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Windows XP to Linux - operating systems

Created; 14/12/2013, Changed; 18/03/2019 - 19/03/2019

An evaluation of Desktop Computer Operating Systems

Carried out mostly between October 2013 and March 2014 (with subsequent amendments) Figures given are 2014 unless stated.

Windows XP end-of-life support has been reduced progressively to just essential updates and optional features but no drivers.  Drivers have been withdrawn  by some South Korean and Japanese computers manufacturers websites.  This is not the case for US companies such as HP, XP 64 drivers and optional features are still available on HP's website (As of January/February 2019);

Windows XP support ended in April 2014; http://www.microsoft.com/.../wi.../business/retiring-xp.aspx But you do not need to continue with Windows or scrap computers their are other options. Microsoft Security updates continued monthly until November 2016. Microsoft Security Essentials continued ant-virus until June 2017. Some programs are still available for XP, Firefox ESR continued to be supported until April 2018 and there is a version of Skype for XP but it does not connect at first but may or may not connect after turning off the any virus scanner first time you start and login (as of Jan 2019).  Java 8.201 does not run (Feb 2019) although it is not apparent that support for XP has stopped.  Windows Live essentials feature has not been installable for a number of years since XP status was changed to end-of-life.

You may need to turn off the Windows XP firewall and any virus scanner to complete updates and optional features;

During Jan 2019 Windows XP updates website stopped functioning so only automatic updates occur on XP 32 bit but the 64 bit version still functioned. The Windows update website gave an error message (Feb 2019).  It turned out that those updates could be completed when the XP firewall was turned off, the computer restarted and/or the virus scanner turned off.  Once XP is up-to-date then there is no problem checking windows update.

NOTE; three laptops each over 10 years old;

  • XP 64, SP2 is on HP Compaq Laptop (nx-6125) and all drivers are available on the HP website.
  • XP 32, SP3 is on a Samsung R50 (I have the original installation CDs) and a Sony Laptops (PCG-GRT996ZP) the manufacturers have withdrawn XP drivers from their website. 

Linux desktops distributions provide all the common things people generally use a PC for, games, office, camera picture downloading and web-browsing.  Linux desktop's also have many of the specialist things e.g. picture editing tools and some computer aided design, embedded programming.  But if want you use a windows program then having a dual booting set up computer so that you can use Linux or Windows is a good option and is the usual option.  Many very expensive CAD tools that were once only available on Unix now run on Linux and Unix and most are likely also ported to Windows.

All operating systems require more and more memory and processor power but not all computers can be updated adequately even so.  Not that I recommending doing that but you can install older version of Linux Distributions that are out of support.  Older operating systems may run newer versions of Firefox or run Firefox-ESR for example you need for security and comparability but the web browser is likely to be the slowest application and older versions of web browsers do not work with all websites?

Linux version of Firefox-ESR (is in support still 1/2019) and support all websites as well as any good web-browser.  The Windows XP version of Firefox-ESR has been out of support since about April 2018.

 Windows

 Linux (Jan 2018)

Check Disk required periodicallyBuilt into the filing system also automatic and quick at start up!
Defragment required periodically.Built into to the filing systems so is not required!
Updates at shut downDoes not happen!
All carried out whilst logged in and when the user chooses.
Configuring updates at start upDoes not happen!
All updating is carried out whilst logged in and when the user chooses.  (Some Desktop Linux's don't have this feature so they need to be closed and opened again rarely but this takes the same time as closing down and starting up normally)
Many updates can be completed whilst the user is logged in.All updates are completed whilst the user is logged in.  All server Kernel and security updates can be carried without powering down. Some servers have been running for over two decades but a decade is not uncommon but 90 days seems common.
Desktop versions some do need restarting after a kernel update at the users convenience.  (may be they all do?)
Updates are large and may repeatedly fail and be downloaded taking many GB of data over a month. Update take up to 10 minutes a week and are usually less than 100MB.
Registry clean up - Windows appears to have a mechanism that by accident or design makes the OS age.  That is Windows accumulates registry faults over time. 

Apparently Windows 10 should not suffer ageing in that it has some registry maintenance built in. 
No such problem observed but in any case installing another style of Linux is popular.  I am advised that the Enterprise (pay for) distros are designed to run 13 years.  They work in a different way and can be run for years without such problems.  In any case Linux is very serviceable.

But you need to ask for help from time to time and search on the web there are plenty of forums groups Facebook or Linux distro communities that will answer questions.
  
Windows 10 updates to a point where the computer it is installed on does not supported any higher updates.  Manually downloading and updating or clean re-installation may work but a point is reached that Windows 10 will not update any further.  
  • As of March 2019 Windows 10 does not update to the highest version supported on that PC (eg 15xx to 16xx) but tries to update to 18xx failing repeatedly. 
You can download and install any version of a Linux Distribution.  As far as I can tell, old versions should install although not be in support -- Some users keep old PCs running by using out of support distros and downloading the current version of Firefox.  
Running Windows XP, 7 and 10 on the same hard disk is difficult to set up.  It can be done to some degree with care of the boot flag. 
Linux you can have as many on the hard disk as you wish.
  • If they all share one swap partition then obviously you can not put one into hibernation then start using another. 
It is also true of XP that drivers are being deleted from updates and some manufactures websites.  XP is not just in End-of-life support but that support is being cut down.  There is no upgrade option. 

You can install Windows into an installed Windows partition deleting the Windows directory but keeping other directory's this is messy though and leaves previously installed program directories but they are not installed.  Similarly some Linux installations allow have the option of reinstalling Linux retaining the home directory.
You can update some Linux's from one version to the next without turning the computer off but carry on using it.  Every task and the kernel is switched over or a warning dialogue appears
  • Debian 8 to 9 worked fine but on the old computer I was using would only start with the old alternative kernel 3.16... rather than 4.9... The update is impressive you can hibernate - run programmes - I got one notification that the WiFi needed to be restarted although it carried on running but without the icon in the tray.  The computer did not need to be restarted though.
  • Mageia 3 to 4 update some years ago failed. 
  • MX Linux does not support updating whilst running from MX 16.1 to MX 17.  This is a desktop not a server Linux but there is no issue you can update and preserve your home folder.
    • This method tides up lots of things but you have to reinstall software. 
    • Linux Home folder - contains email, web-browser settings, drop box folder, downloads etc. 

Warning; There are differences between 32 bit and 64 bit operating systems and applications. For example AVG, Panda and Avast did not work with Windows XP SP2 64 bit although there were both 32 and 64bit versions. In (1/2019) tried them on the XP SP3 32 bit and they all work. Since December 2017 I had stopped using XP but have been running Windows 7 or 10, I have re-installed XP 32bit and confirmed that its end of life support is active 1/2019 also in order to update this page.

 Summary - Linux and Windows XP

Carry on running Windows XP and/or another Windows but as dual or multi boot system with one or two Linux distributions.  Use Linux for internet, email, office tasks. Keeping Windows for programs that you can not use Linux for and basic computer maintenance tools provided by the computer manufacturer for example.  I have not found free virus protection for Windows XP 64 bit although this is necessary so be careful.  Otherwise Microsoft put XP to bed in a careful way so that you can get all the patches and updates in an easy automatic way up until the last ones in July 2015.  The last XP security updates for XP occurred in November 2016 a security up date was occurring about every month.  Microsoft Security Essentials stopped being updated on 1 June 2017.  Free version of AVG, Avast and Panda may or not work despite what is claimed for them.

Firefox ESR (starting from version 52) is probably the only Web browser that continued to have security updates only but no new features for Windows XP but that support ended in April 2018.  In any case I mostly access the internet via Linux.  Many company's have always run XP without patches and may also use a proxy-server to secure the computers and also maintain the original better speed of Windows XP.  So little has changed for them.  Google Drive has stopped running on XP after Oct. 2017 but could not be installed on XP after June or July 2017.  Skype (updated for XP in June 2017 and August). Skype for XP Skype the 64bit Linux is also available.  Sync.com still supports XP, I believe (1/2019).

  • I found that Windows 7 will tolerate Windows XP on another partition - but it is best to take the hard disk with XP out of the machine before installing Windows 7 or it will probably erase the XP and use the partition.  Windows 8 will just destroy XP and itself if it finds XP even if you have Windows 8 fully installed and you insert the disk with XP after.  I did not believe it that one version of Windows would destroy another version of Windows at first so I repeated this and confirmed that was the case (June 2017).  My guess is that Windows 8 changed the permissions of files on both operating systems.

With any Windows you must take care of the hard disk - run de-fragment and check disk at least once a month (say over night) and every day if the computer is new to you (Windows 10 takes care of some of this nearly automatically) - the Linux distributions take care of this continually for you also briefly during start up, by comparison.  

In the cases that I have tried; Installation of Linux distributions have been much simpler than a Windows Installation use to be and in the case of Ubuntu and Ubuntu based distributions are clearer to follow than any Windows.  But read and consider carefully what may happen particularly if you are not taking the default actionDo not allow connect to broadband is optional but in some cases it is better to allow updates when installing so that the installation can setup language and your country properly, particularly drivers for you.  In the case of any Ubuntu it is not essential.  Also it is important to allow non-free software to be installed these are important propriety drivers.

With both Linux Distributions and Windows to start with skip licensing it (Windows) and skip installing updates at the time of installation until you have seen it running say a month, just to evaluate them.  Within a month they will have updated anyway if you allow that.  In the case of Linux distributions updates and installation is very much quicker but skipping updates and just running Linux used to cause problems sometimes a problem but is usually okay now (01/2019).

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You will find generally that Linux desktop distributions are nicely styled with a more refined look and feel than Windows.  Many are plainer and less cluttered than Windows particularly compared to Windows 10 so these are the ones I tend to recommend. Windows 7 or "higher" can seem faster and plainer than many of the higher end Linux's for basic use but then be very slow from time to time when you really use it a lot - by comparison - Linux desktops tends to do all things consistently.  (4 years ago Linux tended to be simply faster - as of Dec 2017)

Windows 10 may have supported older PCs at first then discontinued that support leaving the computer without drivers if you try to re-install Windows 10.  The computer keeps cycling through download, update failing but stays on earlier version of Windows 10 therefore running slowly consequently (01/2019).

  • If Windows 10 keeps cycling trying to update then failing - try downloading the latest version of windows 10, update your windows this works usually unless the PC is not compatible.
  • Windows 10 at some point will add an option to download and update in a similar way try this it failed in this case.  The point is these methods are the best because the retain, setting drivers and software (Samsung R50, Windows 10 update offered 1803 and download 1809 failed).

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Easy to install but if it does not work install it again.

Mint Mate - Is a very safe choice. So is Mint XFCE.  I tried Mint Mate in 2013 and returned to it in November 2016.  I am currently using Mint Cinnamon as of Nov 2017.  I believe it may be Europe and Canada based.  Mate desktop the search also looks on the web for answers if an application is not found or application to install but it is not a fast desktop.  Mint is Ubuntu based which in turn is Debian based and they are all Linux Kernel.

Mint Cinnamon (includes WINE) (now supports Dropbox well 1/2019) and Debian Cinnamon (fully supports Dropbox) are both plain but smart feel desktops but they require suitable graphics hardware and then this desktop is also fast.  Mint XFCE is also well implemented but a slower implementation than some.  Mint uses a very easy helpful Ubuntu based installation that is easier than Windows install but with all the important questions about configuration are asked in a plain simple way
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Ubuntu - The long term stable version is also a safe choice very different slick usually faster but can be comparable in speed to a well running current Windows 7-10 (Jan 2018).  I used this for a many months it is the flagship top of the range Linux desktop.  I am using Ubuntu (looks like Unity but now is GNOME) as of April 2018.  Some of the Ubuntu variants don't support Dropbox properly this one does (that has started to be fixed in some cases Jan2019).
 
Canonical Ltd of London funds Ubuntu set of desktops and the development is based in South Africa. Ubuntu is an African word for Human.  These are the easiest to use and most features are very well developed but they do not run so fast on a PC as other Linux distributions but they are either comparable to or faster than Windows XP or higher.
 
Xubuntu - Stable version is fast and is a safe and very like Windows 7.  I use this for about two years but since 2016 dropbox has not run properly on Xubuntu.  I therefore do not use Xubuntu now.  There are fixes but Dropbox advise that it is not supported on Xubuntu.
 
Lubuntu - is the fastest and lightest of the Ubuntu set of distributions and runs well on a PC with just 500MB DRAM.  It is not restrictively cut down but is something like a Windows XP but perhaps plainer. I've use this on a lower spec. old computer.  Does not support Dropbox properly.
 
The desktops Linux's above have uniquely a very user friendly application store were you can purchase or add for free many things.  You can review them as well and it is set out in a neat and ordered way.  Everything about Ubuntu and Ubuntu based distributions including installation and support is plane and straightforward.
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Fairly easy to install if it does not work re-installation may repair it.

Mageia XFCE - Is more technically orientated and also runs Dropbox properly.  I used this for a year 2013 to 2014 it is good in.  This dualArch installer works out the computer spec. approximately and install 32 or 64 bit appropriately.  I was using this but have taken it off my computer because it has needed to be re-installed a few times so Mageia did not worked out well.  I tried it again in Oct. 2016 for a few months but there were issues with it but once again briefly version 6 in autumn 2017 there were no issues it was not distinctly fast as it used to be.

Mageia was the best Redhat based distribution I tried at that time.

Mageia has become difficult to install;  After selecting install Mageia the installer starts then USB driver can not be found may occurs.  This has been the case with some PC's since about version 4 or 5 and is still an issue with version 6.1 (02-2019,  Samsung R50, similar age HP laptop).


