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Breathing new life into an older (ie:slow as fudge) windows based system.

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Do you have an older computer that you’re thinking about replacing because it runs too slowly? Well, there is a much cheaper alternative.

I know how enticing the idea of simply junking it and replacing it with a brand new PC can be, but you might be better off replacing the operating system instead – especially if you mainly use your computer for browsing the Internet, sending and receiving email and “Facebooking”.

Think back to the day you bought that old PC and brought it home. It seemed like a speed demon at the time, didn’t it? There are a couple of reasons why that same computer seems to run as slow as frozen molasses today: 

1 – You’re comparing it to the new computers that you see on display in the stores. When it comes to computer technology, new and modern is always going to be faster than old and outdated. That’s just a fact of life in today’s fast changing world of technology.

2 – Each and every version of Microsoft Windows naturally slows down over time as the Registry gets clogged up and corrupted and more programs and data files are squeezed onto the hard drive. And to make matters worse, viruses and spyware can make an already slow system slow down to a crawl.

While there really isn’t anything you can do about #1, taking care of #2 is easy. Replace your Windows installation with Linux!

Think of it like this: Windows is a huge, lumbering behemoth that is quite inefficient at utilizing a computer’s available hardware resources such as CPU clock cycles, RAM and hard drive space. Linux on the other hand is a lean and extremely efficient operating system that is practically impervious to viruses. All things being equal, most any computer running Linux will operate faster and be more reliable and secure than the same system running Windows.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is a downside to ditching Windows in favor of Linux, and that’s the learning curve involved with switching to a completely different platform.

Most Windows programs will not run on a Linux machine, and even the ones that will run using an emulator such as WINE will run more slowly than they do under native Windows. That means if you use Photoshop or any other Windows-only application you’ll need to replace it with a Linux equivalent – and that will require learning how to use a brand new program.

But there are exceptions, and they are very important ones. Microsoft Office is easily replaced with at least two highly regarded Office “clones” that run extremely well under Linux: LibreOffice and OpenOffice.

In addition, the popular web browsers Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome run perfectly under Linux as well. And there is very little learning curve involved with using either of the Office clones since they work much like their Microsoft Office counterparts.

Better still, there is no learning curve whatsoever with the web browsers. In fact, once the PC has booted up into Linux and your preferred web browser is loaded into memory, about the only way you’ll notice that you’re using Linux instead of Windows is the speedier performance of the computer!

If you’re planning to replace your old PC anyway there is really no risk to giving Linux a “test drive”. Who knows, you just might decide you like Linux better than Windows after seeing the way it runs and considering these advantages:

1 – Unlike Windows, Linux is completely free. Simply download and install it and you’re good to go.

2 – Updates are also free. No more shelling out $100 or so to Microsoft every couple of years when the next version of Windows hits the market.

3 – The vast majority of Linux applications are free, including the aforementioned Office suites.

4 – Since viruses aren’t a problem with Linux, you won’t need to install an anti-virus program that would only slow down your computer.

5 – If you want to take advantage of the speed and security of Linux without giving up your beloved Windows apps, you can set up a “dual-boot” installation where you can choose to boot the PC into either Linux or Windows with a simple menu selection.

There are a number of Linux “distros” to choose from ranging from the bare bones and super fast Puppy Linux to the smoother, fuller featured yet more resource hungry Ubuntu. Older systems with very limited RAM and hard drive space will welcome Puppy with open arms while more capable systems will work very well with Ubuntu. I suggest you start out with Ubuntu first as long as your PC meets or exceeds the minimum hardware requirements, then downgrade to Puppy if you would prefer more speed over Ubuntu’s bells and whistles.

Both Puppy Linux and Ubuntu can run directly from the “Live CD” which means you can check them out before making a single change to your hard drive. Simply download the ISO file and burn it onto a blank CD.

Complete, easy to follow directions are available on their respective websites. If you like what you see when running Linux from the Live CD, installing it onto the hard drive is fast and easy. It’s even plug-n-play and in most cases the installation goes off without a hitch. If you do hit a snag, free help is available in the support forums.

So, is Linux right for you? There’s only one way to find out: Download it and give it a try! I’ve installed both Ubuntu and Puppy Linux onto several different laptop and desktop machines, and so far the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from the owners.

 
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