Frank Gifford\r\n\r\nContributing Writer\r\n\r\nIf 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.\r\n\r\nAfter April 8, 2014, only \u00a0businesses paying $200 per month per computer for continued critical patches will be able to safely access the Internet using computers with Windows XP. \u00a0According to multiple sources, everyone else with Windows XP will be vulnerable to \u201cblack hat\u201d hackers using previously secret exploits to render Internet-connected Windows XP computers useless.\r\n\r\nWhat are your choices?\r\n\r\n1. Continue to use your Windows XP com-puter. \u00a0Make sure your critical data are backed up. \u00a0Be prepared with an alternate plan after April 2014 in case your Internet Windows XP computer suffers the predicted critical strike.\r\n\r\n2. Obtain newer hardware and upgrade to Windows 7 or beyond. \u00a0Be prepared to spend $300 and up to implement this plan.\r\n\r\n3. Install Xubuntu on your Windows XP com-puter. \u00a0Xubuntu is derived from Ubuntu and is what is commonly referred to as \u201c\u201dLinux.\u201d \u00a0It is specifically designed to run on older computers. Linux is a free, open source operating system named after its developer, \u00a0Norwegian \u00a0Linus Torvalds, who was a student in 1991 at the time Linux was first released. \u00a0In 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.\r\n\r\nLinux was originally developed as a free OS for Intel x86 based personal computers (the same kind Windows XP runs on). \u00a0According to Wikipedia, it has since been ported to work on more computer hardware platforms that any other operating system ever. \u00a0\u00a0It 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.\r\n\r\nMore than 95 percent of today\u2019s 500 fastest supercomputers run some variant of Linux, including the fastest 44 supercomputers.\r\n\r\nLinux is also the operating system typically running on built-in firmware, like on your modem\/router or DVI. \u00a0Some variant of Linux runs many smart phones and tablet computers. \u00a0The Android system, in widespread use on mobile computing devices, is built on the Linux kernel.\r\n\r\nThe Hillsboro Library Friends Computer Sprout program provides assistance to local residents in need of migrating from Windows XP. \u00a0For 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.\r\n\r\nStop by the Hillsboro Library Computer Sprout Lab, Monday and Tuesday evenings 4 to 8 p.m. or Wednesday, 4 to 7 p.m.\r\n\r\nThe Hillsboro Library is located at 53 Third Street in Hillsboro just off US 219.\r\n\r\nLook for the green library sign on US 219 \u00a0just northeast of the Hillsboro Elementary School.\r\n\r\nFor more information, call the Hillsboro Library at 304-653-4936, or Computer Lab Mentor Frank Gifford at 304-653-4742.