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Help! I've screwed up a free computer

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I got a free Compaq Presario 1256 from my sister-in-law, and thought all I had to do to install Windows XP was use the discs that came with my E-machine. Well, it didn't work, and now I seem to have no operating system on the Compaq. Do I have to go buy a new operating system or is it possible to download a free operating system of some kind. I'm more used to audio equipment, and I'm totally lost. Any help will be So appreciated.


Dave423 (The Big Dummy)
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There is plenty of free OSs about not windows but some are just as good if not better in some ways and most have a good community for providing support, something like ubuntu linux would be quite a good choice or one of the other linux OSs but i like Ubuntu its very popular these days with new comers to linux OS. You can of course go and buy a new OS if you want windows or get another copy of a windows installer disk and try again.
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dave -
Just so you know for next time, you can't just take the install discs from one PC and use it in another. Microsoft wouldn't make any money if people could do that.
What you tried to do was, technically speaking, illegal. Besides, your E-Machines install CD comes with the drivers for that specific PC already pre-loaded on the CD. If you use the E-Machines CD to install to some other machine with different hardware inside, it just makes a mess of things. The "Recovery CD"s from a Dell or an HP or an E-Machine are good for the PC that they came with, nothing else.
Even if you had a genuine Windows operating system CD, it's only supposed to be installed to one PC one time. At least that's the case with the OEM Windows CD. Once you've installed and gone online for updates, Microsoft downloads their "Windows Genuine Advantage" spyware into your PC, and they use that to record what's inside. If you try to use the key code on another machine, you're busted.

It's unfortunate that Microsoft has ruled the roost for so long, because it virtually forces older PC's into the landfill. I ran into this problem a year ago when I picked up a few PC's from the Washington State surplus warehouse. The PC's were cheap, but by the time you'd bought some RAM, a HDD, and an optical drive the economics were starting to look questionable. At least if some part of the PC failed, the rest of the hardware could be re-used.

But the cost of Windows pushed the economics over the edge, especially since once the OS was installed, it was legally tied to that PC. Why risk a brand-new install of Windows to an old PC that could crap out at any time?

Linux changes all that. The OS is free. If you resurrect an old PC with Linux and it blows up, you just start over again. No more worrying about what's legal. What a relief. I'm running Ubuntu 6.06 (the latest version) on an old spare PC. Linux can be confusing at first, but it's made huge advances in recent years. Besides, the "confusion" originates from trying to do something the way you're used to in Windows. Linux is a superior operating system in many ways, but it's not Windows so you have to go into it with a good attitude and a willingness to learn.

Microsoft & the PC makers just want you to keep upgrading every couple of years. Just wait til Vista comes out and thousands of perfectly good older PC's, printers, scanners, etc. are declared "obsolete". You can step off the treadmill with Linux.

Check out the Ubuntu Forums, follow the steps for downloading the CD. Or, if you can wait a few weeks, request free CD's from Ship-it. That's right, free operating system CD's! Ship-it will send you 5 sets of the CD's, so you can give some away to friends.

Then buy the Keir Thomas book, "Beginning Ubuntu" http://www.amazon.co...l/dp/1590596277

It's written for Breezy, the previous version of Ubuntu, so some parts are obsolete, but 90+% of the book is still applicable. I think it's important to get a book that goes with the distro you're using.
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