tablet or Chromebook, and it's good Android was mentioned. I would add that Windows refugees trying Linux should try Crossover Office for running their XP programs. The older versions of MS Office, Photoshop, Quicken, and a lot of games are well-supported.

  • Laura Ouimet Said:

    What do you do when employers demand that resumes be submitted in Microsoft Word format?

  • Harvey Partridge Said:

    LibreOffice, OpenOffice.Org, probably a dozen lmore all write to MicroSofts proprietarty standards as well as writing portable, global formats ...

  • Leonard Matts Said:

    I have struggled with this problem... but not with Linux! It was with a Mac! There are work arounds for the Mac, and there are work arounds for Linux, too. What do most Mac users do, anyway? If you are really stuck on something like this (you won't be) then take a closer look at the instructions... you will see that other formats are acceptable.

  • Roberto J Dohnert Said:

    Black Lab Linux, http://www.blacklablinux.org offers an upgrade path to Windows XP users. One of the best Linux distributions has gotten easier.

  • John Chrapkowski Said:

    What are your personal recommendations for distro? I have been out of the Linux game for a bit (on OS X). My top needs are: -Solid kernel with little tweaking needed -Prefer to run it in VM Ware but I will dual boot/flash boot -Nice customizable desktop -Good network card support (through VMWare I've had issues with Ubuntu) Thanks for any feedback

  • Gonzalo_VC Said:

    Try SolydXK, PCLinuxOS, Xubuntu, Mageia.

  • Elias Said:

    This article is so full of factual errors and bias that I'm actually chocked. Don't get me wrong, I've already installed Linux Mint on my grandmothers old computer to get away from XP, and I run Fedora on one of my own computers and have run several distros for the last 13 years or so, so I have no bias against Linux. This article however is kinda lousy. 1) Windows 7 do support touch screens. (As did Windows Vista and Windows XP for all that matters.) 2) Downgrading your Windows 8.1 license doesn't require you purchasing Windows 7 and then calling Microsoft. The downgrade is free. If you actually went and bought your own copy of Windows 7 why would you go through the trouble you're describing? (Windows 8.1 Pro includes downgrade rights to Windows 7 Professional and Windows Vista Business. Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate includes the downgrade rights to Vista Pro/Ultimate and XP Pro/Tablet PC Edition/x64 edition.) 3) If the machine is more than 6 years old chances are it won't support the newer Linux releases either. Gnome3, Unity and KDE are resource hogs if any. Even lxde and xfce aren't the light weight desktop environments they used to be. (But sure, an xfce installation will probably run a lot smoother than Windows 7 on a really old machine). 4) The pros and cons... Windows machines are immune to Linux malware too. And Mac OS malware. Great hardware support? Compared to Windows? Come on. Tell that to my Radeon card. Windows 8.1 isn't radically different either. It's a new start menu, and that's it. Oh yeah, it runs better than both Vista and 7 on older machines too. Sorry for being so critical, I'm all for getting more people on to Linux, but not through FUD and outright lies.

  • erinn Said:

    Oh my, you really should have done your homework, "Elias". Downgrades do require that you purchase a Windows 7 license, if you don't already have one. "Steps for an end user to downgrade Windows software To downgrade Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 software, end users must: Purchase a PC preinstalled with Windows software. Accept the Microsoft Software License Terms. Perform the downgrade process to the eligible downgrade product using the media/key from a genuine, previously licensed OEM or retail product." And you do have to get permission from Microsoft if you have installed Window 7 before: "If the software was previously activated, it cannot be activated online. In this case, the appropriate local Activation Support phone number will be displayed. Call the number and explain the circumstances. When it is determined that the end user has an eligible Windows license, the customer service representative will provide a single-use activation code to activate the software. Please note that Microsoft does not provide a full product key in this scenario. " There are many lightweight Linux distros that run great on older hardware. Don't even start with the malware malarkey-- Windows and the entire Microsoft software stack are ridiculously insecure, with hundreds of thousands of malwares. Nothing else comes close.

