Which Linux variant to use for dual boot with XP?

August 14, 2020 at 09:00:35
Specs: Catalina, 16Gig
I have a chum who has an XP-Pro installed tower; no idea of actual make etc.. It was a locally built/sold system. The installation is crippled as A. N. Other upgraded it from Home to Pro (without asking) and used a corporate (now invalid) Key to activate it. Consequently it wouldn’t update after a wee while (hasn’t for an age obviously) and really is crippled; due to failed attempts to get it work after a crash when updating the SP. The updater declared “invalid key” or words to that effect. The system has/had a history of rebooting as/whenever it wished for a wee while prior to the crash event. At which time I was asked to get involved. The original approach to get it working again was to do a repair installation - but even that wouldn't complete - before either freezing or BSOD.

I have a few spare (never installed) XP-Pro disks about and likely will install one as a clean install – retaining the crippled version on the drive (and in the boot-menu etc.) as there is data therein which he may wish to recover at least. It will never go online again – for obvious reasons.

Before I go that route... is it viable to replace the “now invalid” key with one from one of my unused Pro disks? And how best is that achieved?

Main object of both approaches is to regain access to the crippled system – and a dated invoice application he used to use - in order to recover data from its folders. If the crippled installation can be resurrected then he may also use it (that application) but never online. I’m discouraging him from sticking with an application that is now at least 10yrs olde and likely not been updated...?

I am encouraging him to consider use a Linux variant in place of XP; and likely he would use Libre Office in place of M$-Office whatever. He only needs a Word/Excel system in that regard. He wants the ease, convenience (as he puts it) of a desktop system over his Macbooks for simple office work when at home...

Which variant of Linux would be the easiest for him to get across; and presumably Libre Office will work with all Linux variants?

Can Linux access/read XP files – personal stuff?

His main kit these days is a couple of Macbooks.

I also have a 2005 vintage Acer laptop with XP-Pro installed and it was up to date etc. when last booted – and on line... It will never go online again of course... I’m considering dual booting it with Linux too; if only to have some opportunity to play with Linux. And if I use the same variant as my chum I can trouble shoot etc. his problems if needs-be.

(I run Mac systems these days – and as best I can ascertain win-10 doesn’t like my 2101/2012Mac models at all...)

I empathise my chum is totally non-technical; he just uses computers and with a rudimentary level of understanding of how to do a few things. Hence my search for advice re’ which Linux would be best for his purposes.

See More: Which Linux variant to use for dual boot with XP?

August 14, 2020 at 13:32:59
Any idea how much RAM or if it has a 64-bit processor? If he has a 64-bit CPU, I recommend Linux Mint 20 Xfce edition. It's got a very windows-like feel & comes pre-installed with just about everything a home user would want, LibreOffice for example. It'll run on 1GB RAM but 2GB is recommended.

If he has a 32-bit processor, there were 32-bit versions available up to & including Mint 19.

Reply ↓  Report •

August 14, 2020 at 14:02:24
Almost certainly a 32bit system; and likely at least 2Gig RAM - possibly even 4. I am digging into my notes re' his system(s) as in the past I think I may have run Belarc on it and if I can find that report it'll have full specs etc.

I seem to recall you suggesting (in the past) that Mint is a safe and comfortable Linux variant or the average (home) user.

The closer it is to windows in feel etc. the better; as that's what he is familiar with and used - at least until he went to Macs...

Does the 32 bit have a windows feel like the 64bit (and also include the Libre office items)?

edited to correct RAM type... fro 2Meg t o 2Gig...

message edited by trvlr

Reply ↓  Report •

August 14, 2020 at 14:15:38

If your looking for a Windows look-a-like try Chaletos:


It is a bit old, last release date of 2016, but when I tried it, it was spot on
for look/feel of Windows.

But, I did swap it out for Mint, which is very close, more Win 10 then XP in
the look/feel category. but very friendly.



Reply ↓  Report •

Related Solutions

August 14, 2020 at 15:37:36
Incidentally - can any of the above recommendations be run on a Mac as a VM using Parallels?

And of the latest Mint incarnation - there appear to be three versions; which is likely the easiest/simples to use?

Reply ↓  Report •

August 14, 2020 at 15:40:31
Zorin OS is another possibility. I ran the Lite version for a while on an old laptop. Its requirements are much lower than Mint - 700MHz CPU, 512MB RAM - there's a 32-bit version too.

And Linux Lite is another possibility. Its requirements are somewhere between Zorin & Mint. I've been testing it on an old desktop for a while now. There's a 32-bit version but it's an older edition & only supported until spring 2021.

message edited by riider

Reply ↓  Report •

August 14, 2020 at 15:45:43
"there appear to be three versions"

The editions are the desktop environment (DE) that's used - Cinnamon, Mate, or Xfce.
This explains it: https://linuxmint-installation-guid...

I prefer Xfce for its simplicity & stability, plus it's light on resources. Zorin Lite uses the Xfce DE, I think Linux Lite does too.

message edited by riider

Reply ↓  Report •

August 16, 2020 at 06:01:53
Thanks for the suggestions etc. chaps. Likely we'll give Mint a try, both on the tower in question and possibly via Parallels on one of my Macs; and maybe even my 2005 vintage Acer Aspire laptop too!

Reply ↓  Report •

Ask Question