Open operating system
May 23, 2010 10:33 AM   Subscribe

I have a laptop that Microsoft should have never approved for vista it wheezes and struggles under vista and is close to useless. I was wanted to install some open operating system and use it basically as a netbook. What options do I have and how do I go about it?
posted by ExitPursuedByBear to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It would help to know the hardware specs.
posted by griphus at 10:34 AM on May 23, 2010

Download a LiveCD from Ubuntu or Fedora and boot off the CD to test it out. If your network comes up and everything seems to work go ahead and install. If you aren't worried about saving the Vista install the install wizard is easy to follow.
posted by COD at 10:49 AM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yes, use Ubuntu.

Here's the page for downloading the Ubuntu CD image.

If you'd prefer, for a small fee they'll send you a ready-made installation CD.

It might also help to upgrade your netbook's RAM. If you post the hardware specs, we can help more.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:08 AM on May 23, 2010

I just did this two or three days ago.

Revived an old Acer Aspire 3050 with Jolicloud and couldn't be more pleased with the results. It is fast, runs all of the web-based stuff I use (Gmail and all the other Google tools, Facebook, Brizzly, and so on) and was a breeze to install. Had a small hiccup with audio drivers, but other stuff worked on the first try - wifi, most notably.

You can download the 'express' version as an EXE that you run under Windows, to take a look (or just use it that way and retain Vista if you need to), though I opted to wipe Vista out of my life forever (felt good) and install from ISO. Love it, especially for free.
posted by danwalker at 11:09 AM on May 23, 2010

If this is a way old machine, avoid Ubuntu. Canonical makes things easy for new users but Ubuntu is getting to be a hog and they like to break shit. Since this is a full laptop (not a netbook), I would steer you away from netbook-specific distros. Zenwalk is one I've had success using on ancient laptop hardware that I've handed to people unfamiliar with Linux. Sticking with the Canonical output, Xubuntu may be a good choice.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 12:14 PM on May 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

Without the specs, it's hard to say, but I know a few people now who have taken laptops with Vista, running like crap, installed Windows 7, and all of them have said that the new install runs great.
posted by Lukenlogs at 1:07 PM on May 23, 2010

Download Wubi installer, and install a Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu distro as a Windows application [see this guide here]. If you don't like the one you choose, it can easily be removed as any Windows application.

If you like the one you have, you can change the boot order, and have it start up with Linux.
posted by ijsbrand at 1:49 PM on May 23, 2010

Yes, Ubuntu. I nuked the Windows 7 Starter that came with my netbook and installed Ubuntu and never looked back. I feel nerdy saying that. But also... proud. It boots up really quickly, is totally stable, functional, and even looks pretty good.
posted by number9dream at 1:53 PM on May 23, 2010

Ubuntu all the way. I have lucid lynx running on my laptop (an acer aspire, circa 2006), and have had no complaints.
posted by Premeditated Symmetry Breaking at 3:00 PM on May 23, 2010

Another vote for Ubuntu, here. It's quick and user-friendly. :)
posted by MaiaMadness at 3:14 PM on May 23, 2010

Ubuntu. The current version is even an "LTS" - long term support, which means you'll get updates for three years. Bonus.
posted by Mwongozi at 3:54 PM on May 23, 2010

nth ubuntu. the new release is quite nice.
posted by kenliu at 6:27 PM on May 23, 2010

Definitely Ubuntu (or Xubuntu if your specs are not that great). Learn to love the terminal and apt-get.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:06 PM on May 23, 2010

posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 8:46 PM on May 23, 2010

Before you do anything, max out the RAM. My cheap laptop came with only 512MB of RAM. After I removed that and plugged in 2GB, Vista ran very happily.
posted by exphysicist345 at 10:27 PM on May 24, 2010

I'm nthing the linux option. I ran windows, it sucked so, so bad. Then installed OpenSuse, and now my computer works superbly. You should definitely research all your linux options, and then run it from a CD, to make sure everything works without doing anything permanent.

If you use wireless: be sure to make sure your wireless card works with any opensource operating system. For me, it didn't work by simply downloading the OS, i had to install another plugin, but it really wasn't that hard.
posted by shesaysgo at 1:29 PM on May 25, 2010

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