Debian has become easier to install (02/2017). GNOME and CINNAMON are very nice uncluttered fast desktops and easier to install.  LXDE is the fastest and Is a nicest fastest plain smart I've come across but there can be a little work to add some things Debian after it is installed. Down load the *-1.iso full download version.
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Harder to install

I had put Fedora in this category but all Linux's have got easier and the very good ones have stayed very good.  Fedoria looks very good but turns out harder to complete setting after basic the installation was completed even so.

By Comparison Windows XP is not straightforward to install all British English because some of the settings are not apparent but there are three places you set the language two are in sub-menus of the installation procedure and one then lets you remove USA.

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If you are up for testing a very new release, like all distributions, you will get new features but issues will arise. long Term Stable versions are all more stable than the current versions of Windows particularly Windows 10.

All the variants of Ubuntu desktop have a LTS Long Term Stable version so if you rather not have the most current but have a more stable reliable with fewer changes this is a good choice. It is not the most stable.

Debian is even more stable you manually update then everything will run okay. That can be straightforward or can take some rereading of the Debian website and talking to people on social networking or a Linux forum.

Mint is also more stable but you may find old drivers can be a limitation. On the other hand it has all the automatic updating and driver updating the the Ubuntu's have.

Obviously you can select the lowest version that is still in support for maximum stability. But many people run Linux distributions that are out of date because they are faster and work fine on old computers.

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As a general rule it seems that the primary distributions that are built on a Linux Kernel are a lot faster, more robust and are very well finished off but have more basic features and functions.  Those as far as I know are; Debian, Redhat (Fedora) and I guess Arch-Linux.  You will see Software (applications/drivers) available either in Linux, Windows and OS-X or specific Linux primary distributions, Debian, Fedora and occasionally Arch-Linux.  I do not know if there is another term rather than my term "Primary"

 
Some disk maintenance tools run on XP but there is a catch, Reconfigure or repair and also bios updating is more complicated and may not be possible in another OS other that what was originally loaded on that PC. Windows XP might very occasionally not start up without first running Chkdsk on the hard disk but XP needs to start up in order to then run ChkDisk. Unfortunately in some laptops the catch is that the BIOS cannot be updated without Windows XP running and the with a good battery.

Bexhill-on-Sea Old town
Bexhill-on-Sea Old Town May 2015 - nothing to do with computer operating systems but to break up the text a bit. The bendy road leads your eye into the picture.
Why alternative operating systems should be considered now?

Many Linux distributions can be Installed on most computers in a straight forward way, It did not used to be like that.  There are also many Linux's which you do need to be a Linux Nerd to use. In any case you need to be reasonably comfortable with technology.  Unlike Windows though, you don't need to worry about; virus updating and scanning, registry maintenance, disk de-fragmentation and ChkDsk to keep it running efficiently.  Also updates occur whilst you are logged in so there is no delays whilst the operating system configures or updates when starting or closing down, they don't do those things that way.

There is a choice of Linux desktops that are smart or plain that are fairly straight forward to use;  

Microsoft try to be helpful so second guessing what the problem is unfortunately a drawback of the OS trying to be helpful to you. It is obstructive to find that the computer wants to do something else by comparison XP is comparatively predictable. Still icon based Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) don't have a good equivalent to DOSKEY for Microsoft DOS this feature kept a record of your previous actions.  If you like DOS style, Linux Terminal which is text command driven interface behaves in a similar way as DOS including the ability to go back over what you have done before and if you wish change or just repeat that command line.  You don't have to use the Linux GUI, even so GUI's are good. You may have to use Linux terminal though where there is no GUI interface.  Generally the GUI advise what commands to use in the terminal where the GUI does not have a control.
  • Be careful with Ubuntu and variant distributions advanced option; Do something else option when changing partitions
    • The meaning of the wording is strange.  If you don't tick format then old data will be left in your new installation anyway, it should tidy up and reinstall things but it did not work for me.  Anyway a clean installation plus what you want put back later is a better option.
    • You can go back or cancel before proceeding so do that if you are not sure about it.  This is the most risky part of any installation.
    • Warning on Windows installation - Windows is not so forgiving and can easily destroy a Linux or another Windows installation even if you answer the questions properly. This is not usually the case if you take care but can happen regardless of the care you have taken though.  If you have a choice install Windows first leaving 20G say for Linux distribution at the far end of the hard disk for Linux.
  • When I wrote this you did not need to switch from XP to another operating system now you do need to change or dual boot with Linux (Dec. 2017);   Many applications are supported on XP such as; Java 8.x was supported up to about 8.200. Firefox ESR, Skype for XP may or may not work.  Many programs continue to run and are fine. To repeat the point you should seriously be considering running Linux as well as XP if you are also web browsing.

  • My objective is to consider operating systems that are reasonably flexible but not overly technical;  To be able to fix or make adjustments without needing a deep technical knowledge but have enough control and context sensitive help or support groups to be able to set up what I need, for example a printer, and be able to backup reasonably easily.  I have found in the years that I have been using Linux, those things are different to Windows but are covered well.  I believe Linux does not have the registry wear out and become broken issues that is a big inconvenience in using Windows (Windows 95 on).  It is also said that Linux filing systems take care of themselves, don't fragment files (and therefore do not slow down) even when the disk is very full. Linux used to periodically check the filing system when you shut the computer down, now it does the filing system checking on every power up but it is quick.  You never get an hour or even a minute of installations or configuring at power up or power down Linux takes care of those things in a plain and discrete way whilst you are logged on and running. 
  • I am not trying to review all Linux’s Distro Watch does that well.  What I have said will be wrong as soon as I write it because Linux is improving and changing quickly. 
Dual boot windows and Linux.

Ubuntu and some distributions based on Ubuntu the clock may be wrong in the UK in the summer. Debian is fine though.
 
The fix is straight forward to set Linux to use local time in the same way that all PC's running Windows have always worked.
 
Execute the terminal command line in the case of Ubuntu 16 and 18:
timedatectl set-local-rtc 1

Windows 10 - I found it necessary to do the above change as with any other Windows but then I needed to manually change the time after the autumn hour change go back and do the same in Linux.  This solution works after over a year (Feb 2019).

The Borg
--- Partition numbering; Windows XP, 7 or 10 matters so Windows can delete the 
highest number partition if the partitions  are numbered out of order 1-2-3
-4-5... etc. By comparison Linux does not care about the partition numbering 
other than to obey the rule that primary partitions are numbered 1 to 4 only 
         so will renumber primary partitions rather than delete other partitions  ---

The problem arises if you move a Windows partition to another disk then repair
the installation in order to make it start up.  Installing Windows 7 does re-order
partition so that they are number consecutively including any Linux partitions.
The Borg cube resistance is futile  
Windows 7 disk can repair a Windows 7 or 10 start up but a Windows 10 disk may not be able to repair anything.  Alternatively a combination of a Windows 7 and 10 CDs may repair Windows 7 or 10's startup.  They can fail with a patterned square but little or no useful information, therefore your option is none give up but do web search for an answer.  An older Windows 10 disk is more flexible and likely to fix an installation startup than a newer version of Windows 10.

Once Windows 10 start up has been repaired with a With a Windows 7 repair disk Windows 10 can not or may not be repairable with a Windows 10 installation disk.  There seems to be other implications as well be but have not explored those fully but it maybe why Windows 10, 16xx does not update 18xx?
 
DISTRIBUTION is the Linux Kernel, the desktop (the main graphical User Interface {GUI} ) and a collection of other applications web-browser, office and GUI's for configuration.  There are other Distro's or Distributions that instead of the Linux kernel may use the same desktop but could be FreeBSD based, all of those are meant.  Other tools with GUI's rather than using the text terminal are; installers, configuration and also be complied for specific set of electronic devices in this case I am considering a PC (@IBM).  PC although originally was supplied with IBM DOS or CP/M 86 but is an open specification to allow a range of operating systems.  PCs are not made specifically for Linux, Windows or other Operating Systems - the operating systems are made for the PC or other. 

These are a few variants of Linux, called distributions, that I have evaluated in more detail;

  • Arch Linux - I am advised that Arch Linux is quite hard to set up but the pay back is that it is good and it is fast.  This what I am told.
  • Debian It was not so easy to install but it is much easier now and is the installer may run on PCs that other installers can not run on. Since then (1/2017) I have installed Gnome is a straightforward light, fast and complete but with fewer features.  I have also installed and like Cinnamon this has many features but maintains a nice plainness and probably is the most developed of Debian 8.7.x. KDE is probably well developed but I have not used this and Mate, XFCE and LDRE are very fast, well presented but have limited features.  (9.7 is the currently supported version Jan 2019).
    • Notably Dropbox works fine* now but I found Dropbox only worked on some desktop's but then worked on all of them once it had reached for version 8.8.x (is now 8.11 and will be in long term support for a number of years till April 2019). I found that LXDE also supports Dropbox in released 9.3. Firefox is an old but supported ESR version that does not support all websites in Debian (December 2017)  This is consistent with what I have heard it said of Debian, it uses old libraries which is unfair to say because it uses very stable libraries and is the base of many other distributions.
      • Note the most complete Linux is the one before the currently offered stable version.  This may not matter if everything you want works and in any case to be the offered Linux needs some more testing although it will be very good at this stage anyway.  That is one of the benefits of using Linux over one of the current Windows, it is well tested first.
* Dropbox - in recent years, falsely displays a tick as if everything is up-to-date soon after Dropbox has started up but it is not yet up-to-date.  The best indicator is the log messages in Windows or Linux that tell you how many files were updated. Sometimes the ticks on the files are a good indicator but the dates of the file of interest is often best even so Dropbox is about the best Linux program and it works just as well on Windows.  Google Drive is only suitable for Windows it's indicators can be misleading also but Google Drive is now as good as dropbox. 
    • Debian can be more tricky to install but the full 4-5GB "1" USB/DVD installer has many more required dependencies included and works best I have found.  This has a graphical (uses a mouse) or a non-graphical (does not require a mouse) installer they are similar but the latter is for lower spec. or older machines.
    • Net installer is useful for old PC's that can not boot large memory sticks. In one case also needed Plop installed on the hard-disk to give a USB boot option that the bios did not have.  Net installer will use a lot of bandwidth but will also insure all drivers are installed that are available - you should not need to get them later.
    • Update is not automatic and checking for updates is not automatic and there is no utility to find and get missing drivers.  I have found answer by asking on a facebook group. The Debian website had .deb files to install the drivers I found were missing easily. You need to install gdebi if it is not installed see below on synaptic to do that.
    • Also watch the messages that scroll up the screen as windows starts up there may be more things that should be updated - in this case these are part of the Linux Kernel.
    • To see a list of drivers you need to look up advice but for WiFi this is what to type at terminal;
      • lspci
      • lspci | grep -i "wifi\|wireless" will tell you your WiFi chip type.
    • To install a .deb driver or program in some desktops you may need to first install 'gdedi' which is the .deb installer. 
    • On one laptop LXDE WiCD wifi did not work but on another it did. In any case other desktops XFCE is also fast and I found the Wireless worked easily after installing the recommended drivers.  Similarly GNOME was fine as well.
    • Then with Synaptic un-tick the install from CD then reload the repository and then mark packages to update you will probably find a lot need updating. These are to the desktop and applications loaded not drivers as I said.  Also to repeat my point elsewhere check the Debian Wiki and if necessary add all the repository's if they are not already added for the release you are using.
    • A new user is guided to the stable version. This is very stable although a little incomplete but will become the Long Term Stable version that will receive security updates for few more years.  There is a Testing version which will have many update but I am told (I have not used it) is well tested and fairly stable and suits a desktop users rather than a server applications.
    • Debian or any other distribution grows in size  There may be a GUI that delete's things say every 30 days but in Debian these root terminal commands work well;
    • These tell you some information;
      • du -sh /var/log
      • du -sh /var/cache/
    • These commands give you back hardisk space (I recovered about 200M and 1G respectively)
      • sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y && sudo apt autoremove -y 
      • apt clean.
  • ElementaryOS - this is said to be a good start and very slick. I have not tried this.
  • Fedora (19 & 20) Free of charge version of Redhat a US company.  It did not share with any other operating system when installing it and will damage any OS found. RedHat ceased making the distribution in it's own name a number of years ago.  I tried this in 2013 and tried again in October 2016 both XFCE and Gnome but had issues that I chose not to pursue further but they are fast.
  • Linux Lite The core is; Ubuntu.  (Possibly New Zealand based).  This did not recognise a SATA drive at the time I tried it but is fine, as of December 2017.  This is not a particularity fast XFCE distro but it does support Dropbox.
  • Mageia XFCE - Is more technically orientated and also runs Dropbox properly.  It is not particularly fast now but is well finished off compared to Fedora.  Mageia is based on Red Hat.

    Mageia is Paris, Europe based.  Shares particularly well with other operating systems.  The best combination of the speed, quality of presentation and functional.  The installation is quite flexible but can also fail.  The installation may also fix things without resorting to a re-installation.

    The issue I mentioned was with changing partitions on a computer such as deleting them or removing a hard disk that in turn prevented the desktop starting.  This happened in during the life of version 4 but was resolved eventually in version 5 by that I had stopped using Mageia.  Like all Linux's I found it shares particularly well with other operating systems.

    Those earlier versions had been the best combination of the speed, quality of presentation and functional.  I briefly tried Mageia 6 (Dec 2017) and did not find it to be a fast OS compared to others any more but Plasma may be the fastest offered.  As before the classical installation is good and previously was best?

