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Advice on distro to replace Windows XP, please.


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#1
Channeal

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I am currently running Windows Xp on a 10-and-a-half-year-old Dell Dimension 9150 and am thinking about trying out Linux as an alternative to XP. I have no previous experience of using Linux, so would want to try a dual boot to start with. 
 
I have so far tried 3 versions of Linux which I have downloaded onto flash drives and have not encountered any real problem with any of them so far, apart from with hibernation which a Google search tells me is a common problem with my particular computer model. (All is okay if hibernation etc. is turned off).
 
Here are the distros I have tried: -
 
 
I also have a Linux Mint 18 Mate DVD which was given to me, but which I have not been able to try on the Dell (It works okay on my notebook, but when attempting to load it onto the Dell, I discovered that the DVD drive no longer works, so will probably have to be replaced). As a result of the DVD not working, I started out (before I realised that the DVD drive was faulty) thinking that my computer was too old to run it - which was the reason I tried out the xfce version, as it is said to be the best distro for old machines. When I discovered that it was the DVD which was at fault, I got adventurous and tried Zorin. :)
 
I like Zorin a lot, but find it hard to believe that it would run on this old computer - even though it seems fine when booted from the flash drive. Is it likely to be very different if loaded onto the hard drive as a dual boot? My computer has a Pentium 4 processor (3.20 GHz), plenty of memory (3.5 GB) and plenty of free space.
 
I have been scared a bit from trying this thus far as a result of reading something about how installing Linux can mess up the Windows installation. Is that true? My data is stored on a second hard drive and is backed up to an external drive, but the only back-up of Windows is a clone (also on my second hard drive) which has not been updated since it was created in 2014.
 
Any thoughts on anything I have mentioned above, please? Do you think Zorin would work on my computer? Or do you have any other recommendations?
 
There are so many different versions of Linux - and being me, I would love to try them all!  :lol:
 
Many thanks,
Chris.

Edited by Channeal, 04 December 2016 - 12:42 PM.

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#2
terry1966

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if zorin runs fine when used as a live cd from the flash drive, then usually linux will run even better when installed to the hard drive.

if the pc/laptop wasn't good enough to run zorin then any problems would have shown up during your testing.

personally i haven't tried zorin and have only really used opensuse for years. :- http://software.opensuse.org/422/en

 

yes it is possible to break booting into windows or even delete the windows os completely when experimenting with dual booting if you're not careful or make a mistake.

 

first thing you need to do is make sure you have the ability to reinstall the windows os if things go wrong, i always suggest making a full drive image that can be used to restore the pc to the exact same state it's in before you start making changes. macrium reflect is often recommended for this :- http://www.macrium.c...eflectfree.aspx

 

once that's done you can experiment to your hearts content knowing if you mess up you can easily and quickly restore things and start again, i think you'll find the install process is straight forward just make sure you choose the "install zorin alongside" option because if you choose the "erase disk and install" option then you will wipe your windows os from the pc/laptop.

 

to be honest not all linux distro's are worth trying, here's a list of the top 100 :- https://distrowatch.com/

there's probably only half a dozen or so i'd recommend, mint, suse being my top 2 picks.

i'd stick to trying different desktops more than different linux os, for example you've tested the mint os (based on ubuntu same as zorin is) with at least 2 different desktops. xfce and cinnamon. and my desktop preference is kde.

 

:popcorn:          


Edited by terry1966, 05 December 2016 - 03:47 AM.

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#3
Channeal

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Hello Terry,

 

Just to say thank you for all the info. I haven't had a chance to look at Linux any further at the moment, but will come back to it all again when I have got a bit more time. Life is just too busy and stressful right now - and that's without even beginning to think about Christmas preparations! :(

 

Chris.


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#4
terry1966

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no problem, just enjoy testing and using linux whenever you have the time, even if that's next year. :spoton:

 

:popcorn:


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#5
askey127

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Sorry I'm late to this thread.

If it is still significant, I would recommend Linux Mint 17.3 MATE as my top pick.

Mint 18 is OK but some of the packages are not quite dry behind the ears.

MATE is my choice for a desktop coming from Windows.

