How to Replace Windows XP With Linux on a Laptop

By Contributing Writer

Linux is not just for computer geeks anymore; more non-technical users are making the switch. Replacing Windows XP with Linux on a laptop is easy and can bring new usefulness to old hardware, extending its working life by years. Linux boot CDs can be downloaded for free from many websites, bought online or purchased as part of Linux books. Once a computer is booted from a Linux CD, onscreen prompts guide the user through the process of installing the new operating system.

Things You'll Need

  • Laptop
  • Linux boot CD

Replacing Windows XP with Linux

Step 1

Acquire a Linux boot CD. There are many ways to do this. If you have a fast Internet connection and a CD-ROM burner, you can download a boot CD image from (and many other websites) and burn it yourself. Ubuntu also sells CDs via mail order and at retail computer shops. Finally, many bookstores sell Linux guides that come with a Linux boot CD.

Step 2

Set your laptop's BIOS to boot from the CD-ROM drive. The exact method varies according to the computer model. Typically, one must press Delete or F1 immediately when the computer is turned on but before the operating system starts to load to enter the BIOS setup program and change the device boot order. Consult your laptop's manual for instructions specific to your device.

Step 3

Boot the laptop from the Linux installer boot CD. Place the boot CD in the drive and restart the machine.

Step 4

Follow the onscreen prompts to configure your machine. Most modern Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and Red Hat require very little user configuration, but you will need to select the language you want the system to use and set your time zone.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you just want to try Linux without actually installing it on the hard drive, you can use a "live CD" such as Knoppix to boot into Linux directly from a CD without affecting the hard drive's contents.
  • Installing Linux on the machine in this way will overwrite the previous contents of the hard drive, including all data files. Make sure you have backups of any data you want to preserve.