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  • Switch to Linux on Old Laptop

    Posted on WSBillWilson Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Non-Windows operating systems Switch to Linux on Old Laptop

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      • #507089 Reply
        WSBillWilson
        AskWoody Lounger

        My relatively new laptop is running Win10 AU now and doing vey well. I would like to make some use of my old laptop that is running Win Vista and is so short on disk space that it is almost useless. My impression is that if I installed Linux instead of Vista on the old laptop it would be more useful to me.

        Questions:

        1. Is Linux smaller than Vista?

        2. Which Linux would you recommend I use?

        3. With Linux installed will I be able to use the screen on the old laptop as a second desktop for my Win10 system?

        I expect I will have more questions but I’ll stop here for now and see if I’m on a reasonable path.

        Thanks,
        Bill

      • #1579662 Reply
        BATcher
        AskWoody_MVP

        1. Yes – even the largest I work with, Mint Cinnamon 18, has an ISO size of 1.6 GB.
        “Cinnamon requires only 512MB of RAM, 5GB free HDD space and a 700MHz CPU to run with a minimum resolution of 800×600.
        KDE, on the other hand, requires 2GB RAM, 10GB HDD space and the same CPU clock speed to operate at a minimum resolution of 1024×768.”

        2. If you want a Linux distribution whose desktop looks somewhat like Windows 7, you might want to go for Zorin Core. Mint Cinnamon is also good.
        Maybe try PCLinuxOS, Linux Lite or Puppy Linux.
        All these can work from a CD or a USB Flash Drive without installing to the hard drive, the so-called “Live CD”, more or less successfully. Puppy Linux runs entirely from RAM, once loaded.
        You can try the look and feel of several distributions at the cost of a DVD (or CD, if small) or a USB Flash Drive.

        3) I’m not entirely clear what you mean by this question, but I’m tempted to say the answer is No!

        I would suggest that using Linux is a steep learning curve for the elderly, less so for the young, but be prepared to be frustrated about the absence of features and procedures which you automatically rely on in Windows…

        BATcher

        Data is not the plural of anecdote...

        • #1579786 Reply
          WSBillWilson
          AskWoody Lounger

          . . .
          3) I’m not entirely clear what you mean by this question, but I’m tempted to say the answer is No!
          . . .

          I have read about people using more than one screen where they can move the cursor back and forth from one screen to the other. I don’t know if that only works with extra displays or if it works with a 2nd laptop used as a display-only for this purpose. I assumed that it would work with a 2nd laptop running Windows and I was asking if it would also work with a 2nd laptop running Linux. I suspect that it only works with a separate display!

          Thanks for the great info on the other questions.
          Bill

          • #1579791 Reply
            BATcher
            AskWoody_MVP

            I have read about people using more than one screen where they can move the cursor back and forth from one screen to the other. I don’t know if that only works with extra displays or if it works with a 2nd laptop used as a display-only for this purpose. I assumed that it would work with a 2nd laptop running Windows and I was asking if it would also work with a 2nd laptop running Linux. I suspect that it only works with a separate display!

            Thanks for the great info on the other questions.
            Bill

            What you are referring to is a second screen/monitor directly connected to a two-head graphics card on a PC!
            Instead of the usual single directly-connected screen/monitor, you then have two and the Windows software on the PC handles the two screens, the cursor, and so on.

            BATcher

            Data is not the plural of anecdote...

      • #1579671 Reply
        Rick Corbett
        AskWoody_MVP

        If you have never used Linux before then I suggest the latest release of Linux Mint Cinnamon too. It looks fairly similar to Windows, has a great deal of support (both documentaion and its own support forums) and, IMO, one of the least learning curves.

        I’ve experimented with several different Linux distributions for desktops/laptops (Ubuntu, Linux Lite, Zorin) but keep coming back to Linux Mint Cinnamon… basically because I just like quick and easy.

        Have a look at reviews online, for example: The best Linux distros: seven versions of Linux we recommend which shows what each desktop looks like.

        Hope this helps…

      • #1579750 Reply
        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody_MVP

        When I installed Ubuntu Linux, I was concerned that my wifi adapter might not work. It found it and activated it during the install process. I didn’t have to do a thing, except select my network and put in my password. I had the same easy experience with my wifi printer. It found it, asked me if that was my printer, and it then worked immediately.

        Ubuntu came with Libre Office, which is in many ways a free version of Microsoft Office. So far, my experience with Libre Office has been great.

        In fact, I have found that if it works in Linux, it works well, and it is fast and stable. But not everything works, at least not yet:
        * I haven’t found an equivalent for Microsoft Publisher.
        * I can’t get my scanner to work.
        * I can’t get a Youtube downloader which works.

        Also, you must do some things in a Terminal session (Command Prompt). If you are familiar with DOS, then you shouldn’t have too much trouble there. But be aware that you might. For example, I installed Sophos Antivirus for Linux, because it was free, and because it is highly rated. But I had to install it from a Terminal session. Sophos had good info on their website, so it wasn’t hard.

        Ubuntu Linux is the only version of Linux I have tried, so I can’t speak for the other versions. But I’m sure that the above will be about the same for other versions of Linux.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      • #1579787 Reply
        WSBillWilson
        AskWoody Lounger

        Rick Corbett and mrjimphelps:

        Thanks for your info. I expect I will use the Linux Mint Cinnamon as suggested by Rick.

        Bill

      • #1579851 Reply
        WSBillWilson
        AskWoody Lounger

        Thanks BATcher, for clarifying how the two-screen thing works.

        Bill

      • #1580741 Reply
        WSkeith9e
        AskWoody Lounger

        Speaking of good Linux distros for amateurs like me, has anyone tried the “Elementary OS”? I read a review of the best distros, and it was mentioned. It looks interesting, and appealing if you like the Mac interface (or can’t decide between Windows and Mac which one you ultimately prefer) and simplicity. Of course simplicity and ease of use is why I like PCLinuxOS/KDE, especially the Start Menu. Anyway, check it out at https://elementary.io/ and http://www.techradar.com/news/software/operating-systems/best-linux-distro-five-we-recommend-1090058 for the other six recommended distros.

      • #1580774 Reply
        BATcher
        AskWoody_MVP

        DistroWatch did a review of elementary OS in April. “Pretty, but lacks refinement.” And it doesn’t have a lot of packages pre-loaded. None of this will matter if you like what you see!

        I would say that TechRadar’s recommended distros are a mixture of the usual suspects and a few less usual ones. With the number of variants of variants of Linux, a scattergun approach is not what I’d look for. Better a list of “distros suitable for the newbie”, or “distros which have a Windows look and feel”, and so on.

        BATcher

        Data is not the plural of anecdote...

      • #1580783 Reply
        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody_MVP

        Personally, I think you ought to just pick a distro and plunge ahead. You can always change to another one later if you don’t like the one you picked.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      • #1580790 Reply
        WSkeith9e
        AskWoody Lounger

        True, but distros like Ubuntu, Linux Mint Cinnamon, and Zorin are good ones to start with (and of course, my favorite). It’s important to know which ones to definitely rule out because they are either intended for business use, or just not there enough yet, etc.. You guys have a better feel for that than I do. A “good” distro has to have the essentials, like 1) Essential pre-loaded software so you can do what you need to do, 2) getting online easily, 3) Configuring any peripherals easily, 4) Updating easily, as with Synaptic, and obviously, an easy to use OS design you are comfortable with. Not every one likes the same kind of car, and such is the case with Linux. Thank God Linux is so easy nowadays. IMHO, the only decision to make these days is which distro you prefer. You just have to try a few and make up your mind, and it can be a little difficult because of the large number of distros and how good many of them are. That’s really the only trouble with Linux; there are so many distros, and Linux is arguably TOO configurable. Just get it set up the way you like it, and get to work. You can always fiddle around with it later. (that is once you figure out how to do all that…) Good luck!:)

      • #1587659 Reply
        Charlie
        AskWoody Plus

        I have a quick and hopefully easy to answer question. I’ve been getting familiar with Linux Mint Cinnamon 17.3 and I tried inserting a flashdrive (FAT32) into a USB port. It worked fine and I could see all the files. I haven’t tried this yet with an external USB hard drive which is already formatted to NTFS, and is 60 Gig. My question is – will it be okay to plug in the external hard drive and not run any risk of harm to the drive or format?

        Win 7, Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz, Linux Mint 19.1, Klaatu barada nikto

        • #1587664 Reply
          rmallen07
          AskWoody Plus

          I run Ubuntu’s latest distro and have been running it for the last 4 distros with a USB connected external HDD formatted to NTFS and it works fine. Linus Mint is based on Ubuntu with just a different interface that looks like Windows. I will say however that it was connected when I installed Ubuntu and I named it at that time.

        • #1587670 Reply
          Berton
          AskWoody_MVP

          I have a quick and hopefully easy to answer question. I’ve been getting familiar with Linux Mint Cinnamon 17.3 and I tried inserting a flashdrive (FAT32) into a USB port. It worked fine and I could see all the files. I haven’t tried this yet with an external USB hard drive which is already formatted to NTFS, and is 60 Gig. My question is – will it be okay to plug in the external hard drive and not run any risk of harm to the drive or format?

          I have Linux Mint 18 on an HP Notebook with 120GB SSD, works fine with my WDC Passport 1TB and 750GB drives. It’s my Mac OS X [latest is macOS Sierra] that has issues with NTFS so for External storage away from my network I use a 250GB drive formatted as FAT32.

          Before you wonder "Am I doing things right," ask "Am I doing the right things?"
        • #1587680 Reply
          Rick Corbett
          AskWoody_MVP

          I have a quick and hopefully easy to answer question. I’ve been getting familiar with Linux Mint Cinnamon 17.3 and I tried inserting a flashdrive (FAT32) into a USB port. It worked fine and I could see all the files. I haven’t tried this yet with an external USB hard drive which is already formatted to NTFS, and is 60 Gig. My question is – will it be okay to plug in the external hard drive and not run any risk of harm to the drive or format?

          By default, Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon will auto-mount any USB drives that are connected to it and display an icon for the mounted drive on the desktop. To make sure that no harm comes to it, always un-mount the drive before physically disconnecting it, especially if you have been accessing data on it.

          From the desktop, right-click on the drive’s icon and select the Safely Remove Drive option:

          46319-mint_usb01

          If, for any reason, you cannot see the drive icon on the desktop, you can view/open the drive using Menu > Places:

          46320-mint_usb02

          Once open, you can use the Safely Eject button to the right of the drive in the Devices list:

          46321-mint_usb03

          Doing either will release any file locks then un-mount the drive cleanly, thus protecting your data.

          Hope this helps…

          Attachments:
      • #1587683 Reply
        Charlie
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks to all of you, that puts my mind at ease.

        Win 7, Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz, Linux Mint 19.1, Klaatu barada nikto

      • #1587715 Reply
        WSedmcguirk
        AskWoody Lounger

        Questions:

        3. With Linux installed will I be able to use the screen on the old laptop as a second desktop for my Win10 system?

        I don’t know of any software that will let you use a second computer as an extension of your primary computer desktop screen but there are several programs that will let you use a single keyboard and mouse across several computers.

        http://lifehacker.com/254648/how-to-control-multiple-computers-with-a-single-keyboard-and-mouse

        It might get a little confusing if you want to run a windows program from computer A or access a file from computer A on Linux computer B but you can certainly open a browser or email client on computer B while you work on computer A. I don’t think you’ll be able to simply drag anything from computer A to computer B but you can work side by side.

        It would be an interesting idea to run a remote session of computer A on computer B with some program that could seamlessly allow the mouse to pass from a local desktop on computer A to a remote desktop of computer A on computer B. I don’t see that as being any more complicated than sharing a keyboard/mouse across several computers but I have never heard of a program to do that.

      • #1587725 Reply
        WSBillWilson
        AskWoody Lounger

        Thanks for the info about using one keyboard with two computers. That would be another way for me to make use of the older laptop. I’ll have to try it.

        Bill

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