  • Montoya Said:

    Well, I can talk about your Windows points, as I didn't try windows since XP... But I have 3 laptops, aging 6,7, 15 and.... 20 years the oldest! They all run on Linux flawlessly. Of course It wouldn't even cross my mind to try Gnome an KDE. Actualy, I tried them for a couple of days and they worked as good as on my gf's new laptop, but with limited RAM you won't want to use half of it on just opening a file browser It will also feel slow compared to fvwm2, twm or whatever you use. There are literally millions of alternatives to Gnome, KDE, xfce. In the end is just about being clever with your machine. By the way: I use Arch and Gentoo. You can't say they are not the last versions, as they are rolling release.

  • Another Microsoft Sockpuppet Said:

    And you, too, Eddie, well said. I couldn't have said what you said better if I said it myself! (Which, if you're following along, I did.)

  • Nancy DeBruin Said:

    "Windows apps like Outlook, Internet Explorer and MS Office do not run on Linux. So you'll need to make an inventory of the apps you need and see if they have Linux versions, or if there is an equivalent you can use. I'll be surprised if you can't find equivalent or better alternatives. " Can you explain how to find alternatives....

  • Ben in Seattle Said:

    Most people get Linux as a "distribution" which means it has been bundled with all the apps that make it a full operating system. All the most popular distributions have something like an appstore (but better, as you'll discover). However, you might not even need to use it as many distributions already come with the most used applications installed by default (mail, spreadsheet, word processing, web browsing, presentations, etc). But how to pick a distribution? Usually, I say, run what your friends are running, but if you're going to be the first intrepid adventurer in your circle to explore Linux, then a safe bet would be to go with a distribution called Mint. (Here's a tutorial on how to install Mint on a machine that has XP: http://www.zdnet.com/how-to-install-linux-mint-on-your-xp-pc-7000027900/ )

  • erinn Said:

    Check out the links at the end of the article, you should find some good information there.

  • Richard Roberts Said:

    Simple question. What is the best Linux to replace windows (display similar or close to) and how do you install it ??? Also where to find best free applications for Linux (to replace the win xp applications

  • Peter Said:

    1. try Linux Mint KDE- visit Mint website and download installation disc image. 2. just burn ian image of disc on dvd or create bootable pendrive (just like Windows) 3. follow instructions on the screen. Installation is very easy 4. for new free applications -just click on "software manager" in system menu Regards. /and sorry for my bad English ;) /

  • Ben in Seattle Said:

    Hey Elias, you talk as if you know a thing or two. Please, I invite you to write your own tutorial on replacing XP with Linux. I think you'll find that you might gloss over trivia in ways that trolls can pick on as if they're important. For example, yes, as you pointed out Windows 7 technically could use touch screens so touch is not "new" in Windows 8. However, it's pretty obvious that Carla didn't mean simply that you could touch the screen and move stuff around: the entire UI paradigm has been shifted to be touchcentric in Windows 8. Or did you not notice? Oh wait, you actually said you didn't: Windows 8 is "a new start menu, and that's it", nothing radically different. ¶ Sigh. I don't know why I bother feeding such obvious trolls. I guess it just annoys me when people (paid or not) do Microsoft's work by using ridiculous, irrelevant complaints to criticize a generally helpful article.¶ However, there is one thing, Elias, which I do thank you for: you have corrected a misunderstanding about Microsoft's current licensing schemes. Given that Carla stated that she rarely uses Microsoft Windows and given Microsoft's ever changing licensing strategies, I hope you'll find it easy to understand how she might have gotten a misimpression. As you pointed out, it's important for us to keep things straight. When people ask if they should switch to Linux, many Linux backers actually won't say "yes". Instead, they'll present the facts as they know them, good and bad, and let people decide for themselves. But, if we're presenting "the facts", we had better actually have our facts straight. So, thank you, Elias, for sharing your knowledge with us that Microsoft does not charge to downgrade to Windows 7. Fortunately for me, I never bring up cost so I haven't spread that particular misinformation; if asked, I just say, "I have no idea what Microsoft's currently charging, but I assume they're not doing it for love." ¶ By the way, "phoning home" is not about making a phone call, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoning_home . Even though she put the phrase in quotes, Carla probably shouldn't have used that particular computer jargon. It would have been clearer if she had been more verbose and said, "Microsoft Windows 7 has caused some privacy concerns due to it sending information to Microsoft through the Internet." ¶ P.S. "Windows machines are immune to Linux malware, too". Bwahahahahhahahahahahaha! I love it! Elias, you're a riot. I hope you're not a real person cause I'm going to vote for you as funniest sockpuppet of the year!

