When my wife’s venerable IBM Thinkpad with Windows XP reached six full years of service and beyond, it seemed like a good time for her to get a newer system with Windows 7. The Thinkpad was still chugging along but the XP operating system had developed a few quirks and it looked like a good time to switch to newer hardware running Windows 7.
A local charity was in need of a system for simple tasks like accessing the Internet so I decided to reinstall Windows XP on the Thinkpad, get all the updates, and give the PC to the charity.
Nothing seemed simpler since I thought that all I had to do was run the image that came on the restore partition that was included with the Thinkpad and then add the updates. But, like so many computer situations, things were not so simple. I ended up struggling for three full days trying to get a system running.
For reasons that I do not know, the image on the restore partition kept stopping in the middle of the restoration process and bluescreened with error messages about corrupt files. No problem, I thought. I had previously made a backup restore disk so I tried that. No luck. It behaved exactly the same as the restore partition.
I had a valid licensed full version of Windows XP available so I then installed a fresh version of XP. It installed like it was supposed to but said it was missing a number of drivers for things like the ethernet connection, the USB ports, the wireless Internet, and the sound card. The vaunted Windows plug-and-play was a flop here.
So I went on the Internet to track down the drivers that were missing. Fortunately, I had a record of the model numbers of the installed hardware made with Belarc Advisor; otherwise finding the correct drivers would have been very difficult. The IBM site still had drivers for the old Thinkpad components and I downloaded them.
Unfortunately, installing the drivers only fixed some of the problem. The integrated Intel wireless and USB ports still wouldn’t work. After much fiddling and attempts at various system repair techniques, I gave up on getting Windows to work.
I didn’t know what to expect but I decided to install Ubuntu. I downloaded the latest version, burnt a DVD, and started installing. It was a pleasant surprise. The installation went without a hitch and there were no complaints about missing drivers. All the components on the Thinkpad worked just fine right off the bat.
I added the Firefox browser, Open Office, and the system was ready for the charity. The user interface was a little different from Windows but easily understood. The system connected to the Internet without a hitch and so far as I know, the charity is perfectly happy with the system.
Linux 1, Windows 0.
Sol Libes has told me of a somewhat similar case that he encountered with a Toshiba laptop. Windows wouldn’t work but Ubuntu would.
Linux 2, Windows 0.