Windows to Linux - operating systems

Created; 14/12/2013, Changed; 20/01/2022 - 19/01/2022

An evaluation of Desktop Computer Operating Systems

I looked at Linux occasionally but then started using a Linux desktop in 2013 when using a Linux distribution became easy.

Windows XP end-of-life support has been reduced progressively to just essential updates then no updates, eventually fewer optional features and drivers and by November 2021 no support and unable to authenticate a new installation but this may be another temporary issue? Drivers had been withdrawn by some computer manufactures websites such as Sony and therefore Windows update consequently whilst those versions of Windows were in support or End-Of-Life support. This is not the case for US companies such as HP, XP 64 drivers and optional features are still available on HP's website. Lenovo computer's latest BIOS update of 2012 leaves the PC unable to power off (As of January/February 2019 and March 2020);

Windows 7 is in end-of-life support and receives security updates only (December 2021) and also earlier versions of Windows 10 on some PCs can not be updated (2020 and 2021).

Allegro for printed circuit board design was ported from Unix/Linux to Windows.

Cadence Allegro - version OrCAD PCB Designer Lite

Very Unix/Linux like Windows program with a command window bottom left as an alternative to the GUI.

The auto-router operates differently to how all that went before in that it takes many passes rather than working in a single pass. The auto-router does a little with each pass, putting more effort into completing copper track routes with each pass. This strategy of only planning or working as far as can be seen has transfered to many things including Windows Defragment and engineering management. Auto-routers have become very good, suit low speed digital design so have become used less but semi-automatic track routing is very useful.

Cadence circuit CAD (Capture) file format remained unchanged until about 2006 (when the Layout tool was changed to the Allegro version) and fairly change back to 1995 so circuit design work can be shared on different versions of the Capture. Capture the circuit design CAD used to only be available for Windows. It has many output formats for different makes of PCB CAD tools.

.doc open office files are similarly fairly compatible with older versions but much CAD does not easily allow you to save work in a newer version then open it in an older version of the CAD easily. Many programs when installed or updated convert an older profile and configuration found but this is not necessarily the case with Thunderbird email client.

Thunderbird for email is not like this and it is best to not use the Linux repository version but use the downloaded version and in that way, Thunderbird will manage its own updates step by step converting your profile with each update to the next version until it reaches the current version. In the same way that Thunderbird work in Windows. Otherwise, the Linux repository version is a fine and safe option where a computer is used fairly regularly. See Thunderbird Email

I found Allegro difficult to use but engineers like me can see that the tool is very powerful, navigating a very big project easily, using the terminal command input to minimise mistakes as suits. Allegro is highly configurable and a CAD engineer can create at least 100 short-cuts to carry out anything. I use the types of CAD that have menu pull-downs with equivalents to those short-cuts provided and documented for me. OrCAD Capture for circuit design and CADSTAR works this way. By comparison, these CAD tools suit working less often whereas Allegro is well suited for people who work on PCB design full-time.

Linux and Windows applications have become more similar looking.

Linux desktops distributions provide all the common things people generally use a PC for, games, office, camera picture scanning and downloading and web-browsing. Linux desktop's also have many of the specialised things e.g. picture editing tools and computer-aided design, embedded programming. But if want you to use a Windows program then having a dual booting set up you can run Linux or Windows this is a good option and is the usual option. Many very expensive CAD tools that were once only available on Unix now run on Linux, FreeBSD, Unix and most are now also ported to Windows. Windows office, other programs and moderately high-end CAD has been available for Linux for a number of years.

  • My objective is to consider operating systems that are reasonably flexible but not overly technical; To be able to fix or make adjustments without needing a deep technical knowledge but have enough control and context-sensitive help or support groups to be able to set up what I need, for example, a printer. I have found in the years that I have been using Linux, those things are different to Windows but are covered well. I believe Linux does not have the registry wear out and become broken issues that are a big inconvenience in using Windows (Windows 95 on). It is also said that Linux filing systems take care of themselves, don't fragment files (and therefore do not slow down) even when the disk is very full. Linux used to periodically check the filing system when you shut the computer down, now it does the filing system checking on every power-up but it is quick. You never get an hour or minutes of installations or configuring at power up or power down Linux either wholly or mostly takes care of those things in a plain and discrete way whilst you are logged on and running.

  • I am not trying to review all Linux’s Distro Watch does that well. What I have said about Linux changes and these two pages are not updated often. By comparison, I find Windows 10 just gets slower, continually carrying out major updating and more cluttered with more unwanted applications and widgets that you may have previously removed. Windows 7 is now in the nice end-of-life period of receiving security updates only but with no clutter being added (December 2021).

Comparison between Windows and Linux

Gnome desktop

Different to Windows pleasantly uncluttered available for FreeBSD, Linux, Unix. Has been available since 1999.

Running on an HP Compaq Desktop PC.

Before that Linux had a Comand Line Interface.

Linux Debian 10.3

Opening main screen Skype and MegaSync running. When the tray is developed running tasks will be in the top bar right. MegaSync icon never appeared on final Lxqt version of Debian 10 but is works in Lubuntu for example.

If you need support looking at either the Debian or the Ubuntu forums or Wiki's and may others will help you for any Linux Debian or Ubuntu based distribution. There are also groups on Facebook.

Generally the help explains the solution using the terminal typing text but very often there is an easier GUI solution. You need to look at the key words and consider those when using a GUI.

At the present time I have switched to Debian 10 Cinnamon on this desktop PC. Cinnamon is very nice looking with smooth opening and closing windows but a conventional function desktop feel. If the graphics hardware does not support this the PC will run slower and a better desktop choice is MATE or XFCE.

The chosen desktop runs on a choice of Window Manager's - which also affects things such as speed and appearance. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_manager

Debian 11, which is the current version being rolled out over the next year or so Lxqt desktop installation option gives you a choice of two window managers. When Installed the login options at the top of the screen include Lxqt or Gnome (November 2021). Some Linux distributions offer a choice of window manager's also in a pull-down usually at the top of the screen at login.