    • More recently the full installer does not install on a few of my computers as discussed before (Feb 2019).
  • Manjaro (Xfce 0.8.9 & KDE 0.8.9) Based in Austria, France and Germany. (Its Kernel is; Arch Linux seems to be based in German, Canada and USA?). New and is not up to version 1 yet though the variant Xfce I tried briefly seems stable. Arch Linux claim almost absolute security. Does not share with any other operating system on the computer when installing it.
I looked at this again at Manjaro version 08.09.13-rc2 in June 2015 but found it to be less user friendly than others listed here and not faster than any. The advanced option does allow you to share multi-boot with other operating systems at installation.
  • openSUSE (13.1) (June 2015) - I have not run this distribution for a number of years it now is a pay-for enterprise version.  It has been a subsidiary SUSE is based in Germany and Novel/Microsoft USA company. This is fast professional looking and a better implementation than most. SUSE recommend ImageUSB (June 2015) which is a good basic tool for creating an installing USB.  At the time I evaluated it it did not run that well other Linuxes were better.
How to speed up Ubuntu and other Ubuntu distributions 

I had noticed lots of disc activity which turned out to be because the swap partition had not been set up. The swap space makes the computer run faster. If you install more than one Linux you only need one swap partition so you can delete other swap partitions and re-size remain partitions. Doing this you will find that the swap partition needs to be enabled.

See Ubuntu help at;

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SwapFaq#How_do_I_add_more_swap.3F
 
You don't need to use terminal to launch gparted. But you may need to install gparted and a few other things first then launch gparted. It is also useful to turn the swapon at this point to make the computer go faster whilst you follow the other steps that will permanently enable the swap partition.
 
You may find that your particular distribution does not have all the things needed installed which are in addition;
  • gksu ---- This needed to be installed with Xubuntu just follow the instructions given.
  • gedit ---- This also needed to be installed. There was no warning but nothing happened when I entered the command line. Use the Ubuntu Software Centre and install gedit.
In addition the recommended changes to swappiness value to 10 is beneficial.
 
When installing one of the Ubuntu's you don't need an internet connection but a wired connection even if you chose to not install the updates at the time of installation is a safer option.
 
By comparison Mageia does not need a internet connection at the time of installation but you still need an internet connection and it needs to be a wire connection at to allow up dating.
 
At times Ubuntu will freeze for a while, it is running very slowly, before an update is offered. I don't think there is anything you can do about it? In any case all other operating systems slow or almost freeze on lower spec. computers.  This limitation is not apparent though if the PC's memory is increased from 1GB to 2GB in the case of Ubuntu 32bit.
 
Xubuntu - [and most likely any XFCE desktop] be careful with the save session option when turning the computer off. If you leave something running that needs authentication eg Gparted the desktop will not open after logging on next time.  I repeatedly tried to turning on the pc and the desktop eventually started after a wait but without last working session - in other-words it sorted itself. Here follows another suggestion;
 
 - Close all the applications you have running except the ones you would like to start up next time with such as email only.
- Close the computer down with the save session option ticked.
- Next time you close the computer down ensure that the save session option is not ticked.
 
Ubuntu community forum for help is particularly useful for Ubuntu based distributions. You find may find some help with any Debian based distribution.  But don't count on finding help on any Linux distribution unless the question and answer is very general.
  • Xubuntu 12.04, 13.10 and 14.04 is Ubuntu with an Xfce desktop. The menu structure is uncluttered and well organised.   Although some of the older versions work on older computers for example 12.04 is now out of support but still can be downloaded and installed and for example Lubuntu 16.xx will run on a 15 year Compaq N1020V but the highest version that will run on an older model N1015V is 14.xx. 
  • Lubuntu there is an alternative installer that may run on older PC's.  There is no such alternative for the other ?ubuntu's.

------------- Linux Distributions that are fast or will run on old computers -----------

Debian all the desktops but LXDE is the fastest I have evaluated.  Lubuntu Alternative but this is one is competitively slow.
  • Puppy Linux - Legacy OS Is a very lightweight fast Linux may run on a PC built in 1990 or later. Tried Feb 2019 on a Sony Vaio PCG-GRT996ZP Laptop.
    • The Sony Vaio may have an out of date bios but the computer is out of support and the Bios update did not find anything to do and in any case does not support Windows XP.
      • This computer does not appear to run any Linux Kernel high then 3.xx.xx although 4.xx.xx can function in some cases.  Consequently some Linux might run until they are updated. 
    • Xenial Pup -  The wireless did not work because no wireless device was found.
    • Slacko Pup - wireless does work.
      • Although there is no login I could not access my work from another Linux because the likely directory was locked.  So if the installation fails then your work might be locked to you compared to other distributions.
    • Tahr pup - I looked briefly but it did not get far starting.
There are other Linux's for very old PC's which are low spec. here is a link with some reviews and mentions;  https://hubpages.com/technology/Best-Linux-For-Old-Computer
These seem to operate at a lower level and you do most things by text command with some a minimal GUI called open box with little more than web browser and file manager.  I have only looked at;
  • Bunsen Labs - I tried this in VirtualBox and scripts run through that install things including XFCE and many common programmes but I could not find out how to run XFCE or anything after that.  It may be okay installed on a PC rather than in a virtual machine but I did not pursue that further. (Dec 2017).
  • MX Linux - Is fast, light and full feature (Jan 2018). Slower than Debian but is more complete and works in Virtual Box.  This distribution will update to the next version when that version become stable but some aspects will need to be updated manually such as the kernel.
    • Most distributions do not install on Sony Vaio PCG-8P1M I have - plop installed allowed the USB under 2G to boot but the highest version that would install was 17 but that version then updated automatically to 18.1 the current stable version.  This laptop may require a BIOS update but it is Japanese and support for it is not available.
    • MX has many utilities to change boot GRUB, GPARTED pre-installed.  It does find hardware and deal with loading all the drivers automatically.
    • MX has boot repair and configure tools be careful of them I found they are not as good and Ubuntu repair USB although the MX live CD may run on some computers that the Ubuntu boot repair USB won't run on.
    • Compared to AntiX this distrobution is more finished off but if installed in Virtual Box does seem to fail at start up so I reinstalled it a few times.  The laptop pointing device is over sensitve and is set to single click making it over sensitive so untended things happen but using a mouse is better. 
  • AntiX Linux - similar to MX Linux but with LXDE, has very light weight features, very fast and application FireFox-ESR (Jan 2018).  This can be difficult to install on some computers.  It is untidy and unfinished by comparison with it's sister MX.
 The Feature of Metamorphosis and Anti Linux above is that they don't use SystemD - because, they say, it is controversial.  All three above Distro's use Open Box window manager - I did not know what this is but it is fast.  Open Box is said to be very fast and seems to be like a very minimal themed screen (a picture and a tool bar) but you mostly drive it with text terminal commands, scripts plus File and Firefox mouse driven GUI.
  • Debian and specifically LXDE is about the fastest and most well finished off of these but I have categorised it not as a light weight.  See above.
  • Peppermint Linux (I was recommend this in Feb 2017 - it is exceptionally slow for LDRE but is good in many other ways) - This is a full feature LDRE all things work well (including Dropbox which has and is a difficult 2016 to March 2017)  But the cost is that it is very slow.  Personally I find the colour themes harsh - to intense. 
Some if not all distributions do not install all drivers for the hardware and networking but invariably somewhere there is a way of scanning and adding those things or in some cases like Debian you need to read the support on the website.  With Debian therefore more than other distributions you need to get then add drivers.

I have been corrected; openSUSE and Mageia are not Redhat (Fedora) based. I should say that in all cases above these distributions don't behave as stand-alone or tangents of other things but are tightly controlled for compatibility and interchangeability.  So that if you want an Epson driver for a scanner or printer you can get a generic one from the source of your distribution or you can get the driver directly from Epson but in that case fortunately you should find that if your distribution uses the .deb (Debian) or .rpm (Redhat) formats.  There is also a raw .bin format in same case (such as Dropbox) I have not used this.  That does not mean the distribution will permit you to use that epson driver but if it does I found the Epson driver worked  well. (I am also told printer drivers can be very difficult and it suggest I write about that) Setting up printers seem to use an established UNIX configuration and drivers But there are not the one step fix it things that Windows is often better at.  Epson do not appear to have ArchLinux based drivers though, And I read of other Linux's such as o pen-PC that they were at one time a fork of another kernel such as Debian in this case but the Kernel is now open-PC so I don't know how easy they are to set up.
 
Partition changing; (April 2017)
  • You can clone Linux's quite easily (but it is better to move it so that the one you do not want is deleted - they are can conflict otherwise)
  • Windows does not tolerate cloning by comparison well. But may work as long as the Windows clone is put on the same computer - same partition place on the disk in the case of XP.
    • That is if windows XP was installed as the first partition then it the copy must be placed in the first partition. Then use Linux to sort the boot.
    • Windows 7 or higher will need to run advanced repair disk and you may also need to read what to do from the web.
    • Windows 10, 1607 or lower does not tolerate the partition cloned from a primary to an extended partition but the more recent updates of Windows 10 does.  
  • Windows XP or high (but probably not lower, eg Windows 98) can be moved to a different drive number. You will observe that the drive letter of the windows that is not running will change (A, B, C etc are logic names not the physical names.  The physical names are 0, 1, 2 etc depending on the cable and jumper connection of the drive).
  • I think, from my memory, Windows version of 98/2000 or lower can be moved to another machine quite easily but they need to load drivers they need from the installation CD.  Quite often people used to copy the installation CD on to the Hard disk so that drivers for new hardware/printers etc could be handled more easily.
I trialled Windows 8 in April 2017 but found that inserting Windows XP drive then using Linux tools use GRUB to multi-OS boot worked okay. BUT Windows 8 disk maintenance tools have corrupted Windows XP and itself Windows 8. I tested this again and the corruption which I think my be to change the permissions of very many files happened again.  The corruption of Windows has not occurred with Windows 7 (May - September 2017) 
 
Multi-boot with Windows XP and Windows 7 + Linux Distribution on the same hard disk;
  • The two windows installations must be installed on different partition numbers so if Windows was installed on the first partition it must remain on the first partition and the required other Windows be installed to another partition say the second and third partitions.
  • After first installing or deciding to use an existing Windows installation, then use Boot repair USB, live CD's stc Gparted tool to turn off the Boot flag on the existing/first Windows installation.  You can use Gparted to reduce the Windows partition size but restart windows and run ChKDsk after doing and manipulating a Windows partition.
  • Install the second windows, check that it runs and run ChkDsk.
  • Install the Linux Distro of your choice.  You will end up with your multi-boot computer once the Linux Distro is installed.
  • With windows keep running ChkDsk periodically particularly after any major file additions and up dates.  (Windows 10 partly takes care of this for you)
  • Also you can compress the drive for more speed and space - do this early in the installation stage before you have a lot of data on the drive. 
    • Additionally run the Windows defragmenter periodically. 
If you install the two Windows but without turning off the boot flag before installing the second Windows then;
 
 - if they are the same (say XP) only one of the installations will have the key system files (COMMAND.COM, AUTOEXECUTE, BOOT.INI etc) so it will run but if you deleted this Windows partition the one left won't boot. 
 
 - If they are different versions of windows only one will boot. Windows Repair disk can only make it only the other booted OS instead.  The windows repair disk for Win 7 or higher make fix the problem but you probably will need to look up the web to fix it?
 
Mageia 4 or higher
  • Unlike other Linux distributions this distribution does not tolerate a partition of any sort being removed.
  • I do not know how Mageia 6 behaves but I think it may be better.  As of December 2017.
Corrupt disk partition
 
I have a laptop with problems so that the power fails very often.
  • In general Linux just sorts the disk errors on the next start up in 30 seconds or so.
  • Any Windows including 10 can be busy for a hour when the PC is next turned on.
Eventually this will require the OS to be re-installed. This might be after a daily failure for a month or two with Debian or Xubuntu. In this case the hard disk is past any usefulness.

Windows and the partition boot flag (Jan2019)

To emphasise the point;  If you are installing or using a repair disk ensure that the boot flag is set on the Windows start-up partition for the Windows you are repairing or installing.

By comparison Linux does not fuss about if or where partition boot flags are set.

Grub to select and boot the selected OS exist partly in the MBR and does not use the partition boot flags.


----------------------- After Installation ---------------------
Debian and Mageia Installations
 
The installation is quite flexible but consequently can fail in a way that is difficult to recover from.  On the other hand both Linux's are quite different but both can repair grub boot-loader without your need to re-install the Linux.  They may do that repair when Boot-repair fails to do that.

The Mageia traditional type installation can sometimes be used to recover function without changing anything that is already present consequently.  Windows installation disk by comparison used to be good at that before Windows XP.  If you need to re-install Windows on a computer with one or two Linux run Mageia installation update you may be able to restore Grub for you leaving the boot menu set-up nothing more to do.

Mageia installer also has a tool for restoring the windows only Boot.  Boot repair USB can also restore Windows boot.
 
Mageia and Debian after installation
It is more convenient to Disable the install from CD path from update library's.  With Mageia you then need to press Add, which starts an automatic process that sets up update library's for you.
Additionally with Debian look at the website at the repository's necessary and add those including the non-free repository's.  Look at an existing repository to see how the advice in the Wiki is applied the single line URL is really entered as;  URL space DISTRIBUTION space ALL-ELSE these are entered in the three boxes.  After I did there was a duplication but I have left it that way it works and I will ask again about that in a Linux forum or Facebook group.
 
If you need to use the installation advanced configuration;
 
Ubuntu and most other Linux distributions including Mageia 5 use or recommend two partitions; (like most Linux Distributions)
    Mounting point /
    + Swap
 
There are options on how many partitions you chose to split your Linux up and your with most distributions if you chose to consider those.  Mageia 4 used to use 3 partitions;

    Mounting point; /
    Mounting point; /home
    + Swap
 
Start up and Hard-disk partition tools - Linux mostly but many are generally useful
  • Parted-Magic This is one of a number of maintenance tools which are complete and use a very lightweight desktop.  Parted-Magic has many back up and repair tools although this distribution does not have a boot sector repair tool.   I also did not find out how CloneZiller works the wording of instructions is unclear although the tool is well regarded and looks robust. [There is a paid for version which I have not tried] - I did not find this tool more useful than using say an Xubuntu USB trial and install which has Gparted included.

