Deciding to Switch to Linux

Why I Want to Switch to Linux

I’m a Wannabe Geek

Of course I want to run Linux – I’m a wannabe geek. I’m not geek enough to be able to program, but I’m geek enough to like Unix, deep down. I love Free Software, so the idea of using nothing but free software on a day to day basis is very appealing.

We Did It Before

Long ago, when we only had one pooter between us, we ran Mandrake Linux for quite a while. It worked very nicely for us, but eventually we returned to Microsoft Windows. There’s things we missed when we came back, but there were more things we missed when we didn’t have Windows. On the whole, though, it was good.

Why Now?

Using Cross-Platform Software Anyway

Much of the software I’m using these days is cross-platform. I use Firefox, which is just as happy on Linux as on Windows. For photo editing, I prefer The GIMP anyway, and that’s better on Linux. I’m using Outlook for email, but anything would do the job for me, really.

My text editor of choice at the moment is PSPad (Windows only), but there’s no great shortage of good text editors under Linux.

Although I’ve still got a fair bit of my ‘GTD system’ in Outlook, I’m in the process of trying out a personal wiki system for that. I’m using MediaWiki, which is more at home on Linux that on Windows.

Letting Sam Play with the Tablet

My main computer is a Tablet PC. I won’t be trying to run Linux on that (although the M200 does work with Linux – everything but the SD card reader has been tried successfully by other people). We’ll be swapping machines, so this will give Sam a chance to try out the Tablet, and see how she gets on with it. I’ve been impressed with the hardware, but I’ve really not got on with the software at all. I’ve just ended up using it as a small laptop computer. Maybe Sam will get more out of it. I’m sure she’ll get more out of ArtRage than I ever have.

Microsoft’s Latest ‘Critical Security Update’

We do actually have enough Windows licenses for the machines we’re using here, but the copy that’s installed on Zippy (Sam’s desktop machine) isn’t really a legit copy. It’s a corporate edition with a generated key, and it doesn’t pass the ‘Genuine Advantage’ test. That’s not really been a problem for us before now.

A couple of days ago, though, it picked up a Windows Update, that ran a ‘Genuine Advantage’ check, and started adding delays to login, notices on the login screen, and little ‘nag’ bubbles whilst you’re working on it.

OK, so we got around it fairly quickly by deleting the update (took a bit of doing, they really don’t want you to delete it), but it’s kind of annoying, and it’s likely that it will stop being ‘optional’ soon.

I quite understand why Microsoft want to protect their software, and why they want to make sure they get paid for each copy of Windows that’s in use. I really don’t object to that. What I do object to is that they set up the automatic updates process some time back, and got people to trust it, by promising to only use it for critical updates. Nothing but critical security updates would apply themselves through Windows Update. Once a large enough number of us started to trust them on this, they push something through that’s nothing to do with security at all. It’s there to protect their profits.

Again, I don’t mind them wanting to protect their profits, though making me go through more tests and checks does put me off using any software. I mind the fact that they’ve done this so dishonestly.

I’ve since been offered another full retail copy of Windows XP, unopened, by a friend who had one spare, but I’d rather deal with an organisation that won’t treat me that way.

Where Next?

I’ll write a bit more about what I plan to do in order to switch in another post. With luck, though, it will all happen quite soon. It may not last again – if there’s problems I can’t solve in Linux, I’ll return to Windows again, but I’m going to give it another go. I wonder how many other people have just been nudged over the edge by Microsoft.