  • erinn Said:

    You do need a paid Windows 7 license to downgrade. You don't get a refund for Windows 8.

  • adrian midgley Said:

    A key strength in Linux is the licencing, which in common with Wikipedia and Creative Commons has made the proper thing for someone looking at material they believe needs improving to do that they rewrite all or part of it, or add a missing piece and present it back to the community. The unpleasant comments above, without useful material, are far away from that.

  • adrianosantos Said:

    sinceramente já tentei usar varias vezes mais ele deixar muito desejar em relação ao windows o linux ele mostra mais completo até mas bonito mais falta muita coisa ainda

  • Mike Said:

    Ok. Call me computer illiterate, which I am, but where does it show HOW we "simpletons" can switch right now? Tutorials are great, but I want simple instructions on HOW to switch over, not WHY I should switch over. I'm convinced, have been for a while, and yet all I can find are tutorials and articles about why "Linux is this" and "Linux is that" and "Linux even helps with daily fibre", and other computer-driven constipated bullshit, but WHERE does it show me what I need to do to switch my XP over to Linux right here from my sadassed computer chair. Stop fighting among yourselves because it's akin to spoiled children fighting over the last popsicle.SO? HOW do I switch to Linux? I'm not an "expert" like you all act like and claim to be. I'm just a simple everyday guy that wants my computer allow me simple use and access to YahooMail, Facebook, and a few other sites. I could give a rat's ass about how Linux can undergrade the gigabyte junction of a modem performing padlock for my computer-retarded shithouse. Now get on with the program of helping people download this "great Linux system" or just shut your cakeholes.

  • Ben in Seattle Said:

    http://www.zdnet.com/how-to-install-linux-mint-on-your-xp-pc-7000027900/

  • Anonymous Said:

    Untill Linux gets PROPER alternative for applications such as Photoshop (no, Gimp is not proper alternative), Premiere, AE, Soundforge (no Audacity is not proper one), 3d editing and compositing, it will never be considered as alternative for windows/mac. Not to mention games (no, WINE cannot emulate them all)...

  • Aleksander Said:

    I totally agree.. But now with Windows 8, 8.1 and so on, I guess the best alternative is Mac.. Windows handles memory and applications very poor compared to linux/mac. I use Adobe applications on day-by-day basis so I can't choose linux on my workstation. If Adobe somehow managed to get their heads out of their asses, then I'll change to linux on all my workstations.

  • portamenteff Said:

    I use Ardour in my Bands' recordings. It does EVERYTHING protools and Soundforge does, and in case I see something that it doesn't do (which it never does) I Reaper installed with Wine. I gave up on Windblows 8 years ago and never looked back.

  • B0> Said:

    Blender is a decent alternative to M$ based 3d editing/compositing apps- and it's open source.

  • Geek Said:

    There might be a problem if it has less than 256MB of RAM, but if it has more, you can use Lubuntu alternate (http://cdimages.ubuntu.com/lubuntu/releases/saucy/release/lubuntu-13.10-alternate-i386.iso)

  • Jack Vodak Said:

    Once again I have to disagree with Carla. This is along the same lines of her "Linux wins the desktop" article a few months back. Basically, Linux has these nice polished window managers, but try getting a 75 year old grandmother to troubleshoot a printer or missing DVD-RW drive in Linux vs. Windows. Hands down, Windows (any version beyond 98) wins this battle. To fix either problem in Linux means having to open a terminal (what's that?) and input Bash commands (you want me to bash my computer?). Some distros have gui tools, but they require a relatively broad level of hardware knowledge (what's a PCI bus?). Contrast this complexity with troubleshooting wizards in Windows. Open the device manager, look for the yellow exclamation icon, right click and choose options. Or just let the Wizard "Fix the Problem For Me". No distro even comes close to this level of ease. Linux was not designed for people who may lack a fundamental understanding of computer hardware and standard troubleshooting steps which comes 2nd nature to those of us in the IT biz.

  • jon daley Said:

    Your grandmother is tech savvy enough to fix a printer driver error on windows? That's pretty good. She is probably tech savvy enough to use linux then...