If you are going to resize a windows partition use the Microsoft disk management tools if your version of Windows has them.  Microsoft apparently do not publish all the details on NTFS so MS tools will be faster and safer but the Linux tools are very safe and also careful about what they do.   Linux Gpart and Gparted is a very plain straightforward GUI to use and the user is very unlikely to make a mistake defining what they want to change copy or create in there cue of partition jobs you want doing and the tool will just get on with it - it will stop gracefully on an error or by command.   But if you want to work on the Linux and Windows partition Paragon 14 or 16 for Windows is also good and there is a free version.  A good additional step is to set windows to check and repair the partitions on the next start up - then use Linux gparted - finally when windows is next booted the partition will be fixed and windows should start without issue.  All partition managing tools carry risks with them.

  • Disks (GUI for Linux) - also does partition editing is safe and quick but frightening leaves you with what appears to be the whole extended partitions deleted but they are fine.  Restart Linux and run Disks and you will see that only what you intend occurred nothing bad has happened.
  • Gpart & Gparted - is slower than Disks but you can be confident about what it is going to do.   I found that the Gpart add to the tool does not recover partitions discarded by Windows tools inadvertently.
  • Ubuntu Boot repair disk - This is a very useful tool that does restore boot well.  The tool fixes GRUB boot so that the disk can be booted and it also has GParted and some other utilities.  It is best installed on a USB stick and fits comfortably on a 1GB stick.  As long as you have not encrypted your profile you may be able to read your home directory but not recover files because depending how permissions are set.   Therefore file browser is possible.  You do need the 64 bit version for a 64 bit machine and the 32 bit version for a 32 bit machine
If Boot Repair USB does not sort the boot loading, which it usually does sort, then there may be a utility on your Linux installation USB to fix it? Selecting a variant of Linux the computer Desktop (Graphical User Interface) you select;
    • Note the some PC's wont start up with some installer or utility USB sticks in that case try;
      • Ubuntu other ?ubuntu's distributions also have advanced options at boot time one of those will update the bootloader with other operating systems such as if you were to fit another hard disk and then therefore add another operating system to the GRUB boot list.
      • MX Linux distribution installer have boot repair and partition editing tools.
      • Debian Linux distribution installer have some boot repair and partition editing tools.
I got very stuck with restoring windows 7 boot.  XP can be fiddly but I have always sorted it in the end if it is possible. So here are some tips (I have not tried them) https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/grub  If you ask on a Windows discussion group you may be recommended to EasyBCD (BCD is not a format GRUB or Linux recognises, as of Jan 2018) it is different not better than GRUB and I would not recommend that tool.  If you are having problems Boot Repair or the Linux installation USB probably will fix it - if one does not the other may. 

Many people and websites will be warn you not to install Windows or update to a "higher" Windows after installing Linux.

  • Often there will be no problem as long as you have space available for Windows to make partitions or you can make a Windows partition and select that for installation. I have only ever done this with Linux installed as it would be normally at the far end of the hard disk.  Therefore because I wanted to re-install Windows.
  • But Windows 10 creates a new partition boot allocation system called BCD.  This can make the Linux partition disappear or be deleted (amounts to the same) from GRUB and Linux. This problem may not happen but I have seen occur.
  • EasyBCD and booting from the Windows Boot loader probably won't help as it requires a part of GRUB within the Linux to be configured.  I am advised that EasyBCD will work though, such is the nature of advice on various forums the people advising may not have tried what they recommend in your situation or they managed eventually but not easily.
Shockwave Flash - is not always required
and this advice may be superseded (1/2019)

Lightweight Desktops such as;  XFCE and RazorQT work well with only 500MB or less of DRAM but you will find that some applications such as Shockwave Flash, that is required by many web-pages, does not operate without more memory.  I found shockwave flash is fine with 1GB of memory on Linux.
 
It may seem that the Web-browser failed but depending on the Web-browser used the problem may be explained or fail inexplicably.  I found that Opera gave a plug-in warning, Firefox did not display flash images but was faster than Opera and IceTea.  IceTea closed without explanation.
 
Ubuntu offer an alternative to adobe flash player that is well rated in reviews and operates comfortably with 500M of memory I have found.  There are a number such as;  PepperFlash, Lightspark or other.  The problem with this option is that you may get a false reporting that plug-in is not found error, which is known.  This issue may make it not possible to use the flash features with all websites if they don't allow you to ignore the error.  I have read though that Flash is vulnerable and many more up to date websites do not use it.
 
I also found that my Compaq Evo N1015V notebook (built in about 2003) computer's DDR memory could not be increased to the maximum 1GB.  That is despite having updated the BIOS to the most up to date version.
 
Do look at the DropBox help as a general guide to customising a .bin generic binary type installation but for your particular
distribution particularly if it is not one of the common distribution's:- Ubuntu or RedHat/Fedora.  {I have not learnt how to
do it though and I find the non-English Nurd-ish language of Linux difficult - compared to DOS at command level}

A critque but not a criticism of any Linux

 
Depending on the desktop variant you chose you can trade off;  Fast, slick, smooth running or basic for older computers and I guess those fast options would be suitable for running Mechanical CAD (such as Solidworks 2D) programs which are very processor and memory demanding. It seems that Linux is catching on in PC's fast. Linux dominates; servers, mobile phones and things that have more computing within them than a washing machine, for the last decade.  May be I exaggerate but don't be mislead when reading Linux does not have virus scanners, disc maintenance tools or registry fixers - those things are addressed well without patching on those things.  You will find password requests pop up periodically as you are working on Linux machine to permit changes and updates - those things don't just happen like they do with Windows.
 

 Reinstalling an old version of Windows from any service pack CD version.

The reasons for running windows as well as Linux is;

  • To continue using the utilities and programmes that you are used to that only run on Windows.
  • Provides an unsecured file system space for passing files without permission issues between Operating systems and also to make the files readable by windows.
  • Warning;  Don't use these older operating systems for web browsing you will be disappointed many websites will not work properly because the browser is out of date.  Aside from that there is an increased risk of the computer being infected by computer viruses.
  • Keep a copy of your Linux .thunderbird folder (dot thunderbird), for example, on a windows partition back up directory in case you have to reinstall Linux.
  • On the other-hand virus that circulate the web do get removed.  Web-browsing with an old operating system is not a high risk provided you take care, as you should anyway.

Windows 2000 - I believe you need to do the following;

- The upgrade to the highest service patch (SP4 with all the patches) then apply it, full off-line update. Update Internet Explorer to the highest Win2000 permits which is; IE6 must be the full off-line installation (this does not seem to be possible now). Then allow Windows update to automatically apply security fixes and updates (this also does not seem to be possible now - although Microsoft website says this is possible in July2016). There may be other things such as installing DirectX 9 you need to add? you will find that Win 2000 does not support the most recent version of Firefox (11 does work) or Seamonkey and is, therefore, not very suitable for web browsing.

- Avast virus scanner may work on older versions of windows But ensure that the virus scanner is still in support and provided with security updates.

Windows XP 

You will also need to download and upgrade to service patch 3 (SP3 can not be updated to automatically now). Then apply Windows automatic updates. For the 64 bit version the highest Service pack is 2 there a two to chose from and the slightly more recent larger one on the Microsoft website is the correct one, I found. I also found that the minimum version is XP, SP 1a then it can be updated to XP, SP3.

- After XP is brought up to SP3 level, there are optional extra's and Microsoft Essentials (virus scanner - stopped updating in June 2017. you will need Microsoft malicious virus removal tool first installed but this is also taken care automatically. There may be others virus scanners that support XP that you pay for. - alternatively don't web-browse or use a Linux or other Proxi-server with virus protection (I am advised and observe that companies have been doing this for years rather than patch XP and run virus protection on XP that would slow it down severely when running mechanical CAD particularly).

- Also install the highest version of Java 7.75, you will need to do this manually. Java advise that version 8.x may work with XP but don't guarantee it. I have found that so far up to Java 8.121 runs on XP up to release of about January 2017 at least. (continues to update Jan 2019)

  • Warning; You do need to retain access to the internet so that automatic updating will continue. Applications that do this have there own security. But if you download something by such as by using a browser on Linux to run or use on Windows then ensure it is scanned and that you have taken it from a plausibly legitimate place.
  • Updating will run for days requesting reset periodically. With Internet Explorer you also visit the Microsoft update website there are more optional things, I recommend that you clear updates offered, this will not stop them happening automatically anyway, but will give you an opportunity to add specific optional things and improvements for Windows. You can add them all but XP will grow to 15GB and many non-critical updates and additions are not helpful some add ons are very beneficial so add all the ones called; Windows XP Update. I would not bother with Bing or Windows Live Essentials add ons although some parts may be useful.
  • Live Essentials has failed to install for the past year as of Jan 2019. Recently hardware driver updates appear to have stopped. (A wireless hardware update for Samsung R50 has been removed so that does not occur).

NOTE; Licensing and Authentication - I install and allow updates then use the licence key to authenticate after I found everything running. XP will be running easily within a day or you mix installing trying and updating for up to 30 days. Windows 7 will take months dribbling updates through daily and may fail to install properly if you try to do all the updates in one go.

  • With XP authenticate within 30 days or else it will stop working.
  • With Windows 7 or higher, it does not stop working but it will start nagging for authentication.

Desktopsthe basic user interface style. These vary between distributions as well the version used vary's between distributions. 

  • Cinnamon If your PC's Graphics handles this desktop it can be fast and also full feature. Otherwise it is very very slow if it needs to use software rendering (it calls it). I run Mate or Debian Cinnamon on a Samsung R50 and a slightly newer Toshiba of about 2006 with 2GB of DRAM - it runs video full screen smoothly whilst copying 10's GB of data for example. My much newer windows 10 Toshiba is much faster but does not have the necessary graphics hardware but will perform comparably in this respect. 
  • GNOME Is not like Windows. Click application and you will see all your applications running as small windows press one of them to select it. This desktop requires a higher performance PC. I found many distributions incomplete but Debian is usable and fast (Feb 2017). 
  • KDE Is like windows but also like all the other Linux's put together. This requires the highest performance PC but the newer Plasma KDE does not require such a high performance PC. Is good looking with fading effects, preview of tasks running. I found it to be to much a bit of everything so it can be good start to see a bit of many desktops. I do not use this for long. This is a bit like Windows 10 can be all things to everyone but not a focussed single style. A newer version is Plasma and it is may be Mageia 6's fastest desktop (December 2017)
  • XFCE As Lxde but with an application search and all the necessaries. A good basic established Desktop.
  • LXDE Is good for a lower specification PC or you want to run demanding applications or are just happy with a Windows 9x, 2000, XP like style. It is fairly plain.
  • Mate Requires a moderate performance PC, Mint's implementation of Mate is popular. It is not so plain, but it is nice to use and it is straightforward with in addition to Xfce like application search has a comprehensive application search that will suggest applications you may wish to install or look up information about.
  • Unity This a very plain straightforward and smart desktop and it is not like windows. The 64 bit version requires a surprisingly lot of processing power but the 32 bit version is not so slow on a PC's without a lot of memory this is as Ubuntu says on it's website. This is Ubuntu's own Desktop. It has the latest fastest Firefox making the web-browsing not so slow as otherwise would be expected. Ubuntu has returned to Gnome, but looks like Unity, as its main desktop distribution (April 2018) - Ubuntu and Unity has been a great flag ship for Linux for not very technical people - I think Windows 10 has many GNOME/Unity features but it is dreadfully cluttered.
  • The relative speed and functionality also depends on the distribution. In addition the stated minimum and desirable PC specification may be over stated or understated depending on the Desktop and distribution chosen.

Surveillance and security;

We are, of course, not immune from government surveillance I red, possibly in the 1980s, about surveillance being required to be built into Integrated Circuits. But it is said of Linux, "that it is not US based but a community driven project which has no base in a certain country". The Linux Kernel is governed by the Linux Foundation which is US based but the key thing is that it is open source and that there is nothing hidden inside it, the tools that create it can also be Linux and open to scrutiny (that is if it is compiled from source code not linked from object code). 
 
The US Patriot Act is all encompassing but of cause most countries, companies, individuals spy and gossip on their citizens and in any case ordinary people do those things as well. The issue, as far as I am concerned, is that consequently computers are vulnerable to virus attack. Users are at risk, when I have downloaded things from sourceforce and others that item is fine but the website strategically places a fake download button (advert possibly) and I get something dangerous rather than what I wanted. Here is a good example of European company policy on outside surveillance applied I hope they can manage it; UNFORTUNATELY THIS LINK DOES NOT WORK NOW (http://www.mandriva.com/en/company/independence/) Also see openMandriva. I have also been recommended this which I have not looked at; http://wiht.link/mandrivalinux
 
One of the Backgammon games that Ubuntu offers, Cheats! That is if you play excessively 
you will particularly notice that the dice rolls in the machines favour much too often and 
the player's dice roles are unlikely to fall in the players favour. Other games are 
noticeably not loaded this way.
 
By comparison with other distribution's I have tried, Ubuntu offers the best designed 
software store that I have seen. You can read, write reviews, read a description and visit
 a link to the suppliers website. 
 
The comments on the Backgammon game point out that it cheats Or alternatively that it is a good
game and
 works well (which it does). Some comments also say that Linux is open source and
because 
such cheating is likely to be discovered so is unlikely. That this game is supported by
Canonical and they would not risk there reputation. But you know business and individuals do
things for
expediency particularly if they find themselves in or are put in a tight corner. This is now
more-so part 
of our culture and the so called 11th commandment "don't get found out" applies, sadly.
 