GNOME - other screens. Some variants of Gnome such as Unity place a dot next to the favourite for each instance of that favourite running.

Click top left to open the task screen.

This shows all running programs (two). I have placed more favourites in the left hand side favourites bar.

Debian desktops are all faster than Windows 7 or higher. The lightest desktop variant LxQt is a little slower than XP.

Raleigh bicycles used to be made to last 100 years, not many reach 750,000 miles but those that do can will have been oiled, cleaned and serviced regularly. The Raleigh/Sturmey-Archer internal hub gear lubricated but never opened and serviced but when they are they can be clean and in perfect order. (like the hub had been made that morning the anecdoter said)

Click bottom left favourite to see commands utilises and settings.

Recent are shown click all below and scroll through a few pages of icons.

A few Debian servers have been running for over 20 years and during this time have been kept updated. The log file shows over 175,000 hours.

Life on Earth by comparison has been evolving whilst running for 3.77 billion years. A partial log of our evolution can be interpreted from our RNA/DNA. Before that it is even more guess work perhaps we evolved from combining primitive viruses with other complex materials?

Click top left to return to the main screen.

This time there are no programs running. The clock, network. volume and power icons are shown top right. The top right pull down also has hibernation and settings.

In Cuba because of the US embargo very old machines are maintained and run for considerable lengths of time. A BBC holiday programme during the 1990s spoke to a Taxi driver running a model T ford. The car had been bought by his grandfather and used as a Taxi continually presumably since the 1920s? and passed down father to son, to grandson.

Debian LXDE 32 and 64-bit update from 8.x to 9.x ran amazingly smoothly and without fuss, need to restart or discernibly slowing an already slow computer on the times I carried the update out. I continued to use the computer without interruption in both cases.

Depending on the desktop variant you chose you can trade-off; Fast, slick, smooth running or basic for older computers and those fast options would be suitable for running Mechanical CAD (such as Solidworks) programs which are very processor and memory demanding. It seems that Linux is catching on in PC's fast. Linux dominates; servers, mobile phones and things that have more computing within them than a washing machine, for the last decade. Maybe I exaggerate but don't be misled when reading Linux does not have virus scanners, disc maintenance tools or registry fixers - those things are addressed well and some of those things can be added. You will find password requests pop up periodically as you are working on a Linux machine to permit changes and updates - those things don't just happen casually like they do with Windows.

That is if you leave a Linux pc running unattended but doing some work for you won't return to find the work abandoned and the PC has restarted unlike Windows having completed a Windows update.

I set the power settings for any operating system to dim the display after a few minutes then turn the display off after say 5 minutes and I may set a screen saver. The important power setting is to ensure that the computer does not sleep or turn-off but continues to run the task you have left the computer on to carry out. For laptops put the computer in to hibination when closing the lid but sleep may be the only option. The power button to power off the computer.

----- Linux Distributions ----

Linux distributions are generally not based in one country but are part of many worldwide projects and individual involvement. Improvements pass freely between all who take part in those Linux projects. There is a lot of good checking before and after a part of Linux is shared. There are rules on sharing and use that insist on openness, sharing, including source code. There is a provision for commercial licensing parts but in a not restrictive way.

I am not considering forks from the Linux Kernel such as Andriod or Apple. Or how well Windows 10 implements Linux type Bash terminal which I don't know in any case.

Easy to install but if not there may be an alternative full installer;

Mint Mate - Is a very safe choice. So is Mint XFCE. I tried Mint Mate in 2013 and returned to it in November 2016. I am currently using Mint Cinnamon as of Nov 2017. I believe it may be Europe and Canada based. Mate desktop the search also looks on the web for answers if an application is not found or application to install but it is not a fast desktop. Mint is Ubuntu-based which in turn is Debian based.

Mint Cinnamon (includes WINE) (now supports Dropbox well 1/2019) and Debian Cinnamon (fully supports Dropbox) are both plain but smart feel desktops but they require suitable graphics hardware and then this desktop is also fast. Mint XFCE is also well implemented but a slower implementation than some. Mint uses a very easy helpful Ubuntu-based installation that is easier than Windows install but with all the important questions about configuration are asked in a plain simple way.

Despite some weaknesses, this is one of the most recommended Linux's to start with ; (March 2020)

Using old software is not generally a problem except if you run multi-boot with another Linux distribution that uses the current version EXT4 partitions.

  • Mint 18 and 19 still do not support Ext4 properly but supports the earlier version. Ext4 partition type was introduced in Debian 8, I believe and was soon after updated during 2016? most Distributions support the updated version.

  • The problem is if you want to manipulate a partition or data with Mint on the other installation.

Mint Cinnamon 18.2 to Mint 18.3 and to Mint 19 update works but unlike Debian update, the PC will be impractically slow whilst this is occurring to do anything else with it.

Ubuntu - The long-term stable version is also a safe choice very different slick comparable in speed to a well-running current Windows 7 but faster than Windows 10 (April 2020). I have used this for many years it is the flagship top-of-the-range Linux desktop. Ubuntu' was a branch off from GNOME and was called Unity but now Canonical has sold Unity to Microsoft and has returned to being part of improving GNOME, as of April 2018. Some of the Ubuntu variants did not support Dropbox properly for some years but this is fixed now (April 2020).

Minimal; This desktop is minimal and you will find it difficult or complicated to do anything but the simplest file managing things with Ubuntu. For example, you need to use the terminal to create a symbolic link whereas on many desktops you either drag a file and choose symbolic-link or right-click send-to-shortcut. This has become more so in recent years but it is very uncluttered consequently and opposite to the strategy Windows and many of the tablet operating systems have gone. (December 2021)

Canonical Ltd of London funds Ubuntu set of desktops and the development is based in South Africa. Ubuntu is an African word for Human. These are the easiest to use and most features are very well developed but they do not run so fast on a PC as other Linux distributions but they are either comparable to or faster than Windows XP or higher.

