Linux For People Who Like The Look And Feel Of Windows


Q4OS LinuxI'm a Windows user. I've used it since the very beginning, when version 1.0 was released. I was working at Epson at the time, at their R&D centre outside London, where we were developing a competing product called Taxi. As you have probably worked out by now, Taxi didn't fare quite as well as Windows.

I sometimes use Linux nowadays. Normally for servers, where a GUI isn't required. I've tried to use it as a desktop environment before, too, but I simply didn't feel comfortable with it. I could never find a distribution where the colours were similar to Windows, or the buttons for closing a window were on the correct side, and so on.

I recently discovered a Linux distribution called Q4OS. It's based on a mainstream (and well supported) version called Debian. Most importantly, this very old Windows user feels quite at home. It's very easy to install on a virtual machine or an old PC, and you get a complete desktop environment, browser and office suite from the start. And of course, being Linux, everything is free.

If you feel like a change, or you have an old PC for which you're still seeking a purpose, check out Q4OS. The download is around 600 MB and is at although it will also install another 600 MB or so if you choose the full browser and office suite experience.

A quick note for the non-technical: remember Q4OS is an operating system and not merely an application program. Make sure you know what that means. If you try to install it on your main computer, without a virtualisation tool such as VMware Player or Virtualbox, you'll lose all your files and programs.

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Installed Q4OS on a thumb drive - the temporary version - how do you install a permanent version on a thumb drive - and how much space approximately is needed say for the 'big standard' option? I've done this for other Linux versions but forgotten how to - and couldn't see it on the Q4OS page. I have now on a thumb drive the basic "ready for installation" - could I just use the Install option and then choose a second thumb drive to install to? (I suppose there is no sense installing to the same drive?)

In other words - can you make a bootable USB-drive with Q4OS where you can work and make changes that are kept? Will a 8 Gb or 16 Gb USB-drive be sufficient? Thanks for any answer.

Hey rob, this is pretty darn nice, could be a keeper, used the Universal-USB-Installer and have it running on a stick..very snappy and pleasantly different from the Ubuntu/Mint flavors of which I have tired.

Piece of cake to figure out too. Well thought out.

Next move, a full install on a Think Pad, reckon I'll replace antiX.

Thanks :)

Thanks, Rob, for the info on this interesting new distro. While all the many technical advantages of Linux mentioned in the comments are convincing, my overriding reason for planning my escape to Linux can be summed up in one word: Privacy. I'm one of those with enough grey hair to remember and value the concept of personal privacy, so I refuse to surrender to Microsoft's intrusive snooping and their taking control of our computers and updating them whenever they see fit with whatever software they choose. Linux not only offers me the option of personal privacy, it allows me to configure my OS as I choose, not as some tech giant thinks best for its corporate purposes.

Accordingly, though we still use W7 Pro 64 on our business computers for the time being, I've been experimenting with Linux, loading Mint 17.2 Cinnamon in Virtual Box on two of those computers, a desktop and a laptop, and it seems to work great. I've even taken an old (2006) Dell Inspiron XP laptop with 1GB RAM and replaced XP with Mint 17.1 XFCE, as it was recommended as a good, lightweight distro for older machines. The result? An old, hopelessly slow Windows XP machine now runs much faster with Linux Mint and is a pleasure to use, though of course it's still no match for our newer, current desktops.

Unless wiser Linux heads than mine advise otherwise, my plan is ultimately to convert our W7 computers to the then-current version of Mint, then load the contents of our W7 machines into VirtualBox on each machine, both to allow us to use some Windows-only software and to give us easy access to our Windows-based documents and records if we need them. As I understand it, we can isolate the W7 in VB from the Internet to reduce the risk of malware, letting all Internet interface take place through Linux.

All in all, Linux - in whatever flavour of distro works best for a given user - seems to me like an excellent and logical OS choice for the future. Now if only Linux-based smartphones would improve enough to allow me to similarly get rid of the snooping of Google/Android......

