Questions before switching from windows


New Member
Jan 16, 2021
Reaction score
Here is my situation:
I have an older laptop running windows 7 that I would like to upgrade. It was taken offline some years ago, and that is why it hasn't been upgraded until now. I need to take it back online, but first it needs a new OS, and I am thinking of switching to Linux. (I've been using Armbian on an SBC for some time now). However, it would be nice to still use some of the games I currently have.

Question 1:
Anyone have any tips on temporarily installing a Linux OS on a USB disk key to "try it out"?

Question 2:
Can I partition my hard drive (1TB) during installation? It would be nice to keep win 7 for those aforementioned games.

Question 3:
Any suggestions for which Linux flavor to use are welcome.

Question 1:
Anyone have any tips on temporarily installing a Linux OS on a USB disk key to "try it out"?
1. You can install Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Manjaro into a USB flash. Then, you can test them on USB first before installing the system into a hard drive.

If you want to try several distros at once, you can use Ventoy ( Download this program for Windows and then copy the ISO files into your USB flash. With Ventoy, you don't need to burn your USB flash again and again.

Question 2:
Can I partition my hard drive (1TB) during installation? It would be nice to keep win 7 for those aforementioned games.
2. Yes, you can partition your hard drive during installation and install Linux alongside Windows.

Question 3:
Any suggestions for which Linux flavor to use are welcome.
3. It's hard to tell which Linux flavor or distro to use because it depends on you. For beginners, you can start with Ubuntu, Linux Mint, or Manjaro. Each of these distros has its flavors. I take Ubuntu as an example. You can choose the default Ubuntu GNOME, or Ubuntu Mate or Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, and so on. You can use Google image search for screenshots of each flavor. Or, you can also search on Youtube using keywords like "Ubuntu Mate demo video".
Last edited:
G'day jb & Welcome to
yone have any tips on temporarily installing a Linux OS on a USB disk key to "try it out"?
First, you can -- __and should__ -- try Linux Mint before switching to it. Fortunately, unlike other operating systems, Linux distros like Mint make it easy to give them a test run before installing it.

First you'll need to download a copy of Linux Mint, which comes with three different desktops: MATE, Xfce, and its default desktop, Cinnamon. If you have a 2012-or-newer PC, I recommend you download the 64-bit version of Mint with Cinnamon and multi-media support.

If you don't have an __ISO burner program__, download one. I recommend freeware programs ImgBurn for optical drives and Yumi for Windows for USB sticks. Other good choices are LinuxLive USB Creator and UNetbootin. These are also free programs.**UPDATE.**....use [[|Balena Etcher]] ....Also Free

**Giving Mint a try**

Once you've installed the burner program and have the latest Linux Mint ISO file in hand, use the burner to put the ISO image to your disc or USB stick. If you're using a DVD -- __Mint is too big to fit on a CD__ -- check your newly burned disc for errors. Over the years, I've had more __problems with running Linux and installing Linux from DVDs__ from bad discs than all other causes combined.

You can set it up a USB stick with persistent storage. With this, you can store your programs and files on the stick. This way you can carry Linux and use it as a walk-around operating system for hotel, conference, and library PCs. I've found this to be very handy and there's always at least one Linux stick in my laptop bag.

**Next, you place your disc or USB stick into your PC and reboot**. During the reboot, stop the boot-up process and get to your PC's UEFI or BIOS settings. How you do this varies according to the system.

Look for a message as the machine starts up that tells which key or keys you'll need to press in order to get to the BIOS or UEFI. Likely candidates are a function key or the "esc" or "delete" keys. __If you don't spot it the first time, don't worry about it. Just reboot and try again.__

Once you get to the BIOS or UEFI, look for a menu choice labeled "Boot," "Boot Options," or "Boot Order." If you don't see anything with the word "boot" in it, check other menu options such as "Advanced Options," "Advanced BIOS Features," or "Other Options." Once you find it, set the boot order so that instead of booting from the hard drive first, you boot from either the CD/DVD drive or from your USB drive.

Once your PC is set to try to boot first from the alternative drive, insert your DVD or USB stick and reboot. __Then, select "Start Linux Mint" from the first menu. And, from there, you'll be running Linux Mint.__

Some Nvidia graphics cards don't work well with Mint's open-source driver. If Linux Mint freezes during boot, use the "nomodeset" boot option. You set this to the Start Linux Mint option and press __'e'__ to modify the boot options. Then, replace "quiet splash" with "nomodeset" and press F10 to boot. On older PCs using BIOS, press 'tab' instead of 'e.'

__MINT WILL RUN SLOWER THIS WAY, BUT IT WILL BOOT AND RUN__. If you decide to install Mint, you can permanently fix the problem with the following steps:

Run the Driver Manager
Choose the NVIDIA drivers and wait for them to be installed
Reboot the computer


Using a DVD drive Mint will run slowly, but it will run quickly enough to give you an idea of what it's like to use Mint. With a USB stick, it runs fast enough to give you a good notion of what working with Mint is like. with it...explore CANNOT break it...remember it is on a thumb drive....if it goes up in smoke, just reboot and away you go again. No harm done. :)


2. Partitioning....either during you have a backup of the material you wish to keep ??

3. My immediate reaction to that question is always Linux Mint

or have read of the following...

The definitive article.......your mind throbbing question answered
This is in the above linked article, but I'll make it more prevalent here:

Caveats: No internet access, not very fast, time-limited but you can extend it.

Now, from there you can get a glimpse, just a glimpse, of the various distros. It's really not a great test - and it tells you absolutely nothing about how it will run on your hardware, but it does let you see what some of the distros look like in their default configurations.

You can look and see what is installed by default, get a rough idea of what features are there, and things like that.

Is it worth spending time there? I think so. I spend time there and I have VMs for tons of distros already. I often double-check answers there. I often get a quick look at a feature a distro is 'promoting'. So, it's capable of being a useful tool.
Thanks everyone! This is all very helpful.

I'm starting to think about not partitioning the drive at all (for now), but instead just using a USB drive for Linux, and keeping the hard drive for win 7. If it works well, I might invest in a larger drive, like 128 GB, or bigger--depending on how good a deal I get on it.
Be aware that any changes/updates/additions you make to that live USB, will NOT be saved after you reboot/shut doen/power failure/take the USB out of the port

There are ways around this:
My favourite way is to make use of Timeshift

Timeshift is similar to the system restore in windows (the main difference is it works!)

So, at the time I have finished using the Linux on the USB, I simply click on Timeshift and then on Create. The resulting snapshot is saved to an external hard drive.
When I need to use that usb's linux again, I boot the pc/laptop to the USB Timeshift......make sure the location is still set to the external hard drive....and click on Restore.

if the changes etc you need to make to that USB linux are not to great you can create a USB stick with Persistence:

There are instructions floating around for doing a full install to a USB stick:

Lots of choices....lots of reading !

That's why I like the Timeshift approach.
rough and nasty set up instructions for Timeshift RSYNC where you will store the snapshot/s (external hard drive is preferable)

Schedule...if you have a drive with plenty of space you can elect to save several snapshots.....or just keep one or two...

Users...Include All

Filters...under the + icon select both lines

Thats enough....go back to main screen of Timeshift, and select Create

Members online