You have an old PC or corrupt version of Windows...
Many people use their PCs and Laptops until the machine slows down to a halt and dies. This slow-down of machines is caused by many things, usually because the hardware can no longer keep up with the demands of modern software, plus a full hard-drive full of unused programs, viruses, Trojans and general age of the Operating System meaning it’s no longer a viable option.
You can of course go out and buy a new laptop (we’ll stick to laptop’s, as this is what the majority of people buy now, and everything applies to both them and PCs), although that will cost you a lot of money. There is another option which can bring even the oldest netbook (low-powered mini-laptop) back to life and alive and kicking. It’s a simple process, but one which many people are afraid of, because it involves that scary word “Linux”.
Do not be afraid of “Linux” though, as these days there are many versions around, and it is now a fully-fledged and tried-and-tested Operating System that is on the same level as the new Windows versions that are currently in use. The reality is, once the hard part has been done, and your old PC has a shiny new Operating System on it, you won’t even realise it’s not Windows! New versions of Linux are simple to use, intuitive, and run straight out of the box, usually bundled with a host of software, meaning that you don’t even have to download anything!
What are the best versions of Linux out there?
To make things as simple as possible, I will only look at three versions of Linux, each of them based on one particular type of Linux, but all very different. Don’t be afraid of the term “Linux”, it’s just the same as “Windows”, in that it’s just a shell that runs the programs you need.
My first choice is Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Edition, the most complete and user-friendly version of Linux. Once installed, Windows users will be instantly familiar with the interface, it’s slick and modern, and looks very similar to Windows 7. It’s requirements for running very low, at only 512MB of RAM, 5GB of hard-drive space, a graphics card capable of 800x600 resolution, and a CD or USB drive. Once installed, Mint runs smoothly, and really does have everything you need readily installed.
Secondly, for those wanting to experiment a bit more to play with, and a different experience, there’s Ubuntu 13.10 with it’s Unity interface. This Operating System looks a little different to a normal Windows set-up, but is again intuitive, and super-fast compared to Windows. Minimum requirements are a 700mhz processor, 512MB of RAM, 5GB hard-drive space, a graphics card capable of 1024x768 screen resolution and a CD or USB drive. Ubuntu is more for the power-user, but is a great replacement for those who want more.
My third option is Puppy Linux, which is ideal for those with a really old and low powered laptop or PC. System requirements for Puppy are only a 333mhz CPU, 64MB of RAM, minimal disk space and a graphics card that works! Puppy Linux looks like Windows, but is much faster and although basic compared to the other versions mentioned, it will resurrect your old netbook or Laptop and make it work in ways you never thought possible.
How do I install Linux onto my old machine?
The first thing you need to do is go to the downloads page of your select Linux and download the correct version of Linux for your machine. All this means is either the 32-bit or 64-bit version, which will usually be a .iso disk image file.
Once you've downloaded the .iso file, you need to burn it to a CD/DVD (you can use USB drives, Google for how to create an image with a USB drive). Simply click on the downloaded .iso file and the computer will burn the image of the Linux distribution that you want to CD or DVD.
Insert the newly burned CD/DVD into the machine you want to install Linux on, and for best results turn the off and then back on again. The CD/DVD will then begin to load, however, do not worry, as this will not usually install Linux on the machine, but give you a Live CD that let’s you use the machine as if Linux was installed onto it.
If you’re happy with the way your computer is working, simply click “Install” from the desktop, and follow the on-screen instructions. It’s that simple! After a short while, your old laptop or PC will be as good as new with your chosen version of Linux on it.
Have fun! If you've chosen Mint as an Operating System it’ll be instantly familiar to you, as will Puppy Linux. If you've installed Ubuntu, then don’t be afraid to experiment! Which ever Linux you have installed, visit the Store which can be found in the options, and start downloading programs! For the most part they are free, and depending on which version of Linux you installed, there will already be a selection of programs installed ready for you to run, such as Libre Office (to replace MS Office), Chrome or Firefox browser (to replace Internet Explorer), Gimp (to replace Photoshop) and so much more! They may have different names, but these programs do the same thing!
You’re machine with Linux freshly installed will be like a new machine. If you don’t like the version of Linux you have installed, simply put another version on there, although if you stick with Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon you shouldn't go far wrong to having the perfect computer, as it’s a stunning OS that’s leaps and bounds better than Windows. If you want to download your favourite WIndows program, there are many alternative in the Store on your new Linux. For most people though, just using the internet is all that a laptop or PC is needed for, so go ahead and surf!