How-To Geek

The Painless Way to Ditch Your Old Windows XP for a More Secure Linux

xp to linux

Windows XP just isn’t secure anymore! If the expense of the new Windows operating systems is too great, here’s an easy and painless way to get a completely free Linux, keep your old Windows XP installation, and start surfing securely.

There are a lot of great features of Linux, and security is one of the best. Viruses on desktop versions of Linux are uncommon—in fact most Linux users simply laugh at the idea of viruses. Today we’ll cover what might be the easiest installation of Linux ever—one that doesn’t even require booting from a CD to install. Keep reading to see how you can upgrade your computer, keep your Windows XP installation, and test drive Linux for a more secure computing experience.

Can’t I Just Keep My Windows XP?


As we discussed in last week’s flame war security article on Windows XP, it’s time to give old XP its gold watch and put it out to pasture. We talked about moving on for a lot of different reasons, most important among them security; Microsoft is beginning to phase out support for the now 10+ year old operating system, and is dedicating as little of its resources as possible to fix malware and security issues. Some HTG readers were not thrilled about the idea of giving up their beloved XP operating system, citing older hardware and the high cost of Windows 7 as reasons for not flipping to a more modern OS. However, there are ways to improve your browsing experience and not pay for an expensive new version of Windows—and the simplest way may be Linux.

Okay, So Why Linux?

Linux is a free and open source operating system that will run on lots and lots of different hardware, including most machines that Windows XP will run on. It won’t run Windows programs without virtual machines (or some mucking around in WINE) so Windows viruses won’t affect it in the slightest. Most distros of Linux have free firewall software, and are easily updated with free patches for security. And when a new version of your distro comes out, there’s no cost to upgrade either.

You can also expect loads of free software to replace the majority of what you might have been paying for on Windows. But since most of it is done by hobbyists, open source groups, and small software companies, many of the most popular programs (Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop, for example) don’t have native Linux versions. However, free versions of programs, like Libre Office and GIMP, can fill their role well, if not perfectly.

In addition to this, many distros have taken great strides to be more user friendly than past ones, so you can expect a better experience than you could have even a few short years ago. While it’s not Windows, it is secure, free, and a great way to browse and enjoy the internet virtually trouble free. Not to mention, a great way to learn more about how your computer works! Let’s check out how to get started on our painless Linux experience.

Can I Try Linux Before I Install It?


Absolutely! One of the best tools of the past several years are the Live CD or Live DVD environments—entire operating systems that run without being installed to your hard disk, directly from a CD or DVD in your optical drive. These are great ways to surf the internet and tool around on a computer in a completely sandboxed environment, without the risk of damaging anything on the system.


Most distros will come with a Live CD, DVD, or USB flash drive version appropriate for the user that wants to try it out before committing to an installation. Two of our favorites here at HTG are Ubuntu and Linux Mint, both of which give some of the best user experiences in Linux computing. Simply download a Live CD or Live DVD, burn it to a disc, and boot your machine from your optical (CD or DVD) drive.


We’ll mostly be talking about these two distros today, although we encourage Linux geeks to leave comments and friendly suggestions for their favorite distros to share with all of the readers we hope will be giving up XP.

How Do I Get Linux on My Computer?

If you’ve either tried out Linux or simply want to dive right in with an install, the most painless way to get started with dual booting Linux is the Windows installer WUBI. Linux Mint has a similar program (based directly off of the source for WUBI) called Mint4Win. Let’s take a brief look at how easy it is to get Linux on a Windows machine and start surfing the internet more securely.


Point your browser to to download the officially supported Windows application that will install Ubuntu on your Windows 7, Vista, or XP machine.


Download the application, run it in Windows, and keep your internet connection open. WUBI handles all of the rest of the installation once you tell it where to install, how much space to give Linux on your hard drive to use, and various other settings, like which desktop environment to use. Ubuntu will work fine for most everybody, although Kubuntu may be more friendly for Windows users and Xubuntu is a good environment for readers with older, more underpowered computers.

That’s pretty much it—it’s painless and doesn’t involve repartitioning drives or formatting and losing any of your Windows data. WUBI creates a disk image file on one of your drives and essentially handles everything! You can reboot and flip back to Windows XP at any time if you need it for any programs you just can’t seem to find for Linux.


As for Linux Mint: like the WUBI/Ubuntu experience, Mint offers a Windows installer on both the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of the CD version of their newest release. (FYI, If you’re not sure which version to use, you’ll be safe picking the 32 bit version.)


Since it’s based on the same software, you can expect a very similar experience to WUBI, except for downloading the ISO, burning it to a CD, and running the Windows installer from that disc.

Start Using Your Shiny New and More Secure OS!


When installation is done (it can take an hour, maybe longer) you’ll be ready to reboot and use your new operating system. There’s tons of documentation on Ubuntu, and lots of community support for newbies, not only on How to Geek, but also on loads of other places on the internet. If you run into problems installing Linux with WUBI, there’s also great coverage of how to troubleshoot that installation, as well.

Have fun exploring a new OS and getting into the world of free and open source software! Linux is a great way to learn more about computers and how they work, and also a great way to at least browse the internet without using your old, tired, and insecure Windows XP installation. Fans of Linux, share your experience—help convert Windows XP users with your suggestions, favorite distros for Windows users, and your open source computing experience.

Image Credits: Never Underestimate Linux by Eric Adeleye, available under Creative Commons. Lightscribed CD by martinlaas, available under Creative Commons. Some screenshots taken from various linked knowledge bases for Linux Mint and WUBI, assumed fair use.