I have multiple (old) machines running this distro, both as standalone and as dual boot.

If you try dual boot, first make SURE your hard drive has some space that has no partitions.

MiniTool Partition Wizard can be used to shrink the C: drive if it's the only partition on the machine.


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#6
Channeal

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Thanks very much for your reply, askey127. No, you aren't too late at all..... I got distracted away from this topic when I discovered that none of my DVD drives worked properly and so I was unable to burn any of the Linux distros onto DVD (I was getting a bit muddled having them all on thumb drives and prefer them on DVD where they can be properly labelled). That has at long last all been sorted out now though!  :thumbsup:

 

Everyone seems to have their own favourite distro. I find them all interesting and want to try them ALL out, which would take forever! :lol: Will hopefully get a bit of spare time soon to work towards deciding which one to install. At the moment, I am thinking that perhaps one of the Mint versions might be best for my husband as he is not very good with computer-related stuff.

 

I myself am still very tempted by Zorin though!

 

Thanks again for your input.

Chris.


Edited by Channeal, 19 January 2017 - 06:50 AM.

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#7
askey127

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Save yourself some time and review distros from this harsh, very smart critic.

http://www.dedoimedo...r_software.html

It will at least throw some of them in the dumper before you waste a lot of time on them.


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#8
Channeal

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Thanks very much for the link askey127. I will peruse it with interest.
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#9
Channeal

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Terry, I attempted to try out openSUSE as suggested by you, but ran into problems. I was trying the Legacy version for 32-bit computers and when I loaded the DVD with it on, I was confused because it only gave me these options: -

Installation
Rescue system
Check installation media
Firmware test
Memory test

I don't think I want any of those! Does openSUSE not have a 'try-before-you-buy' option like the other distros I have tried thus far?

Thank you.
Chris
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#10
askey127

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Terry has given a good overview, but some distros are challenging for new users.

OpenSuse may be for Users who are somewhat advanced.

Review of that latest one, from a very smart, very harsh critic is here:

http://www.dedoimedo...nsuse-42-2.html

 

This particular one may have been released a bit early.

Most Suse releases have been stable.

 

My favorite pick to start with Linux is still here:

https://www.linuxmin...tion.php?id=205

The James Madison Univ. Site has good, fast downloads.

You will like it OK. ...and lots of help available.

 

This article, on the subject of XP, is outdated, but the material on dual booting with Linux is still relevant.
http://www.malwarere...php?f=4&t=62384
The entire thread is also available as a PDF document here: http://downloads.mal...he Elephant.pdf
 


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#11
terry1966

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no sorry opensuse doesn't make a "try before you buy" or live cd, to download anymore.

 

personally there is no real need to use 32bit software any more in my opinion so i'd always try the 64bit versions of the distro's your testing unless there's no other option. cpu's have been 64bit capable since at least the 90's.

 

here is a direct link to an unofficial kde live cd version of leap called argon from opensuse's repo's that will give you an idea of what the official ditro looks/works like when installed from the dvd you have already made. :-  http://download.open...90-Build1.4.iso

 

here's a link with different distro's that you can try that all use the same kde desktop that i prefer using. :- https://userbase.kde...ose_your_distro

 

:popcorn:


Edited by terry1966, 19 January 2017 - 09:34 PM.

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#12
Channeal

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Thanks very much to both of you for all the links and info. I think there is more than enough there to keep me out of mischief for quite a while!  :yes:

 

Just one quick question. If I installed a Linux OS and later decided I would have preferred another one (not that I think that is likely to happen; am just considering all eventualities) then would it be very difficult to delete it and start again?

 

Thanks.


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#13
terry1966

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replacing one distro with another is no more difficult than installing one in the first place in my opinion.

 

there is usually 2 ways to go about it, either using windows os

first fix the windows bootloader so it will boot straight into windows on a reboot then delete old distro's partitions in windows leaving empty space that the new ditro will use to install into.

 

or the other option is during the install of the new ditro use it's manual mode or whatever it's called when it suggests where it is going to install the os so you can choose and maybe alter the partitions the new distro will use to install onto and simply get it to format and install on the partitions currently used by the old distro.

