Have had to replace the hard drive in a HP Presario C740em and due to having no Windows disc to reinstall or driver disc have tracked down a HP Partner who will supply replacement discs at a price.
My son who’s laptop it was has suggested I install Linux!
So my questions are which Linux is the most suitable, what happens about the drivers the hardware needs if you are using Windows as an OS
and is it easier to do than reinstalling Windows Vista with all the hassle of finding the correct drivers and are there any drawbacks?
This depends on what you tend to use the PC for, and any hardware limitations sch as lack of RAM etc.
Though a good starting point is probably Ubuntu … if for no other reason than you’ll find help/advice easier to come by.
what happens about the drivers the hardware needs if you are using Windows as an OS
By far the majority of drivers will be sorted out for you during the install … though (depending on hardware) there may be a few things to do post install.
is it easier to do than reinstalling Windows Vista with all the hassle of finding the correct drivers
See above … “easier” can be a relative term … depending on your hardware there may be nothing you need to do post install … but certain awkward hardware (non mainstream) may take more work than in Windows … so it really depends on the hardware/peripherals.
Unlike Windows Ubuntu will come with most of the software you’ll need pre-installed, such as an office suite, media players, web browser, email client, pdf viewers, archive manager, etc. … adding other software can be easily done with a few mouse clicksthrough the package manager, no searching online for them
are there any drawbacks?
Depends what you’d consider drawbacks …
One that catches a lot of people out is they expect Linux to be able to run Windows software … IT WON’T … this isn’t normally an issue as Linux has a VERY good selection of it’s own equivalents for just about everything … but if there are any proprietary Windows applications that you MUST have (such as SAGE) it MAY be a problem.
SOME Windows software can be made to run in Linux (with varying degrees of success), through WINE, but not all, and it can be hard to configure for a beginner.
There is a VERY incomplete list of Linux equivalents to well known Windows software here:
The WINE application database which will tell you how well a Windows application will run in WINE, is here:
And if you want to see what applications are available for “one click” installation in Ubuntu, see the Ubuntu Apps Directory:
BTW, You can take Ubuntu (or most other Linux distros) for a test drive WITHOUT installing it, by burning a LiveCD (or if your PC can boot from a USB stick, by creating a LiveUSB) … either of these will boot to a working desktop, but will be slower than a hard drive installation … but will give you a rough idea how well your hardware is supported, and give you a general “feel” for what Linux is like.
If you have any further questions, including taking Linux for a test drive with a LiveCD/LiveUSB … feel free to ask