One of the biggest problems with technology, at least in the most developed societies, is how fast it can get outdated. If you buy a computer today, it will most probably be outdated in a year time.
Given this, we have two choices: either keep on buying new hardware in order to keep our computers running smoothly or risking ending up with a computer going slower than a snail. Recently I noticed that I was going for the second option with my laptop, so I decided to ditch the “heavy” Windows 8.1 and change to a lighter Linux distribution.
With the recent Windows XP hassle, I believe that my personal experience can help others who are now deciding which OS to use afterwards, so here it goes.
I got my current laptop on the Summer of 2010, so it is almost 4 years old. It is an Acer Aspire 5740G, with 640GB HDD, Intel Core i5 2.4GHz, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 and 4GM of RAM. To this day it gives me no problems whatsoever, and it is exactly the same in terms of hardware as it was when I bought it.
If I recall correctly, it came with Windows 7, but I changed the OS a few times, always sticking with Windows. Most recently, I was using Windows 8.1.
What made me change?
Lately, I had been feeling that my laptop was functioning too slowly, with a lot of crashes and freezes. Also, it was overheating a lot, which sometimes caused it to turn off on its own. The reasons were clear: my laptop’s specs were not enough for the amount of work I put on them, or for the content online these days.
So, I had two options: Either buy new hardware (specifically, more RAM) or change to an operating system that requires less resources. Since I was completely tired of a slow computer, I needed an immediate solution, so I opted to perform a full backup of my data and make a completely new install of a different OS, one that was light and fast.
Linux, the obvious choice
I actually gave some thought to the idea of reverting back to Windows 7 but figured that eventually I would end up with a similar situation. Considering this, moving to a Linux-based distribution was the obvious choice. In the last two weeks I installed four Linux distros, but ended up sticking to elementary OS – let me explain why.
Distro #1: Zorin OS 8.1 Core
Zorin has recently been reviewed here on Make Tech Easier and is actually a great distro for people coming from Windows XP. It can easily be configured to look exactly like Microsoft’s OS and is really lightweight and fast. However, I found the white theme to be too bright, and the dark one had a lot of bugs. In addition, the OS also has some bugs, which made me go for a change.
Distro #2: Linux Mint 16 Petra (Cinnamon)
Linux Mint is said to be one of the most powerful distros around, and that is probably correct. However, I found it to be a little bit heavier than Zorin, leading to slower boot and general processing times, both slower than what I had with Zorin and even Windows 8.1. So, Linux Mint was also a no-go.
Distro #3: Lubuntu 14.04
This one should be it, but it also was not. Lubuntu is said to be the best distro for old laptops, but I also ended up having some troubles using it. However, the problems this time were related to configuration and personal settings which I was not being able to achieve. So, Lubuntu worked fine, but I did not really like this distro.
Distro #4: elementary OS Luna
In the end, I decided to go with a distro I actually had previously installed alongside Windows 8: elementary OS. This distro is under a lot of (justified) hype at the moment, due to its astonishing looks, its functionality and its reliability – things that I confirm 100 percent. Besides Apple’s OS X, I have never seen such a beautiful OS, and the performance really matches the looks.
But wait, you do not miss Windows?
Sincerely, no. I have to say that I am not an avid gamer, so that probably makes the transition much easier. Still, I though that Photoshop would be really missed, because I used it a lot. It turns out that GIMP is really up to the task, especially if you give it a makeover and bring it closer to Adobe’s product.
Another thing that people usually do not like about elementary OS is the fact that you cannot use the desktop for storing files (unless you mess deeply in the configurations). This is not a problem for me because I am one of those people who likes the desktop as clean as possible – I was like that in Windows, already.
Given that at the moment I am not bound to any software that is exclusive for Windows, I am pretty happy in life with elementary OS. My computer now runs smoothly, overheating is gone and I now have a pretty reliable system at hand. For anyone thinking about a change, especially for people who are scared of keeping Windows XP and do not have the means to buy Windows 7 or 8, my advice is that you embrace Linux – it is amazing and, contrary to what is often said, you CAN live with Linux alone.