Installing Ubuntu in an Old Laptop

July 18, 2016

When the hard drive of my old Toshiba Satellite died suddenly I thought of getting rid of it, but when I learned that you could buy a refurbished hard drive on ebay for very little money (around $35) I ordered one and installed it.

The clean, fresh hard drive with no OS gave me the perfect excuse to install a Linux operating system. I had heard good things about Ubuntu, with its user-friendly interface and none of the clutter that comes with a traditional Windows installation.

Here's what I did:

  1. From another computer create a Ubuntu bootable USB stick.

  2. Plug the Ubuntu USB stick in a USB port of the computer where you want to install it, and turn the computer on.

  3. As soon as the first screen comes up press F12 (or Escape or F2 depending on the computer you're using). You will be taken to a menu of options where you will need to change the booting order to boot from the USB drive first (this link offers a pretty good explanation of how to do it, depending on the computer you're using).

  4. Once Ubuntu comes up on the screen, it will give you the option to try it out from the USB port or to install it in your hard drive. You can choose either one. Since I wanted to install it in my clean, empty hard drive I chose the latter. There are other things you can do, like running Ubuntu alongside Windows, but I haven't tried them. There are plenty of tutorials online explaining alternative installations, though, if you want to do something different.

  5. Finally, I activated the wifi connection by looking for it in the connections icon at the top right of the main window.

My new Ubuntu installation works perfectly. It is fast and efficient, and the interface is intuitive enough that anybody can use it. Ubuntu also comes Firefox already installed, and with LibreOffice, an open source office suite compatible with Microsoft Office. That means you can open and edit files like Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations and share them with other users quickly and easily.

Overall, I am very happy that my old laptop got a new lease of life, and that installing (and using) the free and open source Ubuntu on it was easy and painless.

Related: How to Get a Decent Dev Computer


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