When Microsoft ended support of Windows XP, it posed a major challenge for our family. We couldn’t afford to purchase the new computer hardware and software that would be required to upgrade to the newest Windows versions. But sticking with Windows XP after Microsoft ceased providing security updates could leave us dangerously exposed to malicious software attacks. So we needed to move away from WinXP, but without it costing us additional money.
My major concern was my wife’s computer. She cares nothing about operating systems and hardware configurations. She just wants to be able to surf the web, send and receive email, and do a little word processing. So our migration solution needed to be one that would cause minimal upheaval in the way she was used to using her computer.
In other words, we needed to find an operating system that was free, could run on older hardware, and that wouldn’t be too much of a disruption for someone who has used only Windows XP for more than a decade.
Well, we found that miracle product in a free, open source operating system called Lubuntu.
What is Lubuntu?
Lubuntu is a derivative of Ubuntu, which is a Linux-based open source operating system. The distinguishing characteristic of Lubuntu is that it is specifically designed to run on older computers that have limited memory and resources compared to more modern machines. Yet all the capabilities required by most casual users are available.
The advantages of Lubuntu for users migrating from Windows XP
For us, the biggest advantage of Lubuntu is that it has much of the “look and feel” of Windows XP. Someone who is used to XP will quickly feel at home with Lubuntu. In fact, you can install a Lubuntu “theme” that makes it look almost exactly like XP (see below).
Unlike some other flavors of Ubuntu, Lubuntu has the equivalent of the XP Start button. It also has an XP-like desktop that houses folders and icons to launch programs. There’s a file manager which, while not quite as capable as Windows Explorer, is entirely adequate for casual users. Other advantages include the following:
- Familiar web browsers like Firefox and Chromium (the Linux version of Chrome) come built-in or can be downloaded.
- LibreOffice, an open source free alternative to the Microsoft Office suite, is built-in.
- A multitude of useful applications for graphics, multimedia, etc. can be downloaded and installed for free through the Lubuntu Software Center.
- It’s even possible to run many Windows applications using a facility called Wine.
- Perhaps most importantly, Linux-based operating systems are inherently more secure than XP. Although anti-malware applications are available, many Linux experts declare they are not really needed.
A smooth transition
One thing that made the transition from Windows XP to Lubuntu easy for my wife was the fact that she was already using Firefox and Gmail rather than, for example, Internet Explorer and Outlook as her web browser and email application. As a result, in most of what she does on the computer she sees very little difference between Lubuntu and XP. After using Lubuntu for several months now, she hasn’t had any complaints.
For a confirmed Windows veteran like my wife, that constitutes a ringing endorsement of Lubuntu as a great alternative to Windows XP.
You can find out more about Lubuntu and download it for free at lubuntu.net.
For more in-depth information on migrating from Windows XP to Lubuntu, see:
Why Lubuntu Is A Good Alternative To Replace Windows XP
Using Wubi To Transition From Windows XP To Lubuntu Linux
You can check out a “theme” that makes Lubuntu look almost exactly like Windows XP here.