Eric Z Goodnight is an Illustrator and Stetson-wearing wild man. During the day, he manages IT and product development for screenprinted apparel manufacturing; by night he creates geek art posters, writes JavaScript, and records weekly podcasts about comics.

  • Published 10/31/11

Comments (83)

  1. jamio

    Linux Mint is better(DVD) for most.. since it contain all the codec needed to watch movies and play music

  2. iam_urz

    cool. but how does one lose the nauseating UI? the old gnome type desktop is preferable.

  3. Eric Z Goodnight

    @jamio: I agree it would probably be better, but the webpage for Mint listed the CD as the only one with the Windows installer. The DVD would require either a live environment or a full install.

    @iam_urz: In a terminal…
    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
    sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

    If this isn’t correct, let me know. I haven’t tried it on my installation yet.


    I heard you can install Gnome 3 from the software center in 11.10…… I haven’t verified this, however. But yeah, I prefer gnome for some reason… but Unity is still worth it

  5. Windows 7 Not that expertise!

    It really isn’t people just upgrade if that’s what you want to do. Or yes use Linux!

  6. Windows 7 Not that expensive!

    t really isn’t people just upgrade if that’s what you want to do. Or yes use Linux!

    Sorry for the Typo Auto correct!

  7. Nathan

    I use Windows XP, and I also have an iPhone, if I switch to Ubuntu, how do I update my phone and put music onto it as iTunes only appears to be for Windows and Mac =X

  8. UUUnicorn

    Too bad that the last Xfce version of Linux Mint that was Xubuntu-based was 9 “Isadora”–it was PERFECT on my netbook (MSI Wind U100-432US)!

    However, I do think that this was an LTS (Long-Term Support) version–it’s based on Xubuntu 10.04 “Lucid Lynx”.

  9. Bikas

    @Eric Z Goodnight: You can always download CD version and upgrade it easily to DVD features (which essentially is few codecs and some random other tools, not used by masses. Process is damn easy even for newbies.

  10. Exitstageleft

    Until someone can tell me where the applet is to change display resolutions in Ubuntu, I’m not loading it up anymore.

  11. Arston

    Can I navigate in Linux with just the keyboard – the same way I do now with Windows?

  12. CitrusRain

    After hearing that Mint was the new starter’s distro, I installed it on my sister’s laptop. My brother’s had Edubuntu 11.04, and most of the things I put on his laptop for him, seemed impossible for me to get to work on Mint. Along with slow start menu load times (possibly over-customized). The only successful thing I managed to do on mint was have a minecraft shortcut on the desktop.

    Meanwhile on the Ubuntu side of things, the newest versions haven’t sat well with whoever I recommend them to, and the LTS takes me forever to set up for them, and I can’t seem to find the package manager that I was using in Mint.

  13. Eric Z Goodnight

    @Bikas: Oh yeah, that’s what I recommend, because the WUBI installer is just so easy and adding a few restricted extras is really not that big a deal.

    Here’s how we covered adding restricted extras for MP3 support in Ubuntu 10.04:

  14. CitrusRain


    I believe it’s under System > Preferences > Monitors

    Or if you have nvidia drivers installed, it’ll be Nvidia graphics settings, which would be pulled up if you try the previous thing.
    May have to install required drivers.

    Note: If you’re in a vitural machine… you can’t increase the res.

  15. CitrusRain


    W.I.N.E. – windows emulation

  16. DonW

    To Exitstageleft! To change DISPLAY Resolutions –>

  17. Frank

    Having been underwhelmed by the article about abandoning WinXP, I am delighted with this article … although this only means that I have been doing this dual booting already! Actually, my desk-top is set up for triple booting since I have also installed Suse (simply because it is my son’s favorite version of Linux, but I personally prefer Ubuntu). To do this I used Grub, which I happily prefer, perhaps simply because it is the one I have gotten to know but it did the job and nicely so.

    But you have given me an idea about how to extend my using WinXP even past its “death date” in 2014, for I can continue using WinXP off-line and simply get in the habit of booting up into Ubuntu when I want to work on-line! Great idea … works for me … so thanks! Of course, this tactic raises another I have with ever changing soft-ware, for I am have not yet up-graded from 8.10 … as it does everything I want but when support finally runs out I guess I will have to up-grade to 11.10 … reluctantly!

    My “bottom line” is that while I understand (and usually approve) about up-grades/improvements that are
    “under the hood” I fear that all too often such changes are just so that someone can show off or change things around in how to use a program just to put their own thumb-prints on something I already know how to use! For me, at least, all too often what seems a “natural default” to the design engineers is not at all the obvious or useful way to do something for us customers which means that I have to relearn everything
    and that’s seems a needless chore.

    Just sayin’,

    Still, thanks for the new idea, for it is a tactic I will try out, if only because it gives me a reason to boot-up into Ubuntu more often than I do now … and I do want/need to practice more on it.

  18. cam2644

    I went Windows/Ubuntu dual boot some time back and then dropped Windows completely. Mint is probably better for most Linux starters as the new Unity desktop on Ubuntu can cause problems on older machines.

  19. Ric

    Anyway, for those who aren’t comfortable with gnome o unity (I hate both personally) you can use KDE within Ubuntu or go straight to Kubuntu.

  20. Hariharan

    If any newbies would like to know about more Linux Distros then go to

    They have listed distros according to their Ranks.

  21. Dave Gardiner

    For those of you who don’t like the Unity desktop , you can download Ubuntu Server. After installing it, you cam switch to root(sudo su)and enter the following command: apt-get install -y(the -y answers yes to the question Do you want to continue?)lxde obconf openbox.
    This will install the LXDE desktop, and the openbox desktop which LXDE uses. It’s fast, looks good, and can use GTK themes. It’s what I run on both my desktop and laptop computers.

