[HOWTO] Revive Your Old Computer
Many of us have old PCs, laptops, or even netbooks gather dust in closets and garages. Some of these venerable devices work just fine, but are underpowered for modern Windows operating systems. Others are hopelessly infected with malware, and a few have missing or damaged hard drives. They’re not worth repairing but they cost too much to just throw away. But here’s a way to bring that old hardware back to life easily and cheaply, perhaps even better than new. Read on...
Could You Use an Xtra PC?
Xtra-PC is a streamlined version of the Ubuntu Linux operating system that’s been customized to be easily set up by non-technical users. People who have installed Xtra-PC say it takes only 4-5 clicks of the mouse, plus using the tab or arrow keys to select an “OK” button at one point. Otherwise, the software typically configures itself, just like Windows.
Xtra-PC is not installed on your hard drive. It comes on a USB flash drive and runs from there. So existing files on your hard drive won’t be disturbed. You can create, edit and manage files on your hard drive with Xtra-PC.
Alternatively, you can install Linux apps and store files on the USB drive, making them as portable as Xtra-PC itself. The product comes with 8, 16, 64, or 128 GB of storage priced at $25, $35, $50, and $80, respectively. Shipping is $5 in the U. S. and $10 elsewhere. Just as more RAM translates into more speed on a PC (up to a point), the speed of Xtra-PC increases as flash memory capacity increases. All but the 128 GB version comes in a tiny USB dongle like the transceiver of a wireless mouse; the 128 GB version comes on a standard USB thumb drive about two inches long.
Xtra-PC comes with a good assortment of free, open-source Linux apps, including:
- Firefox Web Browser
- OpenOffice for opening and editing Microsoft Office files
- Thunderbird Mail for email (if you don’t use web-based email)
- Photo Viewer
- Media Player for watching movies
- Audacious for playing music
You can also add Linux versions of Skype and other programs, but no Windows-based software can be run. Let me underscore that last point… Your Xtra-PC system will not run programs that are designed for a Windows computer. That includes anything you have downloaded or installed from a CD, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, Photoshop, iTunes, Quicken, and Windows-based games you may have.
But as you can see, Xtra-PC provides replacements for most of those commonly-used programs. And of course, any Web-based software will work just fine.
Is It a Good Deal?
Linux is a free operating system. What you pay for with Xtra-PC is ease of use and tech support. You don’t have to locate and download a Linux distribution file, make a bootable USB drive or optical disk, or go hunting for drivers appropriate to your obsolete hardware (Xtra-PC does the last). But tech support is going to be kind of slim.
Xtra-PC is the product of Prairie IT, LLC, a three-person operation based in the Colorado town of Haxtun (pop. 929 ca. 2013). Tech support consists of a FAQ list, a searchable knowledgebase, and email. But Xtra-PC is so simple there’s not much that can go wrong.
Xtra-PC is intended to be an “extra PC,” not a replacement for your workhorse Windows machine. But if someone in your household just needs light processing power and Web access, even a 10-year-old computer and Xtra-PC will do the trick. You may have to add a $10 external WiFi adapter, but that’s about it. Interestingly, Xtra-PC will even run on Intel-based Mac computers.
A 30-day no-questions refund guarantee makes the $25 Xtra-PC worth a shot. If you try it, please let me know how it works for you. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 24 Oct 2016
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [HOWTO] Revive Your Old Computer (Posted: 24 Oct 2016)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved