My old hand-me-down laptop, a Dell Inspiron 11z, was feeling really sluggish for the past couple of months. It was so painfully slow, that I really didn’t like using it and most of the time opted for my phone instead. Web browsing was so bad that I literally fell asleep a couple times waiting for a page to load. I finally had enough and decided to do something about it, and came to the decision to install Ubuntu onto it. I have used Ubuntu before a few years ago on another old laptop and was pretty happy with it. It is so lightweight that I hoped it would be a nice alternative to the heavy and slow Windows installation.
I copied the latest n greatest version of Ubuntu (13.10) to a USB key for the installation. I read that you should install Ubuntu while connected via cable to your network so that Ubuntu could download all the files it needs, including wi-fi drivers. I found that when the laptop was hard-wired to the network, web browsing in Windows was much better. In fact, it was just about like before! Could it be the wifi card causing the slowness? The answer was Yes. I downloaded a new set of drivers for the card and it seemed to fix the speed issue. I’m very happy about that. But… all was not rosy. It turns out that YouTube videos were still kind of choppy. I figured that the laptop just could not handle the higher quality videos, or new types of compression being used.
So, onward with the Ubuntu installation. I followed some directions to set up a dual-boot environment so I could use both Windows 7 and Ubuntu. In order to do that it is recommended to repartition the hard drive and install Ubuntu onto the new unallocated space. Well, during that process I encountered a few errors and that led me to do run Error-checking on the hard disk. The utility found some errors, fixed them, and then booted back to Windows. I decided to fire up some YouTube videos, and lo and behold, the choppiness was gone! My laptop was running great again! I probably didn’t need to install Ubuntu.
But, I was pretty psyched to try out Ubuntu again (and the screenshots of the latest version looked pretty cool), so I went ahead with the installation. All went without a hitch and I am now enjoying the new OS and the speed that comes with it. I love it! To anyone who has an older laptop that is getting a little slow, I recommend trying Ubuntu. It could extend the life of your computer a few years. And an added bonus: it’s FREE!!