I have an old PC that has windows7 installed, it also has several programs that are installed which I don't require on this older PC and there now is limited space and the PC runs fairly slow anyway. My question is can I do a clean install of this Linux o/s using the link you have given or can I download the Linux o/s onto a flashdrive, delete the old windows7 and boot the old machine from the flashdrive. Personally I would rather boot the machine into windows7 then go to link here and download o/s as a clean install. Hope my question is clear

You should download the Live CD to a flash drive first,
then boot from the flash drive so that you can test that the Linux OS works OK on your particular computer. If it runs fine (though it will be slower from the flash drive) then just run the install option from the Linux OS. No need to delete the Win7 first as the install will overwrite it.
Install instructions here:

OK thanks for reply, you answered my query

This is a new installation of Q4OS I did this morning. Took me around 40 minutes including updating the system, adding the software I needed, copying Thunderbird profile for 4 accounts, configuring Superkaramba and Conky Manager, importing and syncing into Chrome plus a stack of customizations. Try doing that with Windows. Admittedly a new user to Linux won't get there as quick, but it will still take only a fraction of the time it takes to set up a new Windows system. MC - Site Manager.

Not long ago I installed dual boot with Linux Mint and Windows 7. Linux Mint is quite "Windows-like" and excellent if you want to try out Linux for the first time. And I agree it's a good idea first to try it out from a CD/DVD or USB before installing anything. I don't think I'll ever go only Linux - because I guess there will always be programs you can only run in Windows.

The market objectives of Q4OS and Mint are very different so it's not really fair to make a comparison but regarding Mint, the Windows users I've introduced to this cannot believe that everything they need installs in around 10 minutes, is fully functional out of the box and thereafter updates automatically. The time and traumas I still spend with Windows and third party software updates for it are just plain annoying but I need to keep it on one machine just for Windows program testing. MC - Site Manager.

Thanks for the comments!

I have an old Dell laptop which I want to use as a navigation backup.....this sounds ideal to me

There are generally two types of Windows users - experts whose knowledge and expertise has grown over the years and casual users doing emails and Facebook.
Casual users, (like grandma) :) will have very few problems changing to a simple Linux system like Q4OS, Peppermint Linux or Linux Mint. They will probably be pleased to have all the updates and antivirus worries removed.
Windows experts that have a complex working environment will be more hesitant to make the move to Linux. They would be best to use a spare older computer to start testing Linux on, so they can keep the Win pc around as a backup if needed. Linux can replace their Windows environment, but it is not reasonable to expect years of Windows experience to instantly transfer to Linux. I found that Linux was mostly quickly useable, but I also continued to use some Windows applications while I was learning the Linux system. Now I rarely use Windows - usually only when Windows users need help with Windows problems! :)

As a long term computer user, I am open to listening to Linux advocates, about the advantages of Linux that may offset the many disadvantages
The Linux advantage include no need for the endless Windows updates, and less need for antiviral software

The disadvantages are rarely discussed
- does the recommended Linux distro support the many hardware device on the standard computer (audio hardware, printer, modem, scanner, USB drives, external hard drives, DVD drive etc)
- how many of peoples current preferred software choices are supported by the Linux distro ? (eg adobe acrobat, eg backup software). Telling people to find a lot of new substitute software just wont interest most people
- most people who work in office jobs use Office files, and usually the most recent version (2013). Does the recommended Linux distro support that the most recent Office documents?
- how much tinkering around is required to gather the device drivers to get a computer working up to the level of peoples' current setups, and how many hardware devices lack the Linus drivers ?

Of course, it is difficult for a Linux advocate to answer these questions, as there are an infinite number of software and hardware combinations
As a result, invariably there are an infinite number of reasons a Linux setup will be inferior to the standard computer users current mainstream computer setup (Windows or Apple). Usually a Linux distro needs to be supported by a person expert in Linux

The major problem that stopped me from using Linux was the trouble needed to replace a perfectly functioning computer setup with a lot of compromises. But good luck to those who benefit from this alternative OS

Your points are exactly why I had been hesitant to try Linux. Then I came upon a laptop that was "too slow" and tried Mint on it. I guess I got hooked then.

