Q4OS Linux On An Old Windows Laptop

Windows XP and Windows Vista are not truly dead, they continue to linger on in older computers, yet they are both obsolete, unsupported operating systems. What options are available to users of older desktops and laptops "Designed for Windows XP"? 

Most reasonably-informed people might suggest installing a lightweight Linux distro, since this older hardware would be rendered pretty much unusable by Windows 10 (if it would even load properly). But which distro?

A "new" one came to my attention the other day from Techsupport Alert (aka Gizmo's Freeware) in the form of Q4OS, a Debian-based distro that looks a lot like Windows XP and runs on older hardware. 

How old? Well, I had an old Dell Latitude D600 laptop gathering dust in a corner, so I downloaded the 32 bit/i386 installation CD ISO image from the Q4OS website. This particular Dell D600 has a Pentium M processor, 512MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive, and it did have Windows XP SP3 on it.

The installation went without incident - sound, display, touchpad and wireless card were all detected correctly - and upon restarting I was presented with a "first run" menu. One of the options was to run the Desktop Profiler; this gave three options for proceeding:

I could not choose the "Full featured Desktop" option, due (I was informed) to the hardware limitations of the D600, but I was able to choose the "Basic" desktop. It downloaded and installed (rather slowly) and I now have a reasonable facsimile of Windows XP, but presumably with much fewer potential security concerns.

There is some additional software that can be installed on top of the basic desktop, such as the Firefox or Chrome browser (the default browser is Konqueror, which I would say is about as useful these days as IE 8). There is also the option to install Wine, but I did not try that and I am not sure how it well it would work on typically old, limited hardware.

The performance is fine/okay, about on par with how Windows XP ran on this hardware. Using it for a couple of days was trouble-free, if not exciting. One item of note, each time I booted the system I had to "activate" the wireless connection (open the Wi-Fi menu from the "system tray" and select the saved connection). 

Not sure if that is a "feature" or a quirk with this hardware, I did not dig into it. The Wi-Fi password did not need to be re-rentered each time, it was saved as expected.

I would venture to suggest if you have a friend or relative that still has a Windows XP/Vista box, it might at least be worthwhile downloading the Live CD and see if this distro would work for them. For someone who surfs around, watches YouTube, uses email and listens to music, this should work just fine.

D600 Running Q4OS


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