I have an old PC of mine that I'm thinking of preparing for use by a school-going child. It's a decade old PC with a 40GB hard disk, Pentium 4 processor, and I believe 1GB of RAM.

As of now, I have:

  • Installed Lubuntu and Windows XP on it (Vista and 7 don't have drivers for this hardware, and yes I've searched the manufacturer's site and other places)

  • Installed Avast and Outpost Security Suite on the XP

  • "Pinned" Khan Academy, Coursera, Udacity and Codecademy on the Firefox "new tab" page

Other than this, what can I do to prepare this computer for this purpose? My knowledge of desktop software for education is lacking, in both Windows and Linux. I'm not sure if whoever buys this will have a good Internet connection (I'm in India), so desktop software will probably prove much more useful that the bookmarks above.

I'm also looking at free parental control software to install on this, I'll make that a separate question. Edit: The question is now at the Software Recommendations site.

(I wasn't sure where on StackExchange this would belong, but superuser seemed the closest candidate. If there's a better suited site, please do migrate, thanks.)

  • Windows XP is becoming obsolete now. I'd suggest that you buy a new PC, perhaps a cheap Ultrabook, that's running a more modern version of Windows like Windows 8.1.
    – gparyani
    Mar 1 '14 at 19:40
  • And about that question about good parental control software, software recommendation questions are off-topic here. We have a new site Software Recommendations, but that's a beta site and we don't migrate to beta sites.
    – gparyani
    Mar 1 '14 at 19:41
  • @gparyani Thanks for the Software Recommendations site link, I've added the question there. Regarding your first comment, I believe you've misunderstood the question. I already do have a new PC for myself, this is to make an existing old PC available to a child that can use it, rather than scrap it off uselessly. I was disappointed to have to put in XP unavoidably, but the benefits definitely outweigh the disadvantages of XP in this tradeoff. Mar 1 '14 at 20:39
  • @random and other mods, I've given my requirements exactly as they are, going any more specific beyond this would require knowledge about educational software which is exactly what I'm missing. It is possible to provide a generic but usable and useful list of steps to be taken care of when preparing a PC for a kid, and that is the sort of answer I'm looking for. I hope the "on hold" thing can be removed. Mar 2 '14 at 4:47
  • It's "too broad" or "primarily opinion based" on what kind of things would be suitable for prepping the computer for a kid to start using. Where do you start and where do you end? That wide gap is what's problematic with the question. Questions in this type are not a great fit for the site, no matter the size of your requirements.
    – random
    Mar 2 '14 at 4:54

The first thing I think is to eliminate Windows XP, it is already obsolete.

Because it is an old computer, I believe it is not feasible to install a system like Windows Vista, it requires better hardware to run properly.

I would advise you to install any Linux distribution, such as the UberMix.

The ubermix is an all-free, specially built, Linux-based operating system designed from the ground up with the needs of education in mind. Built by educators with an eye towards student and teacher empowerment, ubermix takes all the complexity out of student devices by making them as reliable and easy-to-use as a cell phone, without sacrificing the power and capabilities of a full operating system. With a turn-key, 5 minute installation, 20 second quick recovery mechanism, and more than 60 free applications pre-installed, ubermix turns whatever hardware you have into a powerful device for learning.


The Ubuntu series is great if you're trying to teach someone how to use a computer. So is Windows XP at the presiding moment.

If they are learners they need to probably have something around 1.7 Ghz with maybe 100-200 Gb and 2 GB of Ram and 32 Bit.

Once they have mastered the two, I suggest buying a new laptop with amazing specs if they can take care of it right. Probably something with 2.4+ Ghz, 400+ Gb, An intel processor, and 4+ GB of RAM and probably 64 Bit.

Regarding the Operating Systems when they've mastered, you should probably go with Arch Linux, Linux Mint, or Debian if they wish to pursue Linux more and want to begin programming or wish to play a lot of Java games like Minecraft.

If they wish to pursue a more Sims/Professional Computing Experience, look into Windows 8/8.1. They have state-of-the-art technology (so does Linux as well).

  • 3
    This answer seems a bit off topic. The question states that it is an old PC that the asker already has, so suggesting to buy new computers isn't particularly helpful, nor is suggesting operating systems that don't have drivers for what they have.
    – 8bittree
    Mar 1 '14 at 20:02

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