Setting Up Linux For The First Time: Advice Please!

I have an older Windows PC which is not used and I would like to set up Linux on it but, as a Mac user, I don’t have a clue how to install it.

Here are the salient points:

  1. The older Windows PC currently has XP as its OS.

  2. I do not want to keep any of the data which is currently on this machine as it’s already been transferred. I would like it wiped clean.

  3. I have easy access to a newer Windows PC running Windows 10 and a Mac running the latest version of OSX.

Could I have your advice in laymans language as to how to go about installing the best version of Linux as the sole OS on the older machine please?

Once installed, the PC will be used for very basic functions such as word processing, spreadsheets etc. and, if possible, internet browsing.

Okay, Linux distribution choice is very subjective and any suggestions I make will:-
a) be shot down by others with differing views
b) not be the best fit for YOU

I’m going to suggest either Peppermint or Linux Mint.

Mint if you want pre-installed applications … Peppermint if you prefer lightness and speed.
(at this point I’d better inform you I’m a member of Team Peppermint … do with that info what you may :slight_smile: )

Both distributions are built on an Ubuntu base, so Ubuntu documentation/help/tutorials will apply, but I’ve not suggested Ubuntu itself purely because of it’s desktop interface which isn’t for everyone (but may be you).

Pretty much all Linux distros can be tested in “Live” mode, which means they’ll boot to a working desktop from a USB stick, or DVD … I’d advise you use this feature to test a few distributions and choose the one that suits your own personal workflow … but please also remember to take into account things like availability of help, and the quality of that help. For eample Ubuntu may have a HUGE forum with some great people and info, but as a new user it can often be an unfriendly, and confusing place where there are that many differing opinions and ways to sort a given problem that it may be hard to ‘sort the wheat from the chaff’.

Okay to installation…

If your PC can boot from a USB stick, in Windows first download the ISO image of the ‘distro’ (Linux distribution) you want to try … you can then use one of the many LiveUSB creation tools to write it to the USB stick such as

lately I’ve been hearing good things about Rufus (in Windows).

There are plenty of youtube videos on how to use them :wink:

Once you have your LiveUSB created you’ll need to boot to it … this may mean setting it as the first boot device in the system BIOS, or hitting a specific key combo at bootup to access the “Boot Device” selection screen where you can choose to boot from the USB stick rather than your hard drive.

Onnce booted you’ll normally be offered 2 choices
a) “Try without installing”
b) “Install ”

As previously stated, use the “Try without installing” option to see if the distro suits your needs

Once you have decided on a particular distro, you can then either use the “Install ” option, or boot to the Live session desktop where there’ll usually be a desktop icon that can also be used for installation (this would be my preferred method).

The installation process itself is about as easy as it’s possible to get … particularly if you simply want to erase the hard drive and install Linux as the sole OS … the installer will walk you through the process.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask, we’re here to help :slight_smile:

And welcome to both the forum, and the wonderful world of Linux :slight_smile:

At what stage do I wipe the PC of everything that is currently on it, including Windows XP and how do I do that?

I want to run this PC as a 100% Linux machine.

Once you’ve settled on a distro and choosen to install it, the installation routine will normally offer to do this for you, along with other options such as “install alongside Windows” and “Something Else” (“Something Else” being where you could choose to do the partitioning manually).

In the distros I’ve mentioned, it will DEFINITELY offer to “Replace Windows” … which will wipe the drive as part of the installation routine.

Similar to this (where you’d obviously choose the “Replace” option) :wink:
The screens for Peppermint and Mint will be exactly the same but will replace all instances of the word “Ubuntu” with either “Peppermint” or “Mint”

Trust me, any Ubuntu based distro will hold your hand through the installation process :slight_smile: … but I’d still strongly advise you “Try without installing” first, as at the very least this may prove/disprove any potential problems.

Thank you Mark Greaves. I will take your advice.

You’re most welcome :slight_smile:

Hi woodruffsdad and +1 for welcome to the forums!

Nothing to add really to what Mark has already advised except that if you go for a ‘Mint’ variant (the full-blown version with either Cinnamon/Mate/Unity desktop environments) - they can be pretty ‘weighty’ and may be a bit slow on your machine. (Of course, this may not be a particular problem to you). Mint does a ‘lightweight’ version with the XFCE desktop which works very well on older hardware - my own (ancient) ex-XP laptop has just that (Mint 17.1 XFCE) and it runs very well. Peppermint will fly! As with most Ubuntu-based distributions, it’s very easy to add or remove programs that you may like and the choice is practically endless! Linux is really a great world to get involved in!

If you can, download your distribution of choice via a LAN cable from your router to your machine as wireless can sometimes be patchy and corrupt the files. By that I mean cock up the data - NOT introduce a virus! Oh, and always download from a trusted source - this is what makes Linux such a secure system. :wink: There will be a learning curve - Linux is definitely NOT Windows - but a little perseverance will see you ok. I’ve been exclusively Linux for about 5 years now and have never regretted switching from Windows.

Most of the major distributions’ forum sites are good but some can be huge making solving your particular issue difficult insofar as the time taken to reply. This site is excellent, so you’ve come to the right place to start!

Best of luck - I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!


+1 for what Rich J said

Mark and others can offer you better ‘technical’ advice than I can. Mark has suggested Pepper/Mint to try, however, I would suggest trying Kubuntu as it (IMHO) has a more, dare I say it… Windows (XP) appearance about it.

I switched over from XP to Ubuntu back in 2011 and moved to Kubuntu just over a year after and I prefer it far more than any other flavour of Ubuntu.

I’ve tried to install Lubuntu from the LinuxFormat DVD and followed all the rules and advice but all I’ve got is a black screen with the following in white print running across the top of the screen:

/dev/sda1: clean, 121498/4825088 files, 949885/19271168 blocks

I can’t get anything else to happen and I haven’t got a clue what to do next. Even putting the disc back into the PC does nothing.

Does the Lubuntu coverdisk boot to a working desktop if you select “Try Lubuntu” ?

No. If I put the cover disc in absolutely nothing whatsoever happens!

It’s really hard for me to comment on coverdisks … they tend to have non-standard menu structures.

The xserver normally starts shortly after the point you mention … so I’m guessing it’s a kernel mode setting issue (maybe an easy fix normally, not necessarily easy on a coverdisk) , but it could equally be that your PC just doesn’t like the disk and is having problems reading it

Is there any reason you cannot create a LiveUSB from a downloaded ISO image ?