Weaknesses are that it is the flagship, therefore, leading Linux and so seems a little less stable than others. Conversely, issues will be fixed sooner, Dropbox keeps running whereas it remained unsupported and may not run on others such as Xubuntu, Lubuntu or any other for some years. (Dropbox are very clear about what Operating Systems are supported and their technical support is good).

I have been using Ubuntu 18.04 for a number of years and some issues arise, currently updating does not run smoothly but it works manually.

Xubuntu - Stable version is fast and is a safe choice and is very like Windows 7. The XFCE desktop is one of the oldest current desktops. KDE then XFCE, GNOME were all launched in about 1996-1999.

Lubuntu 19.04 (LxQt)- This is less complete so issues will arise. It is preloaded with Thunderbird, Libre Office etc.

Alternatively; Lubuntu 18.04 (LxQt) - Is more complete and is preloaded with light weight email and office programmes. I switched them to Thunderbird, Libre office etc.

The Alternative installer will install on more computers than the regular installer will. This fairly easy installer is text based, similar to the Debian full installer.

Lubuntu - (was LXDE is now LxQt 18.04) is the fastest and lightest of the Ubuntu set of distributions and runs well on a low spec. PC even so just 1.5GB DRAM 64Bit PC but will run faster with the 32 version installed. It is not restrictively cut down but is something like a Windows XP but plainer. I've used this on a lower spec. old computer. Dropbox may work and other applications run with little issue.

There was no WiFi and no warnings or options offered after installation on an HP nx6125 laptop, this is unusual for this distribution. It was necessary to install the Broadcom b43 drivers using the Synaptic software installation GUI (which is an easy alternative to using the terminal program as the Debian Wiki describes). Use Windows to turn on the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices, then restart Lubuntu and the WiFi was offered. This is typical of this Laptop although some Linux distributions did not require the step of starting Windows, enabling and turning on the WiFi and Bluetooth.

The desktops Linux's above have uniquely a very user-friendly application store where you can purchase or add for free many things. You can review them as well and it is set out in a neat and ordered way. Everything about Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based distributions including installation and support is plain and straightforward (04-2020).

Lubuntu is now one of the fastest full feature, supported Linux's using Kernel 4.x.x that I've evaluated.

It is unlikely that so many of such old laptops are running but when they were in Windows support there would be an easy or an automatic fix for most issues. By comparison, there will usually be a fix for Linux Desktop but it will need more technically deeper help to resolve those things. But that varies and some of the tablets, which may be a fork off from Linux, are good though they tend to have a short life, so they are not fixed but scrapped despite the basic hardware being sound or continue to run with insecure and poorly working email and web-browser clients for example.

MX Linux - This Linux is very light, fast and installation is straightforward. The user interface is plain and I find its single click configuration makes it difficult to avoid clicking the wrong thing. Functional and will run on most PCs that are now too slow to run anything else. It will also automatically find all the drivers better than many Operating Systems.

The XFCE desktop has a command search line like Windows 7.

MX has many maintenance tools included. So it is quite good OS to have along side your favorite operating system(s).

  • MX 16 which is in long-term support gets some security updates but had not got a security update and it was necessary to download an updated public key in order to continue using the repositories in 2019.

  • MegaSync (mega.nz) application for Linux could not be updated through a normal secure repository channel and a new version needed to be downloaded and installed.

  • Thunderbird and Firefox were downloaded and run outside of the repository system. This meant updates occurred in sequence walking through changes to my profile step by step. This was still working in Autumn 2021.

---------------------------------------------------------------


Fairly easy to install; The installation media has some repair tools

Debian 10.3 LxQt - Dropbox first time launched.

After Dropbox is installed and launched it will download and update itself periodically. With many installations on Linux, Dropbox will download and update daily.

Debian promises to be excellent when Debian version 10 is developed further and things like the icon tray and the country setting are resolved (April 2020).

Debian has become easier to install (02/2017) and usually installs and runs very well. GNOME and CINNAMON are very nice uncluttered fast desktops and Debian is easier to install than it had been. XFCE, LDRE are fast and LXDE is the fastest and Is the nicest fastest plain smart I've come across but there can be a little work to add some things Debian after it is installed. Download the *-1.iso full download version.

Debian 10 is the stable version and now includes the LxQt desktop option (November 2021). Therefore version 11 is recommended for download if you are happy to use a desktop operating system that is not so finished off yet you will be part of its final testing and finishing off.

The installation usually goes through easily but you may then need to add missing non-free drivers subsequently this is not done automatically or semi-automatically unlike other distributions, for you. This is why I have recommended MX Linux above or both if Debian does not work out for you.

The repository entry should have "non-free" added so that you can add those drivers by a safe channel.

Debian 10 LxQt 64 bit is about the same speed as Lubuntu 18.04 but is pre-loaded with the regular rather than lighter programmes. This distribution is faster than Lubuntu 19.04 though. The wireless uses Connman utility that could be turned on without needing to run Windows by comparison with Lubuntu. On the other hand, It needed three non-free drivers to be installed but one of those (r300_cp Video) may cause the HP nx6125 Laptop to overheat and freeze so I have not installed it (there are other issues including a poor connection to the screen and reduction of the heatsink efficiency). The other Non-free drivers are; Broadcom tg3_tso5 and particularly required was the Broadcom b43 wireless driver.

Debian 10 LxQt still is one of the fastest full features, supported Linux's using Kernel 4.x.x that I've evaluated.

