How to install Linux on an old Windows Laptop (Ubuntu-Mint-Peppermint)

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Windows 7 has reached its end-of-life and Microsoft are no longer providing updates for this Operating System. If you’re thinking of ditching your old PC or laptop, upgrading to a newer system or just don’t want to pay for the upgrade to Windows 10. Consider resurrecting your old PC and springing new life into it courtesy of Linux. You could even give it as a gift to your friends or family and introduce them to the benefits of Open Source ComputingFor example, why pay a small fortune for video editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro when you can get professional video editing suites like Kdenlive on Linux. Gimp is also available as a Photoshop alternative. Granted, these packages are also available on Windows, but one of the greatest benefits of Linux is the incredible amount of professional quality software available for FREE and customisation. Linux is also known not be as as vulnerable to viruses and ransomware.

WHICH LINUX DISTRIBUTION?

 

Choosing which distribution is right for you will depend on your system and your personal preferences. If you have an especially old and slow Windows 7 computer, then I would recommend Lubuntu, this is a fantastic Linux distribution that is very low on system resources.

My own personal favourite is Linux Mint. It is arguably the Linux distribution that most resembles the Microsoft Windows environment. Another fantastic Linux distribution named Linux Lite is also a great contender for a Linux novice wishing for a similar environment to Windows.

Linux purists and experts will say there is no need to select a Linux distribution since most home, non-business distributions are derived from Debian. Click here to read about the Linux family tree. 

Debian could be installed with a minimal ISO installation available from its website. After the minimal bare-bones installation is complete, you can then configure everything until your heart’s content. This includes your choice of the many beautiful different desktop environments available. However, this is not recommended for novice users, so I would recommend choosing a distro that suits you’re personal taste and hardware, if you’re new to the Linux world.

Linux Mint is the distribution I use on a daily basis on my main PC. Not because it’s better than another distro, I just like the way the desktop environment looks and the way everything is arranged. 

INSTALLATION

  1. Download a Linux Distribution that suits you and is suitable for your machine.
  2. Burn Linux image into suitable media (USB stick or blank DVD), formatting first if required.
  3. Enable your machine to boot from USB stick or other media you burnt Linux image to.
  4. Restart your machine and follow the onscreen instructions.

The above methods apply to installing Linux distributions once they are installed on media such as USB sticks or DVD media (you will have to enable your machine to BOOT from the USB stick or other media via the BIOS menu usually accessed by pressing the F2 key upon starting-up your machine).

 

There are two main ways of installing Linux onto your system. You can either:

  • Install to the entire hard disk.
  • Install alongside your existing Windows or other Linux installations (multi-booting)

Multi-booting or dual-booting is especially useful for users wanting to keep their Windows 7, 8 or 10 installations. You simply select which Operating System you want from the GRUB menu. 

It then allows easy transfer of old files from Windows to your new Linux system. You can then eventually remove the Windows installation partition and expand Linux to take up the whole capacity of the hard disk, should you wish to do so.

I installed three different flavours of Linux on three of my laptops:

Linux Mint 20.1 installed on ASUS laptop with following specs:

BRAND AND MODEL : ASUS
FIRST MANUFACTURED : 
CPU : Intel© Core™ i3 CPU  M330  @ 2.13GHz × 2
GPU : Intel Corporation Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller
RAM : 3.6 GB
HDD : 300 GB
ORIGINAL OS – WINDOWS 7

Peppermint 10 installed on HP laptop with the following specs:

BRAND AND MODEL : Hewlett Packard N455
FIRST MANUFACTURED : 2012
CPU : Single core Intel Atom N455
RAM : 1.9 GB
HDD : 160 GB
ORIGINAL OS – WINDOWS 7

I initially installed Linux Mint 19.3 on the Hewlett Packard N455 laptop and even though it installed with no problems, it just had too much lag and would occasionally become unresponsive to the mouse cursor being moved around without a significant delay. The little Atom CPU and low RAM just couldn’t handle Linux Mint, so I removed it from the system and opted for Peppermint, which runs great on such a low-spec laptop. Installation was very fast and I liked that everything worked and looked great out-of-the-box. This laptop is very handy when I’m out-and-about and need a public internet connection via WiFi.

I also tried out Debian (basic install) and Lubuntu on this HP N455 laptop. After installation was complete, the mouse-pad’s double-tapping function was not working without installing additional drivers on both distros.

Some of the most popular Linux distributions:  
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