If you’re new here, you might want to be warned that I’m verbose. If you scroll down there’s a step-by-step recollection of what I did that might be useful for some people.
Back in 2012, I was planning a trip to Europe. One of the things I wanted to do while I was there was to assess the viability of working while traveling. Previously, vacations for me had always been device free. Now, it was going to be the opposite. I was trying to be as connected as possible. I headed to the store to size up the latest, lightest laptops.
When I got there, a sign advertising the newest version of Windows was propped up on the table with the laptop display encouraging people to pre-order. “When will it be released?” I asked. “Actually, it was released today,” I was told. Convenient coincidence.
Although Microsoft has always been the subject of hatred among my acquaintances, I never fully understood their complaints. When I was young, some adults, especially my mother, always accused me of doing things the hard way. However, when it came to the operating system for my computer, I chose to go with the mainstream. I never had any real problems with Windows myself.
I’ve used Linux a little bit, just out of general curiosity because I’m interested in computers, but it really never occurred to me to ditch Windows altogether. Some of the programs I use don’t have Linux versions. Sure, the operating system used to cost money, but a hundred bucks for something that will last me five years or so and that I’ll get daily use out of simply doesn’t strike me as that much.
Then came Windows 10. Honestly, Windows 8 wasn’t all that good either. 7 was a high point, in my opinion.
It’s really hard to enumerate all the things I hated about Windows 10. Cortana. The constant pop-ups advertising some Microsoft product. I would be trying to concentrate on my work when suddenly black box slides in from the right. “Get Office Now!” I found myself cursing more often than not. Another pop-up saying “Auto-rotate On!” which comes up again about ten minutes later. At best it’s distracting.
I’m ambivalent about the privacy issue. On the one hand, when I try to protect my privacy, I find myself in the company of people who seem paranoid to me. I tend to take for granted that fact that the government has no real interest in me and the interest that companies have in me is mainly how to part me from my money, which I don’t have nearly enough of to be anything other than matter of fact and practical about it. It does creep me out a bit. Once, I was allowing advertising alongside my emails. That lasted about a day. I wrote, in an email, something to the effect of “Don’t make me shit,” a figure of speech not to be taken literally. Soon, I saw an ad for a laxative. I realized that a program was reading the content of my emails. That really bugged me, so I downloaded Thunderbird.
It seems as if Microsoft has decided that it no longer wants to sell software to clients, but to give away software that gathers data and sell that data to their real clients. I would probably have continued using Windows anyway, but after a few months with Windows 10, it has become clear that they don’t want to simply snoop on you, they want to get in your way.
One of my main reasons to continue with Windows was because I’m a heavy user of Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Of course, Adobe has now gone to a subscription model, so it’s highly probably that, unless I become a professional photographer rather than a hobbyist, which is not in the least bit likely, when my current version becomes unusable I will switch to something else. Oddly, if they hadn’t done that, I’d probably be looking to upgrade to a newer version around now. Funny to think that I was exactly the sort of customer, the ones who bought ever other or every third version, that used to frustrate them the most. The price conscious consumers. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that we weren’t just being cheap. Spending more literally wasn’t in our budgets. In trying to get more money out of us, they have essentially driven us away. Well, their profits seem to be growing, so I guess they can do well enough without me.
However, I don’t use Photoshop on my laptop. Although I travel with my camera as well as my laptop, my laptop is too small to really want to spend much time processing pictures on it. Also, it doesn’t have the same processing power or memory that my desktop does. For serious photo editing, I’m not going to do it on my laptop. However, I have put up blog posts while traveling and I would like to be able to do basic things like download the photos from my camera and to some simple tweaks to the exposure or white balance.
Sometime around Christmas, I was using my laptop and I found myself gnashing my teeth yet again over how much I hated Windows 10. Then I didn’t use my laptop for several weeks. I realized that I hated 10 so much, my laptop had become more or less unusable. At the least, I was actually avoiding it. The only reason I hadn’t switched to Linux in the past was convenience. Well, it was looking as if convenience was no longer on the side of Windows.