  • aich Said:

    Thanks Carla i have a feeling that i may be on the right road to acquiring the Linux system which was recommended in our local paper. We enjoy games some surfing my baseball games and shopping on the internet. Were both in our 80's and not very computer smart. If i am reading your article correctly i believe we should be considering Mageia Linux as our source. Maybe you or some kind person might help us choose and direct us in the downloading of the system. Thank you so much for any input that gets us on the right track. We are using Mozilla Firefox and Google as our browsers. Aich & Dar.

  • erinn Said:

    Hi aich, I'm not Carla but maybe I can help. Mageia is a very nice Linux. The hardest part for any newcomer is installing Linux. It's the easiest of all operating systems to install, and it's just a few steps when you know what you're doing. But you still need to know a few things. First, how to download and then copy to a CD/DVD, or USB stick. If you're not familiar with how to do this, you can buy installation media from https://www.osdisc.com/index.html for just a few bucks. Get the Live version. You can run Mageia from a CD/DVD or USB stick without installing it to your hard drive. Then if you like it, you can install it permanently.

    Once you have an installation disk, Mageia has a good installer howto: http://doc.mageia.org/installer/4/en/content/index.html Which has more details that you need, because it should auto-detect your hardware, and you should be able to breeze through the steps.

  • aich Said:

    Thank you very much erinn. We will give it a try. Sounds like the system for us. have a good day. Aich & Dar.

  • Max Said:

    Good article, except for being completely misleading about malware. "Immune to Windows malware, and you don't need anti-malware software" This implies NO RISK with linux (the target audience is going to read this as no risk) and says you don't even need anti-malware software?? That's just flat WRONG. It's less vulnerable, in part due to being a smaller target for malware developers, but the risks are there... and so is software to protect your system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_malware#Threats http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_malware#For_Linux-specific_threats

  • Sheldon the Geek?? Said:

    I have "gone to LINUX many, many times" Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, Kubuntu, Linux Lite, etc. But I only toyed with Linux. It never really worked. I am NOT a Microsoft fan boy. I own a small software development business and use .Net to develop my software. I recently moved my own personal computer to Linux Mint but there are so many things that are just plain difficult in Linux. Running Netflix for example. Yes it can be done but in Ubuntu you need 32 bit libraries and in Mint it works but it is so difficult to make work (both ways to make it work with pipeline and with wine...) Flash isn't officially supported in Linux. (Yes I know that Chrome bundles in its own flash player.... but in Firefox, which I prefer tom use, Mint is woefully unable to run the latest version. Libre Office is really great, but again there are missing components like a database with the power and ease of use as Microsoft Access. There is no desktop publisher, etc. And Libre Office's files are only somewhat compatible with MS Office. I have lost pagination for example in documents. You really do need the command line for many things. Windows as bad as it is and as bad as the company is that authors it insulates the average user almost completely from any sort of shell. Don't get me wrong, I am keeping Linux Mint on my desktop. Linux has come a long, long way in the 10 years or so that I have experimented with it. New distros are much easier to use and have very appealing desktops. But for the average user it is questionable as to whether it is easy. I agree with your sentiments that most users want a computer to be an appliance and that is impossible. But I would argue that Windows is closer to that goal than Linux. With Linux your options are pretty limited. For example there are only a handful of cloud services that will work with Linux directly. Yes I know that Gdrive works with Insynch and that is really amazing.... but I want to backup photos to devices that do not run Picasa and my options are limited. Finally, every time I have tried to update Linux from one version to the next it seems that Linux breaks. It has happened with Mint (14 to 15 and 15 to 16) and Ubuntu 12.02 to 12.10) and Fedora. I do NOT want to do a reinstall, I simply have too many programs, files, and configurations. It took an hour to get Picasa 3.9 running and another hour to get Netflix running.... I know Linux's advantages. There are many. I love the concept and the community. But for average users..... not there yet. If I, with a master's degree in computer science and 25 years experience in software design and development, cannot feel comfortable with it, how can the average user?

