Sunday, 15 June 2014

5 reasons why you should switch from Windows XP to Lubuntu

Posted by Gary Newell  |  at  21:22 9 comments


A lot of the articles I write look at Linux from a Windows user or a former Windows user's point of view. 

The reason for this is that the average computer user started off using the Windows operating system and future Linux users are likely to have come from a Windows background initially.

If you have a modern computer then there is no doubt that you would probably find it more interesting to try something like Ubuntu, Linux Mint or even Zorin OS.

If you are on an older computer then you would be better off running a distribution that has a lighter desktop environment and applications that aren't too hungry on resources.

Windows XP users are now at the point where they should really consider using another operating system.

Windows XP was released a long time ago and so it would make sense that anyone running it is probably using an older computer.

In one of my previous articles I made a suggestion that PCLinuxOS would be a better choice for Windows XP users than Ubuntu and compatibility was one of the reasons.

In the comments section at the bottom there were several other suggestions like Linux Mint Debian Edition, Xubuntu or Lubuntu.

As this article is part of Lubuntu week I am going to list 5 reasons why you should switch from Windows XP to Lubuntu.

1. Windows XP is dead

Windows XP is dead. Some people may not be aware of this fact but I'm telling you now "That parrot is dead".

Microsoft ended support for Windows XP on April 8th 2014 but what does end of support mean? Does it mean it doesn't work anymore?

Actually, Windows XP will continue to work perfectly well for quite some time but the trouble is that any remaining security holes will remain unplugged and that leaves a huge opportunity for the cyber criminals to exploit any individual or organisation that remains on that platform.

Security companies haven't given up on Windows XP and so antivirus and firewall software will continue to work for a little while yet.

Sooner rather than later though you will find yourself isolated if you remain on Windows XP. It is a bit like continuing to stick with VHS videos when most of the world has moved on to DVDs and even they aren't the new thing anymore.

I would say that if you use Windows XP you are now a second class citizen but I don't even think that is true. You have ceased to be a citizen in Microsoft's eyes.

If you switch to Linux then you will be a first class citizen. Lubuntu continues to be developed and the look and feel is very much like that of Windows XP.

2. You have older hardware

As I mentioned in the introduction, in a previous article I suggested PCLinuxOS would be a good distribution for Windows XP users. However PCLinuxOS is probably not right for all of them.

Windows XP was around for a long time. In fact it has been around since 2001. To put this into perspective in 2001 I had an eMachines desktop computer, 800 mhz, Pentium 3 with I think 512 megabytes RAM. 

I know that at that point there were still companies selling Pentium 2 computers with 256 megabytes of RAM because I had a Packard Bell laptop that ran Windows XP with those specifications.

If we fast forward to 2007 when Vista was released then the specifications of computers increased considerably. For instance my Samsung R20 laptop is a pretty low end affair and came with a 1.73 ghz Intel Core Duo, 1 gigabyte RAM and 256 megabytes worth of graphics capability. 

The Samsung R20 was a terrible laptop and should never have been sold with Windows Vista. It would have however worked perfectly with XP and it does work perfectly with most lighter Linux distributions as demonstrated in my recent review of Makulu. I can't believe this review of the Samsung R20 by PC Advisor magazine, it beggars belief that they thought this was good.

Companies were still selling laptops long after Vista was released with Windows XP installed and so I would imagine there are some pretty decent computers out there with Windows XP installed.

Those of you on a more modern machine running Windows XP will probably want to try something like PCLinuxOS but if you are using a computer from the early part of the century then it will almost definitely be worth using Lubuntu.

3. You have a netbook running Windows XP

Netbooks that are currently running Windows XP will almost certainly be better running Lubuntu. I have an Acer Aspire One D255 netbook and I have been using Lubuntu on that netbook from virtually day one of having it.

Windows XP was never very good for a netbook. By the time you loaded antivirus and a firewall it was virtually unuseable. Lubuntu uses less resources and so your netbook will definitely perform better. There is no need for antivirus or firewall software so you don't have that overhead either.

Acer Aspire One D255 10.1 inch Netbook (Intel Atom Dual-Core N550 Processor, 1GB RAM, 250GB HDD, Wifi, Webcam, 8hrs battery life, Windows 7 Starter&Android) - Ruby Red

The Acer Aspire One D255 is still for sale and where the Samsung was a useless lump of plastic, the Acer Aspire One is a brilliant little Netbook.

I have tried a number of different Linux distributions on this netbook but a customised Lubuntu desktop is definitely the way to go.

4. Familiarity

The Windows XP interface has a number of defining features.

The traditional task bar at the bottom consists of a menu, quick launch icons, and a system tray.

The menu itself consist of a series of categories followed by the program names.

There are also icons on the desktop.

Now look at the Lubuntu desktop.

A taskbar along the bottom, quick launch icons next to the menu and a system tray in the bottom right.

There are no icons on the desktop but you can add them.

The menu looks very familiar as well.

The learning curve for Lubuntu is not that steep. Yes there are differences and most of them for the better once you get used to them.

An example of this is the way you install software. Windows users have to download and run an executable from a website that they have to decide whether to trust or not. With Lubuntu you download from a software repository and each application is vetted before being added to the repositories.

A fear for many Windows users moving to Linux is that you will have to use the command line. You can use it if you want to but most modern distributions such as Lubuntu don't make it a necessity. Most things can now be achieved using a graphical tool.

Hardware support for Lubuntu is as good as Windows and actually if you are using Windows XP then the Lubuntu hardware support is likely to be better. Your laptop or desktop computer may be into double figures in terms of age but I bet you can't say the same for your printer. Finding printers that will work with Windows XP is going to get harder and harder.

5. Long term support

The latest version of Lubuntu (14.04) is supported for 3 years. It has only just been released and if you install it today then it will be supported until April 2017.

If you are still using Windows XP then Microsoft are advising you to upgrade to one of their newer operating systems such as Windows 7 or Windows 8. Quite frankly it is unlikely that your computer would run well on either of these and so what you are really being told by Microsoft is that you need to buy a new computer.

Lubuntu will give you a bit more time to decide whether a new machine is what you need and you can download it, try it and install it for free. There are no hidden costs. Just install and use.

If you don't like it or you decide you need a newer machine then you won't have lost anything.


The chances are that if you are still using Windows XP then you aren't necessarily bothered about having the latest and greatest new gadget or operating system as it is released.

It is also likely that you are fond of Windows XP and it doesn't let you down. I can understand that. It really was quite a decent operating system.

If you stick with Windows XP now, then you are storing up problems for another day and they will be problems fewer and fewer people will be able to help with.

Over the next few days I am going to show you the steps you need to take in order to make the switch. These steps include more than the usual download, create CD and install. The steps are going to include practical steps such as backing up pictures, videos, music and even your bookmarked web pages. The steps are going to show you about the new software you will be using and how to run any Windows software that you can't live without.

Interested? Bookmark this page or subscribe to the blog by entering your email address on the right hand side. 

Thankyou for reading.

About the Author

Gary Newell started the Everyday Linux User blog in 2010 and has written reviews on dozens of different Linux based operating systems. He has also written a number of tutorials.

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  1. Not a bad article but the presumption that Lubuntu is the answer to prayers is false. The typical user of XP will not be a geek seeking ever to install an OS. They could, easily, but they won't because it is really unfamiliar territory. I know. I taught high school kids to do that for a decade and it was shocking information for almost all.

    Gary Newell also wrote, "future Linux users are likely to have come from a Windows background initially". This is definitely untrue. Sure, it might apply in "established markets" but the world is full of emerging markets where the first experience of IT will likely be an Android/Linux smartphone. There are many countries where the share of page-views recorded by StatCounter for Android/Linux are similar or already exceed that other OS. Check out South America, Africa and Asia, where the next billion IT-users are getting queued up. Already there are around a billion Android/Linux users on the planet. The vast majority of IT users will likely not use any local app beyond the web browser and its plugins. They don't have the resources and the web does.

    I would recommend other distros over any *buntu, e.g. Debian GNU/Linux which can be configured to meet anyone's needs/wants. I switched many XP-users to Debian GNU/Linux with XFCE4 and some weren't even aware it was not M$'s OS. They use the browser or the office suite or the media-player. A click is a click.

  2. I think what we need is a simpler (for the average person) GNU/Linux naming. Between the various companies, distros, versions, and desktop environments the average person will get lost. For example in Windows; most know it's made by Microsoft and it's XP/Vista/7/8/8.1 (well 8/8.1 is causing confusion). But in Linux there's no single company behind it. Then you just can't say "oh it's Linux". So you have to add it's Ubuntu/Debian/Fedora/etc.; but then you'll have different versions. For the tech savy people, this is well understood; but for the average user it will be frustrating because they will think that Ubuntu Linux is same as Fedora Linux; and we all know those have vast differences. And although both Fedora and Ubuntu can run the same software, when people need help they will get confused with which instructions to follow; they will continue to think that all Linux distros are the same. And that's before we get to DE.

    What we need is a new distro that will have the following naming: [some group Name] [OS name] [service pack version]. And this OS should have 10 years support of both security & backporting of applications; and the OS name stays the same for the 10 year duration. The 10 year duration will have stability for the average users that don't care (or need) to reinstall/upgrade new Linux (even a 5 years LTS is too short for the average user). The average user cares about applications not OS, and asking them to upgrade every 3/5 years is often. Rolling releases will not work in this case because there are too many changes. Average users need a frozen distro that only provides security updates and backports.

    The Group Name would be central point for all security issues, online support, advertisement, decision making, building/testing the OS, PR, etc. That way there's a central point for the average user to get help and to vent their frustration. Then once the average user gets accustomed & comfortable with Linux if they choose so they can install any of the current distors.

    1. Hi,

      This is an interesting comment, thankyou for sharing your views.

      I think a 10 year LTS release would be too long. Too much changes in 10 years for the same build to be viable.

