I have an old laptop running Windows Vista. It doesn’t want to connect to the internet any more and the (obscenity deleted) operating system won’t connect to the M’soft update centre. probably, it’s not there any more for Vista. So, I’m wondering if I can change the operating system to Linux, and still use this device as my Zoom communication centre?
Technical Spec. as follows:- ACER Aspire 5710 laptop
Intel 2-core CPU T5500 1.67GHz
Running activated Vista Home Premium 32-bit operating system
It seems a pity if I can’t extend the usefulness of this very trusty machine, which has served me well since I got it.
Can this machine be converted? If so, anybody out there with some good ‘How-To’ advice?
The answer is yes. Unlike Windo$e, there are many flavours of Linux to fit a wide variety of computers. There are many people who want to hold on to old but functioning machines and Linux caters for all needs - within reason.
You are right to say that Vista is not supported - it hasn’t been for a long time and was probably the worst MS product. A good start for you would be Peppermint 10 which is in Long Term Support. You can find a 32 bit version here: Forum Ban Notices – Peppermint OS download.
You can put either on a USB stick and try it out on your machine without installing, to see if you like it, and if you do you can install it from the USB either alongside Vista (probably not!) or overwrite it.
Let us know how you get on - or for advice on creating the “Live USB”.
Linux will be fine on that computer — in some countries, you could actually buy it with Linux installed instead of Windows. The trick is that in Linux the GUI just counts as software, so you get a choice — big ones, small ones, plain ones, fancy ones. Obviously big and fancy is not a good idea on your computer, but it has reasonable power and memory. But the choice is limited, as fewer distros are supporting 32-bit architecture. Peppermint and Mint both currently have 32-bit versions, but they are both based on Ubuntu which will be dropping 32-bit support this year. You might like to consider MX, which is based on Debian, which is not likely to drop 32-bit support any time soon. https://mxlinux.org/
According to this from Google - Assuming this is an Intel Core2Duo T5500 CPU, then it is defintely a 64 bit CPU, but can run 32 bit without a problem. "
Which means your choice of Linux distro has just got better! Give us a heads up on what you use the lappy for and we’ll try to point you to something suitable. Remember, Linux is not Windows and you’ll soon discover the huge advantages that brings. I changed over about 10yrs ago and have never regretted it - and I was the classic techno dummy when I started!
Phew! What an encouraging response and warm welcome! Thank you so much! It’s really gratifying to see the level of interest and support available. I have a number of questions that came out of the replies I got.
@David - Is there any technical reason I should stay with a 32-bit operating system when it seems the CPU will handle a much higher 64-bit resolution?
@Rich - I should like to be able to run conferencing software (as in “Zoom”), record the conference sessions occasionally (I’m a member of a couple of U3A guitar workgroups) and possibly run a music transcription program like “Guitar Pro” or similar. Or am I being too ambitious with this machine?
@Keith - Moderator, I salute you. I’m thinking that maybe dipping a toe in the water would be the best way to start this adventure. Gives me the option of getting back to square one without too much hassle. So some advice on preparing a “Live USB”, and on how to ‘boot’ from it would be most welcome. As well a steer on which Linux version might be the best choice bearing in mind what I would like the machine to do.
Here’s a thought - if it weren’t for Covid-19 I wouldn’t be doing this. Just goes to show that some good can come out of the very worst events doesn’t it?
With 2GB RAM and ~1.7GHz many people might recommend a “small” version of Linux Ubuntu such as Lubuntu or Mint 19, but my Laptop (Lenovo T500) has the same characteristics as yours and runs the full Ubuntu 18.04 very well. Everyone has their own favourite but with “Live USBs” of each you can try them out before deciding.
For simplicity, one can buy a “Live CD” (certainly for Ubuntu), which makes things easier, but delivery may be delayed during this Covid business, so it’s probably best to create your own Live USB. I think most Forum members will recommend UNetbootin, which is software for expanding a compacted ISO file that one usually has already downloaded (say for Ubuntu) but UNetbootin offers a selection of Linux operating systems that you can choose from, which simplifies things a lot.
I’d say go for the 64-bit version, since that has a long term future. A big desktop environment might be a bit much for 2GB. It would run, but Linux is good at caching things to speed up performance, so the more free memory you have, the more responsive the computer. Mint Mate would be fine. The documentation is better than for the Xfce version, and the distro’s chief developer recommends Mate over Cinnamon for beginners. The current version is supported until 2023. You can get the documentation on installation and use here
+1 for Mint 19 Mate! I recently built a new rig to replace my 20yr old one and installed the Mate version in preference to Cinnamon. Not that there is anything wrong with Cinnamon but I don’t need all the ‘bells and whistles’ that it comes with - my computing needs are pretty basic so the simpler the better! And Mate does everything I want without complaint.
A couple of points -
Creating a bootable USB is pretty straightforward - do this 1st - but then be sure to check in your BIOS that ‘USB’ is set to be #1 in the boot-order list. If it isn’t the system will ‘miss’ it and continue to boot into Vista making you think the USB is faulty. Having done that and the USB stick still won’t boot (some machines have this irritating habit - one of mine has) then you may need to burn a bootable DVD instead - this assumes that the lappy has a CD/DVD player fitted - and again, place ‘DVD’ at the top of the list in BIOS.