Mageia XFCE - Is more technically orientated but plain and attractive looking. I used this for a year, 2013 to 2014, it was good then. This dualArch installer works out the computer spec. approximately and install 32 or 64 bit appropriately. I was using this but have taken it off my computer because it has needed to be re-installed a few times so Mageia did not work out well. I tried it again in Oct. 2016 for a few months but there were issues with it but once again briefly version 6 in autumn 2017 there were no issues it was not distinctly fast as it used to be.

Mageia was the best Redhat based distribution I tried at that time. RedHat and Debian are two of the oldest Linux distribution developers there distributions were first launched in 1993.

Weakness Mageia has become difficult to install; After selecting install Mageia the installer starts then the USB driver can not be found may occur. This has been the case with some PC's since about version 4 or 5 and is still an issue with version 6.1 (02-2019, Samsung R50, similar age HP laptop). I found version 7.1 easy to install from a DVD (01-2022) provided only one HDD is connected at the time of installation.

An automatic update button was offered from 3.x to 4.x but I did not use it until the end of 3.x life and it failed. I found version 7.1 (01-2022) update to version 8.x was also easy although you could use the computer during this period and it required restarting when completed and added programs had been removed. The better method offered was to keep "/home" partition and clean install to the "/" Linux system partition then re-instate fairly clean all the programs required. It is more normal to have all of the Linux installation placed in one partition but for a separate swap partition and that is the default way installation makes Mageia since.

In another case Mageia 7.1 64 bit Cinnamon (July 2020) worked a few times and I reinstalled it on an HP desktop then failed (the desktop did not launch) after running for a few days. Dropbox and Megasync were installed successfully and this version has a lot of good features if it works for you to guide you through set up.

Resolved how to install; (May 2020)

Version 7.1 usually does not install from a USB stick the same as some of the earlier versions and different computers over a number of years. Mageia 7.1 could be installed from a DVD though and the big classical installation was then straightforward, well presented.

  • From KDE, GNOME or CUSTOM, Custom was selected - Plasma desktop but LXDE was also offered.

After initial installation, a Welcome interface was offered to guide the user through configuration and updates. This appears to have provided the problematic graphic driver on an nx6125 laptop which causes the screen & PC to freeze same as with Debian. On the other hand, the wireless driver may have also have been installed but this did not work (even after enabling and turning on Wireless and Bluetooth in Windows)

  • Plasma desktop is minimal, well finished off and I used this to install the LxQt desktop.

  • LxQt is light well presented, fast on this slow laptop but as warned by Mageia. I then uninstalled Plasma this was also easy but I did not need to do that. The installation now had the to full feature and lighter weight programmes so some rationalisation of what is installed would be useful.

    • Dropbox and MegaSync could not be installed from downloaded Fedora .rpm files offered. Undoubtedly there would be a solution for the wireless but I have not investigated those.

    • Here is the solution for Megasync; https://forums.mageia.org/en/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=12132

    • There is also a solution for Dropbox on the Mageia wiki. This worked with Mageia 7.1, 64 bit, Cinnamon but there is a warning that other solutions that do not use to dropbox program or use another desktop.

  • After installing the GRUB bootloader configuration GUI is very good allowing ACPI APIC and other options which can prevent start-up to be configured. The search and addition of all other operating systems when you connect other HDDs feature works easily.

------------------------------------------------------

Harder to install and or use

I had put Fedora in this category but all Linux's have got easier and the very good ones have stayed very good. Fedora looks very good but turns out harder to complete setting after basic the installation was completed even so.


ArchLinux - is reckoned to be one of the hardest to install but with the strongest security. There is an easier Arch-based Manjaro - this is easy enough to use but there are fewer .arc applications than there are for Debian/Ubuntu (.deb) or Redhat (.rpm) for it.

Puppy Linux - These are a collection of the fastest smallest operating systems that are very plain. If you need that also look at AntiX it is fully of manual settings but installation is very easy and everything is set up ready for you when it is completed.

By comparison, Windows XP or earlier are not straightforward to install all British English and because some of the settings are not apparent but there are three places you set the language two are in sub-menus of the installation procedure and one then lets you remove the USA. A lot of improvements to Windows have crossed from Linux distributions including more straightforward installation tools but of cause with enough delay to be just under the legal trigger of litigation.

Choosing a Desktop - the basic user interface style

More distribution and more detail

------------------------------------------------------

Safe Web-browsing

Look at the URL to see if it looks correct or plausible. For example, if you wish to download Firefox the domain is; mozilla.org is highlighted and you will see something like;

https://www.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/new/

Thunderbird is now not part of Mozilla and the URL is;

https://www.thunderbird.net/en-GB/

Once again the registered domain is highlighted do not download it from anywhere else. But you should use the Linux repository version they are the safest and best version unless it is for Windows or you are running an out of support version of Linux distribution. Conversely, some programmes such as Chrome are best downloaded and installed from its website in order to accept conditions, pay or donate and so get all its features.

You can do some degree of checking a domain with whois.com;

https://www.whois.com/ then search "thunderbird.net" for example.

-------------------------------------------------------

Linux with older versions of Windows on a slower PC;

Windows XP support ended in April 2014.

  • Microsoft Security updates continued monthly until November 2016.

  • Microsoft Security Essentials continued ant-virus until June 2017.

  • Some programs are still available for XP, Firefox ESR continued to be supported until April 2018 and it loads many websites still (4/2020). Skype for XP continued until at least Jan 2019. Java 8.201 does not run on XP anymore (Feb 2019). Windows Live essentials feature has not been installable for a number of years since XP status was changed to end-of-life.

  • By November 2021 XP support had completely ended (or temporally stopped functioning so you can not re-install XP and bring it up-to-date or activate XP) but some programs such as MegaSync and anti-virus protection Panda were still running and being maintained giving some web security.

  • The an older windows version MegaSync continued to function on XP.

  • An apparent fault or seeming end of support for Windows XP was not the case for a few months until March 2020 but was a temporary situation. But do check your own work and assumptions it usually is you, not someone else's mistake.

NOTE; three laptops each over 10 years old;

  • XP 64, SP2 is on HP Compaq Laptop (nx6125) and all drivers are available on the HP website.

  • XP 32, SP3 is on a Samsung R50 (I have the original installation CDs) and a Sony Laptops (PCG-GRT996ZP) the manufacturers have withdrawn XP drivers from their website.

  • Lenovo M71e Desktop the last bios update prevents the PC from turning off. This make has not got a good reputation. I have reverted to using an older 64 bit HP Compaq desktop DC7700p, briefly. The workaround was to clone Windows 10, and the system partition that was installed on a PC with legacy bios rather than UEFI secure bios but the bios still support GPT multiple partitions. There are more details on how to set the bios Legacy BIOS v UEFI

------------------------------------------------------

The first web browser;

  • Netscape Navigator - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netscape_(web_browser)

  • Internet Explorer - Introduced after Netscape split from Mosaic. I.E. credited Mosaic for some licensed Intellectual property it uses. There is a lot of cross-licensing which is evident when you see the similar error message "restore tabs" in Firefox, Chromium, Chrome and Edge.

  • Mozilla - http://www.mozilla.org/

But for name changes Netscape was the first commercial Web Browser it became free to individual users (Microsoft did not charge extra for IE 3.x for Windows 3.1 which made it easy to get a dial-up connection if you did not have a paid-for ISP like CompuServe). Open Source caught on subsequently and perhaps that marks the end of using patent and copyright to take things created for the good of all away from all of us? Microsoft copied Sun Micro-Systems' Java calling it a Virtual Machine but had to stop doing that and supply Java on subsequent editions of Windows 98.

------------------------------------------------------

Some PCs are more difficult to install an Operating System on -

An unusual number of issues arose later perhaps would

not on a PC that had not performed and lasted so well.

Example; Sony Vaio - Is a heavy Laptop that requires a high power expensive power supply. It has been out of support for a few years so consequently the BIOS can not be updated and Windows drivers have been withdrawn from Windows update the sony website.

Linux Kernel's up to 3.x.x will run on this laptop but Kernel 4.x.x causes a failure at startup and mentions APIC timer 8254? There is a fix, that requires adding "noapic" to the Grub configuration file kernel line to work around the problem with APIC that the kernel reports. I have carried out this fix but it may be difficult if the configuration file is rewritten so that there could be virtually no way of starting Linux and editing the file again if it is not possible to use kernel 3.xx? If the boot screen offers Grub edit "E" you can change the configuration this one time then change the configuration file using Terminal when Linux is running to make the change more permanent.

The commands in terminal, root terminal or other Linux terminal are similar to UNIX commands but less similar to DOS commands. Commands must be in lower case with a space between the command the options, operators and names are case sensitive;

cd \ -- To change the directory, go down a directory level.

dir -- Display directory.

su -- To enter root terminal in some cases. To do root level things that could stop the Linux working. Some desktop terminals do not allow the su command to be used.

sudo - command line with switches and operators - -- To operate in root (administrator) mode for one command is required instead in some cases.

How to add "noapic" to grub configuration file *.cfg; https://access.redhat.com/solutions/58790

The GRUB configuration file lines are similar for Redhat and Debian based Linuxes. That is because the kernel is the same for all Linuxes.

When Debian LXDE is running there is no brightness control or battery status. I did not find a solution there are no drivers apparently missing at startup. Debian 8 was updated to Debian 9 additionally leaving a number of older 3.xx Linux kernels that allow Linux to run but with the APIC warnings at startup.

I also tried Debian 9 to 10 update but running kernel 3.xx rather than 4.xx but after more than 70 hours it had not completed it. In any case, the laptop was now running much faster with DDR increased to 1.5GB and using another Linux desktop such as Lubuntu that may resolve the missing functions brightness, battery status looked more promising see below;

Unfortunately, the laptop needs some repair work to make the display work, which I have put aside for now. I have not completed this section. This PC turned into a continuing story of issues arising but this is true of most things unless they are very old such as bicycles.

This laptop does not boot from a USB port and I used net install USB using a windows utility called Plop 5.15 https://www.plop.at/ which made it possible to boot and install from a small USB stick. The add to windows boot menu variant does not work well enough to run a USB Linux installer so I believe, it was a number of years ago, I used the add to MBR variant. I could have burnt a CD or DVD perhaps with a net installer for one of the distributions.

If you make a Debian 8 or Mint Mate 14.1 USB installer there is an Install or Mint program in the route of the USB that may allow you to install that distribution?

  • The Debian Install boots a CD or DVD much the same as most BIOS's can do in this case and was not useful. An uninstall is provided. Newer versions of Debian do not offer this boot tool?

  • The Mint mint4win.exe version can put the live installer on the Windows hard disk. Consequently, GParted is available for hard disk manipulation as well as installation.

    • In this case (Mint 14.1) I needed to ensure that there was just one Linux partition with the "/" entry point so therefore I needed to remove the "/" entry point for the liveCD. The consequence this left the live CD broken the installation crashed out at the end but was fine. You remove the install and if you wish install it again using mint4win.exe.

    • mint4win.exe tool did not work with Mint Mate 13 or 15 the tool filled the hard disk with 50GB then failed in Windows XP or Windows 7.

  • Mageia 8 - To follow. This Linux has a GUI to set up grub that includes ticking options including one to not use APIC but as the laptop does not now work I could not use try this.

  • Mint cinnamon LMDE (Debian based alternative installer) - Too follow.

The DVD drive will only boot from an original CD or DVD but a burnt DVD will not boot and I do not have a Vaio compatible spare DVD. So the options are to create a netboot CD, install Plop and use a USB installer or install https://unetbootin.org which creates a selection at hard boot and it puts all the Linux Distribution files in the C: root along with windows then changes the boot.ini file so that an option start Windows or Start Unetbootin you can run the Linux desktop live installer. I found only if you install to another disk say a USB stick but if you chose to ignore the working this broke the partitions partly with Mint Mate. There is a warning that the tool may only work with one of the Ubuntu desktops.

  • Debian 10 full installer - ran much too slowly after adding "noapic" so I gave up with it. That was using unetbootin.exe which copied then to the hard disk then install from the hard disk.

  • Mageia 7.1 (reports as 6?) full installer (LXQT) - install then ran after "noapic" added by editing the boot options at startup then using Megia control Centre - boot advanced to make that change permanent. That is using unetbootin.exe. Note Mageia 4 did not finish installing properly but it turned out that it had finished and it start up.

  • Mint Mate 13, 14 or 15 did not install using unetbootin.exe to the hard disk but did start to install until the partition creation then it left the disk partitions partly broken so that GParted did not work. Running unetbootin.exe a second time allowed you to remove the installation files and restore Windows back to as it was.

  • Lubuntu 19 alternative installer - did not install even after "noapic" added to the boot/grub/loopback.cfg. That was using unetbootin.exe too the hard disk

Also, another windows tool MiniTool Partition Wizard did not properly work leaving the grub boot broken with a Grub rescue message and the hard disk not manageable with GParted.

Grub Rescue

This helped, see; https://askubuntu.com/questions/232215/stuck-in-grub-rescue-mode Which I have copied below but I did not use step 4 but it also works.

1. Command:

ls

It will list all your drives and partitions, like:

(hd0) (hd0,msdos2) (hd0,msdos1)

2. If you don't know your Ubuntu boot partition, check them one by one:

ls (hd0,msdos2)/

ls (hd0,msdos1)/ When you hit the right one, you'll get a line mentioning lost+found, more importantly, boot, and so on.

3. Assuming (hd0,msdos2) is the right partition:

set prefix=(hd0,2)/boot/grub

set root=(hd0,2)

insmod normal

normal

4. Now you'll be able to boot into which Linux. Once you do, execute the following commands:

sudo update-grub

sudo grub-install /dev/sda

5. Extra step if necessary, take care - Edit the boot/grub/*.cfg file to add "noapic". I have not carried out this but you need to use the root terminal or terminal logged in as an admin or sudo command using a text editor such as gedit.

Take care with Windows partitioning tools both those with Windows and third-party Windows tools may delete Linux or Windows partitions but Linux GParted is much safer to use by comparison. Just use the Windows tools to resize a partition but not create or delete partitions particularly if you have any Linux partitions on your hard disk. Some of the Windows third-party tools are more careful with Linux Partitions can copy but not paste any partition type safely? So if you need to clone a Linux least risk is to clone to an otherwise empty USB stick then use GParted to clone to the target PC.

If you do lose a Linux partition where Grub boots from and there is not another Linux to recover see above then there is nothing that Grub can boot. So here is how to get back to windows boot by restoring the MBR; https://www.tomshardware.com/uk/news/win7-windows-7-mbr,10036.html

Using newer programs on older Linux distributions in order to maintain the PCs speed;

Add more DRAM in this case increasing to 1.5GB from 1 GB DDR1 allowed Windows 7 32 bit to run well when XP had been the only viable Windows before and also some of Linux's to run faster in the case of the Sony Vaio PCG-GRT996ZP.

All operating systems require more and more memory and processor power but not all computers can be updated adequately even so. Not that I recommend doing that but you can install an older version of Linux Distributions that are out of support. Older Linux operating systems may run newer versions of Firefox or Thunderbird the Mozilla website explains how to download unzip and run those and they will then keep up-to-date using their own systems. This gives you some security and comparability with nearly all websites. A Web browser is likely to be the slowest application and older versions of web browsers do not work with all websites?

Making Thunderbird email work again - see Thunderbird email client

In order to run newer versions of thunderbird and firefox, it may be necessary to install other library programs. I found in 2021 that neither thunderbird nor firefox would run on Debian 8. The solution was to try to start them in Terminal then read the warnings I then installed the most similar library and both programs then ran.

I am also running MX16 multi-boot as described here, in the Vaio laptop above and below - this distribution has taken care of finding and installing the correct drivers most likely from the Debian repositories.

Sony Vaio, PCG-GRT996ZP Laptop. - Grub boot screen, Select Debian Advanced;

Go down the list select and to start with an older 3.x.x Linux Kernel.

Debian 9 will now start running with an older 3.x.x Kernel is in full support at the present time and will continue to be supported but will move to End-of-life support this year until June 2022.

Alternatively, MX16.1 can be running but using Thunderbird email program (client) download not the normally recommended repositories version.

    • Most distributions do not install on Sony Vaio PCG-8P1M from the USB port so I have - installed plop which allowed the USB under 2G to boot but alternatively, a CD or DVD could have been used.

    • The highest version MX that will install and run on this Laptop is MX16.1, this OS does not update any higher and a higher version may run with the noapci option added to the grub configuration but I do not know if it can be installed.

Repositories must be changed when using unsupported old versions of Linux.

  • for Debian 8 look up the Debian Wiki but for MX 16 which is partly supported lookup the MX Wiki it will advise you to change some of the repositories.

-------------------------------------------------

  • Debian Linux uses a more stable version Firefox-ESR because this distribution is particularly robust.

  • The Windows XP version of Firefox-ESR is different and has been out of support since about April 2018.

----------------------------------------

Warning; There are differences between 32 bit and 64 bit operating systems and applications. For example AVG and Avast work on XP 32 bit and 64 bit but Panda does not work with Windows XP SP2 64 bit (3/2020). There is other antivirus software for XP but the three I mention are the only free ones that work when I evaluated a range in 2018/2019.

