Windows XP - moving on to Ubuntu or other Linux OS

TheyCallMeTJ

Distinguished Member
So I had my mother using Dell D400 laptop which is about eight years old now running Windows XP. Now that Windows XP is no longer supported with security updates, I thought I buy her a new Windows 7 laptop but she never wants me spend more money than needed. She only uses the laptop for internet, writing Word documents, emailing, creating pdfs, transferring photos from camera, watch BBC Iplayer and accessing files from my NAS server.

So I decided to install a Linux based operating system which I have never ever dabbled in before being very much content with my Windows 7. On research, Mint and Ubuntu were the prime candidates. I chose Ubuntu because of its larger base of support and forums.

I had to install Ubuntu 11.10 first because 12.04 was giving a

"This kernel requires the following features not present on the CPU: PAE Unable to boot - please use a kernel appropriate for your CPU."

Apparently 12.04 onwards will not install on old chipsets without PAE. So the trick was to install a previous version that does then upgrade to 12.04. I discovered alternatively, I could have installed Lubuntu instead then add Ubuntu package. Lubuntu appears to be a more ideal desktop for my mum's laptop due to its lighter weight and speedier performance.

OK Ubuntu now freshly installed. Its excruciatingly slow. SLower than the Windows XP that was on it before.

1. How can I troubleshoot this? How do I determine if all my hardware drivers are running properly (eg like device manager on Windows). I'm wondering if the driver for the graphics card is correct and hence this slowdown.

2. Shall I install Lubuntu? Will I get a faster performance or should I deal with the Ubuntu system first.

3. Anything else I should be aware of or installing, being a Linux newbie?


That's about it for now. I'll document my experience with this transition (with my mum's input) as much as possible. Thanks guys.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
The most promising linux OS I've found is Elementary it's heavily inspired by Apple OSX and it's a lot more complete looking than the likes of Ubuntu or Mint which it's actually based off for it's guts. However the only version you can get is a preview version luna, the next version isis which is the "hey this looks really good" is still under wraps. There seems to be a good deal of hype building behind it but it is still an OS thats not fully cooked yet, I've also no clue how well it will run on an old PC, worth keeping an eye on for the future.

As for the PC itself Lubuntu is probably the way to go, there are some crude Windows XP skins you can also apply to it. Slightly amusing to see that article mock WinXP UI when Lubuntu is definitely the worse of the two.

There are also some Google Chrome OS clones out there, you can actually use Google Chrome OS on a PC but the guy who was making it has stopped making recent builds. Chrome is very limited but it can cover the basics with Google services like gmail, docs etc.

For Ubuntu the easy thing to do is lower the screen resolution if the laptop has a high res screen. Device manager don't really exist on ubuntu, you will find a lot of GUI things missing as a Windows power user, Ubuntu only caters to absolute beginners or command line linux gurus.

Windows 8.1 when they put the start menu back in update 2 would actually be the best option but that means spending money, Win 8 has much lower system requirements than Win 7 especially in the GPU area so it's actually pretty good for old systems.
 
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TheyCallMeTJ

Distinguished Member
The most promising linux OS I've found is Elementary it's heavily inspired by Apple OSX and it's a lot more complete looking than the likes of Ubuntu or Mint which it's actually based off for it's guts. However the only version you can get is a preview version luna, the next version isis which is the "hey this looks really good" is still under wraps. There seems to be a good deal of hype building behind it but it is still an OS thats not fully cooked yet.

As for the PC itself Lubuntu is probably the way to go, there are some crude Windows XP skins you can also apply to it. Slightly amusing to see that article mock WinXP UI when Lubuntu is definitely the worse of the two. There are also some Google Chrome OS clones out there, you can actually use Google Chrome OS on a PC but the guy who was making it has stopped making recent builds.

For Ubuntu the easy thing to do is lower the screen resolution if the laptop has a high res screen. Device manager don't really exist on ubuntu, you will find a lot of GUI things missing as a Windows power user, Ubuntu only caters to absolute beginners or command line linux gurus.

Windows 8.1 when they put the start menu back in update 2 would actually be the best option but that means spending money, Win 8 has much lower system requirements than Win 7 especially in the GPU area so it's actually pretty good for old systems.
Yeah Windows 8.2 sound the most ideal when it arrives but my mother wants me to find a low cost solution for now given her low demands of usage. Also, its a good exercise for me to explore alternatives in low cost efficient solutions for particular needs.

Going to install Lubuntu now. Should I do it via the Ubuntu desktop or wipe everything and install from fresh?
 

next010

Distinguished Member
Easier/cleaner to just wipe everything and install from scratch.

The universal usb installer supports most linux distros if you want to install from usb it's much quicker. Oh and it also supports Android which is one I forgot to mention, might not work but it runs super quick on any Intel laptop I've tried. Download the 4.4 RC1 and give it a whirl it might surprise you.
 

