Laptop as video Player...

I have an old Dell laptop that is no longer needed. Runs MS XP, small hard drive, DVD/ CD drive. Is there a way to remove the Operating System and use the laptop as a simple yet effective DVD player for playing all kinds of DVD’s for my son? Yes, I do not want to pay $100 to buy a portable DVD player if I can make use of this Dell laptop with simple and free software. Love to tinker… any ideas/ advice???

Why can’t it do what you want as-is? I played DVDs on my ~2000 IBM Thinkpad T60 all the time.

Try XBMCbuntu - a linux distro with media player.

Si

add VLC media player to the start tasks so it pops up at startup…

Install Linux and use VLC as a media player. If you either transfer a bunch of files to the laptop or else use a network hard drive, you could use it as a general media player instead of just DVDs.

This assumes that XP has gotten too buggy and slow, as it usually does if you haven’t reinstalled in a few years. However, if it works, it would be easier to just use it. Installing Linux is easy, but not easier than doing nothing. (If you’re a nerd like me, installing Linux is easier than using Windows every day, but I’m assuming you’re just a regular Joe.)

If you let us know the extent of your computer abilities, we could point you towards the right distribution to use. Normally, I suggest Mint for Linux newbies, but for a dedicated media player I’m not so sure about that.

A quick googling brings up XBMCbuntu as a good candidate. It basically has no OS except for the XBMC media player software. I’ve used XBMC before, but not this version. It is a great program, intuitive, and easy to use.

ETA: Of course I was beaten to the punch on every point…

Thanks all, what I was thinking was using “Dban” to totally scrub clean, since there is only a small hard drive of 2gb and 512mb ram. It runs on XP. Since I’m on the road now I can’t upgrade the Ram or anything… time constraints.
It’s a Dell Inspiron 8600 hammi down which I want to “convert” into a portable DVD player for my 9 yr old. I will make a CD of XMBCbuntu boot from DVD drive to install. I use Open Office myself on my work laptop…love it…
When we tried using existing OS it kept saying codecs needed, yet there wasn’t any room to add anything more… another window kept saying … Not enough room, hence remove everything and add a self booting DVd software that allows use of rest for viewing movies.
I don’t let my son touch any of my electronics for anything, so I prefer for him to have his own where I don’t have to worry about what buttons he hit and how…
Starting scrub now…

I tried to use my old laptop on a roadtrip a few years ago, and the vibrations from the bumps in the road were causing the movie to freeze-up and pixilate almost non-stop. Absolutely useless in my case. Maybe some of the newer models are better with that, however.