32 bit and older 64-bit computers use legacy BIOS and MBR partitioning, Newer 64 use UEFI boot system and GPT partitioning. GPT partitions do not require the creation of extended partitions in order to have more than 4 of them on a media (hard disk).

Legacy BIOS v UEFI

----------------------------------------

Which version of Linux or any program to download and install

If you are up for testing a very new release, like all distributions, you will get new features but issues will arise. Long Term Stable versions are all more stable and all of them are more stable than the current versions of Windows. These current versions have been tested and are the downloads you are invited to take from the distribution's website and its Wiki pages discuss.

All the variants of Ubuntu desktop have an LTS Long Term Stable version so if you rather not have the most current but have a more stable reliable with fewer changes this is a good choice. A new LTS version is not the most stable at first but becomes so. Debian has simply one variant the current which is well tested and receives updates, the previous version which is stable that receives security updates only. Along with those all Linux distributions have versions that they are working on that you can use and end-of-life versions that get security updates for a short period.

The meaning of LTS version (look at the distribution's Wiki) but approximately; Ubuntu LTS version that is going to be supported for a longer period of time it does not start out stable but it is well tested and tend to be even numbers 14. 16. 18. Debian's meaning of LTS version is the previous version that is now stable. Mint's meaning of the LTS version is a long period of support and stability but not all versions of Mint become Long Term Stable.

Debian is even more stable which you manually update then everything will run okay. That can be straightforward or can take some rereading of the Debian website and talking to people on social networking or a Linux forum. Some of the newer Debian high-end desktops have a more automatic update and may also be completed briefly at the shutting down of the computer.

Mint is also more stable but you may find old drivers can be a limitation. On the other hand, it has all the automatic updating and driver updating the Ubuntu's have. Like many, some are based on Debian 8 which is not receiving updates now but Mint, MX and other supported versions are.

Obviously, you can select the lowest version that is still in support for maximum stability. But many people run Linux distributions that are out of date because they are faster and work fine on old computers. These will be comparable to using Windows 7 which is getting security updates only (12/2021).

As a general rule it seems that the primary distributions that are built on a Linux Kernel are a lot faster, more robust and are very well finished off but have better than just basic features and functions. Those as far as I know are; Debian, Redhat (Fedora) but much less often Arch-Linux.

Installation of Linux Desktop

------------------------------------------------------

Getting the Best from Firefox

The number of open tabs that this browser can cope with depends on the operating system and computer speed as well. Firefox (30) and (57) were markedly faster than previous versions - like most things periodically parts of this software are taken apart and put back together tidier. Netscape/Firefox launches a version every few years that greatly improve on what went before.

If you set Firefox to open old tabs [restore] and you have a lot of Tabs running it will go progressively more slowly. This is true of either Windows or Linux versions. The remedy is to, close Firefox, when the disk activity stops, open it again. All the tabs will be there again memory straightened out and the tab you are viewing will be the only one running. It will then go full-speed you can also open a few more Tabs if you chose to.

Firefox always has used lots of memory. It also fragments or uses more memory the longer it runs. So closing Firefox and re-opening it is a good strategy. Do that before the computer freezes up. The issue is also apparent in other browsers.

Other web-browsers also slow down when many tabs are open and they have been running for a while. They also benefit from closing and re-opening periodically. They probably use the same Firefox intellectual property.

Irrespective of the operating system Firefox operates faster with more RAM and 2GB is a lot better than 1GB for example.

The main point is an issue arises you can google and if that fails ask for help on a forum or Facebook group etc. for most things.

------------------------------------------------------

Some disk maintenance tools run on XP but there is a catch, Reconfigure or repair and also bios updating is more complicated and may not be possible in another OS other than what was originally loaded on that PC. Unfortunately in some laptops, the catch is that the BIOS cannot be updated (easily) without Windows XP running or what was originally installed and having a good battery.

Windows repair tools

Bexhill-on-Sea Old town

Bexhill-on-Sea Old Town May 2015 - nothing to do with computer operating systems but to break up the text a bit. The bendy road leads your eye into the picture.

Why alternative operating systems should be considered now?

Many Linux distributions can be Installed on most computers in a straight forward way, It did not used to be like that. There are also many Linux's which you do need to be a Linux Nerd to use. In any case you need to be reasonably comfortable with technology. Unlike Windows though, you don't need to worry about; virus updating and scanning, registry maintenance, disk de-fragmentation and ChkDsk to keep it running efficiently. Also updates occur whilst you are logged in so there is no delays whilst the operating system configures or updates when starting or closing down, they don't do those things that way.


Repairs & fixes

AntiX Linux is very fast, light and full of manual controllers. To get to all my programs and all the settings plus update I first click on the pull up then click on Applications and all I would have on another desktop is there. This is not really a regular desktop for example I have to manually start up everything.

Dual boot windows and Linux.

Ubuntu and some distributions based on Ubuntu the clock may be wrong in the UK in the summer. Debian is fine though if Windows is present it sets it time to local time if not it asks at installation time if you want to use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC or GMT) instead.

The fix for Ubuntu is straightforward to set Linux to use local time in the same way that all PC's running Windows have always worked. This command-line may need to be carried out again after applying a major update of Ubuntu (update from 18.? to 20.? for example).

Execute the terminal command line in the case of Ubuntu 16 and 18:

timedatectl set-local-rtc 1

Or (for Lubuntu 18.4)

sudo timedatectl set-local-rtc 1

See: https://askubuntu.com/questions/169376/clock-time-is-off-on-dual-boot

MX or AntiX Linux - set the clock to local time (not UTC) during installation.

Windows 10 - I found it necessary to do the above change as with any other Windows but then I needed to manually change the time after the autumn hour change go back and do the same in Linux. This solution works after over a year (Feb 2019).

