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Turn your PC into a fast-booting Linux machine

Want to resurrect an old PC that's collecting dust? Wish you could insta-boot your laptop for a quick peek at your email or a web page? Presto promises exactly that kind of convenience.

It's a compact, fast-loading Linux OS that installs in Windows (no pesky boot CDs to burn) and runs alongside it (the installer adds a dual-boot menu to your system, so you can pick which OS to run at startup).

In other words, Presto gives you the fruits of Linux without the usual hassles. I've been test-driving the OS for the past couple weeks, and I'm seriously impressed. It has its limitations, but it definitely succeeds in delivering the most accessible Linux OS ever.

And perhaps the fastest. I installed it on a two-year-old Acer laptop, which takes a good two minutes to boot Windows Vista. Time to boot Presto: under 20 seconds. The OS comes preloaded with some basic apps - Firefox, OpenOffice, Skype, and IM client Pidgin - but you can add loads more via the App Store.

So, what's not to like? The price. Granted, Presto's $19.95 (£13) licence fee won't break anybody's bank, but it feels a bit like sacrilege to pay for Linux - especially considering how many free variants are out there.

Still, I highly recommend taking Presto for a spin, which you can do for a seven-day trial period. It's incredibly easy to install and totally non-invasive: uninstalling it is as easy as uninstalling any Windows program.

See also:

Why I use Linux

User guide: how to use Linux

Rick Broida blogs for PC World

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