  • secesh Said:

    partially agree; the gripe about netflix is valid and it's been a sore spot I've ignored for years; I have to use a different platform to consume netflix and understand how difficulties such as this turn people off to linux. However, I am able to ignore such issues in my desktops because they are primarily used for work purposes, for which I greatly prefer linux. Mainstream consumers don't buy computers for work anymore; they buy tablets and demand to be able to use them in enterprise settings. So I guess we could argue that the switch debate should be targeted at the enterprise customer. In which case, lacking netflix isn't a deal-breaker, and linux should be a serious consideration. Further agree that Linux has come a long way. I'm excited to see gaming embracing it, and think this will help give people reason to switch. For linux to be successful as a mainstream desktop, it needs to play as well as it works. It has been exciting watching linux explode in popularity recently. I trust the community will step-up to meet the growing demand and corporate icons such as netflix will come to embrace it as well. Aside: not to be critical, but I can see how you might have further difficulties with linux given your use case. .NET and ADB just aren't things I'd expect to run smoothly. Coincidentally, I saw earlier this week that the new MS was touting greater linux support with .NET, but it still needs mono and there are much better development platforms available in the open realm. I shouldn't think it'd be worth trying to get those working in linux and if you have to develop with those tools, you might as well stick with windows.

  • this article Said:

    Is so much FUD. Trash windows in the first two paragraphs and then sell Linux which by the way is as secure as nt 4.0 (which is only secure when it is powered off). Want someone's private keys? Hello port 443, if you are there say hello, 64k long. Can we stop with the retarded herp derp Linux is better than windows bullshit because you are selling lies and false hope.

  • Russ Said:

    It cost nothing to downgrade windows 8(.1) to Windows 7. A Windows licence includes the right to downgrade. You have to find the media yourself and borrow a key from somewhere (only to install, you use your newer Windows key to activate).

  • Erinn Said:

    Sorry but you're wrong. Read the link in the third paragraph. You need a Windows 7 license to downgrade, and that is not free. What you're describing is what Microsoft calls piracy.

  • anonymoose Said:

    "To downgrade Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 software, end users must: Purchase a PC preinstalled with Windows software. Accept the Microsoft Software License Terms. Perform the downgrade process to the eligible downgrade product using the media/key from a genuine, previously licensed OEM or retail product." Install Windows 8.1, turn the computer over, record key from Windows XP Pro, Vista Business, or Windows 7 Pro. Enter the key when prompted, enjoy the downgrade. Or, install Windows 8.1, classic shell, and a few other tools and have a fully functional computer that's not vulnerable to amateur vulnerabilities such as 'are you there, send back hello, 64k bytes'.

  • Somenath Mukhopadhyay Said:

    i migrated from XP to Ubuntu in 2009... From then onward there is no looking back. Now my whole development environment is on Ubuntu. i develop Android apps. I have VLC, audacity, firewall, libreoffice for most of my day to day work. And of course Google Docs and other free google services come handy. Most of the useful software, starting from sticky notes to screen recording software are available in the Ubuntu Software Center. Give Linux a try... And i can bet you won't repent...

  • James K Said:

    The day has come that you have no choice but to learn a new OS .I have 2 old dell pc's and i have LinuxMint Debian Edition on a 2004 dell and i have a 2006 dell which has windows 7 Pro and i bought a new macbook air last year and i use them all every day all work very well . M favorite OS would have to be LinuxMint which i came across on Distro watch in 2009 and have been using it ever since. I also like OS X both are simple to use and setup a home network on , have tried to do home network with windows and it is not so simple,even help my brother with his windows setup , things got better when he switched to OS X when his daughter started collage and need a macbook pro. it is all about what you prefer and how easy it is for you to learn.

  • James K Said:

    One more thing I spend a lot less time with updates with my mac and linux pc than i do with windows.

  • Kieran Said:

    I run a small private company and we are in the process of moving all of our desktops and laptops onto linux (Ubuntu). Has it been all smooth? Have there been no issues? Of course not, there have been a few bumps, learning new ways of doing things and some major work in getting our MS Office documents formated correctly in LibreOffice. Most of our staff are not highly IT literate but have adapted easily to the new OS. We're still finding issues but our older PC's are now running faster than before and our server is responsive. Oh and we now have NO licence fees - that's a major saving for a small company. We're lucky in having one staff member who is very good with Linux, that's made the change easier. You need a champion to help the migration. Either internal or external to the company. It's not for everyone and you'd need to evaluate your own situation but I'd recommend everyone at least considers the option of Linux. It's working for us. Kieran

