Rescued by Linux

One of the nice things about Linux is one thing that Microsoft Windows can never be — a tool to rescue an old or ailing computer. In yesterday’s post, “My Path to Linux,” I mentioned why I installed Linux in the first place: Microsoft Windows XP Professional suddenly started crashing due to it just as suddenly not liking my NVidia video card.

I remember applying an update for Windows and shortly after the crashes started. I even rolled back the drivers and it still did not fix the problem. I had purchased Lycoris Desktop/LX a few months prior, but had never installed it. I did not think there was problem with the video card. Nothing indicated such. I tested it by installing Lycoris to see if the computer stilled crashed and it never did. That made me a believer in Linux’s capabilities.

Rescuing an Infected Windows Computer

After Linux began to be offered on live CD, I started using them to rescue ailing systems. People would ask me to rescue their computers running Windows. Most of the time, it was due to virus or worm attacks slowing down or corrupting the computers. Anti-virus subscriptions were allowed to lapse in most cases. In some cases, anti-virus programs were never installed.

It is an easy process rescuing an infected system with a live CD.

  1. Check the amount of RAM installed on the infected computer.
    1. If the RAM is less than what it would take to run a live CD, then add some.
    2. If the RAM is less than what it would take to run a live CD and you did not have some spare RAM for the infected computer, then pop in a spare hard drive and install Linux on it.
  2. Boot into Linux and back up files from the infected CD to a network drive, an external hard drive, a flash drive, CD, DVD, or an additional internal hard drive.
  3. Reinstall the offending operating system, I mean Windows and all the patches and reboot many times.
  4. Install a good anti-virus program and update it, as well as the software needed by the computer’s owner.
  5. Scan the backed up data before it is ever restored to the previously infected hard drive.
  6. Restore/copy the clean data from the backed up data.
  7. Include a live Linux CD with the computer when returning it to the computer’s owner.

Other Live CD or Live Flash Drive Uses for Linux

  1. Testing “flaky” hardware — video cards, sound cards, hard drives, and flash drives.
  2. Rescuing corrupted files.
  3. Quickly getting a system back online when one really needs to be online.
  4. Showing off Linux’s capabilities to the unconverted.

Saving Computers from the Landfill OR Saving the Landfill from Old Computers

If you have an old computer that you are thinking of throwing out, then try installing Linux on it. Distrowatch lists some distributions that can run on older systems with small amounts of RAM, slow CPUs, and small hard drives. These computers can be donated, given to people in need, or kept for a spare computer or as a file server. Old computers tend to have components with lead in them. It benefits everyone to keep them out of the landfill.

Why get rid of a computer simply because Microsoft has forced upon the world another version of Windows requiring ever higher specifications? The consumer buys what he or she needs, not what Microsoft wants him or her to need. I think Microsoft is getting the point with Vista. The irony is Vista has opened the computer world’s windows to Linux.

Extend the Life of a Computer

Any of the above uses of Linux will extend the life of a computer. Microsoft does not offer such Windows uses, because it want the consumer to buy the latest it has to offer.

As for the video card that Windows XP Professional decided to dislike… the NVidia GeForce4 MX 440 still powers my display.


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