You can try Linux on a disk or flash drive to see how well it runs on any particular system, without changing anything. Try all your hardware, and try the "old" scanner and printer in your closet that won't run current Windows, you might be surprised that it works great on Linux. TV cards that last worked on XP, for instance. I recently recorded all my VHS and 8mm analog home videos using one.

I had very few problems collaborating with MSOffice users using LibreOffice, and sometimes I had to read old Office, Word Perfect or PDF files to "translate" them to the new Office format. I edited photos, drawings, electronic schematics, and videos. I ran electronic simulations and remotely controlled lab instruments. I designed, laid out and ordered printed circuit boards using Windows software running on Wine. All this on a 7 year old PC.

Finding software is as easy as going to the distro repository. Printer drivers are almost automatic... "find printer... Install... print test page?" And the updating on Mint is the way all updating should be, polite and informative, and you're in control.

The only thing I can't address is gaming. If you're into the latest high performance games you'd have to see what was available. There's thousands of them for Linux, I hear.

Q4OS looks appealing, especially for business use. The multiple desktops are nice and would give users a personal touch, and the long support time is good. I always go to distrowatch to shop for distros.

Suffice to say I use a variety of Linux distros on three desktops and two laptops for everything I need to do including my admin role with this site. MC - Site Manager.

Thats great. If this is a Linus article just for existing Linux users, thats very helpful

However, the vast majority of visitors to this site reading this article, are not website managers, nor need to change their current OS setup
A lot of novice computer users will find Linux a lot of investment of time, and not much return.

Advocates for Linux rarely state for which people is the recommended distro is suitable for, and for which uses
So Linux is good for website managers, for what reasons ? And what other nonLinux computers users will benefit from the suggested distro

People would like to know in what circumstances the suggested Linux distro would be useful

It was stated in a comment that "I've never understood why folks spend money and risk their data using Windows when secure systems like this are available for free". Well I have spelt out the disadvantages of Linux, which should be mentioned whenever Linux is discussed to mainstream computer audience, and these are the reasons people risk using a mainstream OS

**My important laptop related hardware I use regularly, include external hard drives, USB drives, computer audio, and modem**
I am open to the idea of using Linux, the main indication would be if the ultrareliable Windows 7 is deliberately made redundant by no updated Internet Browsers.
For example, Firefox, Chrome etc have stopped supporting Windows XP, and will likely stop supporting WIndows 7 in the medium term.
Only then, will I consider a Linux installation in a virtual Machine to access the internet. However, if the lag is too much, or there are copy/paste issues, I would just prefer to use Windows 10, and accept all the privacy and personal data intrusions

Making recmmendations is an inevitable minefield as it would be for a make of car or smartphone. People have different needs and different hardware which makes nothing suitable as a one size fits all recommendation. Some distros also provide more than one DE (desktop environment) so again individual circumstances can affect this choice. Also, it is up to individuals to decide if time invested in Linux is worth it for them but considering the average time spent on social media and games I guess a lot of folks have this opportunity. The bottom line however is there is no need to remove Windows to use and/or try out Linux. Most are available as a “live” session download for CD or USB and users can boot with this and try out most of the features they would have with a full install. Thereafter a chosen distro can be dual booted alongside Windows with the user having the choice of which to use at boot. There are detailed instructions about how to do this for the majority of the popular Linux distros.

This is certainly one of the best Linux systems I've ever used especially considering the low resource use. I also like the minimal installation after which you can add as much or as little as you like to the base system. I'm not a great fan of the default file manager but Dolphin can be added as a replacement with just a couple of clicks. Customization possibilities are immense as they are with most Linux systems although you'll need to run "sudo kcmodules --unlock" in a terminal to reveal all the options in system settings. I've never understood why folks spend money and risk their data using Windows when secure systems like this are available for free. MC - Site Manager.
More info + screenshot here.