Approximately four years ago I decided to explore several Linux distros to learn about their capabilities and to discover for myself what all of the hubbub was about in geekdom since Linux had become ready for usage by the masses. As someone who had messed around with computers since third grade nearly 30 years prior I found it easy to download and burn Linux operating system ISOs to CDs and boot computers from these CDs. I was immediately gratified when I used Knoppix to boot a computer after Windows simply refused to boot completely and thus was able to backup important files to a flash drive and then reformat the hard drive and reinstall Windows. When I was going through these steps I learned that I could install both Knoppix and Windows on the same computer’s hard drive and use GRUB to choose which OS I wanted to boot to.
After much exploration of the various Linux distros I found that Puppy Linux was the best “light” Linux that could be booted from CD or from a flash drive (or installed on the hard drive) and that with Puppy Linux I could resurrect old computers. Puppy enables faster boot and shutdown times than the outdated Windows 98, more efficient CPU usage for faster application response, tons of features and software, and all within 50 MB to 100 MB. For example, I installed Puppy Linux on an old Compaq Armada 1700 laptop with a Pentium II 266 MHz and 256 MB RAM. I also installed a D-Link wireless PCI card. I have used this Compaq laptop many times over the years to surf the Web and to write. Yes, I am a sucker for nostalgia, and, in fact, I am writing this post on the old Compaq dinosaur run by Puppy.
I think if you are someone who is sick and tired of all of the problems you have with Windows and just want a computer that works and all you need is Web browsing, email, word processing, and some other basic applications like spreadsheets, image editing, drawing, etc., then spending a few bucks on an older computer and installing Linux, such as Puppy, is the way to go. All you need is a modicum of tech savvy, the ability to follow instructions, and an afternoon of patience to get set up (maybe even just an hour or so). I sincerely believe the vast majority of “late adopters” who have little to no computer experience would be well-served by their younger friends and family by setting them up with a computer running Linux (I think installing Knoppix on a decent computer–at least 512 MB RAM and Pentium III–is a good option for general users) because they are not pre-disposed via the QWERTY phenomena to the functionality (dysfunctionality?) of Windows.