Don't absolutely trust anything particularly on covert surveillance other than the likelihood that the
authorities
or anyone else has collected so much data are so over funded by governments they
 may not be
 able or be bothered to sift it. They will set an example of someone periodically.
 
Although companies based in US (or any other country) would have to deny any surveillance they are required to carry out but companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft share information collected such as visits to your website, face recognition (tagging), Adverts profiled to match your likely spending interests - they are not necessarily comfortable with what they have to do. 

Shoot the messenger; We should not dislike the company's necessarily but rather what we expect of our governments do to keep us comfortable. Some of those companies are showing us some of what they do consequently. 1984 the book and film, prediction and the year has certainly now seems understated particularly since the Soviet Union fell taking away there example in culture and education but also state control we could aspire to or in the latter case claim to be better than. After one of my first visits Microsoft website in the late 1990s I found a new file within Windows (3.1) with a date and time stamped which coincided with my visit to that website the file listed all the files on my computer, that was before MS placed a statement saying that it did not scan your computer in any way on their website but there was general speculation that MS did do that.

In normal conversation people share fake as well as truths and in turn the fake is naturally corrected by experience and trust. This is a complicated task which mind is well developed to sort out. This is a similar point and is worth bearing in mind to surveillance when using technical help forums. Personally the more open the better but some administration is necessary against the thought police misusing PC and curtsy to curtail discussion that is on-message.
 
 Safe Web-browsing
 
Look a the URL to see if it looks correct or plausible. For example if you wish to download Firefox the domain is; mozilla.org and you will see http://www.mozilla.org/ at the beginning of the URL do not download it from anywhere else.
 
I am told that Microsoft can lock out a Windows computer with NTFS format disks, remotely. I expect that their would be a way of locking a Linux user out of a Linux computer it is surely only necessary for an insider to have something update from within the Linux organisation and that update ripple through to all users unknowingly. Whistle blowers usually disappear without trace unless they are supporting something that a significant established interest want changed. You will come across conflicting commercial licensing with Linux so I remain sceptical but I like Linux all the same. DropBox which is a good cloud file sharing tool can be found within many Linux safe repository's but the installer gets the application from outside the repository (when your administrator authorise that) and directly by secure connection from the manufacturer - I am sure that this is safe and made robust but it also demonstrates a potential vulnerability. The vulnerability, I see, being to set a precedent for a potentially slacker attitude to internet safety.
Reliability and support; 
There is no need to explicitly pay even a pepper corn for Linux so there is no beneficial contract between the user and supplier or a duty of care that comes with a contract. Conversely their is a good degree of protect due to the Linux approximate philanthropic culture and open source philosophy.  You can buy support though and you are asked to donate to the projects you chose - this is different and still not a contract.
 
I looked up the number of users on some of the Linux Forums; Ubuntu over 150,000 users, Mint over 100,000 users and Mageia over 4,500 users. Although a different statistic the percentage of all Desktop computers are; Windows about 90%, and XP is the second most popular.  Linux accounts for 1.5% of the total and it is growing fast I suspect (no figures found), whereas 98% of all the super computers run Linux, Linux having displaced Unix over the past decade.
 
Large servers for the past decade generally run Linux so they will have had all the computer virus in the world that have ever been created during that time, pass through them without any reported infection but of cause web pages and email does pass on computer viruses that harm Windows PCs.  That is what I understand Linux community keep saying, not just spreading a myth but repeatedly testing and confirming the claim.
 
Technical Forums - Sometimes people do comment adversely about and some other users and say they don't like using forums.  I have contributed to forums for a few decades, they are good. Use the Linux support forums and indulge the request for all the relevant technical detail required and the helpers quirkiness.  Do appreciate that it is very hard to analyse and fault find remotely. Understand conversely that it is usually not possible to describe clearly something until you understand what went wrong.  The Aha moment helps you see after the event what you could have described better initially - this can not be helped much, other than to be aware of it.
  
Linux is different to DOS and Windows but not too different;
Office tools such as Libre are like OpenOffice for Windows which is a good alternative to Microsoft Office there are alternatives to many popular programs but their are fewer alternatives to many specialist CAD tools. Firefox also works fine running on XP or Linux, probably is the definitive standard for web browsers so that being faster as well is the better one to use.  In conclusion the basic office things are covered by Linux.
 
I am advised my understanding is incorrect but I should say don't worry Linux Libre will read .doc files and Linux USB writer may make a fuss about creating a live USB with an .iso until the extension is changed to .img as if it was a DOS/Windows application - so in those cases the extension is relevant, you don't have to worry therefore about any difference it is not apparent. 
 
Unlike Windows used to be you can't necessarily take an installed Linux hard disk out of one PC and put it on another and expect it to run. But I found that Ubuntu moved between two or three computers and started up successfully. The experience was not like Windows used to be the Linux does not install replacement drivers on detecting differences but Ubuntu did move between two computers I believe the drivers are generic rather than proprietary and work with the hardware in a basic universal mode plus a feature of Ubuntu was its ability to adjust for a lower definition screen for example rather than start up blank screen?  Mageia just failed to launch the desktop stopping at a text prompt.  But with Xubuntu flashplayer may have been a problem when cloning to a lower spec. computer but otherwise as I said works well.  You mostly do not need flashplayer with the more up to date websites but there lighter variants such as pepper flash for lower spec. Linux computer but they do not always work.

In conclusion though with Windows or Linux you might be able to move a hard disk to another PC and it work but with Windows now it might not find and replace with the correct drivers. The Windows installation on to that PC would be fine though by comparison - as is true of any installation. Some old computers give you few options other than to move the hard and there is a way to get them to work in Linux if you can ask for advice and have the interest and patents to do it.

File copy to windows - Linux security does make things inconvenient occasionally

Copying files belonging to you from Linux to windows; you may find when they are copied they are unreadable and undeletable by Windows depending on the device or application they came from. The only way to do anything with those files is use them with the installation of Linux that you copied from. But you may or may not able to change the file permission using the properties option on file then right click?

These sort of problems have become less common since writing this (March 2017) - To revise that

last point 1/2019 I have observed any problem in any currently supported Linux Distribution.

 

File and Folder Sharing

The short answer is I don't know but here are some things you can do.  Some of the Linux's are more set up ready to go.

Linux such as Ubuntu and many others have a network browse button in the file manager. Click on this button and you can find Windows shared directory and printers usually in MHOME.  You can find Linux shared directories in WINDOW. You will also find network printers which you will need to install a driver for. This is similar to Windows Networking.  Mageia similarly has a browse network button in the file manager but it does not work similarly by simply clicking to see other networked computer and devices though.

To create a shared folder Ubuntu has one called public which is handy but you also need to then make that folder and any printer shared - I suggest with no user and open to anyone. To do that install Gksu and Samba and then run Samba - as of Feb 2019 this does has not necessary as far as I have oberved.

Linux shared folders do not give anyone on another computer read/write/create rights in the same way that Windows shared folders do. When you put things into any folder you must then selectively or for the entire folder give those rights. You can find that files copied and shared can not be shared or deleted on the second computer.

At the time (2014) I have not properly understood networking computers.  Windows XP shares easily by comparison but none that I have tried are straightforward. Even after doing the things I suggest Lubuntu still did not work.  Since writing Windows XP did connect to a an open shared directory on a home network say on Windows 7.  As more recent updates occur of XP, XP behaves like higher versions of Windows and requires a password. In otherwords the open shared folder really is unprotected as you wished but newer versions of Windows put a front end password to make it look secure (< 1/2019).

I found that with network browsing you have to wait for the computer to find things but at first it looks as if there is nothing on the network. You can find that after some days of struggling it all sorts itself out - that is also true if you do nothing and leave it.  This seeming random nature is not it is consistently true - that is it all might work suddenly tomorrow. 

The easiest way to share is to start by sharing using windows (XP 32 bit) at first. To repeat the point;  Files in windows when copied to a windows shared folder then have copied read/write/create rights but with any Linux Ubuntu variants you copy them then you give permission.  First use a wired Ethernet when that works use a wireless Ethernet connection if you wish - but for that reason I have said I have to say, I guess. 

I read that optionally setting a static IP address helps. 

But I observe that once all the settings ripple through the connections all become reliable without taking this step. Alternatively the connection is never made but left me frustrated.

Cloud storage method.

There are many providers that once you down load a program and install it it will run on windows. If you pay for one of these, as opposed to use the free version, you may be able to set up on Linux.  DropBox has a Linux utility which is straight forward to install.  DropBox primarily supports Linux.  But all of these cloud storage providers which include Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive do not support Linux but have good web-browser interfaces.

This link will give you a Dropbox free account and give me some more capacity for having recommended Dropbox

Thunderbird Address book sharing or synchronising

Google contacts should share I found it did not. There are a number of Thunderbird address book synchroniser add on's none of them worked well so I guess the issue is with Google, Thunderbird and the way these synchronisers try to tidy up address books for you.  For example;

  • SyncKolab did not filter or merge which is very because you can use Duplicate Contact Manager that in any case works well. But like the other synchronisers did not finish synchronise or complete it entirely tend to make the address book get bigger and lost Contact Lists.
  • ThunderSync syncs to a drop box but does not sync Lists and java kept stopping. 
  • Addressbooks Synchronizer - WebDAV/LDAP/IMAP folder - does not handle lists but looses them.
  • Thunder box and NuevaSync synchronises a smart phone.
LDAP method is built in option in Thunderbird email contacts server - is generally a pay for service, or run by companies and may not allow users to add contacts?
 
Cloud storage - this method is similar to sharing an address book file. But you should only have one instance of Thunderbird running at any one moment. It works well for one user using one of his computers at a time but would not suit multi-users at all by comparison with the address book synchronisation methods.

Once you have some cloud storage, such as DropBox, you can make a symbolic link to the address book (abook.mab) stored in the cloud and synchronised to your computer by the provider. Terminal command line for example;
 
"ln -s  /home/andrew/Dropbox/Addressbook/abook.mab /home/andrew/.thunderbird/default/"
 
Where;
 
ln    Is approximately the Linux equivalent too DOS command copy.
 
-s    Switch makes this command create a symbolic link (in this case the thunderbird folder). This is like a windows short-cut. You will need to move or delete the abook.mab file from the .thunderbird/default/ directory first. 
 
The source path    Is to where the cloud copy of abook.mab file is now stored on your Linux computer. andrew - is my personal Linux user profile, Addressbook - a directory for abook.mab that I created in the Dropbox directory.
 
 
The destination     Is where abook.mab is normally kept by default. But this puts a symbolic link there instead that looks as if it is the file.
 
.    The leading dot in the files names or directory names makes those file's or directory's hidden too Linux users normally. 
 
Or more easily their may be a click in the file manger tools called Shortcut that will do the same. 
Linux Shortcut (symbolic link) is not the same as a windows shortcut.
Windows 10 (Vista or newer) also support Symbolic Links [two types Hardlink and Symlink) but the link has a different
extension to the original so in this case is consequently unusable in this case.
 I guess the way around the problem (for Windows but not Linux) is to keep the originals in Thunderbird and the common Windows Symbolic link in dropbox. I would need to investigate further about renaming to use the link across Linux and Windows?

NOTEs;

  • Open Thunderbird after your cloud has synchronised (to ensure that Thunderbird uses the newest synchronised copy of abook) and 
  • Close all Thunderbird windows before shutting the computer down. In order to for the saving of abook.mab to occur and then the cloud provider will synchronise it (upload it to the cloud host).
  • The consequences of not taking this precaution is that you may loose recently changed contacts because an earlier version of abook.mab has been used.
 
Running Windows or a DOS program on Linux;
There are options for running windows program on Linux but running a dual boot system is the easiest and best. Alternatively;
  • Virtual Box,  For Linux or Windows will then run another operating system that you install in the virtual environment created and it runs as a window within the host but everything runs much more slowly unless you have at least 2GB of DRAM. There are others but this is the one I tried, it seems to be very well implemented and runs smoothly, which is what I would expect of Oracle being a Sun Microsystems company, but still it can crash and sometimes badly. (5.02 is more stable August 2015) To get an OS running in a virtual machine is straight forward and reliable but after that there is quite a lot of advanced detail which is provided. It runs Windows 2000 but does not install Linux well in one case the host would not log in subsequently and I reinstalled that host Xubuntu. BUT DON'T RUN THE LINUX VERSION ON A WINDOWS PARTITION LIKE NTFS IT WILL SCREW UP THE NTFS FILING SYSTEM VERY BADLY (XP with version 5.02).
  • I am also running VB (March 2017) on Windows 10 - it does not work well and the shared file feature, which is otherwise good and straightforward, does not work on this particular version of Windows. There are a lot of issues with Windows 10 just now and unsurprisingly and unsurprisingly even so people pay for it as well rather than stick with Windows 7, say, until there is a stable MS alternative (March 2017).
  • Wine (WINdows Emulator), There website says it is not an emulator but a compatibility layer. It does not running in its own window. CADSTAR Express 14, National Instruments Labview 2013 (which there may also be Linux binary's for), 32 or 64 bit versions did not work. It does seem to support all of OrCAD 16.6 (which there may also be Linux binary's for) although I did not try to do anything, all the programmes started up. I found that I can not access a Windows Partition it is like a virtual machine in that respect as it evidently has boundaries set and compromises. After installing Wine it is possible that its configuration could be screwed up in that case un-installing and also delete the .wine directory, although this method leaves things behind in Linux. I also found that if an application hooked up, the computer would never close down but switching the computer on and off again stopped that application.
  • Installation information is good at; https://www.winehq.org/ Then go to Download [April 2018]
  • The paid for/trail version is good or go to the free version pick your distrubution.
  • There is a list of root teminal commands to run. Make sure you have 2-3G free space in your Linux bearing in mind you are going to install things. I ran this in debian and used the developeement version.
  • Clue the line "deb ............. DISTRO main" is a line you need to paste in to the page opened with gedit
  • You therefore may need to install gedit first. The word "DISTRO" in this case needs to be replaced with the word "debian"
  • I first impression of a circuit modelling tool LTspice XVII is that runs better in Linux WINE than it runs in Windows 7 or 10. Other attempts to install run and uninstall programmes did not work out.
  • CodeWeavers,  Seems to just support 32 bit windows applications is the paid for version of Wine and a bit different. Two of the examples that I tried on Wine that did not work did not on CodeWeavers either. Similarly CADSTAR only seemed to worked until I first restarted the computer in both cases. Labview did not complete installation properly with numerous warning and flagged during the process. I did find parts of OrCAD 16.6 started up and I am told that some windows picture editing tools work well.  Microsoft operating system attract periodically legal challenge for protective practice it is therefore probably that key knowledge about the OS are not shared making the job of creating WINE difficult, I speculate?
  •  
  • If you have shared work, say on a dual boot computer, between Linux and Windows keep that work on a Windows formatted partition (FAT or NTFS) and then you can access it by both operating systems. In this way you can use Linux to avoid a windows operating system directly accessing the world wide web, that is, other than any that a running application may require for updating and license authentication. In any case virus pass though Linux so you need virus scanners for windows just the same although you will have reduced your risk. Any thing you put on a Windows partition should be virus scanned before it is used.
 
