I have an old Dell tower that is 13 years old. It has XP Home on it. I have never worked with anything but Windows systems. So I'm basically a total greenie A CD is just under 700 MB. I used the InfraRecorder and got the download on the disc, ran it and it was nothing but an error on every file. I tried a DVD made on a Windows 7 machine. Nothing.It won't recognize the DVD as a boot medium

I'm ready to trash it all, but no one wants to make a new computer for you without an OS. I refuse to sucumb to Win8. I've read enough to know that it's a modified version of the Vista junk from years back.

Is there a way to buy an installation CD from anywhere? Can I wipe my hard drive clean and start over? I have all of my programs saved to a 8 GB stick. It's either this or I erase everything on the computer but the OS and use it only for Internet access. 90% of what I do is Internet only.

  • 1
    Which CPU is inside your PC?
    – frlan
    Apr 30, 2014 at 12:45
  • Why not use LinuxLive usb creator to create a live usb which you can install from. It's much faster than messing around with spinning disks
    – Anake
    Apr 30, 2014 at 13:33
  • 2
    Can you boot off a USB? Apr 30, 2014 at 13:52
  • 3
    "but no one wants to make a new computer for you without an OS" that is not really true anymore but it doe depend on where you live I guess. Besides the ones Oli mentioned there are several companies in Europe too that sell OS-less systems.
    – Rinzwind
    Apr 30, 2014 at 14:13
  • Actually, you need a DVD, not a CD.
    – Braiam
    Apr 30, 2014 at 14:29

6 Answers 6


On such an old PC i would prefer Lubuntu.

lubuntu-14.04-desktop-i386.iso 683M Desktop image for PC (Intel x86) computers (standard download)


This fits also on a CD -> 683MB

Here is a good installation guide.


You can't use DVDs on the machine but you can use CDs. The minimal installer is under 30mb. Download it from here.


Configure boot priority in BIOS

When I first migrated to Ubuntu, my BIOS had to be configured to recognize the CD/DVD drive as a bootable source. This would be my very first step. Your BIOS menu should also tell you if your drive is DVD compatible (if you don't already know).

The process consisted of:

  1. Enter BIOS setup by pressing F2 before the OS loads on boot
  2. Make CD drive bootable
  3. Change boot order preference so that CD would boot before the hard drive
  4. Save changes and exit (which restarts the machine)

My old machine was not capable of booting from USB or network.

Then as the other contributors have suggested, try using a slim install or Lubuntu. But make sure you're connected by Ethernet cable (if possible) for downloads during install.


Your Dell tower may not have a dvd drive which is why it won't read the dvd and installation images have gotten too large to fit on a CD these days. You could go with the minimal installer as suggested by another poster or you could write the image to a flash drive. See directions here:


Also, you can buy installation media here:


but only do that if you're sure you have a dvd drive. Also be sure to check system requirements to make sure that your computer will run Ubuntu reasonably.



Before you do anything, check you're using the right version of Ubuntu. The two main downloads are 32bit and 64bit. Given the age of your computer it seems likely (though not guaranteed) that you might be limited to 32bit. If you have downloaded a 64bit version, and are running it on a 32bit machine, that might give you the behaviour you've seen.

And I would contend that there are lots of companies that sell computers without operating systems. They might just not be local to you. More and more online retailers are offering Linux (cite: Newegg) as an option too which is great if you want to guarantee compatibility.

You can buy an Ubuntu CD/DVD from Canonical for the LTS versions. And because of the permissive license there are many other companies that sell Linux CDs for very reasonable prices. Some I've heard of:

Of course I think the wider community would always prefer if you gave the money to Canonical but whatever works for you.


I may be stating the obvious but are you "Burning" the ISO file to the CD/DVD - it will not work if you simply copy it.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .