A customer came to me with a low-mileage 1999 vintage laptop which she wished to use for occasional web browsing. (specs: Dell Inspiron 3500. 333 MHz CPU, 64 MB Ram, 4.7 GB disk. Every spec was about one-tenth of today’s PCs!). It was running Windows 98 Second Edition. Microsoft stopped providing Windows 98 updates years ago, and Windows 98 is now very vulnerable to attack. Worse, today’s anti-virus and anti-spyware programs won’t run on it. Shouldn’t she just scrap the laptop?
A very limited resource laptop, but Xubuntu runs fine
Since the laptop was in like-new condition, we decided to extend its life by injecting some 21st century blood into it. We topped up its memory slots with the maximum RAM (a mere 256 MB!) and replaced Windows 98 with Xubuntu 8.10. It’s not Microsoft Windows, but to a user it appears similar, and includes a word processor, spreadsheet, graphics / photo editor, and Mozilla Firefox web browser. I’ve not been able to get its onboard soundcard to work, but everything else works.
It frees the user from constantly worrying about Windows Updates to patch vulnerabilties
No anti-virus or anti-spyware programs are needed (Yay! )
There are no Windows licensing headaches.
Try it before you install it
You can first just boot with the Xubuntu (or Ubuntu) Live CD, to see whether it’s acceptable and runs okay on your hardware. (Of course it’ll be slow when booting off the CD-ROM drive.) If so, you can install it on your hard drive from the same CD-ROM.