Several weeks ago I visited a customer to configure a wifi printer to his router. During my visit he asked if anything could be done with an old laptop computer he had. The laptop was several years old and running Microsoft Windows XP. Although the battery had long since given up on holding any charge, it worked perfectly well with the mains adapter connected and it was occasionally used for browsing the internet and playing the odd game of Solitaire etc. It was described as running very slowly. I had a look at the laptop and it was a Toshiba Satellite Pro A200.
Leaving aside that Windows XP support was discontinued some time ago and the potential risks involved in connecting it to the Internet, the computer had minimal hardware specifications, 1GB of RAM memory and a Celeron M processor. In modern computer terms it would be fair to say it was obsolete and had seen better days. But having a keen interest in Linux operating systems myself and having rescued a number of similar computers destined for the correct disposal bin at the local recycling centre, I explained to my customer that there is something that can be done to extend the life of old computer equipment.
I informed him that I could install a Linux based operating system on the computer. It did not surprise me that he had not heard of Linux; I find most people haven’t. I gave the example of another customer last year with exactly the same circumstances. I explained how I had installed Linux on the computer and spent about half an hour with him showing and explaining the minor differences, from a computer user point of view (technically they are very different), between Windows and Linux operating systems and from this customer knowing nothing about Linux to how he now uses it on a daily basis while sitting watching the television to browse the internet and work on documents using a free office package. I concluded with my biggest selling point that the operating system and most of the programs are free. I only charged a small amount for the installation, configuration and time taken to show him the system. After configuring the wifi printer to the router, I left him to have a think about his old laptop computer and having Linux installed.
Well, last week he gave me a ring and asked if I could put Linux on. I picked the computer up at the weekend and after checking it over and installing Linux Lite OS, it is ready to go back. There are many different Linux operating systems available and they are called distributions, or more commonly abbreviated to just distros. My favourite Linux operating system of choice for low powered older computers is Linux Lite OS (www.linuxliteos.com/). I have tried about a dozen or so different Linux distros in the past and found Linux Lite to work the best with older computer equipment. I do have the latest version of Ubunto 16.04 LTS installed on one of my other computers and Raspbian on my Raspberry Pie.
The old Toshiba computer now has a bit more of a spring in its step and runs reasonably fast again. The operating system is up to date and it has the LibreOffice www.libreoffice.org/ software installed, along with a Solitaire equivalent game I put on to keep him happy. There are many other free programs included in the Linux Lite OS package, media player, web browser, email client, cd burning etc etc. To finish off I also installed the free Clam anti-virus program and downloaded all updates.
So there you have it, there is an alternative to scrapping that old computer and alternative operating systems to Microsoft Windows. If you would like to know more about Linux or would like to have it installed on your old (or new!) computer, submit a support ticket or give me a ring.