another Refugee from Microsoft
It is fun to read through these introductions. People come here with a wide variety of experience, that's for sure.
Me? I use a computer mostly for word processing and database work, to manage my calendar and keep my life somewhat organized, to send and receive e-mail, and to use the Internet. I am not a geek, I am not a power user, I don't even play computer games, not since I bid my Commodore 128 farewell years ago.
But I don't mind dealing with command lines and tinkering around with things. Thinking about other people in my workplace (a church, where I am organist and choir director), I can see that this sets me apart from a lot of people who use a computer in an office.
Another thing that my co-workers find odd about me is my delight in Trailing Edge Technology. The aforementioned C-128 was the only "new" computer I ever purchased. Ever since then, I have gotten by on hand-me-downs, yard sale purchases, and (in recent years) the wonderful university surplus store not far from where I work.
My current home system is a HP Vectra: Pentium I with memory added to bring it up to 96MB and a second hard drive added a few years ago to go with the original 1 GB drive. I've been running Win95 on it, and Lotus SmartSuite. I love Lotus WordPro. I just love it to death. Lotus Organizer is pretty cool too, as is Lotus 1-2-3. I have some big databases on Lotus Approach, which I migrated over from the Commodore years ago when they were much, much smaller than they are now. I can't say I love Approach, but it does the job.
To be fair, I also have the use of a Dell Dimension 2400, which belongs to the church -- it, too, is a hand-me-down, from the Christian Education director. This is my connection to the Outside World via network and Internet. It currently runs WinXP, which is fine in its way (I still prefer Win95), and the dreaded Microsoft Office, which I loathe.
Several items told me that it is time to move to open source and Linux. I can't do it with the church's computer, and I don't want to do it completely at home until I am sure it will suit me. So I got a "new" computer to play with and learn about Linux. It is almost as "trailing edge" as my other computer:
My new system:
- Dell OptiPlex (Pentium III, 128 MB of RAM, 10 GB hard drive) - $30
- second hard drive, 30 GB - $15
- Epson LQ-850 dot matrix printer - $5
- standard serial keyboard - $5 (I am hard on keyboards; I'm always spilling tea into them. Glad they are cheap! I keep at least one spare around just in case)
- mouse - free (a genuine original IBM PS-2 serial mouse, which I found rummaging around a closet at work)
- 14" monitor - free (hand-me-down from a co-worker's home computer when she went to a flat-screen monitor)
Total cost: $55.
So, the things that tell me it is time for Open Source:
1) Microsoft Genuine Advantage (TM). I daily get a popup about an Important Security Update. When I look to see what it is, I find that our friends in Redmond want to help me find out whether I am running Genuine Windows (TM) Software. One time I started the process, but I had my browser (Mozilla Firefox - I loathe IE even more than I do MS-Office) set to ask me about ActiveX controls. I was not thrilled with the idea of giving MS a "window" into my computer to (perhaps) lock it up if they found something they didn't like. So, every day I tell the popup "No."
2) an article I read about MS-Vista. It claimed that the main reason for Vista is its improved "protection of copyrighted media" such as music and video downloads, CD's, DVD's. I combine this with the Microsoft Genuine Advantage, and envision a day when MS, in conjunction with media and entertainment conglomerates, has thorough control of What Goes On, from internet downloads to poking around in everyone's computers snooping for pirated media. Now get me straight: I obey copyrights. I am bound by the rules of conduct of my professional organization (American Guild of Organists) to obey them. So, MS would not find any pirated music or software on my computer. But what's next? Political opinions someone In Charge doesn't like? Data-mining through the files on everyone's computers to add to consumer profiles on the big databases?
3) The Vicious Upgrade Cycle:
--- Microsoft introduces a new operating system
--- computer hardware mfgrs. (except Apple) install it on all their new equipment
--- in a few years, virus protection software companies stop supporting the old operating system
--- users are forced to get the current MS operating system to upgrade their virus software and avoid Serious Risks (partly brought on by the many vulnerabilities that seem to be a trademark of a MS operating system, especially a new one)
--- users find that they need a new(er) computer to run said O.S., even though they are perfectly happy with all aspects of their old computer and it still works fine.
--- Microsoft introduces another new operating system
Ah, happiness!!! Everyone makes money. Our money, from our pockets.
I have watched my friends go through this cycle, some of them several times. I decided I want to get even further away from it than I already am.
(4) OpenOffice. I tried the Windows version, and found it almost as good as my beloved Lotus software, and far, far better than MS-Office.
Time to take the plunge.
So far, I have installed grml, which is a Debian-based installation. I have used the marvelous tool "jigdo" on the church computer to download a few discs of the Debian packages. I have (just today) used "wajig" to install Wine, with the intent of seeing if I can get some of my Lotus software to work. I have read lots of "man" pages -- what a joy!!!! They are (well, most of them) wonderful. I learned about <Alt-F1> and its friends, allowing me to have a couple of man pages open and at the same time a command prompt to try and Do Stuff. I am trying to work up the nerve to use "wajig" to install Open Office, which I suspect will be a Big Deal. That is why I tried Wine first; it seemed to be a Much Smaller Deal to install, though actually working with it may be a different story.
If anyone is still with me after so long a post, I am pleased as punch to be here, and will ask all sorts of Dumb Questions.
I think that is the best written introduction that we have ever had on LinuxQuestions. Welcome to LinuxQuestions.
Certainly the longest :) Welcome to LQ :D Researching the options now will save you a lot of time and tears further down the line. We have all tried out a number of distros, so don't feel that you have to stick with the one you have if you don't like it.
If you have a few nickels left over, I would get another 64MB of RAM---depending on what you are doing, it could be the difference between night and day.
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