Joking about Windows but even so it is used because their are many applications for it
and they are cheap popular but consequently well developed. Microsoft have become
more secretive about what is in the operating system, by comparison. Conversely
there is a Microsoft tool or wizard to fix anything freely available presumably to 
discourage people from exploring how it works. DOS and Windows 3.1 and 95 for 
example were much more open, I observe.

UNIX is the basis of a lot of not DOS or Windows operating systems;

IBMDOS (IBM DOS) or MSDOS (Microsoft DOS) and the older CP/M (Digital) distinctively used 8.3 format file names this is not true of other operating systems. I used another OS in the 1970's and 80's at college called Flex which did not use that format. Significantly Linux has been made somewhat windows tolerant. Linux uses the .xxx extension to identify a file type whereas OS 9 does not you are in control of the name which can be mixed case and long. UNIX has another file permission flag called executable which I am told Universities and Colleges like in order to limit what their students are permitted to do.

The Dog and the Dingo a Dog like Wallaby - which came first, patent and copyright

If lawyers found a way to make money arguing that similar plants and animals but from a different evolutionary path but coming to the same solutions that one copied the other, that sure would have crippled evolution and life on earth would never have developed? People have always made or written things then given them away freely, even if to do so is not macho. Companies may do that for commercial benefit they may do it for no commercial or tax benefit but just philanthropically. Companies of cause are about making money all the same before you think I am getting dewy eyed about open sources software and there are big financial interest in and a lot of products sold using Linux.
 
Linux or other open source software in which the source code and/or the object code is free but the product may or may not have a cost to individual users

If you use DOS then the penultimate version 6.21 is about the best the disc compression was the most robust in it's time.

TIP; If you are using FAT partition you may be able to add the line "verify on" in the config.sys but be warned those files are it is well understood.  Microsoft do not public document how NTFS filing system works so Linux can not fully respect privacy and other features.  

There were big court battles where Netscape lost the argument that Windows 95 was crippled so that Netscape Browser did not run efficiently.  If you run a Microsoft Windows Visual Basic program transferring data on a PC serial port (7 bit + parity or 8 bit) you will find bursts of data errors for a few minutes every half an hour this is not the case running a DOS program such as Quick Basic.  It is was also not the case with VB on Windows 3.1, 98 or higher either.  In another court case Microsoft was fined for applying the use of two File Allocation Tables (FAT) for robustness to disk compression in the same way that Stacker was already doing for disk compression even though using two FATs was the established way of making a disk filing system robust.  Double Space was replaced by Drive Space in the last version of DOS 6.22 so the very robust Double Space last appeared in DOS 6.21. 

DOS 4.x was the most unreliable version of any major disk operating system where as DOS 6.x was the first professional and robust Microsoft product in many peoples opinion.  Although supporters of Linux seem very confident about the robustness of Linux I am inclined to be careful I know I make mistakes then compound them with other mistakes and also find that the machine did not do what I expected resulting in things being deleted but knowing that I have very lost little.

Microsoft have a financial interest in Novell which is part of one of the best and long established Linux distributions openSUSE.  The point I make is that selecting Linux is not a way of putting Microsoft out of business but it may be a way of avoiding virtual monopoly for a while. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novell

 The first web-browser;

  • Internet Explorer - Introduced after Netscape spilt from Mosaic. I.E. credited Mosaic for some licensed Intellectual property it uses.
But for name changes Netscape was the first commercial Web Browser it became free to individual users (Microsoft did not charge extra for IE 3.x for Windows 3.1 which made it easy to get a dial-up connection if you did not have a paid for ISP like CompuServe). Open Source caught on subsequently and perhaps that marks the end of using patent and copyright to take things created for the good of all away from all of us? Microsoft copied Sun Micro-Systems' Java calling it virtual machine but had to stop doing that and supply Java on subsequent editions of Windows 98. 
 
 Getting the Best from FireFox
 
The number of open tabs that this browser can cope with depends on operating system and computer as well. But from Firefox (30) and (57) are quite markedly faster and copes with more open tabs.  Netscape/Firefox have always launched a version every few years that greatly improves on what went before.
 
If you set Firefox to open old tabs [restore] and you have a lot of Tabs running it will go progressively more slowly.  This is true of either Windows or Linux versions.  The remedy is to close Firefox, when the disk activity stops, open it again.  All the tabs will be there again memory straitened out and the tab you are viewing will be the only one running.  It will then go full speed you can also open a few more Tabs if you chose too.
 
Firefox always has used lots of memory.  It also fragments or uses more memory the longer it runs.  So closing Firefox and re-opening it is a good strategy.  Do that before the computer freezes up.
 
Irrespective of the operating system Firefox operates faster with more RAM and 2GB is better than 1GB for example.
 
Sometimes a distribution does not offer the most up to date Firefox - eg Debian 9.3, LXDE still only provides ESR version (which is in support). One solution is to;
  • Download and decompress you compress a newer Firefox to your user directory. Then create a link to; ~firefox/firefox from your file manager and save it to your desktop folder. You won't get a Firefox icon but click the icon made on the desktop and open the newer Firefox. This will work if all the library's are installed.
     
  • There are other solutions such as use unstable repository version.

The main point is you can google and if that fails ask for help on a forum facebook etc. for most things.

 
Open source revolution (new name for a very old idea) - has spread out of software, perhaps since the fall of the former Soviet Union the idea that mutual benefit rather than self interest brutal in tooth and claw (Victorian values or Neo-Darwinism) works better.  See;The Guardian Open-source-revolution-conquer-one-percent-cia-spy

Tools that I had ready in order to prepare for trying Linux with least risk;

  • Seagate (Maxtor, Weston Digital etc) Hard disk maintenance software - I did not need this.  I found these tools invaluable if a hard disk boot file (MBR) becomes corrupted that happened when I had a bad mother board.  The disk appeared to become faulty and an internal flag (SMART) became set to to warn that it was failing.  This flag cleared automatically after the bad sectors began to be marked so that bad sector arose less and less often, then not at all automatically by Linux. These tools don't seem to be available now though but PartedMagic (mentioned above) does have a disk erase utility that will erase the MBR it has Gparted (with the Gpart add on) can then be used to restore the MBR and data that a new clean MBR is created.
  • Rufus USB tool that restores a USB stick even a large one that should be formatted to exFAT to near its original state or at least good enough to use with Windows and Linux. Thank you to Mageia for recommending this completely free and philanthropic provided tool.  Linux Mint also provide a USB formatting tool but it only formats to FAT or NTFS but not to the original exFAT that memory sticks greater than 4GB may have originally been formatted to.  Rufus tool will also create a simple bootable iso image on a USB stick.
  • http://www.plop.at/en/bootmanagers.html - Invaluable tool put it on a floppy disk (using; Raw-Write-Win) to boot a USB stick it may also let you Boot from any partition found. I found it necessary to eject the floppy disk soon after the Linux booted with Mageia (and Xubuntu) because installation would fowl up just after the installation created partitions but in any case ejecting the floppy disk is a good strategy.
  • Paragon Partition tool for windows;  http://www.paragon-software.com/ This a useful tool runs on Windows and allows you to resize delete, copy Windows and Linux partitions. I perceive that it may be more robust working on a NTFS filing system than Gparted is.
  • Do download and use the tool recommended by the particular Linux you intend using in order to put an image .iso on to a USB memory stick. If none is recommended then ImageWriter (openSUSE for example) has no extra features the windows version does not always find a previously used memory stick, unless it has been correctly formatted prior, but it creates an image on a memory stick that does work.

 Gparted for Linux

  • This is a very good partitioning tool but can mess up Windows partitions. You may be able to fix this situation by running windows check disk with the fix and through options set. You may need to do this a few times.  Then Gparted check this may sort it.  The common problem is the reported size is smaller than the partition size.
  • Unlike Linux which is open, Microsoft don't let anyone know how Windows works but they provide tools like ChkDsk, Malicious virus removal tool, and many special wizards at no cost that can be run in order to fix or change things. Consequently Linux Gparted or Paragon for Windows can not carry out a repair fully but must use the Microsoft tool.
  • Gparted works more reliably if auto mounting and auto file exploring options are turned off in the desktop.  This is because whilst Gparted is working on a partition towards the completion of the operation Linux may mount the partition before Gparted is ready.
  • Power interruption is particularly unlikely to be recoverable from if Gparted is working on a Windows partition.  But this also true of Paragon a very good and similar Windows tool - this may be partly because these tools can't repair a windows partition such as NTFS because Microsoft does not share the technical detail of much of the operating system; You have to have a running windows to run ChkDsk for example (this is a sort of catch 22 if windows will not start - but a windows installation disk may sort such cases - I observed in June 2015 using an XP installation CD.
  • Gparted is well reviewed with good reason it is particularly clear what it is going to do and then what the outcome was. It does what it does well.
Do set windows to fully check disk a partition before you resize that partition so on the next start up after you have used whatever windows or Linux partitioning tool operation that any errors cab be fixed subsequently.  Crosslinked files seems more likely to happen when there is little free space.  And set Linux so that it does not automatically mount or automatically open the file manager if a new volume is found.
 
It seems to be the nature of Windows that it only sample checks things and may abandon a file operation leaving things broken but Linux doing a file operation on Linux partition will be very very slow if the hard disk has surface errors by comparison.  That means do run check disk a number of times if any problem arises and in any case run check disk periodically anyway.

GPART - For finding deleted partitions and restoring them (add-on for Gparted) -  I have not seen this tool work.  I have tried restoring a partition (Gpart add on to GPARTED) after Windows Installation disk has deleted a partition unsuccessfully.
  • Many distributions can also be installed on a memory stick but they will, of cause, run more slowly and wear out your memory stick so just keep that sort of installation for maintenance such as recovery of data? You should disconnect all your hard disks or else you may find it not possible to boot anything without having all the hard disks and the memory stick plugged in as it was when you did the installation.  Mageia is different although installation is not possible on a USB memory stick, but uniquely a feature within Mageia allowed me to add Windows and other OS's including another Linux distribution (but not another Mageia I found) so I have Windows on another hard disk and another Linux on a memory stick that I can select any of. Tip don't select add "Linux" but do add "Windows or other OS" and select change to GRUB-2 at boot. Each distribution is different so precautions I have stated are not an issue with Mageia or many of the Ubuntu based distributions. NOTE;  Windows only supports one partition and it has to be partition the first partition and that partition must be No. 1 on a USB memory stick.  This will be the only partition you will see in windows explorer but you can not run windows from a memory stick.  You can see all partitions with Linux. Special Windows tools such as Paragon can see and work on all partitions found on a USB memory stick.
Be careful of cloning an operating system (Mageia 3) I found that my Thunderbird folder on my hard disk was being used instead of the one on the USB stick I was running, so I take the precaution of running a different distribution to the one installed on any other disk drive.  I suspect this issue is resolved now but I have seen similarly (June 2015) that it is not possible to unmounted a clone of xubuntu on a memory stick when using the original Linux.  Cloned partitions on a memory stick can not be ejected for example if the original is running.
 
Unlike Mageia it is possible with Xubuntu to clone and to a lower spec PC. But although it is possible too create a new administrator and user, it is not possible to then remove the old administrator or change the root administrator or to change the machine name to reflect the pc that you are now running the clone on. So cloning, as I say, happens to work for any of the Ubuntu's but is not entirely satisfactory.
 