  • Biren Majumdar Said:

    Nicely written article indeed. I need some more such educative blogs. Now when WindowsXP has been retired by microsoft, people like I was searching for Linux distribution to fit my desktop and computing experience. I am not at all a computer-man. It was sad that I lost my way to install Linux when a popular Linux distro namely ubuntu were propagating controversies about security vulnerabilty of another very popular Linux distro named Linux Mint. I would have chosen either of these two distros. Although there are so many distributions in Linux world say kwheezy etc, what I primarily look for is Satble, Secure with Long term Support, Easy to operate and easy to upgrade operating syatems. Big question is, shall the Linux Experts allow us (unskilled end users) enter the Linux world/community or push us back to the mercy of microsoft?

  • jycg Said:

    The Linux community has a stellar reputation of assisting users who want to migrate away from Microsoft operating systems. There is a wealth of information available now on various Linux specific blogs/forums, etc. that I realize can be a bit overwhelming. The great thing about Linux is that you can try the most popular (or applicable version of Linux for your specific PC) alongside your Windows OS before you decide whether or not to install/replace your Windows OS. This is a good option for users who want to check it out while still keeping everything intact on their PC before making a final decision.

  • jycg Said:

    If you have an old or low-spec'd desktop or laptop the Zorin OS distro (zorin-os.com) is also a good option to consider. It was omitted in the resources references at the end of the article.

  • Leslie Satenstein Said:

    Many businesses have internal business systems that are of the Client Server type. That means that the client was written to work with XP, and possibly had functionality that would not allow the client software to run on a Windows 7 machine. A new client software may not be available. Some barcoding scanner software was written with XP. These vendors do not have XP source, so... lockin is a problem. No conversion to Linux is possible. In the consumer market, my grandmother uses XP for her email and web browsing. Being a pensioner, she does her banking by walking into the branch, and dealing with a teller. If you ask her to change her computer, she will say "why? It does what I need to do." This XP user will work well after converting her machine from XP to Linux. Do not forget, that XP machines had printers plugged into the parallel port, and special printer drivers. A XP machine conversion is also going to be met with a printer replacement.

  • Damon0597 Said:

    I been on and off with Linux for a while now and my experience with it has been really great. Linux has really grown over the years and isn't as hard to learn as it was in the past. That being said, I haven't seen a real reason to completely ditch Windows. Yay Linux may be a little faster and lighter in some areas but that's doesn't make it the best. This article is a great help, but I really don't like when they have to use the weak points of Windows to try and persuade you to switch completely to Linux. I just want to see an article focused only on LINUX and its good and bads, I don't want to see "you should switch to Linux because Windows is bloated, slow, costly, purple and green." Still though Linux and its community are great but they just need to stop the Windows bashing and focus on the strong points of Linux. ~ 16 year old computer Joe

  • leslie Satenstein Said:

    I am a software nut, I like to program and I like to follow Linux distributions. So, my view about operating systems is heavily biased. But what is important to the computer user, is not the operating system that manages the machine, but the software that is available to the user. For example, I keep a Windows 7 partition for the once or twice a month use, to respond to when my daughter-in-law asks me to print something Office 2007 specific. For that reason I keep office 2007 and the Windows 7 machine. Windows 8.1 appears to be a good upgrade, now that MS has re-instated keyboard support. If my computer, without UEFI can boot W81., I will purchase an upgrade. I will still stick to Linux, as I am now at the stage where I can do more with "Linux" than I can with Windows. And as a retired individual, I have restricted budget for expensive software. And I am grateful for the super high quality Linux versions of software that I use.

  • aich Said:

    computer knowledge zero. But i finally managed to establish an account with Linux or so i thought. The free operating system was in place. I was then instructed to activate the system. I followed the instructions and all of a sudden Yahoo takes over and tells me i have to purchase Mc somebody to complete the activation. Do'nt know where the free bit went. I already have a free protection service(avast)and do'nt want another 0ne. I use my computer for watching Baseball shopping some and general information. Thought Linux was going to take over for me after microsoft vacated windows. Some what confused. Is there another way to activate Linux? Thanks for any simple input. Aich.

  • AS Said:

    This article is an "editorial" and definitely not a "tutorial." Bashing the competiton (Microsoft) is not a professional or effective way to promote the product you prefer.

  • Denis Said:

    I''m all in favour of switching from XP to Linux. I'm in process of trying out Mint Linux. It has not been a very happy experience. First although there is supposed to be an NVIDIA display driver, it seems to randomly malfunction or hang up - if I run in recovery mode I am notified that graphics acceleration is not in use, etc., but the display while clunky, is workable and it doesnt just freeze or degenerate into skew line patterns. Second: I need to be able to run Ms Office, including MS access, so I bought Crossover, and tried. The other application run, but Access immediately fails. Third: this is for a small office with 3 printers - Epson, Kodak and Canon. There is a partial driver for the Kodak, nothing for the Epson and I haven't checked the Canon. I would like to continue with Linux, but.....

  • Bill Owens Said:

    Just my two cents: I have an old, 512MB RAM desktop that ran XP. I tried many linux versions but the one that finally worked was Ubuntu 12.04 (installed, not "live.") There were a few kinks that needed to be worked out, but even as a non-techie I was able to sort them out after a while. Once up and running, it's a very good OS that will suit the needs of the "average" pc user.

  • CSharpner Said:

    One small correction: Windows 7 _does_ support touch. I have an Acer Touch Screen desktop PC with Windows 7. My Sister has a Dell, nearly identical, with a touch screen. W7 has specific features for touch screens, such as menu items are further apart to allow extra space for fat fingers, as one example. The nice thing about W7's touch screen support, is it didn't implement a radically different UI. But, I write this from my Linux Mint 16 notebook (previously a Windows 8 notebook). I strongly advocate for Linux now. But, I do want to make that one correction to the article.

  • Sunny Snaith Said:

    Have you tried the Linux version of Apache's OpenOffice Suite? * Writer -- word processor * Calc -- powerful spreadsheet * Impress -- multimedia presentations * Draw -- from simple diagrams to dynamic 3D illustrations * Base -- Create and modify tables, forms, queries, and reports * Math -- equations with a graphic user interface It is free, open source, and can read in / write out Microsoft and most other file formats. Check it out: http://www.openoffice.org/download/other.html

  • TimothyXL Said:

    Apart from the wonderfully silly statement that is saying Android can play games, a pretty decently written article. Not really a tutorial, but the arguments for Linux are pretty well made, though the bias does shine through when writing up the "against" arguments. The article is constructed pretty well, and I have little to say about the prose used. 17/20. Keep it up.

  • ugo Said:

    windows 7 and 8.1 are not so different. Just install an alternative start menu and you have your copy of windows 7 working. I have hidden completely the metro interface.

  • Chris Longley Said:

    I dont want to give you Linux nerds a computing history but as far as I recall I was working on MSDos back in 1981, the only system available to the mass business market and the precursor to the GUI`d Windows 1 in 1985. This architecture of those systems is not so much a distant relative of modern computing of a desktop and the same as the x86 vanilla Linux ran on,. Like it or not MS and Windows introduced millions of business and home users in a technical foray of computing. Whoever would have known about interrupts, com sharing and a whole host of memory configurations without winblows and dos. Since that date, all backed up with support and updates. Thats why windows works. MS were often held back by retaining some layering to provide backward compatibility for older applications to be fair. Why dont you set up a company and go head to head? Hmmm hold on that was tried. I gave that a go in 1988 with Amigados, again based on Unix. A worthy competitor to run rings around windows on limited resources but that didnt work out either. (Guru Meditation may not been as common as the blue screen of death but it occurred.) Let me think, when was Linux released, 1992, some time after Windows and at a time when Windows was very established. You forget that people want click, install use, auto configure. They dont want or know any technical aspects at all. Thats what most of you forget, far to easily. All the Linux users I know dating back to the mid 90`s where very advanced computer users. Considering Linux isused on some of the most technical complex systems in the world, there remains a level of complexity to it if used to its potential. This argument has been going on since the 80`s with various OS`s paired alongside windows and there only has been one winner, like it or not. There may be an element of inferior programming and anti competitive action by MS (like how they killed of Novell with the dreadful WindowsServer) but this is business and not some utopian society. Just remember that Unix became a proprietory system in its early days too. Whilst the article is factually correct, its not actually going to make anybody switch over from Windows, a system which works as is for the majority of business.