--- Partition numbering; Windows XP, 7 or 10 seems to matter so Windows can delete the highest number partition if the partitions are numbered out of order 1-2-3-4-5... etc. By comparison, Linux does not care about the partition numbering other than to obey the rule that primary partitions are numbered 1 to 4 for MBR type and will renumber primary partitions rather than delete other partitions by comparison with the Windows partition tool ---

The problem arises if you move a Windows partition to another disk then repair the installation in order to make it startup. Installing Windows 7 does re-order partitions so that they are numbered consecutively including any Linux partitions.

Windows 10 can add or change partitions during the regular update process, breaking other windows or Linux distributions existing on the hard disk. I have seen this with GPT partitioned and MBR partitioned hard disks.

I have found that GParted Linux partition tool is very clear so and is as safe as is possible for a tool that manipulates partitions. Some of the propriety add on tools for Windows are also safer as possible and are much safer than using the tools integrated with Windows. The tools integrated with Windows are quick and work on a system with just one instance of Windows installed but do not show the extended partition so it is not apparent why a partition can not be resized making the graphical representation looks like GPT partitions but not working properly.

It is usually the case that Windows tools provided are minimal and work safely but some of those tools can be poor and that is the rare case where another tool eg Paragon is a safer tool.

--------------------------------------------------------

What an awful work cell he is working in?

The guy in the picture picks the computer up and chucks it then smashes it. The World" is full of demanding expectation, intolerance, discrimination and good legislation that is not enforceable.

"Personal comfort with a Computer

  • Set the Contrast and Brightness at a noticeably low level And you will find you can do intense work for much longer.

  • Break off from work periodically have proper tea and food breaks. They are statutory (Trucking Acts) built into work to increase your productivity as well as keep you well so are they are mutually beneficial.

  • Move the mouse onto the desk so that you have to reach a little.

  • Avoid resting your wrist on the edge of the desk. Such as moving the keyboard as well.

  • Position the screen fairly vertical to avoid light reflecting from the screen.

  • Plan things on paper before you do anything on a computer. When you have years of experience using a computer you will find this tip less important. But anyway plan as much as you can see, when you can see further plan some more but only detail as much as you need to or as far as you can see - the plan will change anyway.

  • As with anything break off from what you are doing and do something else periodically. asy to advise hard to do.

Change things and move before your physical aches set in.

The Borg

The Borg cube (from Star Trek); "Resistance is futile"

Alternatively, be patient, do something else, come back and try again you will find a solution.

------------------------------------------------------

DISTRIBUTION can be the Linux Kernel, the desktop (the main Graphical User Interface {GUI} ) and a collection of other applications web-browser, office and GUI's for configuration. There are other Distro's or Distributions that instead of the Linux kernel may use a variant of the same desktop but with UNIX or FreeBSD kernel. Other tools with GUI's rather than using the text terminal are; installers, configuration and also be complied for a specific set of electronic devices in this case I am considering a PC (@IBM). PC although originally was supplied with IBM DOS or CP/M 86 but is an open specification to allow a range of operating systems. PCs are not made specifically for Linux, Windows or other Operating Systems - the operating systems are made for the PC or other.

More installation details;

------------------------------------------------------

The best home computer

The value of secondhand computers like most things used to be high. The term dumping for selling new product cheap went out of fashion in the 1980s, banks were de-regulated and money created much more money. Buying from abroad cheap much higher levels of wastage became fashionable.

The best-performing home computers of the 1970s-1980s were the Acorn Atom, BBC micro and this latter computer displaced the Commodore PET as the desirable home computer. The microprocessor used in these and also the Commodore 16 and 64 was a Rockwell R6502. The R6502 microprocessor was pin interchangeable with the by then quite old MC6800 (the MC6800 was used by the military, I understand, for quite a long time before its commercial launch in 1976 hence it has a very well refined architecture).

The structure of the R6502 tended to constrain or encourage programmers to do the work where the data was rather than move data, this made the program fast. By comparison, the Z80 and i8080 had very good data moving instructions higher quoted clock speeds but this was very misleading because the machine (memory) cycle was a similar speed and that is a more accurate measure in Comprehensive Instruction Set Microprocessors (CISC) performance.

These home computers generally consumed 5W plus 100W for the monitor. Compared with 250W power supply that a modern PC is fitted with. Notebook PC's power consumption is more modest but still, they consume much more power than an Acorn Atom. A laptop's power supply is 60W or less.

----------------------------------------------------------

Keeping a Back up.

Memory sticks and large serial flash used to only tolerate being formatted FAT and the sector size should not be changed. I have found though that USB sticks usually can be formatted to other Windows or Linux formats reliably.

USB memory sticks should be formatted; FAT, FAT16 or ExFAT impose less wear on the memory stick which in any case the memory stick takes care of data reliability.

Make sure that there is a DOS partition zero, the first partition so that that one partition can be used on a windows computer. This is a Microsoft limitation.

Cheap (discounted) things found in supermarkets and discount shops; May not be set up properly or customers returned product but not fixed properly.

  • A USB memory stick 64GB in one case was formatted wrongly but after reformatting to ExFAT became full spec. capacity.

  • Another was not fully USB compliant and does not operate with USB 1.1.

  • A number of the older 1 and 2GB USB sticks fail after being used to install an operating system after few cycles of reprogramming. This is inconvenient because many Linux distributions only require 1 or 2GB memory sticks and in any case the BIOS in the Vaio laptop above will only read those smaller USB sticks.

Using a cloud drive and backup to the PC

----------------------------------------------------------

Conclusion - What you get with Linux is not better but it is different.

Linux is better all the same.

Linux and Windows maintenance

note - the animations and cartoons do not belong to me if they belong to you and you would like to be acknowledged please tell me.

Unfortunately this Google hosted website does not allow the animations to run.

One page Linux guide Basic Linux Commands youtube (These have been recommended I have not use them much)

To discussion this go to; blog.andrew-lohmann.me.uk