Lee Maxwell headshot

Lee Maxwell
“Why switch your old PC running Windows 7 to Linux?”
Thursday, February 27, 2020
6:45PM - 8:45PM in
The Middletown Library Large Meeting Room
55 New Monmouth Road, Middletown, NJ 07748


I confess to having a love-hate relationship with Linux and Linux-based operating systems. I like Linux and I use it on one of my laptops, but it’s not my computer operating system of choice. Yet.

So why do I plan to show BCUG members who attend the next General Meeting, starting at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 in the Middletown Township Library main branch’s large community room, how to install a Linux-based operating system on computers that currently run Windows 7?

Well, lots of reasons [here are my top 10]:

  1. Linux is – mostly – free of charge, as is most of the software that comes with it. This makes rehabbing an old PC affordable to most people. Linux developers ask for contributions, but generally offer their software for free.
  2. The right Linux distribution – right for the hardware on your old PC – will work faster and better on an old PC than Windows did, because it will demand less of the PC’s hardware.
  3. Unlike Windows or macOS, there’s plenty of choices for which Linux distro and desktop software you can choose. Both Microsoft and Apple have generally employed a take-it-or-leave-it approach to their products, and locked down the appearance and functionality of their operating systems and graphical user interfaces.
  4. Because there are hundreds of Linux distros available to try, you can chose one that emphasizes stability and predictability, or you can try more experimental and cutting edge distros, if that’s your preference.
  5. The update and upgrade process for most Linux distros and software is easier and more frequent than that of Windows or macOS, so your computer is more secure from malware and other threats.
  6. Linux distros in general are more secure to use than Windows or macOS, because they are configured to be more secure and, due to their smaller userspace, are a less tempting target to cybercriminals.
  7. Depending on the distro you choose to install, there is lots of free technical support you can get, sometimes from the distro developers, but more often from fellow-users who have confronted and overcome the same problems you may face installing and using the distro.
  8. If you grow to like a particular distro and want to contribute to its development, you can, even if you don’t have any knowledge of or desire to write computer code, just by testing software in the distro to make sure it works well on your PC, and submitting feedback to developers, or taking another available volunteer role in the community.
  9. By converting that old PC to Linux, you give a chance to remain active and useful for years to come, instead of sending it to be recycled and possibly landfilled. Sure, it won’t be as fast or powerful as a new PC, but it will continue to work.
  10. Finally, using Linux will hep your PC, and you, break from the cycle of dependency of one or another billionaire corporation’s operating system and the choices they make for their users. You decide how your PC works, because you choose what you install on your PC.

Is it easy to switch to a Linux-based operating system? No, and I won’t claim it is. If you want easy, you can buy a new PC with Windows 10, or even a PC with Linux pre-installed, or buy a Mac. Then migrate your data to the new machine (which isn’t easy), unless you want a fresh start (which isn’t easy either, since you have to re-enter all of your passwords). Upgrading an older PC from Windows 7 to Windows 10 will be nearly as complicated as upgrading to Linux, because the process will be roughly the same. So there is no really easy solution.

I describe the process of switching from Win7 to Linux in a separate article, and its complex, but doable. You can even keep Win7 and be able to boot to either OS when you start your PC, but that’s somewhat complicated as well.

Also, while some Linux distros look a lot like Windows, Linux distros are generally quite different from Windows or macOS, and it will take some learning to master it. But, in my opinion, it is worth the effort.

Lee’s Background

I am a self-employed computer consultant and troubleshooter who also teaches computer courses part-time. I also have edited the BCUG newsletter, BCUG Bytes, for the last 16+ years, and co-lead two BCUG workshops, MacWaves and the Linux User Group.