Preparation of Windows XP Before Linux Installation

Microsoft Windows XPIf you just happen to like your old computer or you cannot afford to buy a new one or cannot afford a new Mac, you might think about using Linux Mint, Ubuntu Linux, Zorin Linux, or Mint XFCE, some of the most popular alternatives to Windows, to replace that old, insecure and now unsupported Windows XP.

Here we will discuss some things to think about and prepare for, prior to installing your Linux distribution.

This article is part of the Linux Series:
1) What Is Linux?
2) What Are Some Linux Uses?
3) Why I Use Linux…Security
4) What if Windows, Linux, or OS X Were Houses?
5) What if Windows, Linux, or OS X Were Cars?
6) Windows XP Support Ends-Install Linux
7) Preparation of Windows XP before Linux Installation (this article)
8) Installation of Linux

Backup, backup, backup:

How to get your data from Windows XP to a new PC gives you some detailed tips about how to save all your data such as text, photos, music, bookmarks, email and other “stuff.”

The article says in part, “If you’ve been allowing your software to save files in the default location, then all of your important documents and files should be located in C:\Documents and Settings on your Windows XP computer.”

C:\Documents and Settings is where all your files or documents you have created should be stored along with any files you have saved on your Desktop. Copy all the files and folders in C:\Documents and Settings to a external USB hard drive, later you will move these files to the appropriate location on your new Linux desktop.


If you are using webmail such as GMail, Yahoo or other, you should have no problem, you can access them the same way you did in Windows XP. If you use Outlook or Outlook Express it takes a few more steps to backup and install all your contacts and messages.

Thunderbird email clientThunderbird is the default email program or application (app) which is automagically installed with many Linux distributions. In order to transfer your email contacts and messages you should first download and download and install Thunderbird on your Windows XP computer. After Thunderbird has been installed and run, it creates a profile with all your messages, contacts, folders, etc in it which are then easily copied over to Linux.

If you use Outlook Express then follow this guide to Importing Outlook Express Emails and Addressbooks in Thunderbird.

If you use Outlook then follow this guide for Importing Outlook Emails and Addressbooks in Thunderbird.

Once you get all your email and contacts into your XP Thunderbird you need to find the location of your Thunderbird Profile. This short tutorial called Profile folder – Thunderbird – Windows 2000 and XP will explain how this is done.

In short, this article says, “The easiest way to find your profile is to click on the ‘Open Containing Folder’ button in Help -> Troubleshooting Information. That launches windows explorer (or the equivalent file manager for your operating system) with the profile folder selected. That feature was added in Thunderbird 5.0.”

Unless you have set your computer up differently, the Thunderbird profile folder should be located here:
C:\Documents and Settings\WINDOWS USER NAME\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\
“The Application Data folder is a hidden folder; to show hidden folders, open Windows Explorer and choose “Tools → Folder Options → View (tab) → Show hidden files and folders”.

Now that you have created and located the profile folder for Thunderbird in your XP computer, make sure it gets backed up or copied to a Thunderbird_backup folder on your external hard drive along with the Documents and Settings files you copied earlier. This will back up all the “registry.dat” or “profiles.ini” and other files so you can access them later in Thunderbird on Linux.

If you use Windows Mail, here is How to Export Contacts and Email Addresses from Windows Mail.

Evolution is another email program which is also installed on some Linux distributions or which can be downloaded. Some Windows users find it is similar to Outlook in its functions. If you want to use Evolution you may need to follow the steps listed in the tutorial Moving Outlook email (data) to Linux Evolution mail client

Web Browsers

There is no Internet Explorer for Linux. IE only works on Windows. If you have always used IE, you will need to decide on a web browser for your Linux distribution. Fortunately, nearly every Linux distribution installs Firefox or its equivalent as part of the installation. There are many web browsers available for Linux, besides Firefox, the other most popular browsers are Google Chrome and Opera.

If you have used Internet Explorer and have not installed Firefox, it is strongly advised that you download and install Firefox onto your Windows XP computer and then import the Internet Explorer settings and favorites. Following the instructions in the next paragraphs, you can then copy the Windows profile for Firefox to your backup external drive and later use that profile on your Linux computer.

Firefox Web BrowserIf you already use Firefox on Win XP and wish to save all your bookmarks and most of your addons/extensions as well as other special configuration options you created, you should use the same process to access the Firefox profile as you did Thunderbird. and then later copy its contents back to the .mozilla folder.

This page, Mozilla Firefox on Windows shows you how to find your Firefox profile.

Unless your computer was setup differently, Windows 2000 and Windows XP profile folders, should be in this location:
C:\Documents and Settings\WINDOWS USER NAME\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\
The Application Data folder is a hidden folder, in order to show hidden folders, open Windows Explorer and choose:
“Tools → Folder Options → View (tab) → Show hidden files and folders”.

Firefox lets you import your Favorites (called Bookmarks in Firefox), settings and other data from Internet Explorer, saving you from having to configure many things yourself. Import Bookmarks (Favorites) from Internet Explorer into Firefox tells you how to in Windows.

You can also export/import the Internet Explorer Favorites folder. How to import and export the Internet Explorer Favorites folder.

Google Chrome
Google ChromeIf you use Google Chrome on Windows you can import your bookmarks and settings from Internet Explorer. The tutorial called “How to Import Bookmarks and Settings to Google Chrome” guides you through the process, with screenshots.

If you plan to use Google Chrome on your Linux distribution, copy the Chrome profile folder (or directory) to your USB external hard drive.

The usual location for Windows XP is:
C:\Documents and Settings\WINDOWS USER NAME\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default

The usual location for Windows 7 or Vista is:
C:\Users\WINDOWS USER NAME\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data\Default

Later you will copy the profile back into your Linux distribution (more on this later):
/home/LINUX USERNAME/.config/google-chrome/

Once you have backed up your Documents and Settings, your email and web browser profiles to your external USB hard drive, you are now ready to Install Linux.

Next page=> Installation of Linux

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