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Linux Mint, A Replacement For Windows XP?

With Microsoft announcing the end of support for Windows XP, many people are going to be wondering where they should turn to when their old faithful XP machine finally gives up the ghost, or they need to upgrade but don't want to the headache of Windows 8.

It is important to realise that because XP will no longer be patched, eventually hackers are going to exploit a vulnerability in the XP OS, and they will be able to cause mischeif using the compromised computers, or be able to take over the computer and steal information such as bank details etc. It is inevitable that sooner or later XP will be compromised, and XP owners will be at the mercy of the hackers, lots of luck there. If you are wanting to replace your old XP machine with a modern up to date operating system, there are several choices you have at your disposal. One of these choices is Linux Mint.

If you have never heard of Linux Mint, it is an open source operating system that people can download free of charge, and use freely without restriction. Mint is similar to operating systems like Win XP, Win 7 and perhaps even Apple Mac. The OS is very intuitive and easy to use, unlike the latest offering from Microsoft, however the more powerful the  system you are putting it on, the smoother it will run and the less laggy it will be. You can check out the Mint Site to see the minimum specs Mint will run on, to see if it will run ok on your old XP machine.

You can download an iso image from the Mint site directly from here which is ready to be burned to a DVD. The burned DVD is a live distribution, which means that the computer will boot from the DVD and will start a fully functional operating system running directly off the DVD. This means that you can take the OS for a test drive and do anything you like without affecting any other OS that is on your HDD. What ever you do within the DVD session, will disappear when you shut down the computer.

If you want to make the OS permanent, there is an install icon on the desktop of the live DVD session. Clicking this icon will begin the process of installing Mint onto your hard drive. During the process, you will be given the option of wiping the drive and installing Mint as the only OS on the hard drive, partitioning the drive and dual booting your original OS or Mint, or for more experienced users, some different partitioning system.

I found a lot to like in Linux Mint 16. Hardware installed with no fuss and printers were very easy to install. The OS reported that it had detected a network printer, and asked if I would like to use it. I clicked "ok" and it was ready for me to use. My USB printer, an Epson, needed a driver for Mint to install it. Mint asked for the model name and number, then went off to the Internet and found a couple of drivers for me to choose from. I selected one, and the printer installed and was ready to use. I plugged in a Telstra 3G wireless broadband dongle and Mint reported that it had detected a 3G device and did I want to use it. I clicked "ok" and it asked a few questions and within a few seconds, I was on the Internet via the 3G dongle. This was easier than the Windows install routine.

Most Windows software will run on Mint, using a program call WINE. This, like most software on the Linux platform, is free and available for download from the software repository, Software is very easy to download and install. Simply open the software manager, put in the super user password then search for any software you want. Select the software package, click on it to see a detailed description of the software, then click "Install". The software will then download, install and place a shortcut into the appropiate group.Software groups are set up automatically as the OS requires it so if you download software that does not have a goup, the OS will automatically create a group and place the new software shortcut into the group folder

So, what do I think of Linux Mint?

In my opinion, I believe that Linux Mint could fulfill most XP users needs to have a fully functional OS that is up to date and modern, secure and doesn't suffer the virus issues that Windows systems have been plagued with since they first connected to the Internet. The main thing to understand is that Mint is not Windows, nor is it a Windows emulator. Linux mint is a fully fledged operating system, just like Android and Mac OS are both fully fledged operating systems in their own right which have their own ways of doing things and their own software programs to achieve different tasks. Give it a try, it may breathe new life into that old Windows XP machine. I believe its well worth a look.


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