Linux to the rescue! Windows XP support discontinued today

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Choose Linux to replace Windows XP

Today, as Microsoft discontinues support for Windows XP, a 12 year old operating system, users all over the world find themselves with only a few options to choose from as they move on. It's not surprising that Microsoft encourages users to migrate to Windows 8.1, but of course, there are other alternatives. The best one by far is Linux. With over 100 distributions, Linux not only offers flexibility, but also reliability and support.

First, let's rundown exactly what's happening with Microsoft's discontinuation of support for Windows XP.

What is end of support?

There will be no more security updates or technical support for the Windows XP operating system.

Support for Office 2003 also ends on April 8, 2014.

What does this mean?

It means you should take action. After April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for Windows XP.

Security updates patch vulnerabilities that may be exploited by malware and help keep users and their data safer.

PCs running Windows XP after April 8, 2014, should not be considered to be protected, and it is important that you migrate to a current supported operating system.

Tux Linux Mascot

This is your opportunity to try out something completely new and different from Microsoft.

First, you'll need to find out which Linux distro is best for the work that you do. DistroWatch is "a light-hearted way of measuring the popularity of Linux distributions" and a great place to see all of the options for desktops, servers, laptops, netbooks, mobile phones, and tablets (and some minimal environments).

My Linux distro breakdown:

  • secure and suitable for military and financial applications (RHEL)
  • bleeding edge and dynamic (Fedora)
  • universal (Debian)
  • educational (Edubuntu)
  • for the hobbyist (Raspbian)
  • for the media artist (Ubuntu Studio)
  • for the easy-going user (Mint)
  • for the desktop application and cloud (Ubuntu)
  • simple and lightweighted (Arch)
  • faithfully built from source code (Gentoo)
  • reliable and unpretentious (Slackware)

The list continues with tens of other distributions that are continuously evolving.

Making a change

In addition to the many Windows XP desktop users in homes and enterprises, the financial service companies that provide ATM services will be looking to make a change.

About 95% of ATMs worldwide are running Windows XP. Confronted with the end of support, these organizations are exploring the adoption of Linux in order to have better control over their hardware and software upgrades. It is estimated that by today, less than 40% of ATMs in the US will have migrated off Windows XP.

Healthcare is another sector that will be greatly affected. About 10% of healtcare providers are still using Windows XP, and they could be appealling targets for cybercriminals given that patient data and personal data have a high price in the black market.

Today, it is not only the right time to make a change, but it's a great time in the history of Linux. These operating systems show maturity, reliability, and versatility. Get started today!


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Luis Ibáñez works as Senior Software Engineer at Google Inc in Chicago.


Excellent Article Luis.

A refreshing change from all those 'doomsday' articles on XP bordering on FUD? Good thing Linux is here.

Why waste that old Hardware, its bad for Planet Earth.
Get the most worth out of your PC as long as it works well.

How to Break free from the cycle of Planned Obsolesce?!!??
Stay safe with Linux.
There is a very good chance Linux OS will run well with older hardware with lower specs
Switch to the free, safe, secure & awesome OS:
Its the worlds most popular free OS. It has free upgrades & security updates. It has a free office suite, LibreOffice that comes standard along with other great apps/programs.
For those who like the Windows look, I would recommend: & for older computer with lower specs or
Or try Linux Mint:
Because the Linux option is free & now so easy (user friendly) one must give it a try. You have so much to gain.
Lots of people give their time, effort & money to make these great products that they just give the world for free. So they may not have the huge ad budgets & would need users like us to spread the word. Although its free, you are welcome to donate if you like the software.

For those worried about Office 2003 support ending try LibreOffice or OpenOffice.
Time to check out the free, safe, secure & feature-packed LibreOffice. Its truly multi-platform & takes just a few minutes & clicks to install.

Try it now you have so much to gain:

Thunderbird is excellent as well.

I feel most people should find it great. All they need to do is try it out 1st in a LiveDVD or LiveUSB.


I can appreciate your article about the death of Windows XP and the recommendation about switching over to Linux. However, people like myself are not advanced users and are scared to start using a new operating system. Chances are that most people whom are still using XP are behind the technology curve and jumping on to a fast moving train like Linux may be a bit intimidating.

How about recommending one or two Linux Operating systems that are easy for the old XP users to install and adopt? I want all my old programs to work, and I want the OS to have a familiar format and layout. Too many choices will stagnate people and will cause inaction. Shouldn't this be a call to action, and not stagnation?

Just a thought,



Thanks for your thoughtful comment.
You bring up a very good point.

Let me reduce the suggestion to two specific cases:

1) For the personal user of Windows XP (e.g. home / student / home office):

I would suggest to try Linux Mint. (

It has a very simple installation (about 20 minutes), and a very clean and simple Desktop interface.

It is even possible in Mint to install a theme that looks similar to the Windows XP Desktop theme (

2) For enterprise users, who are using Windows XP to run business and maybe dealing with mission critical data:

Then the Red Hat Enterprise Linux is probably the best option.

This is typically what will be used by government agencies, healthcare and financial institutions.