  22. sean

    It looks like these os’s have security issues of their own. Not a great first impression htg, telling xp users to dump it, for something that appears to have many security issues of its own.
    Maybe it’s safer than xp, but I’m still not sold.

  23. Eric Z Goodnight

    @sean: Every OS has security issues like this. What you want is one with a team dedicated to solving the problems before they become catastrophic. A page on about security fixes should make you feel better about it, not worse. No software is perfect when it’s written–that’s why new versions and patches are released.

  24. John

    In my office at work I have 2 PCs. One runs Win7 Enterprise, but I had to keep Win XP Pro on the other one to run some legacy equipment, mainly our ID card printer that still doesn’t have a Win 7 driver. Anyhow, I used Wubi to set up the XP machine as a dual boot system with Ubuntu 11.10. That way when I’m not printing ID cards, I use it for web browsing, coding, and RDPing our servers and other machines. (I actually like Reminna better than the RDP client in Windows!) I also set up Thunderbird in it to load up my personal, non-business email account.

  25. RoBanJo

    So, have these Linux versions come up with wifi solutions that work?

  26. pv_viking

    There are other small distros like Puppy Linux for those that only want to get a toe wet and do a little surfing.

  27. Dabheid

    My HP Laptop has a dual boot – Win 7/Ubuntu 10.04 setup courtesy of HTG’s tutorials, been using it the past 4+ months with no problems…so thanx HTG. :)

  28. steve

    I installed Ubuntu 11 newest version. First experience.
    I downloaded VLC and can’t figure out how to add to the Launcher (I think that is what the start menu is called).
    I prefer a windows type Start Menu over the difficult to interpret (for me anyway) icons only in the sidebar.

    Any suggestions?

  29. Dabheid

    @ RoBanJo – Ubuntu works with VividWireless Hotspot quite well.

  30. bill

    “Download the application, run it in Windows, and keep your internet connection open. WUBI handles all of the rest of the installation once you tell it where to install, how much space to give Linux on your hard drive to use, and various other settings, like which desktop environment to use. ”

    I’ve done this and see no way to actually run the browser???? The files have DL and I see no icon etc…..

  31. Varun

    Great article…bookmarked…would soon dual boot to Mint…seems Linux has come a long way since that dull command interface i tried 5 years ago (Ubuntu)

  32. keltari

    if people havent upgraded their XP install by now there are 2 major issues

    1) their hardware is ancient and wont run modern major linux distros well, regarless how efficient Linux is

    2) They wont want to change. Many of the XP users dont want to switch because they like things the way they are. Its hard enough to get them to upgrade Windows, switching to Linux wont happen.

  33. Malcolm Sutton

    Not very painless. Loaded ubuntu, get application toolbar at top but white screen everywhere else. Is it white text on white background?

  34. Gerry

    What a fantastic article! I posted a comment on a article not too long ago advising users of XP to switch over to Ubuntu, so it’s fantastic seeing an article dedicated to some of the reasons I had in mind.

    @sean What you are seeing there is a open and professional attitude to security, unlike the hide it and hope nobody notices attitude which Microsoft takes. I’ve been using Ubuntu for over two years now and security has never been a problem unlike the constant headache it was when I was a Windows user.

  35. Jason W

    If only we could get netflix to play in ubuntu :(

  36. AST

    I still like XP and haven’t had a security issue in a long time.Depends on what sites your visiting i guess,however for a novice this still seems hard to make it run. Your back and forth with which one to use.For a novice this is confusing.It’s easy enough to put one on a CD,but really which one? I don’t want to install or dual boot,just run off a CD.

  37. Eric Z Goodnight

    @Jason w: I know, right?

  38. Kurt

    I have been dual booting xp and linux for years; a pitfall is that the internet connection is always on in the background, even if you don’t open the browser. For this reason I delete the NIC driver in the XP(it can be reinstalled from the resource disk, at least on DELL, with OEM disks.)
    When I installed UBU 11.04, got a box saying “you don’t have the hardware for UNITY, install gnome?
    OK; then installed 11.10, and it automatically installed unity!!! Maybe it’s just the hardware(amd 64,1 gig ram, etc.), but this unity is the worst junk I have ever seen. Click on an icon, and it doesn’t shade to show selection; if selected it takes about 5 seconds to “go”, and in either case, the pointer doesn’t change on the hover.
    Even worse the “simplification” of the desktop has actually made it’s use INCOMPREHENSIBLE !!
    it’s like “baby’s first computer”, made of soft plastic. Still worse, it is broken in all kinds of ways.
    For these reasons, I have gone to mint, which for the moment has not gone down that road.
    By the way I use puppy linux as my live cd for transactions; puppy is a winner !

  39. Soumya

    i switched to ubuntu 11.10 from win 7 (in my lenovo r-61 which is not my primary machine )
    two things that are bugging me are :
    1. the headphone jack and the in built mic is not working
    2. and the more pressing one the system is not as stable as an window enviroment

    any suggestions for me?

  40. Holden

    Why would I change my XP for a Ubuntu when I can do anything with my XP?

    You say Ubuntu is safe! Of course, because You have no root access!!!! If You would use XP without Administrator rights, it would be as safe as Ubuntu, and would be as useless as Ubuntu. When I install Ubuntu, the first thing is to set up a root login.

    If anybody wants an XP-Linux dual boot system, the best option is grub! It is more esthetic and more flexible then XP’s boot manager.

