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Continuing with XP

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Hi all,
as the day of end-of-support for XP draws near, I am searching for a solution for my wife who staunchly refuses to leave her well-tuned XP behind. (For her, even the thought of going to W7 raises major fears of having to face the learning curve)

Soooo...Linux and some Virtual Machine within which to run XP appears to be the solution (after considerable amounts of reading).

Problems: 1) an "old" (but trusted, cherished etcetc) netbook maxing out at 2GB RAM (and HDD 100GB), and 2) strict refusal to "have anything to do with Linux", ie her unwavering conviction (after several attempts at trying various distros, all aborted at the console) that if the OS is Linux then it must take the absolute minimum of interaction/mouse clicks to "get into" the VM and thus XP (and, needless to say, no "hassle" whatsoever with Linux being set up and running on the netbook).

I'd be very grateful to hear reports/advice/help re which Linux distro is the most appropriate in this situation, ie the leanest (both RAM and disk space requirements) and the "most invisible" (as per (2)  above).

Thanks for any and all pointers!


I sympathize with your wife -- personally I find the look and feel of XP the best, and windows 7 user interface is not to my liking.

Having said that, adjusting to using Windows 7 is really pretty painless.  All the programs will still run, it still has the start menu and everything is mostly in the same place.

So, my advice is to set up a new machine with windows 7 and get her set up on it and give her some time to get used to it.

Your idea of using a virtual machine to host XP would be ok for something that you had an occasional use for, but i wouldn't want to try to do prolonged work on such a machine because of performance issues.

A transitional compromise between your idea and mouser's would be to run the VM on Win 7. You could stick the desktop shortcut right there in plain sight, after booting up she could just click it to enjoy her XP...or linger there without clicking it, and get to know Win 7.

As mouser said, there would be performance issues, which would serve as an incentive not to run the XP VM and just use the Win 7, instead.

Once she is comfortable and is willing to give up the crutch of the XP VM, then you just get rid of it.

App's idea makes sense.

I can tell you that it will not be a pleasant experience to run XP as a guest Operating System in a virtual machine on any host PC with only 2GByte of RAM. Although both guest and host should be able to run decently when each is assigned 1 GByte of RAM, they usually don't in the best of cases. Virtual Machines become way more useful when the host PC has 4GByte of RAM (or more) and the guest is assigned 2GByte.

Unless you have an SSD drive with decent amount of storage capacity in your netbook, you will find that performance from both the guest and the host will suffer greatly as well.

Sorry to be so negative to you (and your wife), but these are fair warnings and I thought it best if you received them ahead of time.

As for Linux to be used a s a desktop, I have been playing with Linux Mint 16 (Cinnamon) and I must say that this was a very pleasant experience right out of the box. Support for my movies and music was right there, read and write documents of all different sorts, surf on the internet without problem, etc. The user interface was also user friendly.

Now I must say that this was done in a virtual machine on my non-WiFi Windows 7 desktop which has only 2 GByte of RAM. Although Mint was never slow I noted that Mint could have been much more responsive if properly installed. Unfortunately my desktop PC became very unstable, resulting in lots of 'Blue Screens Of Death' (BSOD) errors. Hopefully now you see why I warned you previously.

I agree with Mouser, migrating to Windows 7 isn't hard when it comes to the user experience. Microsoft offered (free) software that can check if the netbook from your wife (and the software that is installed on it) will be able to run on Windows 7. Likely they still have similar software but I assume the target Windows version will be 8 nowadays. Anyway, that software could still help you with identifying where the problematic points of migration will be when you choose to upgrade to Windows 7.



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