TheyCallMeTJ

Distinguished Member
Easier/cleaner to just wipe everything and install from scratch.

The universal usb installer supports most linux distros if you want to install from usb it's much quicker. Oh and it also supports Android which is one I forgot to mention, might not work but it runs super quick on any Intel laptop I've tried. Download the 4.4 RC1 and give it a whirl it might surprise you.
I'll try that, thanks. I was installing via burning ISO images on discs
 
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EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
Yeah Windows 8.2 sound the most ideal
I'm fairly sure Windows 8 requires PAE as well.

You're better off asking this on a specialist Linux forum, often the GUI is only skin deep and if you need to do any troubleshooting it usually involves incomprehensible console commands.

How slow is the system? Does it actually seem like a problem (i.e. everything is in slow motion) or is it that more demanding things slow down much more than simple stuff?
 

TheyCallMeTJ

Distinguished Member
So I have now installed Lubuntu. It is definitely a little quicker but still slow.

Chromium is failing to import the explorer bookmarks.html file. Plus the OS doesnt wanna know about my wireless card, I installed NDISwrapper and it still doesnt like it. This is a big headache. My mum might be ok with wired but means she cant move from room to room with it.

I'm fairly sure Windows 8 requires PAE as well.

You're better off asking this on a specialist Linux forum, often the GUI is only skin deep and if you need to do any troubleshooting it usually involves incomprehensible console commands.

How slow is the system? Does it actually seem like a problem (i.e. everything is in slow motion) or is it that more demanding things slow down much more than simple stuff?

Noted about the PAE and windows 8, thanks. The laptop runs in slo-mo. I think Linux OSs do not handle Intel graphics chips well.

I dont like going on too many forum but if what would you recommend for Ubuntu?



My thoughts so far is that Linux flavours are not suitable for this laptop. XP worked smoothly on it. If Lubuntu could handle all my hardware, it would have been a great replacement as I like the minimalist environment.

I will still persevere with getting Lubuntu to run quicker and getting the wireless to work if I find sources that provide the solutions. If any of you got more ideas, I appreciate that too.

Thanks guys.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
I tried Elementary on an old laptop a Dell Inspiron 6000 (over 7 years old) which has a Pentium mobile CPU and ATI X200 GPU with a 1080p screen, to my surprise it ran rather well at native screen resolution, I'd give it a try as it was pretty nippy for such an old machine but it did have a real GPU.

Intel graphics are actually one of the best supported GPU's under linux but I suspect you have a real old one like a GMA900 or GMA950 these are poorly performing units and WinXP didn't use the GPU but most current OS do.

I don't have Ubuntu running but I think in it's control panel under appearance or desktop there might have been some visual downgrade options but I just cant remember off hand.

Have you tried linux mint that is ubuntu but with a UI that follows windows to a degree and makes less use of visual eye candy compared to ubuntu at least to my eyes but it might just run as slow.

There are a few other obscure lite weight linux os listed here you can try out.
 

TheyCallMeTJ

Distinguished Member
I decided to wipe everything and install windows 7 (unactivated) to test out the performance. I first had to use the Lubuntu Live CD and use GParted to delete the partitions and reformat to NTFS as I couldn't install Windows 7 without doing that first as Windows 7 install CD does not recognise the EXT3/4 format.

Th laptop is running quite smoothly with Windows 7, not quite as fast as XP but certainly much more smoothly than any of the Linux Distros I've tried so far. Only issue I had to solve was there were no windows 7 drivers for the intel graphics chipset (855 GMA series) so had to find a hack for that which I did and now works.

So I will use this win7 OS as the benchmark speed to beat because I want to try the Elementary (thanks next10) and Lubuntu with Unity 2D desktop which I read may speed things up a bit more. But so far all the Linux distros are way too slow compared to the Windows xp/7 on this particularly challenging spec laptop.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
You could probably try turning off aero as well using the windows classic theme, though if you had to use a driver hack it might not be enabled at all.

An extra thing which may do nothing at all is install windowblinds the skinning app for windows and use an win xp skin on it, windowblinds might actually speed it up emulating the old win xp look.
 

TheyCallMeTJ

Distinguished Member
You could probably try turning off aero as well using the windows classic theme, though if you had to use a driver hack it might not be enabled at all.

An extra thing which may do nothing at all is install windowblinds the skinning app for windows and use an win xp skin on it, windowblinds might actually speed it up emulating the old win xp look.
Oh am quite experienced with tweaking speed performance from Windows 7, thanks. I switches off everything, use classic theme etc. As I said windows 7 is running fine. I also realise Explorer 11 works very well on on this laptop.

Thanks anyway. Will try Elementary next.
 

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