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best windows alternative?

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#1 millipede


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Posted 27 December 2012 - 08:04 PM

I recently installed Ubuntu on an old xp laptop. I like it. I'm not going to abandon the windows 7 I have on my own desktop or anything... but I like it.
I have a few questions about alternative operating systems. I hope I can get some thoughts on this as it seems this section of the forums does not get a lot of attention :(

1. My number one question on this is, which FREE operating system will look and feel most like windows? Whether by itself or with addons to make it work all your windows type stuff properly? Feel free to mention which addons are a must.

2. Installing alongside. While attempting to install Ubuntu alongside a windows partition recently, I ran into some trouble. There could be many reasons. For one, that windows installation didn't even work on that laptop. I'd guess that caused a little trouble itself.
Regardless... along the way, some of the instructions I found online didn't always line up with what I saw on the screen. And all the partitioning and creating, I was paranoid at EVERY step(especially when what I saw did NOT line up with what I was reading for instructions online) that I was going to mess up or delete the windows partition.
Anyway, it was confusing to say the least...

I wasn't sure I was going to be thinking much about this for a while... I'm prepared to use a free OS if I ever get stuck but if we make sure to buy our computers around tax time, we usually do okay just buying everything all setup with windows. Anyway...... I occasionally help some people out with their computers locally. It's not a business in any way, I simply offer my services free to a group on facebook where people help each other free of charge... from time to time someone will give me some money... and most recently traded services and got some free haircuts for my kids which was awesome. :) Someone that is going to, at some point in the next few weeks, let me clean up a laptop, or two, tonight asked if I could put windows 7 on their xp laptop. Or, if they'd have to purchase it. I explained to them there was no legal way for me to install windows on a computer without buying the software... and I'm sure not about to look into installing it illegally. I explained that windows 7 likely wouldn't work on their machine anyway, and I mentioned alternative operating systems. That got me thinking though, I could very well run into people that have no other options and I'd like to get a little more familiar with it... especially the above two things. #1 because anyone stuck trying something different will have an easier time with something that works more like windows... and #2 for my own sanity if I do end up helping someone out in this way.

Anyway, any thoughts on ANY of that are appreciated. (and hopefully I'm not too confusing there) :)

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#2 DarkSnake-Kobra


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Posted 28 December 2012 - 06:48 PM

Hi millipede :)

You're asking a very complex question which doesn't really have an easy answer. I'll try and break it down for you as best I can.

First off Windows and GNU/Linux are entirely different. They both run their own API (Application Programming Interface or standard operations programs need to know) and core libraries. Running a Windows application on Linux or the other way around is not possible with a default installation of Windows or Linux. There are tools like WINE or CrossOver, but none are perfect. WINE/Crossover (CrossOver is a paid version of WINE) translate Windows API calls to UNIX calls, but there are compatibility issues with this and many Windows programs are still unsupported. Now there is an open source project called ReactOS which is a Windows binary compatible operating system based on Windows XP/2003. Unfortunately it's been in Alpha stage for over 10 years and still is quite unstable and does not work with most computers or Windows applications.

2. There is no need to follow any guides or do manual partitions yourself. The setup is quite easy and walks you through it and lets you resize the partitions with a slider to what you want and grub should automatically detect your Windows bootloader and adjust it so you can boot to Ubuntu or Windows. Just drag it to setup the size of the partition that you want Ubuntu to have and it'll do the rest.

#3 K6567


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Posted 25 February 2013 - 12:09 PM

DarkSnake-Kobra is right there's no sure answer, however I think Linux Mint might be a nice distro for you to consider trying. Mint has a great reputation for detecting system drivers and has the codec for playing audio and video built in. It's live cd/usb makes a great backup for a crashed out Windows system.      

#4 josh_the_techie


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Posted 13 March 2013 - 12:10 PM

Any Ubuntu-based distro should be sufficient for your needs. They are quite easy to install and are configured with the novice Linux users in mind. I would suggest that (if possible) install the distro of your choice on a spare computer and use it for a week without touching Windows. You will probably find that you don't need Windows at all as there are many (and I mean many!) free alternatives to Windows software that you use.

#5 xXAlphaXx


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Posted 13 March 2013 - 12:23 PM

Hmmmm, Free, looks like windows, feels like Windows, and runs Windows applications? Probably a free copy of Windows.



