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Open Source System Software

1. Linux Mint

Many people consider Linux Mint to be among the most intuitive operating systems for Windows XP users. It supports several different desktop interfaces, including Cinnamon, which users can configure to look and feel a lot like XP.

2. Ubuntu

Very easy to use, Ubuntu is likely the most widely used Linux distribution in the world. The desktop version offers speed, security, thousands of built-in applications and compatibility with most peripherals.

3. Zorin OS

Built specifically to attract former Windows users, Ubuntu-based Zorin is probably the Linux distribution that's the most similar to Windows. It includes a unique "Look Changer" that switches the desktop to look like Windows 7, XP, Vista, Ubuntu Unity, Mac OS X or GNOME 2, and it includes WINE and PlayOnLinux to allow users to keep using their Windows software.

4. Robolinux

Also similar to Windows, Robolinux promises to allow users to run all their Windows XP and 7 software without making themselves vulnerable to malware. It also includes more than 30,000 open source applications.

5. StartOS

Formerly known as YLMF, the interface for StartOS looks an awful lot like Windows XP. It's managed by a group of Chinese developers, so the website is in Chinese. However, English versions of the OS are available.

6. Pinguy OS

According to the Pinguy website, "PinguyOS is very much designed for people who are new to the Linux world; many people coming from both a Windows or a Mac background will find plenty of familiar features along with some new ones that aren’t available in either Windows or Mac." It's based on Ubuntu and uses the Gnome-Shell desktop.

7. MEPIS

Popular with new Linux users, MEPIS aims at providing a Linux distribution that's very stable and very easy to use. It comes with hundreds of applications preinstalled and you can easily dual-boot it alongside Windows so that you can continue using XP software.

8. Antergos

Previously known as Cinnarch, Antergos is based on Arch Linux, which is popular with hard-core open source users, but Antergos much easier for beginners to use than Arch. It comes with a graphical installer that allows the user to choose from among several interfaces, including some that look quite a bit like XP.

9. Manjaro

Like Antergos, Manjaro aims to be a more user-friendly version of Arch. It comes with desktop environments, software management applications and media codecs pre-installed so users can get right to work after installing it.

10. PCLinuxOS

Like many other OSes on this list, PCLinuxOS was designed with usability in mind. It can run from a LiveCD, meaning you can try it out while still keeping Windows XP installed on your PC.

11. Edubuntu

For those looking to replace Windows XP on a PC primarily used by kids, Edubuntu is an excellent choice. It's based on Ubuntu (and supported by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu), so it's very user-friendly. Plus, it adds plenty of software tailored for use by schools or home users with children.

12. Mageia

Forked from Mandrake (which was later renamed Mandriva), Mageia is a community-driven Linux distribution with a good reputation for being beginner-friendly. Because it's updated very frequently, it tends to include more recent versions of software packages, and it has excellent support for several different languages.

13. OpenMandriva

Like Mageia, OpenMandriva is a community-managed Linux distribution based on Mandrake/Mandriva. It attempts to be simple and straightforward enough for new users but also to offer the breadth and depth of capabilities demanded by advanced users.

14. Kubuntu

Kubuntu's goal is to "make your PC friendly," and it's fairly easy for new Linux users to figure out. It combines Ubuntu and the KDE desktop and includes plenty of built-in software, like a web browser, an office suite, media apps and more.

15. Netrunner

Netrunner is based on Kubuntu, plus some interface modifications to make it even more user friendly and some extra codecs to make it easier to play media files. The project also offers a second version of the same OS based on Manjaro.

16. Kwheezy

Kwheezy is based on Debian, which is popular with advanced Linux users, but it's designed to be more accessible for Linux newcomers. It comes "with all the applications, plugins, fonts and drivers that you need for daily use, and some more," and it uses the intuitive KDE desktop.

17. Point Linux

Also based on Debian, Point Linux uses the Mate desktop, which should feel comfortable to most Windows XP users. It aims to be a "fast, stable and predictable" desktop operating system.

18. Korora

Based on Fedora, Korara "aims to make Linux easier for new users, while still being useful for experts" with an operating systems that "just works." Several different desktops are available, so users can choose the interface that seems the most comfortable and familiar.

19. Ultimate Edition

This Ubuntu remix aims to provide the "ultimate" computing experience. It offers an intuitive interface for newbies and improves on Ubuntu's software management and wireless capabilities.

21. Trisquel

Trisquel is a Ubuntu-based Linux distribution aimed at home users, small enterprises and schools. The interface resembles the traditional Windows look and feels very similar to XP or Windows 7.

22. Knoppix

If you just want to give Linux a try without installing anything on your hard drive, Knoppix runs from a Live CD. You can download the code and create your own CD or order a very inexpensive pre-made CD from any one of a variety of vendors.

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