    If someone says that Linux has many free software, I laugh out loud! Windows XP has many more reliable and useable free software than Linux, many of them with source code! I encountered not one free program on Linux which was not worth even dowloading it :-((

    Let someone show me a program on Linux as good as MP3Tag on Windows, or SharpDevelop, or mp3DirectCut, or Total Commander or CCleaner, or Paragon Backup and Rescue. It’s a false myth that only Linux has free software, it’s time to open Your eyes: Windows users can use better freeware programs than any Linux user!

    Who tried to install an Oracle server on Linux? It’s hell. Tried to install Oracle server on XP? Well, it’s simple.

    Use Netbeans on XP, it’s beautiful, use it on Linux, it’s terrible! The fonts are almost unreadable.

    So no one tell me, that Linux is better! Never! Use XP for a week then use any Linux for a week, You will choose XP, if You are open minded…

  41. john3347

    There is yet a simpler option than dumping Windows XP or replacing with an OS that is “By geeks – For geeks”. You can just retain Windows XP and let Microsoft go where they wish to go. I am still using Windows 2000 and it really doesn’t even know that it has been abandoned by its “Daddy”. XP will fit the same scenario after “Daddy” abandons it too. If you have and like XP, just continue to use XP and don’t worry about what your neighbor uses.

  42. triker

    XP is compatible with business apps I need. Any OS change would cost for to be upgraded. Yes, I run XP mode with WIN 7 pro but virtual pc is too limited access. Remote desktop to my XP boxes is great!

  43. Kurt

    Dual booting XP and linux is good, but I always delete the NIC card driver in the XP, because the internet connection is always active even when the browser is closed. In my case, it can be reinstalled with the resource cd(Dell OEM). Unity is awful.

  44. Teek5449

    If only Linux was for everyone. I love Linux, don’t get me wrong, but for the majority of us M$ Windows is the only way to go.

    For example:
    Do you like to play new / current / popular games?
    Stick with Windows. Yea, yea Linux has really cool games of its own and yes yes you ‘might’ be able to use WINE but it almost never works as expected.

    Do you like clear(er) fonts?
    Stick with Windows. While Linux has the ability to display fonts ok (some prefer the way Linux displays fonts) it just never looked right to me. Always fuzzy or just weird.

    Do you like to setup / configure your software through menus or a GUI?
    Stick with Windows… for the most part. Linux is the realm of the console and text file configurations. For me this was a plus so YMMV.

    Do you like to have complete control and setup every part of your system?
    Then go with Linux. Again this was a plus for me but most people just want an OS running out of the box.

    Are you a power user / control freak?
    Linux is your system.

    Is security one of the most important issues for you?
    Linux all the way!

    Just a small list but you get the point. Linux is for the power user who loves messing with configuration files and typing for hours into the console. Not every Linux tool has a GUI designed for it. Windows are for people who just want a stable OS out of the box with little customization needed.

    For me, I would LOVE to be able to use my Arch system all day long but there are just some things that Windows just excels at and I find myself using Linux less and less every day. I did this same thing about a decade ago and found that I was eventually using Windows everyday and never booting into Linux.

    Fix multimonitor fullscreen flash (yup its a Linux issue and not Flash), font rendering, release some decent games, and I will be moving back to Linux in a heartbeat.

  45. mozillaatbest

    It goes without saying that change is seldom welcomed when it means leaving one’s comfort zone. Having myself made the change from Windows to Linux I know all too well that there is a learning curve to overcome and that is important to note prior to choosing to use Linux in any serious way. However, as my colleagues have pointed out very well there is a huge amount of support available and the overall experience initially has gotten more user friendly. Personally, when I first got exposed to Linux it was Ubuntu 9.10 and two of the hardest things to overcome for me was not associated with Linux but with my experience from Windows. The first and hardest thing was anti-virus, virus, malware, etc., from my experience over the last three years there is very little need for those worries and I found it hard initially to accept that reality. The second one was finding secure, reliable, and functioning software that I could use for a reasonable price (while still using Windows – prior to Linux), now I simply open up the Ubuntu Software Center or the Synaptic Package Manager and I can find almost anything I’m looking for and know it’s secure, reliable, and fully functional as it has been tested by the Open Source Community at large and Ubuntu as well. So, really there is no valid reason why not to give Linux a try but do so with a clear understanding its not Windows and there still exists a learning curve, not really hard to overcome though as most of what a newbie will encounter can be handled with a GUI. Do yourself a favor and do some research into the various distros (as I’ve used Ultimate Edition for a large part of my Linux experience) as each offers a varying degree of difference which makes the various distros suitable to a wide variety of personalities and tastes, but do find one that is easy to begin with like Ubuntu or Linux Mint. Enjoy the freedom and share.

  46. AMC


    Mint comes w/ an introduction piece of software called the “Mint Welcome Screen.” I’m sure you’ve seen it: it loads on first boot, and forever afterward unless you disable it. In my experience, it slows everything WAY down and needs to be disabled ASAP. Make sure you go to Startup Applications and ensure that it’s not checked to start at boot. Linux Mint 10 is a PERFECT OS! Thanks Mint team!