 

the way i go about it is to start the install process of the new distro but when it comes to where it is going to install use the expert mode or whatever it's called in that distro to manually change things with the built in partitioning program then either just delete the partitions used by the old distro and create new ones to install the new distro onto or if you don't need a different partition layout simply format and install the new distro on the partitions used by the old distro.

 

a distro will usually create at least 2 partitions one called swap (every distro needs one.) and one for the os called root (every distro needs one.), but some distro's like opensuse will create a 3rd partition by default for the users data called home.

by creating this 3rd partition you keep the users data separate from the os so you can install a new os without losing a users data.

every distro has a "home" but it's not always on a separate partition and is just a folder on the root partition.

you can make/use a separate home partition with all distro's but most by default don't bother to create one.

 

:popcorn:

 

have you thought about using a "virtual machine" to easily install and test all the distro's instead of using live cd's?

this method is quick and doesn't mean making any changes to your current os and hard drive (besides installing the vm software.) to test things.

no more constant reboots or burning cd/dvd's to test with because you'll just boot the vm from the downloaded iso stored on your pc.

i use virtualbox. :- https://www.virtualbox.org/

 

some links explaining what a virtual machine is :-

http://www.howtogeek...rtual-machines/

https://en.wikipedia...Virtual_machine

http://searchserverv...virtual-machine

 

a video to give you an idea about virtualbox and vm's.:-


Edited by terry1966, 21 January 2017 - 05:07 PM.

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#14
Channeal

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Thanks very much for all of that Terry. The first bit about what to do if I chose a distro and then wanted to change it at a later date all sounds a bit complicated!

The idea of using a virtual machine is one that I had already been thinking about. I did read a lot about virtual machines some time ago and I have always thought it would be something I would like to try out. I think that might be a good idea.

The problem I am finding with trying out different distros is that so far I have liked them all! I tried Ubuntu yesterday and really liked that, although am not sure it ran well on my computer (maybe need to try it again). I don't see any obvious big differences between the distros though, apart from the layout, although I know there are differences e.g. in programs available. I guess the only way to really learn about them is to try using the distro on a day-to-day basis (maybe as you suggested through a virtual machine).

My main problem at the moment is that I feel pressure from within myself to get rid of XP as soon as possible because of the security issues. The more I learn about Linux the more I think that it would be a long long time before I would ever be in a position where I felt comfortable to get rid of Windows altogether - and while it is still there, I think the temptation will always be there to use it.

Plenty for me to think about with all of this..... :)
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#15
terry1966

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The first bit about what to do if I chose a distro and then wanted to change it at a later date all sounds a bit complicated!

i seem to remember you saying something similar about changing your dvd drives, but of course it wasn't in the end.

once you go through the process and understand what you're seeing on the screen it really isn't that complicated.
 

The problem I am finding with trying out different distros is that so far I have liked them all! I tried Ubuntu yesterday and really liked that, although am not sure it ran well on my computer (maybe need to try it again). I don't see any obvious big differences between the distros though, apart from the layout, although I know there are differences e.g. in programs available. I guess the only way to really learn about them is to try using the distro on a day-to-day basis (maybe as you suggested through a virtual machine).

that's probably because nearly all the distro's you've mentioned/tried are based off ubuntu in the first place. probably the biggest differences in the different distro's are not really noticeable by the user anyway in my opinion things like what display server it uses.
 
every linux distro can be made to look the same and run the same programs as any other distro if you have the time and know how.
http://www.makeuseof...splay-managers/

https://www.linux.co...vironments-2016
 
personally i just think linux is linux regardless of what distro you use, so my advice is just find one you like the look and feel of and stick with that.
 
ever thought about installing linux but then running xp in the virtual machine? that way you can have the security of linux and also have the familiarity of using xp. (first i dual booted, then i just installed linux and run windows in a vm and now i never need/use a windows os at all, running windows in a vm though is also a good way to run some windows programs you may use now that don't have a linux version, like itunes that you've mentioned you use somewhere.)
 
virtual machines are great for testing things and i'd definitely recommend you install and start using virtual box now even if it's just to save you time and make the testing quicker.
 
:popcorn:


Edited by terry1966, 22 January 2017 - 08:10 AM.

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