Linux spelled using black keys on a white background

Did you check to see if your PC is eligible for an update to Windows 11, only to be let down? One of your few options for continued use of your laptop or desktop beyond Windows 10 is to install Linux. Here’s why that’s not a bad thing.

The good folks at Microsoft have set high expectations for Windows 11 devices, publishing minimum system requirements that stretch the meaning of the word “minimum.” If your device is even a few years old, chances are your computer won’t cut the mustard.

Outmoded hardware, though, can leave you in a real pickle. Do you continue using outdated software and invite security risks, or do you spend your hard-earned money on a new device and contribute to the global e-waste problem?

Linux: The Other Operating System

That’s where Linux comes to the rescue. Linux operating systems (also called distros) typically have much more relaxed system requirements, and some even cater specifically to old and low-end hardware. Best of all, Linux is free.

Elementary OS Linux Distro
Laptop running the Linux distro Elementary OS

Even if you still decide to buy a Windows 11-capable PC, installing Linux on your old machine allows you to continue getting use out of your still-functioning hardware, at no cost to you. No, Linux can’t do everything Windows does, but for most everyday computing tasks, Linux gets the job done.

Additionally, many modern distros, like Ubuntu, Elementary OS, and Fedora, strive to give you high functionality and slick, progressive looks right out of the box. You don’t have to look far for something that suits your needs and complements your style. And let’s be honest, are you really going to miss having ads in your desktop?

How to Try Linux

To try running Linux directly on your system, you’ll need to pick a distribution (consider our recommendations for beginners) and then write it to a bootable drive. After that, you can boot it on your PC and try it out. Don’t worry, this “live boot” won’t erase your current Windows system or files unless you explicitly choose to go that route. Alternatively, you can also buy a dedicated laptop to run Linux.

If you like what you see, go ahead and follow our complete guide to installing Linux. Your hardware, forsaken by Microsoft, will thank you.

The Best Linux Laptops of 2023

Dell XPS 13 Plus Laptop Developer Edition
Best Linux Laptop Overall
Dell XPS 13 Plus Laptop Developer Edition
Star Labs StarLite 11-inch
Best Budget Linux Laptop
Star Labs StarLite 11-inch
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 With Linux
Best Premium Linux Laptop
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 With Linux
System76 Oryx Pro
Best Linux Laptop for Gamers
System76 Oryx Pro
Profile Photo for Jordan Gloor Jordan Gloor
Jordan Gloor is Technical Editor at How-To Geek. He's been tinkering with computers and other technology since childhood when his rural Arkansas home got dial-up internet. Jordan combines his skills in written communication with his penchant for tech to help create our informative how-to guides.
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