This may be a shocking revelation to some but Windows and Apple’s OS are not the only ones available for the end user, There are freely available (and free) alternatives derived from a commercial operating system call Unix.
Linux is the operating system which I use on all my personal computers what it is and its development history are well documented on the Web. By the end of 2011 I eventually found that the Linux version (also known as flavour) fit for my purposes is Pear OS Linux which ticks all my boxes i.e. meets my current computer needs and runs well on my antique hardware. Along the way I have tried many differn versions including the mass market favourite Ubuntu and most of those based on it such as Lubuntu, Mint, Mepis and others such as Fedora, OpenSuse and Puppy.
One cautionary note: do not indulge in radical re-installations until or unless the contents of your hard disk(s), your data, are properly secured off the machine and ideally off-site. I have been operating what are now known as cloud principles for many years and do not entrust anything unique and valuable data such as photographs to a delicate single point of failure.
You might also need a supply of blank CDs and DVDs although installation can also be made more economically and environmentally friendlily by installing from a USB stick. Trialling often involves the creation of plenty of shiny coasters or bird scarers. Such installers are easily created on Windoze using the delightful LinuxLive USB Creator or the slightly dull but practical Unetbootin on just about any machine . As well as good bandwidth for the downloading of .iso disk images containing the required OS, it is very sensible to have a spare internet connected computer available to search for solutions when you encounter problems.
If you posses only one computer but are stouthearted I’d suggest that you opt for the dual boot option that installs the new OS alongside the original and be prepared, if all else falls, to reinstall Windoze from the original installation disc. Be warned that any Windows installation takes an unnecessarily long time – one of the immediate delights of Linux is that you can go from start to end of some installations in 30 minutes.
Another caveat bis that some devices may not work with your Linux OS, basically the manufacturers were too lazy to supply the drivers. On the other hand, I have discovered some bits & pieces that never worked as intended, if at all, with any version of Windows but have been magically restored to full functionality by the introduction of a Linux based OS (the original installation discs are redundant) which turns out to be plug and play at a level that Microsoft are still trying to reach.
OK, an hour or several days later a computer is just expensive piece of junk even with the world’s best operating system. It needs application software to actually do anything more than consume space and electricity and look pretty if you like that sort of thing.
All the different Linux distributions, distros for short, come with a set of applications. Now it gets difficult as you need to choose what you want to use your computer for. Guessing that the first thing anyone does is to access the Internet, I’d suggest you use the installed browser to see what else is out there and find the one best suited to your browsing needs and machine’s capabilities.
The installation software will have included some sort of package management software (I just looked and there are 36, 063 packages available to me for this machine), what do you want to do today?
Many people want to write and do sums with spreadsheets so need the Linux equivalent of Microsoft Office – the usual offerings are LibreOffice and OpenOffice. I do not like clutter and run from a small disk so my preference for daily use is Koffice but you don’t pay any money and you makes yer choice? Go with whatever works for you.
There are many offerings for playing music and video – the one I use is called VLC and can handle nearly all sound and video filetypes.