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Library Friends Computer Sprout offers info and help

Frank Gifford

Contributing Writer

If you are among the more than 40 million people who use Windows XP on your computer, your Decision Day is coming April 9, 2014 when Microsoft Corporation ends support of Windows XP.

After April 8, 2014, only  businesses paying $200 per month per computer for continued critical patches will be able to safely access the Internet using computers with Windows XP.  According to multiple sources, everyone else with Windows XP will be vulnerable to “black hat” hackers using previously secret exploits to render Internet-connected Windows XP computers useless.

What are your choices?

1. Continue to use your Windows XP com-puter.  Make sure your critical data are backed up.  Be prepared with an alternate plan after April 2014 in case your Internet Windows XP computer suffers the predicted critical strike.

2. Obtain newer hardware and upgrade to Windows 7 or beyond.  Be prepared to spend $300 and up to implement this plan.

3. Install Xubuntu on your Windows XP com-puter.  Xubuntu is derived from Ubuntu and is what is commonly referred to as “”Linux.”  It is specifically designed to run on older computers. Linux is a free, open source operating system named after its developer,  Norwegian  Linus Torvalds, who was a student in 1991 at the time Linux was first released.  In comparison, Windows is neither free nor open source. Both Linux and Windows are operating systems (OS), low level softwares that manage how your computer actually works. As an important bonus, Linux computers rarely suffer from malware, viruses and fragmented hard drives.

Linux was originally developed as a free OS for Intel x86 based personal computers (the same kind Windows XP runs on).  According to Wikipedia, it has since been ported to work on more computer hardware platforms that any other operating system ever.   It is a leading operating system on servers and other big iron systems such as mainframe computers, the kind of computers that power Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc.

More than 95 percent of today’s 500 fastest supercomputers run some variant of Linux, including the fastest 44 supercomputers.

Linux is also the operating system typically running on built-in firmware, like on your modem/router or DVI.  Some variant of Linux runs many smart phones and tablet computers.  The Android system, in widespread use on mobile computing devices, is built on the Linux kernel.

The Hillsboro Library Friends Computer Sprout program provides assistance to local residents in need of migrating from Windows XP.  For a small donation to the nonprofit Friends, your old XP computer can be reconfigured with Xubuntu, a Linux distribution or version specifically designed to run on your XP computer. Or, you can explore the most cost effective alternatives for moving to Windows 7 or beyond at the Computer Sprout Lab. Computer Sprout provides residents with a complete range of computing support.

Stop by the Hillsboro Library Computer Sprout Lab, Monday and Tuesday evenings 4 to 8 p.m. or Wednesday, 4 to 7 p.m.

The Hillsboro Library is located at 53 Third Street in Hillsboro just off US 219.

Look for the green library sign on US 219  just northeast of the Hillsboro Elementary School.

For more information, call the Hillsboro Library at 304-653-4936, or Computer Lab Mentor Frank Gifford at 304-653-4742.

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