A feature of Linux is that all data storage devices appear as one flat structure, subdirectory media, this flat structure feature in this case I mention caused a conflict is likely to be the case with any Linux. Although different to Windows when you add disk drives, drive letters change so you need be careful with windows as well though I found such problems do not arise, I think they would have arisen with Windows 3.1, DOS and anything that was not NT based? To get a cloning Linux may or may not work but Linux Gparted is good tool that can do all sorts of things like this. If you use to Gparted to delete create Linux partitions (swap) you will find that you will have to re-install the distribution with the option format (/) selected.
  • I also have a Windows XP SP3 installation disk. This was invaluable for putting things back as they were. The installations disks are not always available but one that you have no license number for works well enough and gives you a 30 day trial.
  • If you are also running windows here are some registry clean up tools, you can use in addition to De-fragment and Check Disk;  http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner it is free and reliable.
  • Microsoft have tools, at no cost, for fixing a specific problem such as with the Windows registry. I used one of these recently to fix the inability to un-install of Java 7 update 9. Some people, like myself have had this problem and I found the solution using a web search.  In that respect Windows can be better than Linux.  For example if you turn off or close Mageia (3 or 4) for example during updating there is no tool, you have to run some commands which have no meaning in plain English on the root terminal and it will all be sorted. On the other hand running the installation USB selecting update or install but without formatting a partition will straighten out the boot-loader more easily than trying anything like that with on Windows with it's Install CD.
  • Ubuntu Boot repair disk The boot repair utility within this distribution, that I described above, can be installed on to one of the Ubuntu's but there may be little point in doing that if you can not boot the OS anyway. It also has Gparted utility and file manager.
    • MX USB and Debian USB installation has a similar range of repair tools and can start up on some old PC that won't start up with Boot repair disk. MX has the better and easier to use tools such as Gparted for disk partition editing.

Linux Mint uses fairly old stable libraries (the OS's stabiltiy is the feature of that OS) and you may find that you can not re-size a debian partition with Gparted because the Debian installation uses newer features. On the other hand if you use an up-to-date version of Boot-Repair-USB that will resize the partition for you. There is no harm because the Gparted carry's out some checking before proceeding.

Implication of using an Old PC

The item that can appear to wear though not be broken is the hard disk. When hard disks are made they have surface errors but these are marked bad, are not used and are hidden - this used to be part of what was called low level formatting. With hard disks with use more bad sectors are identified and marked bad these can be retested using full format or DOS chkdsk (fsck is the Linux equivalent of Chkdsk) with options set and many of the sectors recovered or more bad sectors found and marked bad. Sectors become marked bad if the power fails, the drive is dropped particularly when it is powering down and in the case I mentioned above I had a damaged mother board. When reusing a PC for Linux the installation process will delete, re-size and create new disk partitions but of a Linux type. 
 
I am told that Windows 7 or higher looks after the hard disk quite well (Windows 8 and 10 advises there is no need to run chkdisk but defragment is still necessary). You should run chkdsk and defragment with 7 or earlier MS operating systems OFTEN. Even so if you  interrupt the power on a Linux Distro (March 2017) it will check and fix things the next time the computer is turned on adding perhaps another 30 seconds to the start up time and another minute to the closing down time (this test used to be less frequent). But Windows 10, you will have to go away and leave the computer but not for such a long time as you would have with lower versions of Windows. I have a PC with a bad power connector - Linux will take a daily failure for month at least but at some point you will have to re-install Linux. I am not saying to ever pull the plug on a computer without closing it down but if ctrl-alt-del (Windows or Linux) or ctrl-alt-backspace (Linux) does not stop a frozen task both OS's are tolerant to some degree, to if -- all fails turn it off and on again the old traditional Windows solution --
 
By comparison I have another Hard Disk 80GB and 20GB with no bad sectors that is particularly good and the disk drives though it is also at least 12 years old. I have older hard disks that are okay no SMART warnings and of cause have a reasonable number of disk surface errors.
 
I found though that NTFS and other filing systems do not handle large files such as 15GB compressed files well.
 For example the disk access will be slow and Windows will keep reporting bad when chkdsk is run but using a 
compressed directory for your achieving is fine. Also memory sticks are fine. I found this so with a number of 
SATA disc drives that are otherwise fine on an IBM server.
 
With any computer get the Bios updated or you could come unstuck.
  • Obvious but worth stating; My example comes from using CADSTAR express 15 and 16 which is a particularly good straightforward circuit and PCB design piece of CAD.
  • Although not supported on XP but most of its parts run on XP except PR Editor.
  • Just because it all works on Windows XP 64 bit does not mean it all works on Windows XP 32 bit.
  • All but one part might work the maker is not actively removing XP support but on a function by function basis not including it. In the CADSTAR express 15/16 case manufacturing files could not be output on the 32 bit version of XP.
  • Take care with software launched at about the time of the end of life notice for XP.
I have found Linux to be robust even on a failing hard disk. Particularly of interest it deals with disk errors such as occur with power failure in 10-30 seconds at start up and I have not found Linux ever to take the hours of testing Windows requires. Windows 10 is not so bad as other Windows in that the worse case longest disk repair time was an hour or so. 
 

 Personal comfort with a Computer

  • Set the Contrast and Brightness at a noticeably low level And you will find you can do intense work for much longer.
  • Break off from work periodically have proper tea and food breaks. They are statutory (Trucking Acts) built in to work to increase your productivity so are mutual beneficial.  
  • Move the mouse on to the desk so that you have to reach a little.
  • Avoid resting your wrist on the edge of the desk. Such as move the keyboard as well.
  • Position the screen fairly vertical to avoid light reflecting from the screen.
  • Plan things on paper before you do anything on a computer. When you have years of experience using a computer you will find this tip less important. But anyway plan as much as you can see, when you can see further plan some more but only detail as much as you need to or as far as you can see - the plan will change anyway.
  • As with anything break off from what you are doing and do something else periodically. Easy to advise hard to do.
Change things and move yourself before your physical aches set in.
 

How much memory does a Operating System with GUI and all the office tools included;

Lots is the answer. In about 1980 when (Digital and IBM were similar size companies) CPM (the commonly used general business office operating system prior to DOS) would fit on a 80K single sided single density 8" or 5.25" floppy disk. Wordstar office suit would fit on one 300-400K double sided double density floppy disk or many lower capacity floppy disks and you had to swap them depending on the feature of Wordstar you were using eg for running spell check. Home computers had between 8K to 12K of firmware The Acorn BBC computer had 20K + up to 8x 8K sideways ROMs and 8 to 32K of RAM. Unix was a then staggering then 50MB which is very small by modern standards. If you added all the software/firmware together on all the few hundred well known computers it would be about the same size as one current installed Linux 1GB to 10GB (some use more space some use very much less space).
 
Short cut keys universally used ^X ^C ^V ^F ^R etc. are called as Wordstar Stort-cut keys.
There are more short cuts for arrow keys called the Wordstar diamond. 
The short cut for print ^P came from CPM but is universally recognised as well.
These shortcut keys don't work properly on Windows 7 or "higher" sadly. 
Be-careful the outcome of using Ctrl-C varies with operating context and seems a bit inexplicable. 
Ctrl-C does not mean stop a function in a running program except in DOS but Ctrl-break can mean stop a program or a function just the similarly in any OS.
 
The implications of this is that hard disks have got smaller in size but vastly bigger in capacity from the 10MB-100MB they had been in the 1980s. But they are not 1000 times faster to access so when you formatted a hard disk then it may have taken hours to mark all the bad sectors but now would take days (in theory) but then be completely trouble free for ever more (long time). So what is it doing now to handle such vastly larger capacity I don't know? What ever it is doing it surely has to be a compromise such as a checking can only be by sampling and therefore be minimal.
 
Bus speeds attain 100MB/Sec. Whereas they were 1MB/sec in 1980 (Main frame computer used ECL and BitSlice arithmetic logic units to ran at >10MB/sec). But internally there is cashing to fast memory of frequently used data and cashing of cashing with fast DRAM and very fast SRAM then the speeds inside the microprocessor are very high using much faster on chip memory. The bus width has got wider so that more data can be processed per memory cycle. Consequently 64 bit microprocessors use pipe-lining to work on each instruction at different stages in a queue but at the end of the queue the following instruction that is mostly completed may be abandoned if the outcome current instruction does not go the way anticipated (a programmer can chose in RISC processor a variant of the desired branch instruct optimisation for the likely outcome).
My PC is an IBM xSeries 206m server but I use it as a desktop. It is 64 bit single processor but Linux reports that it is dual 32 bit core. It is stated that the memory is 800MB/sec. I believe this means that that is 8x100MB/sec counting each of the 8x 8bit bytes that form a 64 bit data bus.
 

The best home computer

The best performing home computers of the 1970's-1980's where the Acorn Atom, BBC micro computers and this latter computer displaced the Commodore PET as the desirable home computer. The microprocessor used in these and the also good Commodore 16 and 64 was a Rockwell R6502. The R6502 was pin interchangeable with the by then quite old MC6800 (the MC6800 was used by the military, I understand, for quite a long time before its commercial launch in 1976 hence it has a very well refined architecture).
 
The structure of the R6502 tended to 
constrain programmers to do the work where the data was rather than move data, this made the program fast. By comparison the Z80 and i8080 had very good data moving instructions higher quoted clock speeds but this was very misleading because the machine (memory) cycle was similar speed and that is a more accurate measure in Comprehensive Instruction Set Microprocessors (CISC) performance.
 
Reduced Instruction Set Microprocessors (RISC) are very common and a lot is claimed but they may be, in some cases, just old intellectual property dressed up. The ARM 7 instruction set runs at half the speed of a Motorola M-core for the same clock speed but can be switched to run as fast but with more memory use than the M-core. ARM is sold as a very cheap commodity piece of intellectual property whereas Motorola was the most leading edge parts. The last version of the BBC micro had an ARM microprocessor which was impressively fast. The ARM microprocessor is now used very widely even Motorola (now Freescale) make microprocessors using the ARM core under license. But like Motorola make PowerPC under licence from IBM (R6000 core) I would say it is better to use one of the companies own propriety processors Motorola very understate what they do and they have very satisfied users consequently.
 
The Rockwell R6502 processor based BBC micro was faster than the first IBM PC's that despite on paper seeming to be slow. Both were CISC. Many electronic designers got caught out by spec. points v reality. The problem is that you never really know until you have invested heavily in a chosen microprocessor development then you are stuck with it.
 
These home computers generally consumed 5W plus 100W for the monitor. Compared with 250W power supply that a modern PC is fitted with. Note book PC's power consumption is more modest but still they consume much more power than an Acorn Atom.
 
Speed and size of the program being run if it is in assembler (machine code) or optimized complied high level language can be very small and fast this is how the Acorn Atom with it's built in assembler and highly efficient BBC Basic programming language got it's justly deserved excellent reputation for. But Basic is an interpreted language meaning it is written in text interpreted character by character at a time of running that program. The trick with the Acorn Atom and BBC was to convert the textual words to short tokens two bytes in size that are therefore much quicker to interpret than longer full English language spelt out words. The Acorn BBC micro was faster still and this was achieved by placing line length code at the beginning of each program line so that the interpreter can calculate line lengths and skip along quickly to the required line. There are a lot of scripting languages that work by interpreting text such as; Submit, Batch, Perl, Java, HTML. The program running may not be aware of the precise detail of the computer it is running on but instead it could be running on a standard virtual machine environment is created for it such as; Pascal and p-code, Java to run Java script or basic interpretor. The implication of this is that program does not need to be rewritten for every possibility but on the other hand the machine is running a program that is in turn running on another program and perhaps to run a third program that interprets text list of based tasks this of cause slows the computer and makes the code very large. It is therefore possible to create a vastly powerful and wide range of applications with a vast number of software writers each adhering a set of rules, way beyond the capability of one person but the coding is necessarily not so efficient. 
 

Mainframe computer

Traditionally mainframe computer's run micro-instructions. An emulator or simulator is loaded to provide a nicer computer instruction set to program with. Each instruction is carried out using a number of micro-instructions. 
 
By comparison The Zilog and Intel microprocessors may have in the past also run micro-instructions internally to provide the comprehensive instruction set a chip user programmer would use.  Later these type of processors were updated so that they ran comprehensive instructions directly without requiring many cycles but using hardware functions in the same way that the MC6800 and R6502 did then and does now.

Conclusion - What you get with Linux is not better but it is different.

How to try Linux and perhaps install it; 

Most Linux desktop providers provide Live CD's, these allow you to try that Linux without committing to installing it on your PC. Some also provide Persistence, if you use a memory stick. Persistence allows you set up and retain a limited amount of things (settings Installations) after shutting down so that you can use then another time. There are a few that allow you to run a live CD version with persistence also can run Linux in a virtual machine running on Windows such as; http://www.linuxliveusb.com/ but the operating system will run very slowly.
 
Here is another tool for creating a live CD USB memory stick http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/ (this has been superseded by http://www.pendrivelinux.com/) be careful with these universal tools they provide more features but do not work with all distributions. You may find that some distributions of Linux don't work for you in any case. Many distributions of Linux don't display properly during installation OpenSUSE, Linux Lite, Manjaro and Fedora notably did and they installed well.
 
For Fedora and possibly other Redhat based distributions there is https://fedorahosted.org/liveusb-creator/ this has a persistence option. But, as I said, the straight no features USB creation tool such as openSUSE ImageWriter is most likely to work. Many of these tools are unable or don't always prepare a previously used USB stick such as by erasing or format satisfactory first. When you have Linux running you can somewhat recover a memory stick with tools provided within Linux. Rufus works in windows and does restore a USB stick quite well.
 
Rufus https://rufus.akeo.ie/ which is a Windows tool is recommended by Mageia and it is particularity good at recover a badly formatted memory stick can make it DOS bootable or an iso image on the memory stick for you.  Version 1.x.x can create DOS or DrDOS boot but this feature and other things have been dropped from version 2.x.x (June 2015).

Mageia Installation is good and the instructions on their wiki are good and readable. You can try a live CD version but do download and install from the full installer version as the website advises. There are more memory stick creators with different, more or better performance discussed on there wiki but that bit could be improved. This distribution may not install to a memory stick - something you would not normally do anyway.
 