Note that in both cases, most of your Windows XP programs will not work directly on Linux. However, you will certainly find equivalent applications that provide the same functionalities. For example, instead of Microsoft Office, you will be able to use OpenOffice or LibreOffice, and instead of Photoshop, you can use Inkscape and GIMP.

If you have specific applications in mind, please share them with us in the comments, and we will be happy to write follow up articles pointing you to the equivalent applications that provide the same functionalities under Linux.

Indeed, a straight line "this will replace that" directory would help reduce the angst of making the leap. For those of us already here, choice is great, for those being forced out of the land of no choice, a myriad of options can be overwhelming.

You suggest Mint and I would suggest Zorin.
Mint is pretty minimalist while Zorin by comparison is somewhat bloated since it has wine and is specifically targeted at replacing your parents WinX OS. The transition to Mint can be pretty harsh, whereas the transition to Zorin might not freak out the squares as much, for better or worse.

>>The transition to Mint can be pretty harsh, whereas
>>the transition to Zorin might not freak out the
>>squares as much, for better or worse.

You might be just about correct--based on my very small sample. It was a Zorin computer I stuck in front of my wife when she was complaining about her Windows computer and I've been using Mint for a while and enjoying getting it to do what I wanted. I hadn't just switched from Windows, but I have never thought of Mint KDE as harsh.

Are you aware Windows XP is 13 years old? Technology has advanced by leaps. Nowadays it's hard to find any OS that's capable of solving a very big gap whit no pain.

What I'm concerned, It's all about stay up to date, once and for all, with all the new stuff that modern OSes have to offer. Wich distro is suitable for you? Just try and decide. Nobody can do it at your place.


try zorin linux . it has a look changer that makes it look like either windows 7, xp, 2000 , or gnome2 . find it at

Hi Al,

It is all about mindset , nobody would expect you to jump straight into linux , i would suggest you install it along windows XP and try it out , once you are comfortable using it you can finally switch over.
Google is your friend and there are lot of good sites on linux and GNU, you have to take a step and nobody can force you to do so , you have to have that mindset yourself.

Nah. Linux blew it again. Yes, again, the first time was the first netbook iteration, when about 40% of units were sold with Linux but users went nuts trying to use it. I'd hoped and expected Linux would be ready for prime time this time but, Nah.

- Support only lasts a year - not so-called LTS but real XP type support for the latest version of all third party software. In place reinstallation is too dicey, so Linux users have to fresh install, reconfigure the OS and then reinstall and reconfigure their preferred software every year at least

- Can't LAN with Windows. Oh, there's Samba, a crazy-making asylum for unfriendly configuration "issues" that drugs won't cure. Dropbox is the solution of record.

- Can't reliably launch major Windows third party software, only provide "alternatives" that mangle any sophisticated file or clunky WINE over top, IFF you can afford a machine that would run W7 anyway, so why bother.

Linux does what it does quite well, but it won't replace or provide any relief to ex-XP users. It failed to prepare for Prime Time. Don't cry for Linux, Argentina.

All lies
-Support only last a year? Really? You can install a rolling distro like debian, or debian mint and never have to upgrade your OS again. Just install the updates. As for non-rolling distros, LTS last 5 years on ubuntu and why would you use a non-LTS release?
-Can't LAN with windows. Um . . . my LAN works no matter what the OS and so do many others.
--Can't reliably launch major Window 3rd party software. Once again why would you want to. I run Linux and Linux software, and it works wonderful.
and as for linux failing on netbooks that's because the netbook came with a crap distro installed instead of one of the major distro.

I'm not saying Linux is perfect, or right for everyone, but please don't spread lies. The only reason to not use Linux is if you need program X and no alternative was avalible or the alternative were not on par. Which is not as much the case as people seem to let on.

Loverock, is that you? Run out of your meds?

Your message reads like you were throwing stuff at the wall, trying to see if anything would stick. What does "not so-called LTS but real XP type support for the latest version of all third party software" mean? Are you talking about the software or the operating system? What is "XP type support"?

Don't know who can't LAN with Windows. I've been doing it for a long time. Lots of others do.

Nope Linux won't run Windows software natively. Windows won't run Mac software natively. Are you interested in using the specific software on a Linux box like I run my Quicken in WINE, or just in getting the job done, like with a spreadsheet or word processor?

You're right, that Linux does what it does quite well, and for lots of people that's what they need. When my wife's Windows box choked and puked, I set her up a Linux machine on a folding table just to get her by. Wasn't long before she was wanting me to put the Linux machine on her computer desk and get rid of the other one. Something like, "This one is so much faster."

I knew better than to say, "But I was setting that Linux machine up for me!"

I've been using Linux-based LiveCDs for a while on my Windows systems, especially those that load completely into memory. That and sometimes booting off a Linux-based USB drive as well as running a Windows VM under Linux.

As a technician and owner of a computer shop, I find that most Windows XP users don't have the technical skills to burn a CD, write to a flash drive or even install programs. That's why Linux has a hard time growing into a viable desktop operating system. The truth is Linux is not the problem, the users are! On the other hand I operate my business on Linux. LibreOffice on the front desk, ddrescue for data recovery. I use Linux to fix Windows problems all the time. The truth: people are lazy and M$ does their best to help them stay that way.

I'd like to point out to Al that while Windows programs won't work on Linux, the alternatives are compatible. Libre Office will open Word and Excel files and you can also create and save new Word and Excel files. You can't use Internet Explorer, but the Firefox browser is probably better anyway. For anyone accustomed to Windows for the past 20 years it can be difficult to change because one doesn't have the language to image the change. One doesn't think of word processors one thinks of Word, nor of a spreadsheet but of Excel. So a change of mind-set is required - don't think 'I need Word' but think 'I need a word processor that I can use to open all my old Word format documents'. Imagine you've changed from driving a Ford to a Toyota - you can still drive to the office, put your groceries in the back etc. Some of the switches and buttons will be in different places, but it still does the same job for you. But don't expect to go to the Ford garage when you need a new part.
Luis' recommendations will be appear more familiar to an XP user than Windows 8. I'd certainly recommend Mint which I've been using exclusively for about five years now. Look at their forum to get a feel for the support offered by other users.
F1 is right, very few users ever buy a blank computer and install Windows, Office etc, drivers etc. So to compare the ease of installing Linux to Windows has no meaning. But for the record, last time I installed Windows (quite some years ago) it took all morning and lots of disks, I put Mint on a friend's PC recently in about half an hour using just a 4GB USB stick.
Hope this helps.

Hi all!
This is the time that all Linux lovers were expecting :)
I think that is just the beginning (Or the right continuation) of what is an operating system with BALLS!! :D
Finally tomorrow I will install Linux in my father's office, and getting rid of XP will be a good sensation!
Now, just to stay on topic, what do you suggest an LTS release , or a latest one? I think that the LTS for office use it's better, but i'm not really convinced!!

My blog: , if you want give a look!
Thank you very much!

Hi all!
This is the time that all Linux lovers were expecting :)
I think that is just the beginning (Or the right continuation) of what is an operating system with BALLS!! :D
Finally tomorrow I will install Linux in my father's office, and getting rid of XP will be a good sensation!
Now, just to stay on topic, what do you suggest an LTS release , or a latest one? I think that the LTS for office use it's better, but i'm not really convinced!!

My blog: , if you want give a look!
Thank you very much!

An LTS release is coming out in a weeks time thanks to Ubuntu. It should be supported for 5 years.

Sorry for the two comments, my mistake!
So it's better to wait, but will be only ubuntu or also xubuntu? My father's PC is an old P4 3.2 gHz and 2 GB RAM, so I think that Ubuntu is a bit heavy...Do you agree?
Anyway thank you for the comment! :)


I still have the same P4 combination and
openSUSE 13.1 as well as Linux Mint run very well on it.

Regards, Frans

Ok! Thank you! :)

Yes, that's a good point.

Here is the Release schedule for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS:

April 17th is the expected release date.

How timely ! :-)

Linux has many benefits, but also many drawbacks (unavoidable with something as complex as an OS and a diverse user population). Microsoft may have abandoned its XP users but it appears that others are willing to step into the breach. An example is

I actually think Windows 8 sucks, at least from a UI perspective. The underpinnings are what you get there, the evolution of Windows NT which seems to have grown closer to the Linux way anyway, more pluggable. My cynical perspective is that if you can't afford a Windows license use Linux. And if you can't afford a Visual Studio license use Java. It turns into a 1st world vs. 3nd world battle. Or you could go Mac and do Xcode and be elite.

First Ubuntu Dist-Upgrade was flawless!
I've been using Debian on hundreds of servers over the years and I set up an Ubuntu 13.10 server about 2 months ago.
Logged in last week and it suggested a dist-upgrade and showed the command to get it started.
I simply copied/pasted that command and followed through with any prompts along the way -- and bingo -- Upgraded from saucy to trusty and all my applications were not only upgraded, but they still worked as expected. Gotta' love it!
BTW - Does anyone know of a Linux package that could be a substitute for 3D-Studio? That's one heavy duty package I've not been able to find a replacement for in the *nix world...

What in the hell do you philosophize about it out here ??? What replacement ??? With what ??? Linux poor USB2 performance ! Loading linux from USB2 is useless due optical drive outperforms it 10x !!! Where is so called Linux efficiency majority of Linux Distros doesn't even load properly from USB2 !!! And i thought that age of burning media is over !???! Win XP runs blazing fast on P4 3 GHz but some of Linuxes do not even start properly ! What replacement ??? Major problems with new kernels and no performance drivers for performance hardware that is out there for ages ! On intell chipset 845 that is standard Linux distros chokes !!! I test on middle to high end 32 bit hardware with 1 GB ram or more but what i see is a Linux disaster !!! O i see now ! Linux developers working for MS in order to kill user experience on such hardware ??? 5 years old Knoppix Live CD runs like hell but today 32 bit Linuxes are nightmare !!! And its easy to move to Win 7 as use damn non friendly hard to use and no driver Linux !!! What do you advertise then ???

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