I have to thank our beloved commentator Philippa
for inspiring this post to diablog. As you can read here, Philippa is upset about Microsoft dropping support for Windows XP. And there are millions like her. Just one example, the majority of cash machines – aka hole in the wall – is still running on XP.
Phillipa and her fellow sufferers are experiencing, what I went through more than 10 years ago. Then, I got upset about Microsoft forcing me to buy new computers roughly every three years. The updated Windows versions just did not run on “old” hardware. An additional annoyance was, that only every other version of Windows worked well. Currently, Windows 7 is OK, Windows 8 sucks big time.
My solution then – and Philippa’s today – was and is switching to a different operating system. Since Apple OS version whatever isn’t much different from Windows, I went to Linux.
Here now comes the moment, where I failed Philippa. Instead of giving her a proper manual how to switch to Linux, I left her with a half-baked comment. For Philippa and the millions, who do not want to throw out their computer, just because Microsoft says so, here is a step-by-step guide. All others can ignore this post and stay happy Microsoft/Apple slaves.
First, I encourage you to play around with Linux. Yes, Linux is playful.
To play with it, Linux developers usually provide you with something called a Live CD. That is the whole Operating System on one CD or DVD. You can run most Linux distributions in your temporary memory (RAM). The Live CD enables you, to try out Linux on your computer without installing it. Nothing is saved or changed on your PC, no damage to your data will be done. How nice is that? Think of it as taking a car for a test run.
To play around with Linux you need one or more blank DVD-R and a burner program.
According to distrowatch, a website that reports about Linux variations (aka distributions), the two most popular Linux distributions are Linuxmint and Ubuntu. Sidenote: Linuxmint is based on Ubuntu, which itself is based on Debian.) One reason both are popular is the ease of switching from Windows to Linux with them.
If you are coming from Windows, I would suggest you try Linuxmint and Xubuntu, which is Ubuntu with a different desktop manager.
The fist thing to do is downloading Linuxmint. Here is the download site: http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php. And here is the “manual” http://www.linuxmint.com/documentation/user-guide/Cinnamon/english_17.0.pdf
Linuxmint comes in two variants, Cinnamon and Mate. I prefer Cinnamon, it is almost beautiful. Assuming that you are coming from XP, you probably have somewhat older hardware, so pick the 32-Bit Version. On that site you find many links to download it from any server closest to you. For you Brits there is the University of Kent server for example.
Once you click on the server link, you are asked what to do with the “linuxmint-17-cinnamon-dvd-32bit.iso” file. Please save it to your download folder or anywhere else, where you can find it.
Once the download is done, you can check the MD5 sum, to see whether or not the file is OK. Frankly, I never experienced a problem so far.
Now you burn (not copy or install) the .iso file onto a blank DVD. That is what you need the burning program for. The burning process may take a few minutes. Once finished, the DVD will be ejected. Just leave it in the disk drive and close it.
Now reboot your computer, with the DVD in the disk drive. 99% of the time, your PC will now boot from the DVD and you will start what is called a live session. Start playing around. You will find familiar programs like the web browser Firefox, maybe the email program Thunderbird. If you are looking for something like MS office, there is LibreOffice and OpenOffice. If you are looking for an alternative of any other MS program, this website might help: http://www.linuxappfinder.com/alternatives. It is a bit outdated, but still a good starting point.
Use the Live CD to browse around the net, chat, create a document or a spreadsheet, play around. If you do not like Linuxmint, try Xubuntu. And if you are coming from Apple, maybe elementaryOS is something for you.
Once you found the right Linux distribution for you, please, let us know.