Mageia 4 works well their is a lightweight XCFE installer that I am evaluating you have to add things if you need them rather than find you have lots of things you don't need so it is quite a good plan to install this after you have tried all the others and found the novelty of graphical effects has warn off. This was the only distribution that installed on a SATA drive giving a sensible choice of sharing or using all of a NTFS windows drive. My Dot matrix printer works fine on this version of Mageia the configuration is different to version 3. Very recently (March 2014) I have found that accessing other hard disks now does not require repeated passwords entry this is an improvement. Don't be temped to see what SATA/RAID is it will mess up things and if you do you will need to reformat the drive with a windows installation disk then straighten it further with Gparted. This problem does not seem to arise with the Mageia liveCD version though the installer is different.

In another way though Ubuntu and distributions based on it such as Mint are about the best to install. Another Debian based distro, Linux Lite for example works well on a memory stick and the file manager gives you root user access to a directory if you require that allowing copying and create a back up another Linux for example.


Manjaro's Xfce desktop;- The Beta Graphical installation tool is smooth, easy and the one that works. Manjaro is well implemented but it is a bit more technical orientated OS I chose not to pursue this far other than to create a maintenance tool installed on a memory stick. It is not the fastest lightweight but it is fast. I preferred Linux Lite or Xubuntu (long term support version). Uniquely Manjaro displays the text prologue and epilogue scripts rather than a graphical picture so presumably it does not use the problematic Plymouth. Consequently the display did not go bazerk but on the other hand setting up a printer did not work because it did not offer my computer's parallel port to me. I found the style plain and a bit harder to get around. KDE live USB did not work for me.  This distribution gave me no hassle about look at partitions including system partitions and was the best in that respect. Of all of those I tired was the one that installs and goes properly.

Manjaro Installation also recognised a SATA drive but the automatic option given was to delete everything and replace it with Manjaro although you can manually set up partitions but I did not try that it was too manual for me and the remit I set myself here.

Ubuntu and Mint installation's are plain and straightforward you can then copy, past a partition and thereby clone a distribution. The cloned distribution will not boot though the only way to make it boot is to also have Mageia installed and use the boot tool to add the Ubuntu or Mint distribution.

Some of these distributions somewhat recognised a new printer plugged in then searched for drivers though this feature was not anything like as good as Windows not surprisingly because other than for Epson most manufactures only provide Windows drivers so the generic drivers you use you may have a choice of more than one so you may need to see which works best. Epson and some others provide Linux drivers for newer printers and scanners that use the the .deb (Debian) or .rpm (Redhat) formats.
 
 This animation explaining a computer, joke is good unfortunately
the host, Google Sites, don't support some animation graphics.

After an installation;

In the main you can use a different web browser and email client programs to the ones integrated into the Desktop. Firefox and Thunderbird are generally very highly regarded, work very well and have always been my preferred such as when they were Netscape. By comparison for email I found Empathy and Kmail did not perform well the former Expunge Waste-basket did not work but the latter may be fine I was mislead by a problem with my Talk-Talk ISP. The names of the drafts, waste-basket and the Spam folders etc. could be changed to tally with the names given by the email service providers which is important when using IMAP. Importing from windows or another OS did not work. You can either export and import your address book then set up all the other things or in the case of Thunderbird (Seamonkey, Netscape are somewhat interchangeable) you can find the dot Thunderbird folder hidden somewhere and copy it to somewhere else possibly to; home\you-profile-name
 
I changed all my email collection to IMAP method then moved all my local sub-directories to Archives on one of the providers. That meant that after setting up my new email client all the archives were loaded from the ISP's copy, slowly. This method you also need to export the address book from one email program then import address books to the other.
  • I have tried out Mageia 3 KDE, Gnome and Ldre for at least a month early in 2014. Mageia installs with updates completed was the fastest KDE distribution Gnome was also fast. You can install custom and select GNOME, KDE and Ldre so you can try them all but do not click restart when the installation is complete wait there may be some more software updates then do the restart as offered. Mageia has a very professional feel characteristically French fast, functional and works well from installation. Usefully you don't necessarily need to delete and recreate hard disk partitions during installation. Ldre needs a little more refining but is good I like it but I have settled on Xfce on Mageia 4. I recommend the current version 4 it was released well tested and debugged.

When trying another desktop in Mageia install the noarch, logout, login then in the new desktop you can then remove the noarch of the desktop of the one you are not going to use. After that search for more things with the desktop name say "Mate" and add or remove them appropriately to make you desktop purely the one you desire plus anything you particularly want.

  • I ran openSUSE 13.1, KDE (the default one) for 3 weeks it is good. A fast implementation but I caught it at a point where the permissions and passwords are not running smoothly. It was not an entirely stable release then. A professional feel characteristically German and correct. I would have liked to have bought this distribution along with the book but that is only available in German. The disk access permission issue is also apparent to varying extent in other Redhat distributions such as Mageia as well. 
I also recommend any of the Linux Mint such as Mate which aim to be stable and straightforward which they are. Xfce though a fast desktop is a slower than most but has a very good application search just type in what you are looking for and it will suggest an application. Mate version of application search is similar but in addition search suggestions will include things you may wish to install or look up. These are very good for beginners as well as anyone who is unlikely to be impressed by sparkle, fading effects and appearance. This OS appears to work faster than a good fast minimal installation of Windows XP. Installation seems not to be possible on a RAID SATA drives on my PC but is fine with an IDE drive. I ran both versions of Mint for about a few weeks.
  • Also consider Ubuntu or Xubuntu they are well supported but differently to Mint so you can use the long term stable version or the one that has new features but is less stable. Another is Linux Lite is a faster alternative to Xubuntu but still Debian based. 
Printer and other external devices; My very old Epson Dot matrix print works fine on Mint though cancelling a print job and then switching the printer off and on does not stop that print job only shutting my PC down stops the print job in some cases does. By comparison with windows which you can cancel a print job then switch the printer off and on to flush the print buffer completely. It seems that with open SUSE the only way to completely flush a print job was to delete or replace openSUSE Linux. With Mageia I was not able to get my old Epson dot matrix printer to work consistently without reinstalling the driver this issue was fixed partly when I reported it but there is no problem with Mageia 4. The printer itself is a LX800 and I purchased a can of spray ink which I re-Ink the ribbon periodically and people have given me surplus fanfold paper. So in itself the printer which I operate in Near Letter Quality is low maintenance and trouble free. Manjaro I set up a printer some how inadvertently but there was no print job shown I did not pursue this as the driver was not going to support near letter quality printing.

The Linux partition managing tools don't necessarily completely restore a USB stick to as it was with a Windows DOS compatible FAT32 or exFAT filing system. See my discussion above on tools I used. Linux and particularly the Redhat like distributions tends to secure things so that if you revert to Windows you may find you can't delete a Linux created directory even if you have administrator rights on your Windows. This problem may or has been resolved since writing - it has been resolved for Mageia 4.

This free software is not entirely stable and depends on which you use but usually an earlier version that is still in support can be used. Do use the discussion forums and feedback problems and solutions that are part of how you can pay back. Of cause who would touch a point zero release of any software and Linux is released after through testing so you would not be using a .0 normally anyway. For example the tested version of Mageia 4 was launched on 4 February 2014 but version 3 will remained in support until November.

Don't discount sticking with Microsoft Windows it is good even so. An older stable Windows OS is generally a good desktop. Many things including installation and update are more robust for example if the PC freezes and you switched it off and on the computer tends to recover themselves some of the Linux recover well but others just open next time with a text screen. I am told that Windows 8 is more robust than any other Windows operating system - As a company Microsoft pull the operating system up and make a very good one occasionally.

 Windows 7, 8 and 10 Things that arise with multiboot (December 2017)
  • Multi-boot with Linux and XP - no issues should arise and you can have a few copies of each.
  • Multiboot with Windows 7 or 10 and XP - set Windows 7 or 10 Power fastboot option OFF or you won't be able to read the Windows partition from Linux.
  • Windows 7 and Windows 10 - for one to see the other then you need to set a drive letter for the other. Also if you are running Google Drive you may need to disconnect and reconnect to the Windows it is installed on or it will start working in the other windows if they are a duplicate of each other (but for specific OS).
  • Windows 8 and XP - Windows 8 will screw itself and XP up if XP is present. I tried this twice and it occurred both times.

Surveillance and viruses - I tried a virus scanner for Windows 98 called Panda in about 2000 the virus scanner was not important at that time, security updates and careful practices were adequate then but I kept the firewall when the trial period expired. Unusually you could turn off all the holes in the Firewall so I stopped the Windows Kernel from communicating with the Internet but doing that did not adversely affect anything and Microsoft updates worked fine. It appears that the communication from the Windows Kernel had no functional purpose of benefit to me or the good functioning of the operating system.
  • Taking care don't even trust things posted on Facebook into your feed they are not solely friends and groups you chose to follow some are adverts loaded with viruses looking like a regular post. Such precautions are better than hoping a tool will protect you. Fools and there money are easily separated and in computing we can all be caught and nothing can protect us from our foolishness or the acts of deceitfulness by others. {As of June 2015 Facebook seems to suffer much less of this so people can make a fuss and a difference}
  • It has been said to me that Microsoft FAT is not a robust filing system. Though I agree exFAT is not very robust so be careful with large memory sticks always use the eject or safe removal feature. Microsoft NTFS may be stronger and Linux users will advocate Linux formats. If you really want fast and robust using RAID server for example with 4 SATA drives can be configured so that they mirror each other or they improve the access time - I have not tried this. When using RAID to mirror or parity check and correcting across more than one drive you can unplug a drive and keep it somewhere else for safety (these may use multidimensional parity checking which does not help if all your data is on one disk and your computer is in an office fire). Otherwise for less private information consider using cloud computing such as; Ubuntu One drive, SkyDrive (Windows/Microsoft/Bing), Google Drive is promised to be Linux compatible in future.
 
The guy in the picture picks the computer up and chucks it. The neo-liberal "Free world" is full of
demanding expectation, intolerance, discrimination and good legislation that is not enforceable.
What an awful work cell he is working in?
 

Conclusion;

Linux Distributions share well with with Windows. Windows can be a problem though its sharing policies and work around are strange and don't work consistently. That is also between Windows and another version of Windows and Linux on multi-boot PC. 

At first I found Linux security not ideal, in that it crops up unnecessarily inviting a casual password entry to just get on with what you are doing, but this aspect has improved during the time I have been composing this study. Password request occur when you need to update or do other system level things. The user could be blocked from backing up and restoring things by the security but as I say these things are being refined in all distributions. Linux Lite, allowed me to login as an administrator to resolve this. By comparison using Windows without administrator rights is difficult and Linux security is much better integrated. Conversely Windows with administrator rights has the gates wide open but that makes windows very usable and very insecure.

If you do just pull the plug or hold in the power switch to turn off the computer at next switch on the machine starts without fuss and I understand straightens things out again. Best not done though and I have done that when occasionally the PC has locked up but Windows is much more tolerant of this behaviour. I found if updating Linux freezes and all else fails you remove the power then there are things you have to do in the terminal command mode to straighten update system out again but this sort of issue has not occurred more recently as of July 2015 to December 2017. By comparison Windows 7 or higher you live with failed updates and re-tries, I think it occurs much more often than it ever did with XP. The priority of user tasks over background tasks is no better in that respect than Windows if you are copying a large file on your hard disk it will copy faster but you will have to wait in practice just like is the case with Windows. Update of Linux all occurs whilst the user is logged in a discrete way there is no delay for configuring or installing at closing down or starting up time.

On the computer history that I have interspersed I had not mentioned Sinclair. Sinclair had very exciting products that always turned out to be a big disappointment. Scientific calculator that gave the wrong answer if it had taken too long to compute a trig function and that was documented in the manual. A watch made with special black plastic called Black Watch. A matchbox size radio. An advanced computer with a MC68008 processor and solid state Micro-drives turned out to be a tape loop. Portable flat screen TV may have been okay. Still the audacity of this company deserved an award which the Queen duly gave it.

Good stuff still comes from the United states and open source is quite refreshing mutual beneficial adaptation to commercial protection in a way that avoids everyone being stitched up by US style litigation culture. But it is not the same as Oriental pure natural unprotected, fast moving, copy improve and copy again ways. Linux is not typically bodged up quick sold then patched later but then not all American stuff is like the stereotype either.

The risk of continuing to use Windows XP without further updates may be negligible. Many companies avoid updating windows preferring to run a notchy but faster machine. This is particularly so with companies using Mechanical CAD tools with 3D modelling. So there would not be any difference for them anyway. Dual boot Linux and Windows is a good option using Linux for email, web and office type things but retaining Windows for specific application programmes.
 

Keeping a Back up.

Cheap (discounted) things found in supermarkets and discount shops; These may not be set up properly or customer returned product but not fixed properly.

  • They may be repairable and worth the minor investment.  I've purchased a mouse and a bike tyre inner-tube from one of the pound shops and they were both rubbish.  I got my pound back for the mouse.
  • A USB memory stick 64GB in one case was fixed so that it became a full spec. device.  It was not fully USB compliant and does not operate with USB 1.1.
  • Another memory stick just needed to be correctly as exFAT it then worked properly after reformatting.

Memory sticks and large serial flash used to only tolerate being formatted FAT and the sector size should not be changed.  I have found though that USB sticks usually can be formatted to other Windows or Linux formats reliably.

A USB stick can reformat or convert the filing system to exFAT or more easily NTFS. There is a risk that reformatting a memory stick to another filing system will break it (which has happened once to me on a 2GB USB stick).

Make sure that there is a DOS partition zero, the first partition, so that that one partition can be used on a windows computer. This is a Microsoft limitation.

 
 note - the animations and cartoons do not belong to me if they belong to you and you would like to be acknowledged please tell me.
Unfortunately this Google hosted website does not allow the animations to run.
 
One page Linux guide  Basic Linux Commands youtube (These have been recommended I have not use them much)
 
 
To discussion this go to; blog.andrew-lohmann.me.uk