When one of the above methods has been successful, boot from the medium and go to 'Try (Linux*) and you will be able to access all of the tools contained within. Bear in mind though - running any distro from a bootable device will be markedly slower than from an internal drive. This is normal as the read/write capability of such devices is much less. Once you have installed your chosen distro, you’ll be amazed at the speed at which it runs
As you say Vista is on it’s last legs, have you access to another machine that you can do all of this ‘prep’ work on? If you struggle to connect to the internet you might be up the Swannee to start with :o and, if at all possible, connect the machine to your router via ethernet cable. Wireless connectivity will work but can be flaky causing interruptions to the download, hence errors.
exact instruction depends on which distro you choose
If you need further help with any of the above, post again and we’ll walk you through it.
PS - regarding ‘Zoom’ - I’m not familiar with it. If it is a Windows application then it won’t run in Linux but there are a host of apps that will do the job.
Google ‘video conferencing apps linux’ for choices
Re Zoom: My preference was for JAMI (encrypted end-to-end and free) until it failed recently on my machine. I looked into Zoom and read the Privacy Notice (how sad is that?!) only to find that they can do anything with your data. I heard last night on The World Service that Zoom has had a security breach and users are livid. So take your choice.
hello Jeff, your laptop can easily run the 64 bit versions of many linux distros. As @Keith did previously, I’ll once again advocate for installing PeppermintOS 10 which currently has support until 2013. eeerrrggg arrggghhh yes 2023!!! (i blame not enough coffee)
So here’s the thing. I’ve now got Mint 19.3 Tricia working on the Acer (from a USB stick). Currently I can boot the machine into Windoze, or into Linux via UNetbootin, using the F2 key at start-up. I guess this means it’s still an unexpanded file on the hard drive. Once its up and running in Linux I’ve tried using the Install Linux icon from the menu at the side of the screen. This gets me as far as the partitioning page but neither of the available choices displayed is selectable. Neither box will let itself be ticked. I suspect that this is due to the limited hard drive space available. I believe the hard drive started out with 80Gb. I got rid of as much stuff form it as possible and managed to increase the available free-space from 19.5Gb to 25.5Gb. I think there still might not be enough room for the installation to happen so I’m thinking about removing the original OS completely (it is useless now, isn’t it?). Never done that before, though, and not sure how to proceed. Or should I re-format the drive? Never done that before either. Additionally, will the fact that the original OS was 32-bit and the Linux OS is going to be 64-bit have any bearing on all this, particularly in relation to the current formatting of the hard drive. I don’t know enough about file formatting…
I’m liking very much how Linux works, by the way, and the Mint GUI is very friendly towards old Windows users. And yes. it seems to work quicker too. Most encouraging. I’m also developing a plan ‘B’. I bought a bootable CDRom from E-bay. It was extraordinarily cheap and the postage was free. It hasn’t arrived yet and I don’t know when it might, due to the current national crisis, though I’m not fretting too much about this at present- no great loss, really, if it doesn’t arrive and E-bay sellers take assiduous care of their reputations. It may come in handy…
Sorry to hear of your continued problems.
Your new Live USB is no longer related to UnetBootin - it’s now a free-standing device.
The unexpanded (ISO) file on your hard drive (you did check the MD5SUM, didn’t you?!) is now redundant and you can throw it away - ISO files are just highly compressed files for ease of transfer and Unetbootin just expands it to a live file on your USB.
You have plenty of space on your hard drive, so space isn’t the problem.
That your old OS was 32 bit won’t make any difference - you are installing a 64 bit OS onto a 64 bit machine. .
I am surprised that booting from the Live USB gets you to a partitioning page. But Windows does horrible things to disks in my experience and can often make life difficult by holding on to space tenaciously, even after Windows has been replaced!. What are the two “available choices displayed” that you refer to? If you can reformat the drive (from Vista?) then I’d do that, then plug your Live USB in before rebooting. If that works OK you ought to be able to install Linux.
If you have to use a partition manager then other, more experienced contributors may be able to advise you.
If you run the installer, the steps are
Select your language — Connect to the internet — Tick the codecs box — Installation type
At the last stage, you should see two options
Erase disk and install Mint — Do something else
Choose the first and the disk will be reformatted automatically.
Well, I grasped the nettle and re-formatted the Acer hard drive. Windoze Vista now disappeared, gone forever. Then I went through the Linux loading procedure again and - Bingo - its all Linux now. With oodles of free disk-space, fast running apps, all that stuff that was promised. Brill. So here I am saying to everyone that helped out a great big THANK YOU! Without your friendly assistance and encouragement I would not have attempted this transition and the improvement in performance is remarkable. I’ve now tried running Zoom under Linux and it works really well with little or no latency. With my Windows10 machine (which has 4x as many cores as the Acer and runs at twice the speed) the latency interferes significantly with any attempt at simultaneous performance. Jamming sessions with my guitar buddies are definitely out. Its really only good for ‘show and tell’ sessions on that machine. A complete contrast when compared with this little old Linux machine. I am SO pleased. Gentlemen, I salute you.
Now my learning curve must really start 'cos I still need to set up things like e-mail servers, contact lists. internet favorites etc., so I’ll be back with more questions I’m sure. Linux is opening new horizons for me faster than I can think. Thank you all of you once more…