Most of you probably know what Linux is. For those of you who don’t, it’s an operating system, or OS. Windows is also an operating system. It’s the software program that sits between your computer and other programs, called application programs. Apple brand computers run the Mac OS. Nearly eight-nine percent of personal computers run one version or another of the Windows operating system. Linux, by comparison, is less than two percent of the desktop operating system market. The most common alternative to Windows is Mac, but generally you need to buy an Apple computer and I wasn’t in the market for new hardware. There are a few other alternatives out there, but I needed something that was reliable, would work and had enough users out there that if I have a problem someone might be able to give me advice.
The history of Linux has been told many times elsewhere, so I won’t retell it here. What is relevant here is that the original project has branched into many projects, so there are different versions of Linux, usually called distributions, often shortened to “distros.” You will also hear people refer to “flavors” of Linux.
My own choice was not especially well reasoned. Since I wanted to simply replace Window on my laptop with something less annoying, that would hopefully work “out of the box,” I searched on the internet for the opinions of people with similar hardware. I found several posts from people using Arch Linux and Fedora Linux. I decided to try Fedora first since I had used it in the past. Actually, it seems to have changed quite a bit in intervening years, so perhaps that shouldn’t have been a factor.
One of the positive things about Linux is that it is free. It’s not at all uncommon for people to try out several different versions before settling on one they like. The only reason I didn’t do that is because I’m lazy. I’ll probably stick with what I’m running now, which is Fedora, unless I find a reason to do otherwise.
So, here are the steps I took. It was actually easier than I expected with only one real hang-up, which was easily overcome after looking it up on the internet.
One thing I would suggest if you are going to replace your operating system is to have another computer that is working on hand. Usually you can solve problems by researching them on the internet. It is not unlikely that someone else has had a similar problem and has perhaps put up a solution.
You will need a USB flash drive and I highly recommend having a paper and pen at hand. I don’t know about you, but I always find myself suddenly being prompted for a password and realizing that I have no place to write it down. Suddenly, I’m jumping and running around the room like chicken little and writing my password down just about anywhere and losing it. So, do know that you will have to create a password at a couple points.
This is, I repeat, very easy. Some actions had other options. I’m not listing all the alternatives that were possible, just what I did. I’m lazy. I like convenience and I like easy.
For the sake of simplicity, I’m not explaining things. I don’t know much, so I’m operating under the assumption that any one who finds the following useful knows less than I do. I think to myself, “What if my sister really got fed up with Windows and wanted to switch? How would I tell her to do it?” I’m going to but some longer explanations in footnotes at the end.
So this is a blow-by-blow of what I did. If you would like to do things differently (and there are other options) there is plenty of information out there to help. There are probably better ways of doing things, but I’m currently writing this post using the laptop in question, so this did work for me.
There are, by the way, plenty of alternatives to Fedora, and a lot of information at there on the web if you care to research it. I confess, I was being lazy and just wanted the pain of Windows 10 to go away and wasn’t at all in the mood to research it properly.
- Go to https://fedorahosted.org/liveusb-creator/ .1 Look under where it says “Download,” then beneath it “Windows,” then “Windows Installer” and click the link that follows it.If you’re using Firefox, you should get a dialogue box prompting you to save the file. Click “save.” Your download should start. Type “Ctrl+J” to open the Download Library. Double click on “liveusb-creator-3.12.0-setup.exe.” You will get a dialogue labeled “Open Executable File.” Click “OK.” Install the LiveUSB Creator using the defaults, which should be something like “Next”, “Install”, “Next”, “Finish.” The LiveUSB Creator should open automatically. You can leave it open while you do the next step.
- Go to https://getfedora.org/en/workstation/download/ . Click the big green button that says “Download.” When the dialogue labeled “Opening Fedora-Live-Workstation-x86_64-23-10.iso” appears, make sure the radio button labeled “Save File” is chosen and then click “OK.”This is a very large file and, depending on the speed of your connection, it could take a long time to download. Wait.
- Stick your USB flash drive into your computer. Return to the Fedora LiveUSB Creator or launch the program if it is not open. There is a panel labeled “Use existing Live CD” with a button that says “Browse.” Click it. A file chooser should open. Navigate to your downloads file and find the file called “Fedora-Live-Workstation-x86_64-23-10.iso.”2 Choose it and click “Open.” Beneath that, there is a panel labeled “Target Device” with a drop down menu. To the right of the drop down menu is a refresh button. Click the refresh button and the name of your USB flash drive should appear. (I had no other removable devices installed at the time, so it was the only thing on the drop down menu. If you have other devices, you might have to choose it.) Click “Create Live USB.”I actually did all this on a machine other than my laptop, so I ejected the flash drive at this point and turned on my laptop. The following directions are specifically for Windows 10.
