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The Windows XP operating system on my aging (by computer standards) Acer Aspire 3003 laptop, slowed down, froze my mouse pointer and ate up huge amounts of memory and CPU usage earlier this week.

Eventually it stopped working all together. I have no idea why – perhaps a virus (even though I run a daily virus check) or, more likely, a corrupted or conflicted system file.

Previously when something like this happened, I would simply reload Windows XP from the Acer system disks. However, I could not find them (they are in a little CD folder that is misplaced), and, besides, the Acer installation does weird partitioning things to my hard drive.

As I thought about it, I realized that all I use this laptop for are a little word processing, internet browsing, music playing and movie watching. The only truly Windows specific programs are those from Canon that I use to process my photographs, and I rarely do that on this machine because it is slow.

So I decided to dispense with Windows altogether and run this computer with Ubuntu Linux. I downloaded the free Ubuntu 9.10 distribution from the Ubuntu site and proceeded to install it.

A not-entirely problem free process. To work, the installation required me to manually create a new boot partition as well as the default data partition and swap file area on my hard drive and the SIS integrated graphics for this machine also needed a little tweaking (as SIS do not provide a Linux driver themselves for this particular chipset).

But once those problems had been overcome by a little internet research, the installation went very smoothly and here I am, now running Opera on Ubuntu, and doing almost everything I did before. I've been using OpenOffice for my word processing for a long time now, and it runs better on Ubuntu than on XP, so that's an unexpected bonus. In fact, everything is a bit quicker – Ubuntu is not such a memory hog as Windows. The last thing I needed to do was to install Skype and that up and running too.

I like my laptop's set of new clothes! 🙂