  47. max

    who need an operating system tha is never finished…. anyway even windows eight works much better then any liux iv seen including the infamous Ubuntu

  48. dump_

    lolz @Eric Z Goodnight, you wanted one more shinypokey point to make didnt you, you are amusing to me though.
    Well Im going to be nice to you this time linux is 20 years old and good on you for promoting, so 1/2 a geek point there !!!!
    You are correct to encourage readers of htg in linux participation but you are not 100% correct on your XP bashing….(not dual booting).
    Thats why you were flamed by many of us before, btw you took it somewhat well…..but again we have a boring repeat.
    So here look.
    XP is alive PATCHED and still kicking……it may not have 0 day exploit support but serious breaches are still handled, (with investigation and software support) it may be limited but it is not UNSAFE as you again insist on bleeding out……let me help you. The last XP kernel hack was in April 2011…..and patched shortly after it was discovered fyi, so……….
    First dont use ars as reference for SECURITY.

    look where the proffessionals go to @

    Readers these are all safe legit urls for security of which many of you would know.
    The latter url being one of the best sites to hear on security flaws and latest haxor info on all os platforms, listen to your readers, ms use these sites…..users are mainly at fault with software and yeah the pedal is off on XP but they havent retired it yet from the support of many users in the ms computing community. Ars is wrong so dont follow suit with them…….listen to your long term system uzers here, dont turn us off.
    If you are thinking about me writing a column…..just ask, but dont sack Eric Z Goodnight he is probably a really sweet guy…..although stubborn like most bit and byte geeks.

    So Eric Z Goodnight another -2 geek points to you, plus your other -2 and a +1/2 a point for linux dual boot gives you a shakey total of -3.5.

  49. Dumb Ass

    now that i downloaded Ubuntu (ima NOOB!!!) I have no access to any of my previous files and photos from my windows …am I just screwed or what! I thought I read this to run along with windows to keep my schiz safe not delete it and install a whole new op sys…WTH?! can someone please help

  50. Don Chandler

    This string of comments explains why no version fo Linux has ever made it to the big time. From DOS 3.1 ’till now no MS product has ever had the number of problems mentioned in this string alone, mostly by Linux fans. When a version of Linux comes out that everyone likes and that works first time out of the box, it will go. But we all know that isn’t going to happen, too many disparate opinions on what should go where, and what should load first, and …….

  51. Mike

    Outside of using an old XP machine, most people want to at least tryout a linux version on a newer machine before going to all the work of converting an old machine and there is the fly in the ointment.

    These tips work for older machines, but looming on the horizon is the dynamic disk install that the PC makers are using to discourage Linux experimentation. I have been trying to find a solution like Wubi that will strain out the data on a dynamic disk, allow me to format the disk as a static disk and then put the data back. THEN be able to create a partition on the static disk that I can install linux into. I have a kludge work around with and external drive I use now but it would be better to have a better solution so that as my machines get long in the tooth I can do a back partition set to begin experimenting with linux versions to see which ones like the machine.

  52. LJ

    Although Linux is improving it still isnt up to par, it does have a big fan base though (reminds me of mac)
    I cant believe all the garbage I hear about giving up XP and feel that thats where I will stay until someone puts something out thats more capable. Windows 7 is user friendly to the point of annoyance, bogged down with a bunch of pretties that I turn off in every OS I use out of preference, and is built horribly in general. Everyone keeps saying “People dont want to switch due to old hardware or prices” etc etc…
    Thats not it, for me at least it is that I dont want to completely waste the resources that I do have.
    Windows 7 and Vista are both downgrades from XP and I am hoping windows 8 may be more in the direction of performance over auto-pilot. As for linux ive been telling myself I should take it up and learn it because the very idea behind the whole community is totally awesome, but again I like to do stuff like play games and listen to music. Get a windows emulator? So I can downgrade to linux so that everything that I do now can be slower and harder to accomplish (if possible) because of higher system resource cost/compatibility, or I can downgrade to Windows 7 and use 6 gigs of ram to do everything I do now in xp with 2 and 2 to spare…. For now its XP for me, course I will mess around with linux for its community and its underworld programming.

    P.S. XP as far as I can tell is harder to crack than 7 as long as you know what your doing and take the time to set it up right.

  53. Alec

    When Linux developers get together and design a simple install package for installing additional apps to Linux, then and only then will Linux become a firm contender for Windows. I have tried various Linux and as long as I don’t need to install any new apps I am fine but all this sudo app crap is not for novices, therefore that is why Windows is still the number 1 contender- ease of use.

  54. carls

    Love how you show the need for Ubuntu in frame 10, where you give the dual boot option of Ubuntu or … Vista. I agree! XP may be dying, but Vista should never have lived.

  55. Juergen

    Why the switch from XP to any Linux distro is NOT painless.

    To start with we are running XP, Vista, win7, and a two Mint laptops.Vista, because it came with the machine and MS office is required on that one. XP, that’s what my loved one is used to, and I don’t dare changing that. Win7 is my main computer, the laptops used to have XP/Vista installed now both running Mint, which is Ubuntu based.

    I am not talking about installing Linux with wubi not even dual booting, that is not switching.
    Installation of the system goes flawless on all system, it might take longer on one or the other, doesn’t matter, you only do it once.
    Then comes the hardware and driver installation:
    On all windows installations I done since 3.1 that was never an issue. There just is no hardware that does not have windows drivers, at least consumer products. Well maybe some SCSI boards, back in the old days.
    Under Linux, that is a different story. As an average user never ever do it without being able to access the internet by other means, be it a tablet, smartphone or other computer.
    If your hardware is supported by the distro you choose, all is fine. If not all hell breaks loose. You head over to the Linux forums – you do have internet access – search for solutions, hoping that somebody else had the same problems. If not, you can start a new track and hope that somebody answers you prayers. In one of my laptops, a 4 year old Fujitsu-Siemens my WiFi (Atheros) would never work, to this day. I ended up buying a USB WiFi stick, and had more issues with it, compile drivers, (who has ever heard of such a thing in the windows world ?) now every time the Kernel gets updated I have to go through the same spill.
    My second laptop has a fingerprint reader built in. OK, it is not really that important to me. Under XP it worked flawless, it was kind of cool to sign into windows with the swipe of your finger. In Linux – no go. no driver – nowhere.
    Any other hardware, see above. If it works fine if not …
    I do not blame the Linux programmers for that, it should be the hardware vendors’ job to supply drivers. But it is as it is, they are missing. As a user, I could care less whose fault it is.
    Software installation is next.
    Everybody knows how to install software under windows. Download – execute be done with it.
    If the software you are looking for is in the software repository of your distro, fine, click install, and be done. BUT when you find software elsewhere, trouble begins again. If you are lucky the software comes in a .deb package (Debian based distros) you can install with the software manager, if not – oh well, see drivers.
    Office programs, here MS Office and LibreOffice, supposed to be able to import the other’s files, well it works MOST the time. So if you are required to work with MS Office 2007/2010 files, make sure you have a windows installation handy.
    Painless is different. It can be done if you know where to get help and if you are not required to have access to certain files. I am sure there are more issues, like networking various OSes, sharing printers and files, video and sound codecs.
    If I had to choose one and only one OS, it certainly would not be Linux. As an OS on a secondary computer it is more than adequate.

  56. Sooke

    After trying to run Ubuntu on my xp netbook, I would say that for most computers users, Ubuntu is not ready for prime time.

    With Ubuntu, my wireless connection was dead slow. When I searched the Ubuntu forums for a solution, the suggestions were so complicated, I gave up and uninstalled it.

  57. Picks Place

    Linux Mint-is my choice over “ANY” Microsoft product..even if your a beginner Linux Mint features put you in that Windows XP mood…lol…But remember Linux is faster and more secure and uses LESS resources than any Microsoft product.
    Updating, defragging and rebooting are just a few of this O/S that makes it so great.
    Trust me-I have worked on many computers and people always ask is their an alternative to Windows…
    and Linux Mint is always my answer…
    Good Luck and I hope you make the switch too..

  58. Carlos Ferrari

    Ok, I can see that on a home computer where the user can find time and patience to re-learn a new OS, but what about work environment of businesses small enough that cannot afford Win7?
    Is there any distro that is user-friendly to people kinda addicted to XP, so much so that they struggle to use their pirated Win7?

  59. anybodysguess

    I have a XP computer that has a 900Mhz processor, and half a gig of ram, it runs Hulu on the 200 something quality setting, I want to use it to watch Hulu on the 300 something setting, that is ALL i want it to do, it doesn’t have to do anything else, it is a spare computer that I want to hook up in my movie room.

    So can somebody tell me if Mint or Ubuntu will play Hulu on the better setting with that specs?

    Also netflix would be great if it could do it. I already tried puppy but it seemed slower.

  60. nignag

    Your average Windows user wouldn’t last longer than a week if using Linux!
    Linux is the most user unfriendly operating system and is full of bugs with software that never works the same way twice!Almost everything has to be configured by the user using some alien language!
    Anyone complaining about Windows 7 should try using Ubuntu or Linux Mint for a while and soon you’ll be back kissing Bill Gates feet!

    By the way I use Kubuntu!

  61. CitrusRain


    Unless the welcome screen could have been running in the background, it wasn’t.

    I was talking about the menu that mimics the windows start menu – that’s what was slow. However, it was probably loading the dock icons I had set for around 10 programs in the favorites section. – either way, I took it off of her laptop right after having problems with only being able to burn 1 disc, and having to reboot before the next disc because it was crashing for some reason.

    But over the time it was installed, I had a handful of things fail on me:
    -Couldn’t manage to get rid of the Mint custom google search override
    -Couldn’t figure out how to install the pokemobs minecraft addon she kept requesting
    -Couldn’t install the Sega Genesis emulator that I was able to get on ubuntu

    I need to put them back on Ubuntu 10.04 – pointless to go back to 11.04, and minecraft won’t work for either of them on 11.10

  62. CitrusRain


    Download the 10.04 LTS (Long Term Support)

    It’s the most stable one right now.

  63. Hisa

    This article just proves points I try to make to my friends and family all the time. I love Linux. It is a crying shame that so many people would like to pay for a operating system that they hate or will only complain about day in and day out, refusing to try anything new because it doesn’t support some of the progams they like. And with virtual machines being so easy to operate, there really isn’t an excuse to not have a secure system plus all the games you like plus great free programs that do most everything that the big-wig expensive programs do (especially when most everyone out there with a computer has at least one distro of Windows they can use for a virutal machine!).

  64. RoBanJo

    Thanks Dabheid

  65. Erwin

    I must say that I have a laptop with win7 and a desktop running on XP, I put Ubuntu on my desktop together with XP, and I must admit that the system runs smoother and looks great under Ubuntu. The only prog’s I use with XP are Photoshop CS5 and some games. For the internet and some easier phototasks(Gimp) I use Ubuntu. I love the command line in Linux, it makes it fast and easy to use.
    My mother owns an older laptop, which I repaired by installing Ubuntu on it, now it runs fast and is stable, under XP it kept freezing and was quite unstable. A few years ago I did already experiment with Linux Red Hat, but I must say that Ubuntu is my favourite.

  66. sean

    Most pc users have never known anything other than a GUI. Even I would have some work trying to remember the old dos commands from the 80’s. It was a pain at times back then trying to get some programs/games to load for many of us.

    I posted above, after seriously considering dual booting xp but, after seeing the list of very recent known security issues, I said no thanks, not today. I was informed that these issues are fixed much faster & I don’t doubt that.

