Unsupported Windows XP - An Alternative

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  • fsgl

    fsgl - 2014-02-12

    Windows will end support for Windows XP in less than 2 months. The desktop is still working. There are software that will run only on XP. Windows 8 has been poorly received. Windows 9 won't be released until April 2015. What's a frugal soul to do? Dual-boot with Ubuntu.

    The hard disk drive is a bit worn, so it's good to replace it with one that has more capacity. Chances are that an IDE disk will be needed. The Device Manager cannot always be relied upon to determine if it's IDE or SATA. The laptop said "ATA", but it turned out to be SATA. Best to look at the drive before ordering.

    The service manual for the old device can be found online. My Dell Dimension desktop has a disk drive enclosure with 4 screws, therefore replacement was not an engineering feat. If the inside of the mini-tower is terra incognita, it would be helpful to consult the service manual about opening it and taking anti-static precautions. If there is a wide, flat data ribbon, it's confirmation that the disk is IDE. Amazon has a number of very reasonable offers. I purchased a 250 gb Western Digital for $30. There is no additional hardware to install more RAM, so that part of the project is on hold.

    A system image was created with Macrium Reflect, which had been freeware in the past. Preparations should be made to enable Sync in the Ubuntu Firefox and an Address Book copied for Thunderbird prior to creation of the system image. Reflect was updated to version 5 and unbeknownst to me, another Linux Rescue Disk had to be burned to restore the system image. Because the version 4 rescue disk didn't work, the original Dell Windows XP Service Pack 2 CD was used to format the new drive. A 30 days trial version of Macrium Reflect was installed to create the Linux Rescue disk.

    Unlike Windows 7, a partition cannot be shrunken with Disk Management in XP. Paragon was used for that purpose. I wanted the Ubuntu partition to have more space than the XP. Resizing of C-drive could have been done during the Ubuntu install, but it is more comfortable working in a Windows environment.

    Developers in these forums give high marks to Ubuntu and Brady built all the new Demo's with Ubuntu. Best of all, it's free.

    Version 12.04 was chosen over 13.10 because of the long term support and more extensive documentation. Downloading the 750 mb .iso took about 45 minutes with a very slow DSL connection (slightly better than dial-up). µTorrent did not make an appreciable difference in the download speed and the ads made one glad not to be young any more.

    For the most part, Ubuntu is user friendly and intuitive. Occasionally intensive hunting is required to find things. For example, Options in Firefox is Preferences under View in Ubuntu. The color orange is attractive only for the fruit, therefore the theme and splash screen will have to be replaced.

  • Pieter W

    Pieter W - 2014-02-12

    This is a more than nice description of how to make MS Windows-XP history, thumbs up.

    My experience with UBUNTU is: "the learning curve is steep", if you are used to MS and DOS commands since the beginning of personal computing. Learn UBUNTU is rewarding since most of the lessons to be learned can be found online and best of all it is FREE and there is a more than huge support team in the web-UBUNTU-community. Help for real dummy beginners like me, to step by step help for the most developed developers.

    What I miss in your great review of Historic-XP to UBUNTU is the starting situation and price of the software that is not free.

    How do we incorporate your discovery road towards UBUNTU in the OpenEMR WIKI Pages?

    Something like: Sidesteps from OpenEMR...... software and hardware discoveries.

    You do not mention VM-ware. Was this somehow not an option? Please explain.

    • Kevin Yeh

      Kevin Yeh - 2014-02-12

      Dr. Lee needed a "base" Operating System with continued support. VMWare allows virtualization on top of an existing OS. So that approach would not have solved to problem of XP no longer being supported. (VMWare would have been installed on top of XP, and XP would still be in the loop.)

      • Pieter W

        Pieter W - 2014-02-12

        This is indeed good reason.

        Not so valid if it is a local machine in my humble opinion, but still valid. The advantage of a virtual machine is, if fsgl buys a new computer, without to much hassle in can be transposed to the new OS. But another install of UBUNTU is also easy to do with a new OS, there goes my own argumentation.

        My problem with any LINUX version is my incredible attitude towards my long standing fighting relationship with MS DOS, Windows 3.1, Win XP, Win 7 etc. Once accustomed to the OS of MS it is hard to get rid of the logic, even if you are convinced that you handle most tasks within Ubuntu and only need Windows for the regular stuff that you didn't learn in UBUNTU yet.

        The advantage of the Virtual machine is the quick change of OS systems. Always within reach with a mouse click.

