Energy guzzler; need XP for some apps; love Linux' speed
1/ Main point I'd like to bring to your attention is energy efficiency : in stand-by my XP box and TFT screen use about as much energy as the Netbook working hard. When working, the XP box and TFT screen use more than the Vista and Windows 7 notebooks together - try any good power socket monitor if you want numbers for your own comparison.
2/ on keeping XP running:
Some software and some hardware would not install on my newer Windows 7 64-bit notebook.
One scanner's driver will install on Windows 7 basic, but that Netbook is rather limited compared to the 2003-vintage Windows XP box. Similarly, two pieces of software which I occasionally use could be installed on a Windows Vista 32-bit Notebook.
None of these require connectivity beyond what can be transferred on a USB thumbdrive.
So in a way I have a choice between keeping one large and old but fairly high spec Windows XP box running for as long as it does, or keeping two additional computers (one netbook, one notebook) for specific tasks. Looking at remaining screen brightness on the Vista Notebook and sluggish performance on the Windows 7 Netbook I decided to stick with the Windows XP box, which -as mentioned- for these specific tasks can stand alone.
3/ and finally, on to my limited experience with Linux : have over the past couple of weeks tried various Live Linux USB sticks : the speed is much better than Windows XP or Vista when surfing, even from a Live CD/ USB, but the two applications and the scanner do not have Linux versions. So for me, Linux is not the answer.
If you want to try Linux, the Fedora live USB creator worked with minimal input on my part, while some others required a couple of steps, or did not give instructions, or referred to a site where the Live Linux USB creator did not deliver a functioning Live version. Therefore as a first tip-toe in the water at this point I'd suggest the one mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph; once everything's working pick any other Distro which meets your requirements.
What I found missing in the comparisons of Linux Desktops is a rundown of the various main flavours : there are lots of minor differences between Gnome, KDE, LXDE, XFCE, MATE and Cinnamon - to name just a few. Think of some browsers missing the usual minimise/ maximise / restore up/down buttons, or a 'start menu' which lacks an obvious way so it opens sections on hover; then there was the lack of support for a non-US keyboard layout : on my UK notebook keyboard the " and the @ are swapped, and the # lives on the ~ key next to the } while the GBP-key is an 'uppercase 3'.
These points can undoubtedly be sorted once you decide to install the DVD version on your harddisk, but given that XP has not been on new machines for some five years, you'd probably want to consider energy efficiency and remaining lifespan of the old equipment.
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