Worried about losing Windows XP? Give Xubuntu a try.
Just a couple of days ago, we discussed Microsoft’s decision to pull the plug on support for Windows XP and suggested that concerned fans of the aging operating system might want to take a look at Windows 7 if they can’t stomach the thought of using Windows 8.
For those wanting to get out of the Windows camp completely but haven’t felt the urge to rush out and buy an Apple Macintosh, there is good alternative in the form of Linux. Yes, the Linux operating system has been around for awhile and keeps getting easier to use. Here’s something else that’s attractive about Linux — the chances are good that the operating system will run just fine on hardware you already own.
Oh, and Linux is available for free as are most of its programs.
Of course, there are some strings attached to Linux. First of all, there are some programs you have that simply won’t work under a Linux distribution unless you want to get really technical and force them to run under WINE (an application that brings a measure of Windows compatibility to your system) or VirtualBox (an application that allows operating systems such as Windows to run on your system).
Fortunately, there are some very good alternatives to “standard” Windows-compatible programs that are native to Linux. OpenOffice.org, for example, is a great substitute for the Microsoft Office suite, The GIMP is a good alternative to Adobe Photoshop, etc. OpenOffice.org will even read and write Office files with ease, making moving to that program viable for just about anyone. I’ve used OpenOffice.org on my Windows 7 machine for years and have had no problems with being compatible with a world that has embraced the Office suite.
Another problem with Linux is that there are times when you will have to run “command line” codes in the operating system’s console in order to complete some more sophisticated tasks. While no Linux distribution is completely “point and click” in the same way Windows is, they are getting close and every flavor of Linux is backed by a support community full of enthusiastic users who will offer you some advice when you get stuck and need a little help. That’s a great thing, indeed.
One thing that can get confusing about the Linux world is which distribution to get. Which version of Linux works best for you largely has to do with personal preference. One that I like quite well is Xubuntu — a version of Canonical’s Ubuntu but uses the lightweight XCFE desktop. All that means is that Xubuntu is based on the most popular Linux distribution out there and uses a desktop that runs fast on even older hardware and will look quite familiar to Windows XP fans. I’ve had Xubuntu on a Compaq Mini netbook for over two years and love the way that small, underpowered computer runs under the operating system.
A great thing about Xubuntu (and any Linux distribution you might select, actually) is that it can run alongside your current operating system. If you already have Windows XP, for example, you can simply install Xubuntu and select which operating system you want to launch when you start your computer. What’s more, you can boot Xubuntu from a CD or USB drive and try it out before you install it so you can get a feel for whether you like it or not.
Should you want to test drive Xubuntu, the process if pretty simple. I’d suggest loading Xubuntu from a USB drive for one simple reason — you can always format the USB drive and select another Linux distribution to test drive if you find that Xubuntu just isn’t for you.
At any rate, putting together preparing your USB drive for a “test drive” is pretty simple. Just follow these steps:
1. Get a thumb drive that’s at least one gigabyte in size. Format it.
2. Go to PendriveLinux.com and download the Universal USB Installer.
3. Go to Xubuntu.org and download the latest stable release of the operating system (currently 12.10).
4. Run the Universal USB Installer, follow the prompts so you can install Xubuntu as a bootable image on your USB drive.
5. Reboot your computer and make sure you can boot from your USB drive. How do you do that? When the computer starts up, you’ll see a menu that will allow you to edit your BIOS, pull up a disc manager or a number of other things that will allow you to direct the computer to boot first from a USB port. On my Toshiba Satellite, for example, I have to hit the “F12″ key to pull up the boot manager.
6. Boot from the USB drive and Xubuntu will give you a few options. You can either install it on your hard drive and wipe out whatever operating system you have on there, install it so it runs alongside your operating system and you can choose which one to use when your computer starts or you can simply leave Xubuntu on the USB drive and try it out before installing it. The last option is probably the one you want if you simply want to see how Xubuntu works and decide if you want it on your system.
That’s it! The whole process should take less than an hour. I’ve found Xubuntu to be wonderfully easy to use, love the customizable desktop and enjoy the simplicity of simply opening the built-in software store, clicking on programs and having them install for me.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.