The end of support of Windows XP has given me the opportunity to introduce a few friends and family to using Linux on their older XP machines. Recently, I’ve been working with a friend on switching them from XP to Elementary OS; a Ubuntu based distro. Since the PC had limited resources (single core processor and 1GB of RAM) I knew I had to pick something nimble and light, but didn’t lack in performance or appearance. After learning about Elementary during a presentation in my Linux sys admin class and discovering it is user friendly enough to be used by Linux newcomers, I decided to use it as the XP replacement.
Trial and Error
With little to no guidance, my friend was able to pick up and use Elementary from the beginning. Some of most difficult things to adjust for my friend are: Linux applications, UI navigation, and the Linux file system. I had the chance to learn a lot about Elementary when I was teaching my friend the ropes, in a sense we were both learning.
Features and Design
The UI has been designed well and closely resembles Mac OS X Mavericks.
Elementary comes with some default applications:
I briefly toured Midori and have to say that it is a great browser and looks well designed, but my friend preferred the familiarity of Google Chrome. I helped my friend set up and configure Geary Mail which was surprisingly simple to set up. Geary already imported my friend’s Gmail account from Chrome which caught me off guard. As for Empathy, Shotwell and the Music application; I didn’t have a chance to give those a test drive. Elementary also uses dock called “Plank”, which works well and is similar to other dock applications. There are a few themes to choose from for Plank, and adding additional themes requires a 3rd party app or using the terminal and tweaking config files. Two alternatives to Plank are Cario Dock and Docky, I have used both and my vote goes to Docky.
Elementary is a suitable replacement for XP and Linux beginners; I had other contenders for the XP replacement such as: Linux Mint, Ubuntu, and Fedora. I’m happy with my decision to introduce my friend to Linux using Elementary OS.