I kid, but in all seriousness that is a pretty tall order. DarkSnake-Kobra has given a pretty good solution for free and runs windows applications, and looking like Windows can be done just about anywhere with heavy modification but it's more work than learning a new OS. (IMHO)


Ubuntu is a good start, their are many linux distros out there and they are all free, I'd say install a few of them in a virtual machine so you don't potentially kill your windows partition and play with them a bit to see if you can find one you like. (Ubuntu is often credited for being the easiest to learn and the most 'complete' in terms of every day applications.)


Linux is extremely capable and powerful, however it does have quite a learning curve as most stuff you find online will be command line based. Don't let that scare you! The command line is not scary, I promise!


If you really want to have fun with it, or are like me and like a challenge, Linux OS' are customization to the utmost extreme, plus the sources are 100% open source so you can change the system how ever you want!

If I am helping you and I do not respond within 24 hours, please send me a PM. :)

#6 Mr Gibberish

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 01:15 AM

Question 1 = Which free operating system will look and feel most like windows?

Answer 1 = There are different window managers and themes you can install but nothing very close for linux operating systems, you could look into ReactOS which is a NON-linux free operating system that is designed to look like windows XP and be compatible with Xp software and drivers...however it's still in experiemental stages. Making your linux distro look more like you want it to is something that you will slowly learn to do as you get more experience fiddling around, but linux isn't windows...I wanted the same thing when started out :P. As far as running you windows programs you have to understand the Linux operating systems run linux software and windows Operating systems run windows software. You will need to find alternative programs (I will list some below), keep in mind some programs are released for both windows and linux systems. You can also use a program called wine (winehq) to run some windows program on linux, but it's a pain and I wouldn't recommend trying that until you are more comfortable with linux, plus it doesn't work with all prorgams only some.


Question 2 = Installing alongside windows 7

Answer 2 = You should learn about and practice partitioning in a virtual machine before ever installing operating systems or partitioning on a real system, but it sounds like you did fine :)


Some softwares for Ubuntu:

Vmware Player = A virtual machine software

LibreOffice = A microsoft office alternative (TRY THIS ONE OUT)

VLC Media Player = To watch videos (TRY THIS ONE OUT)

Brasero = To burn CDs and DVDs

Nightengale = A music library software (forked from the songbird software, essentially an itunes alternative)

Gedit = alternative to notepad (pre-installed on ubuntu)

Firefox = web browser 

Chrome = web browser (TRY THIS ONE OUT since flash support for linux is discontinued this browser will eventually be the only linux one with adobe's flash support)

Opera = web browser

Virtual Box = A virtual machine software

Wine = a program that creates a sandbox like stucture and then attempts to run windows programs inside of it

Apache Open Office (Previously called OpenOffice.org) = A microsoft office alternative

Remastersys = a OS backup tool (doesn't work on newer ubuntu releases, the iso's will not be UEFI compatible)

GUFW = A basic firewall

Comodo Antivirus for linux = an antivirus software, it seems to have trouble loading an essential driver in my experience and therefore doesn't function fully...however its the best linux antivirus product if you want something comparable to what you would run on windows.


#7 jacksonbird03


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Posted 27 May 2013 - 03:10 AM

I am also using Ubuntu instead of Windows...

Ubuntu works more better than the Windows and also provide different facilities to the users...

#8 pane-free


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Posted 27 May 2013 - 08:07 AM

One of the better windoze-clone linux distros nowadays is LXLE


Rule of thumb for partitioning -- one root ( / ) of 12-16GB, one swap of 2-4GB, one /home -- all primary partitions.  This leaves room for one partiion containing C:\ (get rid of the rest).


FYI:  Rute User's Tutorial & Exposition


If the parents don't understand how to use a Free Open Source PC, give it to the child to figure out and teach the parents!

I do the same and find that the younger they are, the easier it is for them; it is especially difficult for anyone who thinks they "really know" that other OS to make the switch!

Edited by pane-free, 27 May 2013 - 08:08 AM.

There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation.
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#9 Felipe2237


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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:10 PM

Ubuntu feels closest to Mac OSX though, so maybe you will be most comfortable with Ubuntu if you have ever used a mac.

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#10 Anshad Edavana

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 04:29 AM



There is also Zorin OS which have both free and paid versions. Graphics and themes used in this distro is more close to Windows than others.




Linux Mint also have a friendly interface similar to Windows.



#11 RecklessX


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Posted 29 June 2013 - 11:48 PM

Download Linux Mint and work from the live CD for a while. You will not be able to save files but it will give you a feel of how it works.


I have used a big variety of linux distributions and the best I can tell you is that if you do not feel it is the right one for you then try another one.



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