  • Jackfruit501

    Jackfruit501 - 2014-02-12

    For newbies to Linux wanting out-of-box use I recommend LinuxMint 16 (mate). Support for wifi internet , graphic cards (newer ones) audio/video codex are easily available , usually a click away. Ubuntu 12.04 has support to 2017. At present update and upgrading of Ubuntu/LinuxMint is really easy so the most recent version is preferred.

  • fsgl

    fsgl - 2014-02-12

    Hi Pimm,

    Thank you for your kind words. Windows XP came pre-installed on the Dell at the time of purchase. If there is a sense that a Wiki article on Linux Conversion would be of value to the community, I'll write it after this new operating system has been mastered. I thought it better not to tackle too many challenges at first like an appliance.

    Hi Jack,

    There is no question that Linux Mint is superior in one respect. Mint green is way, way, way esthetically more pleasing than a color from the 1970's. The Ubuntu Store sells tee shirts all in orange. Need I say more.

    In the past a re-install of the Dell XP CD meant separate installations of the desktop, chipset, video, audio, modem and networking drivers. Mercifully all these drivers were in the Ubuntu .iso. The printer/scanner drivers will be a little tricky but the subject was covered in the Ubuntu Community forum.

    One very amusing thing about Ubuntu; the icons in the Launcher wiggle, as if they are doing the jig, when first clicked.

    Last edit: fsgl 2014-02-12
  • Rod Roark

    Rod Roark - 2014-02-12

    The next Ubuntu LTS release is due in April. I'll second the suggestion for Linux Mint with the Mate desktop, and will probably switch my own notebook (currently running Ubuntu 12.04) to it after they adapt to the upcoming Ubuntu release.

    I almost never use Windows any more.


    Last edit: Rod Roark 2014-02-13
  • Jack Cahn MD

    Jack Cahn MD - 2014-02-12

    VMware may require a bit more memory (shared between 2 OS's) than this old laptop wants to give. Speed could deteriorate past tolerability. Dual booting would get around that. I think fsgl should immerse himself in Ubuntu (or Mint) and abandon Windows. That forces a steeper learning curve but he will reach a pleasurable level more quickly. :>)

  • fsgl

    fsgl - 2014-02-13

    Can't run desktop TurboTax with Ubuntu. Online version makes me queasy. I understand that it will run with XP virtualization, but no reason to do that when dual-boot is working.

    • Rod Roark

      Rod Roark - 2014-02-13

      TaxAct online works well for me.


      • fsgl

        fsgl - 2014-02-13

        TaxAct desktop is not bloated like TurboTax and more reasonably priced. They don't nickle and dime users as the time TurboTax started to charge for each e-file about 5 years ago.

        Because each year I get a complimentary copy of Deluxe; Federal, State and both e-files; I should be more politic in how I characterize TurboTax.

  • Brady Miller

    Brady Miller - 2014-02-13


    You've inspired me to try to convert my primary laptop use from windows (I use vmware appliances for openemr stuff) to Mint (i went with cinnamon). I've installed it on another laptop (so can switch quickly by just placing vga cord from one to the other). This way can do it over time. Will see how it goes. This post is from the new OS :)


    • fsgl

      fsgl - 2014-02-13

      Hi El Jefe,

      As an Ubuntu user I will be in a better position to beg them for MU3 funding.

  • Tony McCormick

    Tony McCormick - 2014-02-13

    I use Ubuntu with cinnamon as well and run VMWare with Windows when I gotta. Mostly for access to gober'mint websites and when some must do a webinar in gotomeeting....

    On my System76 Galaga Ultrapro even Win8 in a VM runs incredibly fast...

  • Penguin8R

    Penguin8R - 2014-02-13

    Have never ever remotely considered using Windows-anything as a server platform for OpenEMR.
    The idea of trusting a Microsoft operating system with the security of PHI makes absolutely no sense, not to mention the fact that OpenEMR on linux will run for literally months/years without requiring intervention.
    For those not wishing to purchase a hypervisor like VMWare, Oracle VirtualBox will provide a basic ability to run a Windows desktop simultaneously with your linux server, in the event you're seized with an uncontrollable urge to use Internet Explorer.

  • fsgl

    fsgl - 2014-02-13

    Our practice is miniscule. One little HP laptop with Windows 7 is all we need. To address the security issue, the production copy of OpenEMR is used as an offline application and the laptop is deployed exclusively for OpenEMR.