- Make copies of any data, photos, or anything else you have stored on the machine because we will be destroying what is on there. On the machine on which you wish to install the operating system go to the Start menu. From the Start menu go to “Settings,”*3* which should open the Settings window. From Settings, go to “Update and Security.” Under Update and Security, click “Recovery.” Recovery has a section labeled “Advanced startup.” Under that is a button that says “Restart now.” A screen will appear labeled “Choose an option.” Click the box labeled “Troubleshoot.” This will open another screen labeled “Troubleshoot.” Click the box labeled “Advanced options.” Under Advanced Options, click “UEFI firmware settings.” Click “Restart.”
- This brought up something called the “Setup Utility.” This must be navigated with the right, left, up and down arrows, not the pointing device. Go to the “Boot” menu.Here, I changed the Boot Mode and disabled Fast Boot. At the bottom of the screen the functions of several keys are described. F5/F6 changes the values of the options. Using the up and down arrows, navigate to where it says “EFI.” “Windows Boot Manager” should appear first. Highlight it and hit F5 to move it down on the list. Press F10 to save and exit.
- Insert the live USB drive you made in steps 1 – 3 into your computer. Restart.
- This is what I saw. Unfortunately, the camera focused on me, not the screen, but what it says is “not a COM32R image,”*4* followed on the next line by “Boot.”This line will keep repeating every few seconds until you do something. Hit tab. Options will appear. One of the options was “linux0.” I typed that. It started to Install. The rest is even easier.
- I was given an option to “Try Fedora” or to “Install to Hard Drive.”*5* Since I knew that I wanted to get rid of Windows and I’m too lazy to try several distros first, I just clicked “Install to Hard Drive.” From the Installation Summary screen, click on “Installation Destination.” From the Installation Destination screen, I chose the only hard drive on my computer. On the dialogue labeled “Reclaim Disk Space” I clicked “Delete all.” Follow the password prompts. Do not forget to write it down someplace safe! Then: Yea!
- After that, there are a few self-explanatory screens asking you for things like your language preference and time zone.
I confess, I was a little surprised by this, but I guess you’ve gotta keep up with the times:
This was followed by a screen asking for your name. There’s no need to put your real name here, but you need to put something. Odd.
This makes finding software absurdly easy:
Too easy. Where’s the pain? You young’uns. When we were young, if you wanted a program, we had these disks and you had to carry the data to your computer with your bare hands!
I haven’t been using it long enough to tell you what I think of it, but I’ve got to say, much to my surprise, so far it’s actually been easier than using Windows. That did surprise me.
I have a few other thoughts about this, and I apologize for the paucity of the explanations. While the installation was relatively easy, writing this out was quite time consuming and I need to get away from the computer.
One. (‘Cause fucking WordPress won’t let me start a paragraph with a number with turning on the damned numbering thingamabob. ‘Cause, ya know I’m too stupid to know what I want to do myself.) I don’t know if the live USB creator will work with other Linux distributions. I don’t see why not, but I didn’t try it. In the past I’ve used Rufus. Wikipedia has a list.
Two. “Fedora-Live-Workstation-x86_64-23-10.iso” was the name of the file I downloaded. The current release is numbered 23. If you this number almost certainly will change in the future, so the exact name of the file might be different. (I kinda figure most people can work that out, but I’m trying to be super specific and simple here.)
Three. This is very different from what I’ve done in the past. Previously, hitting F2 while the operating system was booting would take you into the BIOS and F12 would take you to the boot menu. This is what I initially tried to do and one of the reasons I’m taking the time to write that all out. I’ve read a couple of different explanations for why this didn’t work that way, but I’m not sure what explanation is correct. In any case, going into settings as I’ve described is what worked.
Four. I have no idea why this happened. I read found quite a few places on line where people brought it up, so it seems to be a common problem. It has a simple solution, but I have no clue why it is happening in the first place.
Five. If you want to try it to see if you like it before installing it, in other words you are unsure you want to get rid of Windows just yet, you can pick the other option. You can also try several different Linux distributions to see if you like one better than another before installing.