Friday, June 6, 2014

Is Linux Mint 17 a Viable Windows XP Replacement?

I know some of you are reading this on a computer that is still running Windows XP. That would be the now unsupported and unsecure Windows XP. It has always had security holes, but now Microsoft won't even try to fix those bugs. On top of that, your XP PC is probably too old, too slow and too under powered to be upgraded to Windows 8 or even Windows 7. That means a new PC. I may have an alternative for you. If you are a home PC user who typically does email, Facebook, Google searches, Twitter, types a few documents, etc., you can probably get by with Linux. There are a couple of compelling reasons for Linux. The first reason is that it is free. Not only the operating system, but all the application software most people need. It is secure. It is constantly being updated. It requires far fewer CPU, memory and disk resources than the newer Windows releases.   

Linux Mint 17, code named Qiana, was released on May 31st. You can read the particulars here in the Linux Mint blog. I installed the 64 bit Cinnamon version on June 3rd and except for a couple of minor items, I have reinstalled my modifications and software. So far there have been no problems. The install of the vanilla version is simple and relatively fast. If you are a Windows user you will be amazed at the speed and ease. The most time consuming part is the download of the installation file which is about 1.3 GB. Once the file is downloaded and burned to a DVD or USB drive the actual installation can be done in less than 30 minutes. 

Everything you need for normal home PC use is included. There is the Firefox web browser, LibreOffice which can do almost everything Microsoft Office can do, music and video players and utilities. All the stuff you're familiar with on Windows and all free. There are thousands of other apps available if you need more stuff. 

I have been running Linux Mint since release 11 in 2011. I am extremely happy with the product. I know that "Linux" scares many people. With the progress of Linux in general and Mint in particular over the past few years it is no longer scary. You can even install Linux Mint and still keep your Windows XP system and have both on the same PC. Before installing Mint you can test it out by booting from a USB drive or DVD. 

Linux Mint 17 is a good choice because it is a long term support (LTS) release and will be supported and updated until 2019. If you are willing to take a chance and invest a little time, this may be a way to extend the life of your old PC. So if you are still running Windows XP or even Vista give Linux Mint a try. 

Even if you are not trying to extend the life of an old PC, Linux may hold some interest for you. I admit that I am a geek and for about  35 years I was a professional geek, so this stuff is fun for me. If you don't feel comfortable plunging into the Linux world on your own, you probably know someone who could install it and get your PC up and running. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. 


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