Easy replacement for Windows XPThirteen years after the release of Windows XP, Microsoft discontinued support for the product. Consequently, it became a target-of-opportunity for hackers.

In need of a replacement, users can turn to convenient and secure Linux Mint – an excellent alternative.

Even if the termination of support for Windows XP is not a surprise to you, you should be aware that this system persists on some old PCs. Vulnerable people might be children, your grandmother, or a friend. In any case it is dangerous to let the situation continue. At age thirteen the methods used for security, are very far behind contemporary standards.

The security holes find hackers rubbing their hands together in anticipation. The threat posed by the cessation of support XP extends even further – the infected computer is the weakest link in the chain; it can be a springboard for viruses and attacks on the home network. Linux is a reasonable, convenient, and safe alternative. Do not worry! If you are able to install Windows, you will do well with this system. We will guide you through the installation.

Which Linux should you Choose?

The hardware of the computer used to run XP is probably already out of date. You need to minimize the load and maximize your capabilities with a light version of the new operating system (OS). Linux places quite modest demands on power equipment compared to other systems. However, among the many distributions of Linux, each operating system is different. They differ in their hardware requirements, ease of use, and in accessibility for a beginner. We recommend that you stay with the most popular current distribution – Linux Mint. There are different desktop environments available. With Mint, the Graphical User Interface (GUI) is very similar to Windows XP. The transition to the new system will be as simple as possible. For computers that are two or three years old, with the RAM starting at 1GB, use Linux Mint Cinnamon. For older and low-end PCs, we recommend a light and undemanding version of the shell XFCE. Instructions for altering the ISO-image of the operating system may be found in the literature accompanying the magazine and DVD. It is on this OS that we have based our business transition to Linux Mint.

Preparing for the transition to the Mint

Through the website linuxmint.com, download the ISO-image of Linux Mint. You will also need an application called “Universal USB Installer” from Pendrivelinux. With this free program (only 1 MB) and a couple of clicks you will create a bootable USB flash drive with the Linux Mint OS. To do this in Windows, run the Universal USB setup program (does not require installation). This opens a window where you can quickly make the necessary adjustments (see: Screenshot on the below).

Universal USB Installer

  • From the top drop-down menu, select «Linux Mint» (Step 1)
  • Below, specify the location of the ISO image of Linux Mint (Step 2)
  • Select a USB-drive (capacity of at least 2 GB) (Step 3)

Universal USB Installer Setup

By clicking the mouse on «Create» you will create a bootable USB flash drive. Attention! Universal USB Installer will *delete* all contents from the USB drive prior to creation.

Make a backup of your information. You also need to keep all the important data that is stored on the disk with Windows XP on removable media. Now insert the installation USB-drive in a free USB-port of your computer and restart it. In most cases, you will have to change the boot sequence in the BIOS, or using the fast boot menu to enable your system to boot from a USB drive. The most likely method on most computers is to use the F11 or F12 key. If yours did not work you will have to go to BIOS. The method for this is often shown on the PC screen at start up, unless the manufacturer has installed a boot screen advertisement. If that is the case, press ESC or TAB to clear the screen so you can view the boot loader screen. Usually it is the Del/Delete key or F2. In the BIOS, you’ll need to find the settings «Boot Priority» and put “run from USB-drive” first.

Bios boot USB HDD

On older computers cold-booting from USB-drives may not work. In this case, you will need to use a bootable DVD. Record the ISO-image Linux Mint on blank media with the free program CDBurnerXP. Windows 7 and 8 provide this ability from the context menu of the file image. After burning the ISO to DVD, boot the computer with the newly created media. Most probably, this method will require you to enter BIOS, as described above.

Regardless of the method, you should see the start screen Linux Mint Installer.

Test and Install

Often we do not know whether our computer can cope with Linux Mint. There is a simple way to find out. Linux Mint automatically downloads Live-System with the USB-drive or DVD. This will automatically analyse the system; it will examine the wireless communication module, graphics card and other components to make sure that Linux will run properly.

After downloading a “live” system, go to Menu, System, and then Settings. This contains all the important information about the hardware that is detected, and recognizes the OS, as well as all the available settings and preferences. In the rest of the menu items are collected applications that come with Linux Mint.

linux mint menu

In the Live-system, the interface is in English. Do not let that confuse you. When installing, one of the first steps you can select is designating many of the other available languages. After installation, you get a fully localized operating system and programs.

If your first impression of Linux Mint is positive, start the installation by double-clicking on the icon “Install Linux Mint” on the desktop. Just as is the case with Windows, the installer will first ask you to set the basic parameters. Mint calculates the required disk space and checks the Internet connection. The computer connects to the internet during the installation, gets the distribution download, and applies available updates. It remains for you to choose your time zone, set the default keyboard layout, and come up with a user name and password. We recommend a password of at least eight characters with alternating uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as special characters and numbers. Upon completion the Linux files are copied to the hard disk. Even on older computers, this process should not take more than 30-45 minutes. The installation is complete reboot.

install linux mint

You can read further in the our article: Easy replacement for Windows XP (part 2) – First steps in Mint

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TuxAdvantages of Linux

  • Security: Unlike Windows XP, Linux regularly receives security updates
  • Compactness: Linux fine works on older PCs with little RAM
  • Variety: Linux offers a variety of interfaces
  • Equipment: Linux provides a complete set of necessary software
  • Free of charge: full Linux assembly will not cost you a dime

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