Best Linux distros to replace Windows XP?

In today's open source roundup: Is Ubuntu 14.04 the best Linux distro to replace Windows XP? Plus: Is XFCE better than GNOME or KDE? And a review of Mageia 4

By , ITworld |  Open Source, Linux, Ubuntu

Microsoft will soon no longer support Windows XP so current XP users will need to migrate to a newer version of Windows or possibly Linux. If they don't migrate, they run the risk of serious security problems once Microsoft stops issuing updates for Windows XP.

Softpedia examines the possibility of upgrading to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS for Windows XP users.

A lot of Windows XP users are looking to make a change after their operating system will cease to receive security updates from Microsoft, in April. Like most people who are migrating to Linux, they have a lot of questions about various aspects, regarding its use and its capabilities. The truth is that probably Windows XP users are more scared than they should be, as we will show right now.

More at Softpedia

Replace Windows XP with Linux
Image credit: Softpedia

One of the issues with Windows XP computers is that many of them aren't exactly top of the line. Trying to run Windows 7 or Windows 8 on such older machines might not be a very good idea. Such computers can be too slow and lack the resources necessary to provide good performance on newer versions of Windows.

Ubuntu, and other Linux distros, can run pretty well on older hardware. So I think it's a great idea for Windows XP users (companies and individuals alike) to seriously consider Linux. But it also makes sense to take your time to find the right Linux distribution to use as a replacement.

While Ubuntu itself is a fine distribution, there are plenty of other options for those who prefer to steer clear of it. Ubuntu also isn't generally considered to be a lightweight distribution, so if you are running Windows XP on an older machine with limited resources then Ubuntu might not be your best bet.

Here's a brief list of lightweight distributions, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Alpine Linux
antiX
BasicLinux
Bodhi Linux
CrunchBang Linux
Damn Small Linux
Lubuntu
Nanolinux
Peppermint Linux OS
Porteus
Puppy Linux
Semplice Linux
SliTaz
Tiny Core Linux
Trisquel Mini

More at Wikipedia

If I had to pick a distro or two off the list I'd probably go with CrunchBang, Bodhi, Peppermint or Lubuntu. But the other options might work well for Windows XP users as well. It's really just a matter of trying out some distros and choosing the one that works best for you in place of Windows XP.

XFCE better than GNOME and KDE?
Datamation thinks that XFCE is better than GNOME or KDE.

Over the years, I've spent the bulk of my time with the Linux desktop using either GNOME or KDE. Both environments have grown over the years and each desktop has continued to expand its current user base.

The sleeper desktop environment – which I didn’t even considered years ago – has been XFCE. I've found that XFCE offers more robustness than say, LXDE, which lacks much of XFCE's polish in its default configuration. XFCE provides all the benefits one may have enjoyed in GNOME 2, but with a lightweight experience that makes it a hit on older computers.

More at Datamation

I found myself agreeing with the conclusion of the article - that XFCE is indeed a better experience than GNOME or KDE - but also disagreeing with the idea of bothering to compare these three desktops in the first place.

I tend toward being a minimalist so of course XFCE appeals more to me on a personal level. However, individual tastes in desktop environments are mostly subjective so it doesn't make much sense to compare them unless they fit into a particular category or share a similar design goal.

For example, I don't consider GNOME or KDE to be lightweight desktops but I do consider XFCE to be one. So it would have made more sense to compare XFCE with other lightweight desktops rather than two desktops that aren't designed in a similar way.

I think the article ended up comparing apples to oranges.

Mageia 4 review
DistroWatch has a full review of Mageia 4, and it's not a very upbeat one. It seems that Mageia 4 is a bit of a mess and could use some tweaking.

I have to say, having played with Mageia 4 for the past week, that I was disappointed by this release. It may be telling that this past week marked one of the few occasions I have run checksums on a distribution's installation media multiple times, suspecting corruption. I have long been a fan of Mandriva and its family of distributions, such as Mageia, and this latest version just did not feel like it was ready for release. Most of the time it barely felt like it was ready for beta testing.

There were some highlights to this release. The distribution's Control Center is still one of the more user friendly configuration panels available and Mageia comes with a great collection of documentation and a pretty friendly system installer. Even with these positive aspects I felt like I was battling a slow and buggy system throughout the week and it is my hope the developers can get Mageia back on the rails for version 5.

More at DistroWatch

Mageia 4 Review
Image credit: DistroWatch

It's a bit of a drag to see Mageia in such straits. The last version I reviewed was Mageia 3, and I was quite pleased with it. I hope the developers are able to improve Mageia 5, and bring it back to its previously good experience.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

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