    I’m not a microsoft fanboy, I think that having the option to switch to a free os is fantastic. I also have no doubt there are a lot of well informed, helpful Linux users, willing to help during the transition. I could care less what the name of my os is, Linux, MS XP etc, I just want it to work with the software I use & my hardware. Having no way of knowing what potential headaches await when installing Linux, or how steep the learning curve may be, isn’t a confidence builder. I also don’t want to go back to a command line.

    I read comments from Linux users saying things such as, XP users would last a week, there are a lot of programs that if downloaded to Linux are a royal pain to set up right, scanners, printers, sound devices, fonts, problems with internet connections, deleting the NIC card in XP.

    Are you trying to convert or scare away. That seems to be the primary reason many of us are too intimidated to make the switch. Also, I’m getting older & am not in awe of tech like I once was.

    One person posted he/she did install one of the two versions as a dual boot & seems to have lost the use of XP. Hope you were able to get your system back the way you liked it.

    Sorry for the ramble, I know you Linux users are trying to make it easier.

  67. esam

    because linux is not the main stream home consumer OS it is in a great disadvantage. developers don’t make Linux versions frequently. gadgets you buy is more often than not not supported ok Linux. and by the way : does my games run on linux ?

  68. John McM

    @Cam2644 and everyone else complaining about unity… can change what desktop you start when you login. After i upgraded to 11.04 and logged in for the first time with unity my loptop came to a slow crawl. I switced back to ubuntu classic and it continues to work wonderfully. You can also use this feature to use a KDE, or LXDE desktop, If you want to switch between the different ones to see which you like the best.

  69. Chris

    I appreciate this article, but trying to figure out the drivers for wireless is not so painless. I think video drivers might be needed too. =( I would LOVE to get Linux working on my laptop. I would even be willing to pay some money if it truly was painless.

  70. gregoryshock125

    My only complaint is Ubuntu would not find my Verizon wireless modem. As you can see from this link, I’m not the only one who has run into this complex issues. It also appears that Verizon is no help in the matter!


    It is a best article about Linux for new user. most people afraid to use Linux. but new o.s ubuntu is just like windows.i already downloaded all types of linux os like ubuntu,kubuntu,xubuntu,mint,ylmf, mythubuntu,ubuntustudio,mce,backbox,fedora15,suse,,geexbox,xbmc with different version and tested my pentium 3 computer. all are working. my suggestion is , better install os on new separate need to mingle with windows xp. really I am happy to use ubuntu , xfce- mint debian-32 bit and ylmf-4.0. i really encourage newcomer to switch-over to Linux.

  72. crab

    Actually you can just install kubuntu, xubuntu or lubuntu straight off if you want an alternative to Unity with less work. The latter two should also run faster on older hardware. Or install the other desktop managers after installing regular Ubuntu, if you needed to try Unity to find you don’t like it.

    Or install Mint. Mint is great. It’s what Ubuntu used to be, and uses the same package repositories. I’m surprised all the tech blogs are still fawning over Ubuntu as if it was the only Linux distro around.

  73. Anonymous

    Love the article. However, I am curious about your very first paragraph which says:

    Windows XP just isn’t secure anymore! If the expense of the new Windows operating systems is too great, here’s an easy and painless way to get a completely free Linux, keep your old Windows XP installation, and start surfing securely.

    I won’t argue about Windows XP being insecure – it is! But I also don’t think this issue with switching to Linux is really a matter of expense as was implied either. Cause if it were then we probably wouldn’t see Apple or even Microsoft making as much money as they are – and in a bad economy even.

    Personally, I find it very curious that certain people will ditch Windows in favor of the much more expensive Mac. After all, Mac’s are at least double the money and aren’t even as “compatible.” Yet, given the sales numbers it would seem to indicate that money is no object and that owning a Mac is really more about vanity. You just can’t say that about Linux – at least not outside any geek circles.

    But you see nearly the same thing on the Windows side too. Consumers will believe whatever hype Microsoft or Apple tell them. And as long as these “sheeple” believe whatever hype they believe, you can pretty much forget about any other alternatives. Microsoft and Apple are pretty much it.

    It’s really quite sad that most people believe they have to pay more money for a better product. It’s just not true. But as long as they believe it, anything costing less – or even for free – will never be seriously considered by the general public.

    The only thing that makes this any worse is when I see the one possible competitor Ubuntu shoot themselves in the foot by making stupid decisions like going with a lesser developed GUI. Gnome has been around for decades and many people were happy with it. So throwing Gnome out and going with the new crappier Unity makes about as much sense and installing Windows 3.11 on all of Google’s servers. As long as top rated Linux distros do these stupid things we may never see any real alternatives.

    Note to Microsoft: Where I want to go today is NOT through a Window!!!

    Note to Apple: You’re NOT the phone company!

  74. webslinger2011

    For those with a lot of questions just got to ubuntu forums. Also, an alternative would be on facebook (ubuntu). People who actually use ubuntu and share their user experience.

  75. webslinger2011

    There a LOT of linux distros out there. But one main problem is getting it to run on your system without having to tweak the settings, particularly those with nvdia graphics. I’ve encountered problems booting linux on it. Those that I’ve tried on my laptop (suzuki kuiper 1411 hks with 256mb Nvdia 9300M GS) and worked were: Knoppix 6.2.1, Debian Squeeze, Chakra Linux, Ubuntu 9.10 (upgraded to 10.04LTS with Gnome and kept the grub boot kernel 2.6.31-14), Puppy Linux 4.2.1(based on knoppix). Ubuntu so far has the advantage of having a lot of applications available thru software center. Even got it booting on the macbook 7.1 using a usb (Note: compiz is working!). You can even remaster an ISO with all your apps pre-installed. Like putting the chicken back in the egg but with extras. Burn it on a DVD and boot from it live. Make an all-in-one install DVD! Very handy if your pc won’t boot on windows. Boot even without an internal hard drive (by using a usb flash drive).