      For instance just look at Windows 95. When Windows 95 came out the internet was in its infancy and so the operating system barely catered for it. Within 10 years Windows 95 would have had to cope with broadband, a new security layer that wasn't required before etc.

      Due to most distros being open source the chances of there being one group name is unlikely except for distros such as Ubuntu which have financial backing by a company such as Canonical. I don't think though that Canonical could call the distro Canonical Ubuntu.

      Choice is a double edged sword. On one side you have all the benefits where projects learn from each other and develop better software but with choice comes confusion because if you don't understand the choices you are making how do you know if you are making the wrong one.

      I think choice should remain but education should be more prominent.

    2. I agree that 10 years is a long time and a lot of changes occur; but look at XP it is a 13 year old OS and people still use it; not a whole lot of people jumped from XP to Vista-to-7-to-8 just to get the new features, they stayed with XP because, I suppose, it worked for them. If the 10 year LTS is too long for an individual, and that user understands that he/she needs new features I'm sure they'll understand which other distro to choose (Ubuntu/Fedora/Debian/etc).

      As for new features/hardware we can do kernel modules/drivers; so when USB4.0 comes out just build a driver. It may not be as efficient as in-kernel support for USB4.0 but you wouldn't have ti mess with the kernel itself. Or apply Service Pack, as MS did to bring USB1.0. Users are more familiar with Service Packs than with doing distro-upgrade. I suppose the SP itself could be an upgrade of the kernel itself; but if something goes wrong than you have the central point (OS website) to fix the SP or rollback.

      I think we (Linux community) should give this a try. If it works great; if not at least we'll get some cooperation and we'll learn something.

    3. In effect that is already true with the big distros meant for _new_ computers. You don't have Ubuntu/linux or fedora/linux but rather just ubuntu or fedora as if they were different OS. Then the naming stays quite consistent. As the poster above your's related, in many parts of the world, almost all computers have some kind of linux on them. So this is for the "western world" where most people will just buy new hardware with the new OS... But, for those who feel their computer is working just fine, A linux of some sort can breath new life into it. It is true that most win->linux conversions are done for the win user by someone rather by the windows user themselves. However, the mainstream linux distros (Unity, Gnome session and KDE) are meant for "modern" hardware. In fact Gnome Session (AKA Gnome 3) will not even start up on my 10 year old P4 at 2.6Ghz with 2.5G ram and Unity runs so slow on it as to be useless. So the naming you recommend is being followed by the latest thing out there, but for older hardware, the user has to be willing to search a bit more. In general, the rescuing of older systems is done by people who know linux well. This article lowers the knowledge required a bit so that the person who knows windows quite well (more than just browsing, but has fixed a problem or two) can try out linux on that computer they replaced with new hardware.

      As for the LTS time, As with xp a linux box will continue to run if there is upgrade or not. But after support ends xp will still run new windows viruses, while an old linux will not.

      The world takes all kinds. Linux will never be a single system with one name and way of naming releases. The people who bother to make "lite" distros are hobbyists not companies.

    4. I agree that this might apply only to the "western world". But as you said "10 year old P4 runs Unity slow". Current quad-core PC will also be slow in 10 years (or even 5). So a current Ubuntu 14.04 user in 5/6 years is faced with: Upgrading to the latest Ubuntu 20.04 (and having Unity run slow) or stick with 14.04 without support. Yes, you could upgrade to 16.04 then to 18.04 but those will run slower than 14.04. If we had 10 year LTS users would not suffer much in speed. Sure you could change to Lubuntu 20.04 but this would require reinstallation & reconfiguration of your computer (not an option for a regular user). And then once Lubuntu's 3 year LTS ends you'll have to reinstall again.

      Lets face it; any current Linux distro/version is not geared towards the regular user. All distros (or at least to most common ones) still assume that the user knows how to perform OS installations & upgrades. Even for System76 that comes with preinstalled Ubuntu, once the 5 year LTS ends the user still needs to perform a major upgrade which has a high potential of breaking the system.

    5. According to Moore's law , about exponential improvement of chips performance every two years , our 4-5 years old PC's will become very fast obsolete. Microsoft knows that and therefore they release every 2 years another OS , all the hardware produce companies release new stuff at an lighting speed, but very few have linux drivers support.
      I am an XP user from day one, and i switch to Linux after trying few months to adapt to Win 8, and first distro was Ubuntu - 1 month, second Mint - 1 month, i start thinking to go back and get use win 8, but i decided toe more distro, so i install Manjaro, i read all the documentation i can about Manjaro and terminal commands, and now on my PC i have Manjaro as main OS and lately Sabayon.
      I am 100% sure that i will never go back to any Microsoft OS, i found in Linux the perfect OS, is true that you must learn again new stuff ,but it is fun and in the end you'll have an perfect ,unique OS.....

  3. Hi , I tried Lubuntu 16.04. alongside Windows XP, but it doesn't work, because there is no box to check with this option. Has XP been omitted in 16.04.?
    Any help appreciated, thanks!


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