Speed Up Your Old Computer Now For FREE with Ubuntu

Ubuntu may be difficult to pronounce, but it can breathe new life into your old computer.  I used to spend time and money buying upgrades for laptops and adding faster hard drives and adding more RAM, but I’m convinced that laptops are built to be disposable now.  Sure, they may be built to last a few years, but at the speed that software demands increase, hardware can hardly keep up.  Purchasing a new computer every 18 – 30 months is really not necessary either (though new netbooks and laptops can be found for under $300).   If you talk to my wife, she’ll say I still buy new equipment too frequently.  She’s correct.  I am making an effort to repurpose the older equipment without any monetary investment as well (especially for her and the kids!).

I have a couple of older laptops (5-7 years old) that were running extremely slow.  I also have three children that all want to use a computer at the exact same time.  I installed Ubuntu on the old laptops and could not be happier with the results.  The laptops boot up fast and are very fast to use – without ANY monetary investment.  In fact, I have one computer that the hard drive doesn’t work at all.  It won’t boot at all, and all of my attempts to fix it have failed.  I configured a USB thumb drive with Ubuntu and the computer now boots from the thumb drive and is as fast as ever. 

This is what YouTube.com looks like on Ubuntu:image

This is what Google.com looks like on Ubuntu:

Notice that Firefox is the default browser installed with Ubuntu.  Also note that the start bar is at the top of the screen and not the bottom.  Once you get used to these two facts, learning to use Ubuntu for any computer user should take about 3 minutes – without instruction.  You’ll be able to just click on the browser and start surfing the web just like you do today.

What does the word Ubuntu mean?
It is named after the Southern African ethical principle Ubuntu ("humanity towards others").  Ubuntu provides an up-to-date, stable operating system for the average user, with a strong focus on usability and ease of installation.

How do you install Ubuntu?
I am quite confident that anyone reading this post can install Ubuntu.  Particularly if you are running some version of Windows.  There is an Ubuntu installer that runs within Windows.  The Windows installer will actually let you install Ubuntu, test the software out, decide each time whether you want to run Windows or Ubuntu, and then even choose to remove Ubuntu from your computer if you decide you don’t like it.  If you are running Windows, just go get the Ubuntu Windows Installer from http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/get-ubuntu/windows-installer

Will Ubuntu work with my computer?
I’ve installed Ubuntu on laptops made by Dell, Sony, and HP.  I’ve never yet had to go download a driver or try to get some piece of hardware to work.  Video, sound, wireless networking, microphone, and touchpad/mouse worked perfect with a vanilla install.  Installing Ubuntu was very easy every time.

What can I do with Ubuntu?
You can surf the web, update Facebook, check email, send email, use Google, use YouTube – pretty much anything on the web.  You can play games (a few come preinstalled).  You can use a word processor, spreadsheet editor, and more since OpenOffice will be pre-installed.   This will let you open and save Microsoft Office document files as well.  You can hook up and use your printer.  You can watch movies on DVD, you can listen to your music files, you can manage and edit your photos and videos.  You can do all of this very easily and immediately after restarting into Ubuntu.

What can’t I do with Ubuntu?
You can’t watch Netflix streaming directly on Ubuntu.  Sure, you can still manage your queue and account, but you can’t watch the movies on the laptop.  If you have an iPad, Wii, PS3, XBOX 360, Samsung TV, or Blu-ray player – you can just access your Netflix queue directly from the device – so it really shouldn’t be a deal breaker.  You also can’t install Windows software on Ubuntu.  If you purchased Windows software, such as games or applications, it will not work within Ubuntu.

How much does Ubuntu cost?
Ubuntu is FREE.  It doesn’t cost anything.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  You can purchase support if you want, but you can also just post messages to ubuntu.com and get free answers.  You can also ask me.

Is Ubuntu for me?
Maybe.  If you have Windows on your desktop or laptop now, you can use the windows installer and just test it.  When you turn your computer on, you will be prompted to choose Windows or Ubuntu.  Choose Ubuntu and try it.  Use it for a day or use it forever.  The next time you turn on your computer you will be prompted again to choose Windows or Ubuntu.  You never have to change anything else on your laptop to keep using Ubuntu.  Using the Windows Installer also provides a risk free option so you won’t lose any of your music, photos, videos, files, or anything else to try it out.

BTW, this is SharePoint on Ubuntu.  Perfect!

Good luck!  Let me know your thoughts…

By John Stover

John Stover Bio.

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