  • sercher Said:

    What you have said is right. I just want to replace my Win XP home and compatible apps as near as possible . Correct again all I see i techy stuff and have to keep going to Google and ask what does.... mean? Click Install Use and maybe a few add distros? . I want to know what about the stuff I have on my external H/D ,docs- pixs and will I be able to use my Cannon Pixma MP560 printer,will I be able to load them onto linux - mint / Zorin OS or not, and what about all the places I have my Hotmail account fixed to?My energy supplier, my broker etc I want to get on with my life. Not having to spend what bit is left to me ferreting around testing stuff out, lol .At near 84 all I want is what will near mimic what XP gives me Thanks

  • Caleb Said:

    Lubuntu might actually be a good option... it has an Ubuntu/Mac/Windows install process and LXDE is actually, in many cases, better looxing than WinXP. I once installed it on 18 IBM ThinkPad T42's (for a school), they are nearly 10 years old and designed to be average-power, lightweight, business PC's. It is probably at least worth a try and will be far faster than XP, especially in the long run.

  • eugenio Said:

    Lubuntu is too much heavy for a 12 years old PC. Archlinux could be better distro for theses machines but the instalation requiers some advanced knowleged. Manjaro is a diestro based con archlinux but make the dificult more easier , and the installation is like Ubuntu. Another lightweight linux distro is Puppy linux , come with a lot of app and is easy to use.

  • Richard Palmer Said:

    Article OK. I would add the comment that some Windows software will run under Linux but you'll need to install Wine. Alternatively one can install VirtualBox and then install and run Windows XP within it. Both these options will require a reasonably powerful computer (Intel i5 chip). I have Xubuntu 12.04 running perfectly in an ACER Travelmate 4052LMi, and it's much faster than the WinXP it replaced. Another thing to remember is that old computers with their older generation CPUs require Non-PAE kernels in order to run. Many modern Linux systems no longer support these older generation CPUs - Xubuntu 14.04 for example.

  • Joshua C. Said:

    Microsoft Extended the WIn Xp Retirement to October 2014 Not April 8 2014.

  • Michael Said:

    Such an article and not a word about LINUCITY.COM? They are the largest linux store in the US, and first option for people looking to buy linux pc

  • Stephen S Said:

    I found a tech that installed the latest Ubuntu on my computer because I had lost my Windows DVD and I like it allot. The website I went to for that service was www.spacecitytech.com

  • Alheb Said:

    This article and the way it is written works for me. It gives me renewed encouragement to try this Lubuntu version of Linux. A while ago, I tried mint but could not get into it because I became discouraged when I went into a Mint forum and some idiot there was rude to me when I asked for help. There are idiots who learn information and hoard it from others because they forget they once had to learn, too. I have to remember to overlook these kinds of people when I run into them. I don't have to let them make me unhappy just because they are unhappy.

  • Steve Said:

    First of all WAY TOO MUCH LINUX DISTROS !!! Way to much incompatibility package formats and so on installing from source would be better idea as standard ! One can lost him self into it !!! No Linux Desktop Distro have no more than 10% functionality as know and used under WinXP !!! Thats a fact ! Poor mouse integration use entire desktop and app alike - i'm talking about desktop and os not app ! As i wrote this i use Lubuntu but still missing a lot that desktop functionality known in Win XP ! After three month of Linux testing i come to conclusion that onlz real replacement for Win Xp is only Win what so ever ! Simple task under win comes under Linux as master degree job and real nightmare ! We have the need to do tasks quick and efficient and not to study howto get archiver alike 7zip/others into context menu to do some quick tasks with archive formats for instance thats is defacto standard under win !!! What are you talking about and being exited of within Linux ??? I see nothing positive ! Why i should do tasks the hard way if there is real possibility to do it quick and painless ??? Instead of goofing around you should kick some Linux developers ass to max integration of mouse use and intuitive interactive GUI development and not creation of eye candy desktops that no one can rely use !!! Linux is strong purpose OS as being developed that way and no way user friendly desktop os !

  • Shmeeve Said:

    linux is BEST OS! thats a fact!!! many distributions give users choice in package formats! some evens simple task for compile all from source! windows only 5% functionality even pro versions! configuring windows firewalls major task master degree difficulty and not even effective!!

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