  76. webslinger2011

    @Chris 10.04LTS is the most stable at the moment. It’s easy to install hardware drivers, just go to system>administration>hardware drivers. It will ask if you want to install them (video card, modem, wifi) if it’s supported. The latest version has some problems.

  77. webslinger2011

    For those who want to play games on your pc, just dual boot. Linux can run beside windows. Just reboot and select which OS you want to run.

  78. Terry

    I’m dual-booting Ubuntu to use on line. If I can do it, anyone can. But, I’ll admit to being on the bottom of the learning curve for Linux (loading drivers, etc.)

  79. Popsicko

    Apparently a lot of you techie types and Linux enthusiasts are sleeping on the best Linux distro for Newbies/Windrones. It is Puppy Linux. It is easy to use and navigate and has an intuitive interface with a very low learning curve for Windows users. It has helped me out of innumerable tech situations with unbootable Windows machines and every tine I recommend it to a Windows person, they fall in love with it and start using it in place of Windoomed.
    It is a very light distro, I carry it around on a 256 MB Flash drive.Try it if you haven’t already and then recommend it as an alternative to Windows, you will be surprised how easily people (non-techs) take to it.

  80. Victor

    I think linux is very good, but if people are familiarazed with windows they’re free to use it, if you have problems of viruses is because you dont have the care with you PC, dont tell the people how to avoid viruses, its better if you know how to protect you PC

    If anyone here have problems of viruses use an antivirus and stop downloading .exe or .rar with unkown name or size, be careful and use well your PC, dont avoid viruses, attack them.

  81. Forrest Charnock

    Most of the complaints here are about non-issues, read the instructions! If people read the instructions on windows they would have far fewer viruses because they would use a limited account online and if they studied a little figure out that the windows installer needs to go.

    Dual booting is just as unsafe! I wiped out windows and 3 Ubuntu os’s and my router all in one fell swoop, NEVER AGAIN! From now on I will use virtualbox if I have to use windows, it is safe and you can run both os’s simultaneously, dual booting is a pain anyway!

    Wubi is ok for checking out Ubuntu , but why? You are just as vulnerable to viruses and malware and it is way slower. Go ahead and set up a dual boot and if you like it but windows under Linux in a VB and be done with it.

    I love Linux! If you do not like the Unity desktop {I do not} all you have to do is log out and switch it to Gnome which comes pre-installed or any other Ubuntu desktop you care to download and install.

    I learned the hard way dual boating can end in disaster- Ubuntu comes with virtualbox pre-installed and will eliminate the danger. Remember you need enough ram for both systems , I would say a bare minimum of 1 2-4 would be better. I have made it work with Puppy Linux with 500mgs of ram and used Nlite to shrink XP .

    Old machines run great on Puppy Linux but it requires more skill to set up printers etc. but is it the easiest for dial up and I have it running on a 450 mhx system with 64k of ram , it flies with 256. Lubuntu and Linuxmint Lxde are good choices for the technically challenged.

    If you go ahead and bite the bullet and learn to use use Linux you will learn things that will help you . If most people used XP correctly the virus problem would be greatly reduced, Linux forces you to do it right {to be fair the newer Windows os’s have improved in that regard but are still way behind Linux}. Linux is a professional, ground up , multi user business machine. Nearly every supercomputer on earth runs on Linux as well as many of the fortune 500 like I.B.M., Google, Amazon .com , numerous countries , it still amazes me it’s free!

    System-Preferences-Display {Monitor in LinuxMint} will give you a gui much like windows but the scrensaver is separate.
    The powerful tool for screen resolution is here
    This will allow you to fix an out of range problem . If you can already see the screen check for drivers first . NVidea had it’s own GUI.

    As far as the using the keyboard to control the mouse -system-preferences-keyboard-then check use keyboard to control mouse. Most of the shortcuts are the same as windows Alt-F4 closes windows ,F5 refreshes , control-F searches etc. Alt-control-backspace works in some Linux systems to restart the x-window session , some you use Alt-Print Screen-K instead, both are way faster than rebooting and in the panel you can add Force Quit which will shut down a program that quits responding without even having to do that.
    Ubuntu has an excellent guide and you can get help from the forums and the chat channel .

    If you want the xfce desktop just hit alt-cntrl-T to open a terminal window and type
    sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop {you will not see your pword being typed}

    Citrus Rain -Mint is not an official Ubuntu release-the Software Manager is only in Mint-in Ubuntu use Package Manager .

    Here are the instructions for the IPhone

    It is easier and faster to just search the manual , the forums and the Internet for the answers you need and if all your efforts fail ask a question on the forums or the irc and patiently wait for an answer,

  82. Jason C.

    I had the same problem with my headphones and internal mic not working on Ubuntu and now Linux Mint but with a lot of forum searching I was able to get my headphones jack working with this website all you have to do is look for your model of laptop and insert some lines of code to make them work here is the site.
    Now for the Internal mic it was a lot harder because I had to download more software for the software center and it had to do with pulseaudio here is a website that might help too.
    I have everything working perfectly with Linux Mint 11 and I use it just like its described here in this artical dual boot inside windows using the windows installer which I use Linux Mint 90% of the time now. I get at least 4 hours of battery life on Linux Mint which windows would only get barely 2 hours on a full charge I only use windows now for gaming that’s all its good for just my 2 cents…

  83. Tienie

    Peppermint 2 FTW!

    Based on lubuntu it runs great even on my old eeepc with it’s 7 inch screen.

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