Linux Mint is about as close as it comes to an XP desktop. Familiar Start Menu, & version 13 should work on most all computers built within the last 10-12 years. Many of these 8-10 year old computers doesn't have PAE support, so Linux MInt 13, still supported until April 2017, is the latest version for these.
Get Linux Mint 13 from this list. For ease of use & best compatibility, it's best to go with the Mate or Xfce (32 bit) edition, the 8th & 13th links on the page below.
Note that this section of the forum is Not for Linux support, should it be required, it needs to be posted in the Linux/Unix section of the forum. Being that the OP has opened the door to Linux options, in line with the topic (a safe OS) it's OK to discuss & suggest replacements. Just no support, including how to install/configure.
That being stated, I feel that this statement in the topic is the best solution to the question of being safe & is deserving of repeating.
No O/S is "safe" as long as it has a user/owner. History has proven that the user/owner is the weakest link to safe computing, IMO.
I have a hunch that this will be the same 50-100 years down the road. In the years that I've been involved on these forums, there are two common things that's simple to do, yet overlooked by many. The attitude, even among many that will agree it's the best thing to do, is that we'll get to it "tomorrow". Tomorrow will come & it'll still be "tomorrow" when it gets done. That hasn't changed at all on these forums, if anything, seems that it's getting worse than better. Otherwise, at least 8 out of every 10 topics wouldn't be started.
I'm referring to running daily security scans & at a minimum, monthly drive images (backups). The software is free. Macrium Reflect is among the best Free backup software one can find & likely the most popular & for good reason. It works. Backup drives can be obtained at promo pricing at Newegg & other sites. Sign up for email promos & they'll be received every couple of days.
Probably 99% of these topics are entirely avoidable. I leave a 1% margin of error for catastrophic failure of components such as the motherboard, which backup & malware scanning can't prevent. However, probably 50% or more of these can be avoided by the internal cleaning of the computer, which is to include the occasional cleaning & reapplying of thermal paste on the CPU & heatsink.
I mean really, think about it. For many of us, including myself, my computers are my lifeline. They're how I connect to the world, receive news, make transactions, participate on forums. Take them away, I nave nothing, am stuck on the side of the road. 2-3 hours of internal cleaning per year of the devices that connects us to the world isn't wasted time & can easily be found.
Of course, some of us can always wait until tomorrow to do this as well. There's never a better day in the world than tomorrow, until the inevitable happens & we ask "why didn't we do these things yesterday?", like myself (or whomever) warned.
Finally, it's not like these type of things (called maintenance) are dirty dark secrets whispered in back alleys to the select few, they're posted all over the Internet in front of our eyes. Subscribe to a few sites such as Ask Leo , Computerworld, How To Geek & you get all of the maintenance advise one needs & more in your (secondary) email box, plus additional tips & tricks. If a simpleton such as myself can do these things, on 5 computers (of which all has multiple OS's installed), all while maintaining some family member ones also, many can do the same with one or two.
Looking at some of the posts that I've read, it often has came to mind just what does the oil dipstick on their vehicles looks like. As well as all of the other rattles & funny noises that creeps up & many will say the same, "We'll fix it tomorrow".
It's time to start being able to state that these things were done yesterday & instead of repairing, discussing upgrade options, be it hardware or software, or just have a smooth, happily running computer, today.
Edited by cat1092, 10 June 2014 - 12:14 AM.