I keep getting these reminders on my old laptop to update to Windows 10. I am a person that likes to think that if it’s not broken don’t fix it. When I think about what I use my laptop for I believe that 90% of the usage is browsing the internet, which includes email, shopping, and news. I also to use MS Word and Excel on limited bases. I do have a version of MS Office that I bought for home use, it wasn’t expensive but I did have to buy it.
There are also rumors out there that Microsoft is using Windows 10 as a vehicle to get users to pay a for software subscriptions. E.g. Security updates, bug fixes, and upgrades of applications and services. Microsoft is promoting Windows 10 more as a platform more than an OS, with it running on phones, IoT devices, and Xbox.
Rather than follow the crowd to Windows 10 why not consider Linux? There are plenty of free desktop distributions and they are more than capable of handling the modest requirements of my laptop. Best of all there is LibreOffice available for most distributions which compares very favorably to MS Office 2016. Linux can also be tried before it is installed on your hard drive to see if it works on your particular hardware.
In this article I will describe how to setup a bootable USB flash drive to boot a specific version of Linux or multiple versions of Linux.
What you need to create a bootable flash drive.
- A USB flash drive
- YUMI – Multiboot USB Creator
- ISO file(s) of the Linux to install
The USB flash drive only needs to be about 4 GBytes in size. Just make sure that back up anything on the drive that you want to keep.
The YUMI can be downloaded at the following location. Put the YUMI.exe in a local directory that will also include the iso images you download.
Now the fun part begins. Select the ISO image that will be put on the bootable USB flash drive. There are many distributions available that are worth evaluating. The most popular is Ubuntu, but others include Mint, CentOS, Debian, or Fedora. I’m going to use Ubuntu which and be found at the following location. Now we have all the items needed for creating a bootable USB flash drive
Create a Bootable Flash Drive
The “YUMI” application is what creates and optionally formats the flash drive as bootable and installs the iso image on the drive. Run the application, select the Linux distribution, select the iso image that you want to boot, and then select the drive letter of the flash drive to make bootable. See Figure 1 below:
Step 4 is used if you plan to install applications and configure the image and reboot or share it. If you just plan to boot it and evaluate the distribution on your system then just leave it at 0 MBs. Now click ‘Create’ and Yes to the next dialog and wait for it to complete. When it completes it will ask if you want to add another ISO image or distro. For this article just select No and Finish. You are now ready to boot your system.
Do the following sequence to boot you Linux flash drive.
- Shut down the computer
- Power on
- Look for the Boot device hot key (My computer uses F9)
- Select the USB device YUMI boots up
- Select “Linux Distributions”
- Select your Linux distribution for the list One for now
- Select “Try Ubuntu without Installing”
I am using Ubuntu, but yours will say whatever distribution you are using. Linux now boots (if your system is compatible).
The Ubuntu Desktop version has Firefox installed as the browser and LibreOffice. The USB drive can used to transfer files to your Linux system to try Libre Word or Excel.
Create Flash Drive that has Multiple Versions of Linux
To add another distribution to your “USB flash drive” do the following steps
- Insert the flash drive into your computer
- Select the letter of the USB flash drive
- Select the ISO image of the new distribution to add to your collection
- Click Yes
- Click through the dialogs after the new distribution has been added
You flash drive now has two Linux distributions on it to compare on you system(s).
It is up to you to determine if Linux is a viable option for you, but it is quick and easy to evaluate:
- If it works on you computer(s)
- That is does what you want
- If the performance is adequate
Windows 10 is a good OS, it’s just that it’s not the only OS for the desktop. Linux has really come age and is worth evaluating.