Linux is a free, secure, stable and flexible computer operating system (OS). It can benefit senior adults looking to bring life to older Windows laptops, or to replace the soon-to-be obsolete Windows 10 OS. Linux can look like Windows and is easy to use. It comes with a variety of features and programs that can help senior adults stay connected, productive and entertained.
This introduction to the Linux OS is meant for non-technical senior adult computer users, not developers or techies. Note: I can answer individual questions if certain jargon or concepts are not clear here, so I will not get too technical or complex. Or I can direct you to other resources, tutorials and YouTube videos.
Linux is Versatile
Linux works on both current and older Windows PCs or laptops. I’ve used it to rejuvenate both a Windows XP and Windows Vista machine to safely browse the Internet once again. I’ve also run it along with Windows 10 on both PCs and laptops.
You can use Linux on the Internet in the same way you use Windows. Stay in touch with family and friends via social media, send and receive emails, research, watch videos or use other online platforms. Be productive, create and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, videos or edit photos.
I am an applications guy myself and knew little about Linux as of the beginning of this year. Here’s my understanding of how it can reanimate all of those obsolete Windows machines and soon to be obsolete Windows 10 machines.
(Note: Windows 10 is technically now obsolete except for security updates to be furnished until October 14, 2025)
Linux is an OS and also the foundation for running software on a computer, laptop or other device. Its software is open source, meaning the source code is free (unlike Windows or MAC) and can be modified and distributed by anyone.
Linux on Windows Computers
Linux can be installed on a wide variety of personal Windows computers, including Windows 95, XP, Vista, 7, or 8. It can thus breathe new life into older computers and laptops gathering dust, destined to be recycled or just dumped, as well as those used solely as paper weights.
It runs alongside certain Windows 10 versions or 11 machines by using WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) or in a dual boot (startup) configuration. There are pros and cons for each application, as well as advocates and adversaries.
‘Distros’ (distributions) are packages of Linux software developed and supported by different worldwide communities. Each has its own features and applications and can be basic or fully loaded.
GUIs or graphic user interfaces (such as the Windows start desktop) are available. These let you point and click in a similar environment as Windows. You can also learn to enter code commands (i.e. DOS, the way we opened programs before Windows!) if you wish.
You select distros based on your computer’s existing hardware and features. For instance, 32-bit Windows machines cannot run 64-bit distros, but some 64-bit machines can run 32-bit distros.
Linux is Mostly Free
There is a vast array of free programs (apps) and tools. Some of them may already be familiar to you (i.e. LibreOffice productivity suite, VLC media player, etc.), while others will require a learning curve.
Note: the same was true when we upgraded to newer versions of Windows over time. Plus, there are numerous YouTube videos, tutorials and forums available, as well as my assistance and the help of other gurus I know.
There are many reasons to migrate to Linux including cost savings, existing or future obsolescence, flexibility or freedom of choice, etc. I will not go further into that for now.
Use Linux To
As far as functionality, you can use the Linux OS in much the same way you use your computer for any and all of the following tasks:
- Save, edit or share photos
- Research on the Internet
- Watch videos or listen to music
- Word processing to record recipes, journal, etc.
- Spreadsheets to track expenses, budgets, etc.
- Visit social media sites such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.
- Keep in touch with family and friends via Zoom or other video chat platforms
- Play games
- Pursue hobbies or pastimes
- Watch, develop or edit videos
- Do Genealogy
- Shop or bank online as well as job interviews
Migrate To Linux
So let’s determine if you are a candidate to migrate to Linux or to use alongside Windows. Some of this may seem burdensome, but it will narrow your choices. We can also help you answer these questions in person or remotely if needed.
You will need information about your Windows computer or laptop as well as certain functions to find your best options in selecting a Distro:
- What is the make and model of the computer you want to convert?
- What Windows operating system does it run?
- What is the speed of its CPU (Central Processing Unit) in GHz (gigahertz)?
- How many cores (processors) are in the CPU?
- If Windows 10, is it a 32-bit or 64-bit machine?
- What is the RAM (Random Access Memory) in GB (gigabytes) speed?
- What is the file storage capacity in GB (gigabytes) or MB (megabytes)?
- What is the resolution of the display? (i.e. 800 × 600)
- If you have a desktop, tower PC, does it have more than one disk drive?
What Is Your Computer’s Boot Key?
Caution, the following is a little technical.
When your computer starts up its boot key(s) accesses different options, instead of just launching Windows. A key is generally shown on the desktop screen at start-up. It may also be in your computer’s manual or online.
The boot key is usually either Esc, Delete, F2, F9, F10, F12 or another function key. You tap it as the computer starts up to access a menu of options.
Answer Questions Via Online Form
Click to our on line Google form if you are considering trying out Linux or running Linux alongside of Windows 10 or 11 via WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) and need our help.
Short code: https://forms.gle/WCjuDcq95NysDAuH7
In summary, I encourage you to learn more about Linux OS if you are a senior adult looking for a secure, stable, flexible and free operating system, You can visit the Linux website, read a Linux tutorial or watch a YouTube video to learn more.
If you need individual help learning more or installing Linux on your computer, I would be happy to help. You can also join our Linux discussion group for senior adults to get support and advice for those who are interested in learning more about and using Linux.
I realize this has been a lot to assimilate, and I hope I have explained it so you can understand it. Future articles will expand on several of the topics discussed above and will provide examples and links. Until then, please feel free to contact me (form in right sidebar) with any specific questions you may have or call us at 708.762.3259.
Read more about Linux on Wikipedia.
Learn more about our Technology Classes and Training For Seniors.