    Transitioning from Windows to Ubuntu is like conversion from Catholicism to Islam (foregoing Latin for Arabic). Using the terminal is very unnatural for us. I remember CVerk posting that using Command Prompt in Windows gave greater transparency and confidence. My response was that I could tell him how to remove a corneal foreign body in 3 easy steps but as a GP he would never attempt it, due to a lack of experience.

    Because frugality is our middle name, $30 for a hard disk drive to replace one that had not yet failed was a big splurge. We like free.

    We are very comfortable with Firefox. Using it in Ubuntu has had very few hiccups. Internet Explorer is better at embedding videos here in the Forums.

    Eschewing being hip and au courant, the preference is for dowdiness instead. When change is necessary as in the case of the termination of support for XP, then we do.

  • Pieter W

    Pieter W - 2014-02-13

    fsgl and the middle name is Frugal..... Francis Frugal would be ffsg.......

    Now explanation needed. Question you have a Laptop with Win7 and exclusively for OpenEMR. Now where is the connection between WinXP and OpenEMR, did I miss something?

    Great you make a switch to UBUNTU no questions asked, but where is the XP computer hiding for OpenEMR?

  • fsgl

    fsgl - 2014-02-13

    The desktop is the future home of the test copy of OpenEMR and the present home for all other non-practice related computing needs. The laptop never "converses" with the desktop.

    I only learned today to bring up the terminal with Ctr-Alt-T instead going out to the boot menu. It is almost as bad as the first day as an Eye resident when the switch to the overhead lights of the exam room was a big mystery because it was not situated at the entrance. There was a whole bunch of patients waiting in the clinic. Such embarrassing memories!

    It will be a while before OpenEMR can move in.

    • Jack Cahn MD

      Jack Cahn MD - 2014-02-14

      Everything you desire is present in linux. The major problem is that most things have strange and non-descriptive names. You know, kind of like ophthalmology ;>)

      • Pieter W

        Pieter W - 2014-02-14

        I almost pressed the LINK...... when I wanted to click LIKE.... (FB and SF difference) it is as Windows and Linux..... the same but just a bit different... full of headaches.

        First there was Windows, then there was Linux, and they both looked alike, now they have grown and they not only not look alike, but they also behave differently on different commands. They are almost human.

  • Pieter W

    Pieter W - 2014-02-14

    Not half as embarrassing as looking with a flash light for the in the glass eye, only after a year to do it again and the patient just let me continue to have a good laughter.

  • Penguin8R

    Penguin8R - 2014-02-14

    I will concede that for a physician who is tech savvy, and functioning in a small office/single provider environment, taking the simplest path and running on Windows is probably acceptable.
    We function in an environment where it's common to have anywhere from 5-20 providers and all their support staff using the system simultaneously from multiple locations, while continuously handling a barrage of never ending support functions like lab orders/results, live HL7 interfaces, a constant stream of incoming scanned documents, and multiple active fax modems.
    Linux handles all of these things, 24/7/365, without breaking a sweat or requiring constant maintenance as Windows does.

  • fsgl

    fsgl - 2014-02-14

    For OpenEMR to be widely accepted by the medical community, ideally it should be coupled with an operating system that is easy to use and stable. Windows is user friendly but crashes if video DVD's are ripped.

    Linux is stable but not user friendly, once a person gets beyond the basic setup.

    Pimm, Jack and I are outliers in the sense that we are receptive to Linux. The typical physician, especially the old guys, would take one look at a command line and say, "No way, Jose!". One of our GP's retired to Cape Cod refusing to deal with EHR's. Large practices with financial means would choose proprietary EHR's over open source software, therefore they are not part of the discussion.

    Penguin8R, your heart is in the right place if you bemoan the fact that Windows has to be babied. It does provide a perverse incentive, if you charge by the hour. Should children be heading off for university, it may not be so terrible after all.

  • Pieter W

    Pieter W - 2014-02-14

    Windows makes you a slave of their OS. You have to buy and after a couple of weeks they say you better change to a newer version. Than after a couple of years the support for a good system will stop and everybody will become nervous and feel the need to buy a new different Windows OS that will be replaced ASAP. and support for the almost perfect version will be stopped.

    Thumbs up for the free OS and other software!

  • Stephen Waite

    Stephen Waite - 2014-02-14

    if you happen to have an older computer i hope you don't mind working with .isos, building from source, using make, depmod and scouring forums for the right how-tos...

    i don't really but catch myself muttering indelicacies when things bonk, windows kind of takes the pain away for the average user but makes you pay

    anyways, got linux mint up and running, now on to practice upgrading openemr to the latest version

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