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Over the last few months with all the issues with Windows 10 and its 'upgrading', it got me looking in Linux. Where is the best place to begin, and what are the costs for finding a laptop with Linux?  Thanks.

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The cost can range from free (by installing a distribution of Linux on your existing or older Windows PC) to $3,000 for the Oryx Pro from System76 (link to product review on The New Screen Savers provided below).

 

System76 is a great way to purchase computer systems with Linux pre-installed, which will help eliminate issues with hardware device drivers and other issues common to installing Linux on hardware not designed for it. One such issue with the Oryx Pro system is discussed in the review video, but that also highlights the fact that customer support is available to you when purchasing such a system. When you install Linux on other systems, you do not receive any customer support from the developers of the various Linux distributions available; however, there are many user forums available where you can find help.

 

The best starting point is downloading a Linux distribution to your computer and using that to burn a Live CD (or create a Live USB Key). That will allow you to test run the OS from a flash drive or external hard drive to see if it is compatible with the system you're installing it on. My recommendation would be to create a disk image backup of your entire hard drive before installing Linux on it. That way, you have a way to quickly revert back to Windows 10 if necessary.

 

I personally have extensive experience with various Linux distributions as well as Windows 10. I have found that while Linux can be very powerful for certain use cases, it is still not a more user-friendly and intuitive alternative to Windows 10. I personally upgraded to Windows 10 on all my family's regularly used computers and have had no issues with the transition at all. I've also upgraded many systems for clients in laptops and desktops, and also in both residential and commercial environments. It runs smooth, is very powerful, and offers everything necessary to get the job done. The privacy and security concerns with Windows 10 are very much exaggerated and over hyped, and you can easily disable many of the features people are skeptical about. I have yet to run into a system that had issues applying the upgrade, haven't had any systems with serious problems since the upgrade, and have found that there is practically no learning curve for previous Windows 8.1 users, and a very small one for fans of Windows 7. Also, I have yet to run into any hardware driver issues with Windows 10, even with some very old network printers and scanners. Unless you purchase a system with Linux pre-installed, and a new printer/scanner already configured to work with it, you almost guaranteed to run into hardware drive issues with a Linux installation.

 

With all that said, you might also want to look into a Chromebook. Chromebooks run on a Linux core, but the entire interface is based around the idea of cloud computing via Google Chrome. The user interface (UI) looks just like the Chrome web browser running web apps for all your computing needs. If you're strictly a content consumer rather than a content creator, a Chromebook device is the perfect low-cost alternative to a Windows (or Mac) PC. It is also much more secure, and there isn't a lot of updating to do to the OS because everything is cloud based anyway. While you can store some files on the device itself, incorporating a Chromebook with a cloud storage system (e.g., Google Drive) adds a very convenient way to access your data files from anywhere, at anytime, on any device (including your smartphone/tablet). Best of all, it comes pre-installed and ready to go out of the box, and it costs way less than any Linux machine you can purchase online or in any store.

Oryx Pro Product Review

 

System76 Website

 

Google Chromebooks

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I agree with Courante on all but one point: Check first on your offered upgrade to see if your hardware is compatible with Windows 10. Some hardware that Windows 7 supported is not supported in Windows 10, specifically, I have a single core AMD processor HP computer which is NOT supported by Windows 10, but is still running Windows 7 happily, which had been an upgrade from the original Windows XP for this system.  We are using this system to connect to a sound mixer board because it came with a Firewire port installed as part of the original equipment.

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That incompatibility with Windows 10 is probably because if that particular processor is single core, and shipped with a Windows XP system, it's probably a 32-bit processor. All modern processors are multi-core and 64-bit (even if you'received running a 32-bit system/operating system. Any newer computers with multi-core processors, or that shipped with Windows 7 or above, should have no problems upgrading to Windows 10.

Of course, running legacy hardware will always present a compatibility issue with new operating systems, but I have yet to run into such an issue with Windows 10. It's been the smoothest, easiest upgrade for me nearly every time. I've upgraded desktops, laptops, home and business systems without any issues; not even in offices where they'really still using older printers and scanners. I've only come across one system where Windows 10 was not an option because that system was only used to run legacy software that operated a very old legacy piece of hardware, and the business owner refused to upgrade that expensive piece of hardware because it still did the job for them. I offered to upgrade the system anyway, then install Windows XP on a virtual machine on the same PC, which would have solved the problem. However, he never made the decision to pull the trigger.

With all that said, cwsnyder2's advice is sound. Always double check your system for compatibility prior to upgrading; and always make a complete backup or clone of your system first, so you can always revert back if necessary.

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