My logs show that only a paltry 3.6% of readers have reached Complete Enlightenment. The bad news is that 83.1% of you live a hellish existence and suffer regular torments and agony, much of it self-imposed. How I weep for you! (The remaining 13.3% are in Limbo, including the 2 jokers last month who logged on using a PlayStation 3.)
Yes. I remember when I, too, was forced to use Windows. Viruses, spyware, screens forever locking up, endless forced reboots. How gray the world was! But then, one calm morning, as dawn broke over the Eastern sky, I finally Saw the Light. I switched to Linux.
If you are a geek, you already know about Linux and chances are, unless your corporate IT says otherwise, you are already one of the Elect. So I am now speaking to the chained masses.
Linux is an operating system, like Windows or Mac OS1, which is as fully rich as the other two but is free. Want an office software suite (word processor, spreadsheet, “PowerPoint”-like thingee)? Try Open Office. Want image editing software? Try the Gimp. Totem will play DVDs and other video files. Rhythm Box will play all sound files and hook up to internet radio stations. Want a real command line where you literally control the world through an occult language? Terminal, baby. Best news is that all of these come built-in to Linux. They are also free.
There are many flavors of Linux, but I recommend Ubuntu—one of those trendy African words meaning “warm fuzzy”. Log on to the site to see pictures of multicultural people holding hands and grinning weirdly, just like the photos appearing on any corporate web site.
Before you blow $219.99 (plus tax & plus shipping if you want the discs) to upgrade to Windows 7—and that is before adding on niceties like Office and PhotoShop and on and on—why not try Linux, whose grand total costs are 0 dollars and 0 cents?
Best of all: you do not have to dispose of Windows! You can download a copy of Linux and install it right on your Windows machine by using Wubi.
Wubi is Free
Wubi and Ubuntu cost absolutely nothing (free as in beer), but yet provide a state of the art, fully functional, operating system that does not require any activation and does not impose any restriction on its use (free as in freedom).
It works by installing a 5GB file in your Windows “C:/” directory and an option in the “boot” menu. This is a regular Windows file and it does not interfere in any way with operations. Next time you reboot your machine, you’ll be presented with an option to start Windows or Ubuntu. Select the later, and don’t look back. If you’re on a laptop, navigate to the upper right of the screen to the little network icon; click it and choose your normal Wifi server, then you’re in business.
On the upper left of the screen, click “Applications” and see what’s what. The interface should be intuitive and familiar. There’s time-wasting and soul-sucking games, plenty of small-tool accessory programs, the Open Office suite, lots of internet tools like Firefox and Evolution email, and so on. Click “System” next and see where all the options are. You can add users—Linux is based on security: everybody needs a username and password and they need to use it every time they log on—add or subtract eye candy, set up printers, and so forth.
The only real pain in the keister is licensing. Ubuntu is fully free and open source and runs under a software license which requires all native packages meet this strict demand. Certain video and audio formats don’t, and so much be installed separately. Go to this page which explains the deal and has a button to complete the installation.
Linux is absolutely the only way to go if you have a netbook and your main goal in life is to browse Facebook etc. Many netbooks come pre-installed with Linux, particularly in Asia. This lowers the cost of computers by about 100 bucks because no money flows to Seattle.
Some of you will make The Shift, but it won’t stick. It’s true that there is a learning curve to any new operating system, and if you’re a lifelong Windows survivor, the curve might feel steep. However, don’t give up easily. Remember that any difficulty you’re having, somebody else had too. So Google/Yahoo/Bing and find how those people solved their problems. Enlightenment carries its own rewards!
1Mac OS is already Linuxy; it was “informed” by BSD, another *nix flavor. Open the Terminal command line and see.