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Windows-Free Update

Since losing Windows XP Pro to a slew of viruses, malware, trojans and any other form of badware, our family has been getting along fine with Ubuntu and Mac OS X. I mentioned that my wife would have some growing pains associated with the learning curve that is Linux. However, I've noticed that while she misses her beloved Microsoft Office, she's actually not missing much. What she is really missing, is being a school teacher, and integrating technology into her classroom (since having a child, she opted for being a full-time mom). She's been patient learning OpenOffice.org, of which I think she's actually enjoying. Further, to increase her skill set for her resume, she has asked me to train her in depth with Linux, so she can teach others should she ever go back into education. That's my girl!

Now that our family has made that switch, it's sparked some key interest from other family members and friends about how we can live "Microsoft-free". It's interesting to see people think that Windows is all there is in the world. I'm asked how I cope with the lack of apparent software, my reasons for the switch, and how my daughter will grow up in a Microsoft-free environment. They're even critical that when our daughter grows up in school, she'll have to "face the music", and learn Windows anyway, so I might as well teach her now. Well, of course I'm hopeful that in the future, we won't have just one operating system controlling the market, but that choices will abound a plenty-- Windows, Linux, Mac, BSD, Haiku, etc. I guess time will tell.

So, as it sits, my wife is ever-so-patient with me, and learning quickly. Our family is moving forward, and our computing infrastructure has remained intact.

{ 35 } Comments

  1. Jonas using Konqueror 4.1 on SuSE | August 4, 2008 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    "They’re even critical that when our daughter grows up in school, she’ll have to “face the music”, and learn Windows anyway, so I might as well teach her now."

    That's a point of view I've never understood. Even if Microsoft manages to keep their 90%+ marketshare, the Windows of the future may very well be a very different thing than the Windows of today.

    Besides, someone that can use Gnome or KDE can use Windows too. Or the other way around for that matter. From an end-user POW they're not that different. Under the hood, yes, and there are subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle differences in how the GUI operates but not enough to make someone accustomed to one variety completely lost in the others.

  2. Ulisse using Firefox 3.0.1 on GNU/Linux | August 4, 2008 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Here in Italy, Microsoft is very heavily present in schools.
    Me and a friend are planning to meet the local Parents Association to inform them that the school is not teaching their sons to use a PC, but instead forming future Microsoft customers.
    The plan is to form the teachers _also_ about Free Software, so thay can give the students the possibility to choice.
    Let's hope that will work, and that will be a starting point for other schools...

  3. Kevin Mark using Firefox 2.0.0.12 on GNU/Linux | August 4, 2008 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    As an owner of an XO-1, I believe that you can use FLOSS to achieve education goals. Learning more than one computer system is good and possible. Not learning ms windows and office will not permanently scar a child and limit their education or job prospects. Now if only we could convince the Nigerian government and convince OLPC to remember this fact and advocate it more strongly. And dont forget skoelinux/debian-edu/edubuntu.
    Cheers,
    K

  4. Leo Loikkanen using Firefox 3.0.1 on Windows XP | August 5, 2008 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I think that Ubuntu is a great and user friendly distribution for people with families. It comes with a lot of games, and multimedia applications and it's really easy to use.

    I am wondering if you choose to use non-GPL drivers and plugins (like nVidia drivers and Flash Player plugins) or are you trying to gravitate away from those as well.

  5. krokus using Firefox 3.0.1 on Windows Vista | August 6, 2008 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Ok!
    Now, after you opened the eyes of your family to the existence of Linux... switch back to windows and stop wasting their time.

  6. Keri (the wife) using Firefox 3.0.1 on Mac OS | August 6, 2008 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    life without windows isn't as bad as i thought-- i am learning quickly that the ease i felt with windows can easily be achieved with another OS....

    and i actually think we are saving time because all of our computers are now compatible. :)

  7. krokus using Firefox 3.0.1 on Windows Vista | August 6, 2008 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Well... Good luck! ;)

  8. William Kidd using Opera 9.51 on Windows Vista | August 6, 2008 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    I wonder what your family is doing to break that much havok on the computers. Mine has been using Windows for years without problems. Of course, I don't give them admin rights on the machine, nor I'd give the root password on a Unix machine.

    I tried once to have them use a Suse machine for a while and they didn't like it, even for the most simple tasks. They missed Live Messenger, and even web fonts (not to mention Flash!) were a pain.

    Linux is more trouble than it is worth in my experience.

  9. Jim using Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows Vista | August 6, 2008 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    EDITED BY ADMIN FOR VULGARITY

    Keri,

    My advice would be to divorce that [CENSORED]. He's so incompetent that he can't keep a Windows box up and running without viruses. Linux isn't the answer. INTELLIGENCE is the answer.

  10. lol using Firefox 3.0.1 on Windows XP | August 7, 2008 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    ^lol

  11. lol using Firefox 3.0.1 on Windows Vista | August 14, 2008 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Okay? Just wanted to try out something different, didn't you? How's it going? How are your useless sudos and apt-gets and broken graphics and package installers going? Open office has the usability of Ofice 97. Please give your family a break and don't turn them into commies. It's a pain in the ass, Ubuntu. And what's wrong with getting an anti-virus software? You know why there aren't viruses for Linux? Because nobody gives a damn. Why would someone want to show off their fancy virus to a bunch of people nobody cares about? Windows shall always remain mainstream. You know why? It's because of usability. That's their prime concern. Usability. Not rotating desktops, not crappy package managers, not stupid office suites just to have some, not wobbly windows. People prefer installing an anti-virus software to installing another OS altogether, which doesn't do a thing about usability.

  12. Aaron using Firefox 3.0.1 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | August 14, 2008 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    @lol- Let's see, where to begin?

    Just wanted to try out something different, didn’t you? How’s it going?

    No, not really. If that were the case, I'd be running Plan9 from Bell Labs. Or, I'd take a look at running an Exokernel-based operating system. Ubuntu isn't that different.

    How are your useless sudos and apt-gets and broken graphics and package installers going?

    What "useless sudos and apt-gets" are referring to? I guess occasionally I install the wrong package, so that would count as "useless", but other than that, I'm not sure what you mean. Are talking about the fact that I don't have to second-guess myself by clicking "Next" "Next" "Next" through an installation of software?

    Further, I don't have any broken graphics. My video card and LCD screen work GREAT on every computer I run Ubuntu. My package installer rocks, and makes installing and removing software a snap. Flawless.

    Please give your family a break and don’t turn them into commies. It’s a pain in the ass, Ubuntu.

    Communism has nothing to do with running Linux on my computers. Talk a walk through Google and Wikipedia in regards to Communism, then get back to me. I'll spare you the public humiliation.

    And what’s wrong with getting an anti-virus software? You know why there aren’t viruses for Linux? Because nobody gives a damn. Why would someone want to show off their fancy virus to a bunch of people nobody cares about?

    No, you've completely missed the point of security. Windows has viruses, because it's essentially insecure. Linux does not have viruses for two reasons. First, as you pointed out, it's not mainstream, so it's not a target. But second, and more importantly, it's fundamentally different in regards to security. Even if Linux were mainstream, viruses still wouldn't be a problem. Take a look into SELinux for a start.

    Windows shall always remain mainstream. You know why? It’s because of usability. That’s their prime concern. Usability. Not rotating desktops, not crappy package managers, not stupid office suites just to have some, not wobbly windows. People prefer installing an anti-virus software to installing another OS altogether, which doesn’t do a thing about usability.

    Some of your comment hits the nail on the head. Linux could use quite a bit more from the Windows world in terms of usability. However, Linux developers mainly have no desire to dumb-down the operating system. Linux has a gravitational pull to it for most, because it brings about intellectualism from people. Linux is a fascinating operating system, where research, work and play are carried out on a regular basis. So many corporations, such as Google and Amazon, bank their entire infrastructure behind it. Linux definitely has great value.

    Your comment comes off as nothing more than fanboy-ish. You have created a comment that shows me you are willing to follow a vendor blindly, right off a cliff. Good luck to you and your future.

  13. lol using Firefox 3.0.1 on Windows Vista | August 14, 2008 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    You said:

    "Linux developers mainly have no desire to dumb-down the operating system. Linux has a gravitational pull to it for most, because it brings about intellectualism from people. Linux is a fascinating operating system, where research, work and play are carried out on a regular basis. So many corporations, such as Google and Amazon, bank their entire infrastructure behind it. Linux definitely has great value."

    Excuse me, Mr. Toponce. This post is about Linux for your family, right? Are your wife and kids currently running an internet search engine or a bank at home? My guess is that they're using the home computer to browse the internet, play games, chat, video conference, listen to music, watch movies, write email and type a letter or something. That's what home PC's are for, aren't they? My previous comment was precisely regarding that. Spare Linux from the home PC, please. I say this because the community does nothing to make Linux usable for the home user. Most of it's behaviour is "hive-mentality". They support the ideology that Linux is only for techies. Read the home PC oriented activities I mentioned once again.
    To explain them, I'll take Ubuntu as my Linux example, as it's the most popular desktop distro.

    They are:

    Browse the internet: Ubuntu comes default with a BETA browser that crashes with Flash applications. Windows comes with IE. A kid doesn't care if IE doesn't display CSS elements properly. If his dotted border looks a little dashed. He wants to read email. And he can do so with IE. Why are FF fanboys pointing to minor IE mistakes just to deride it? Moreover, firefox on windows runs better than FF on Ubuntu. I have tried both and I can vouch for that. Although I don't want to start upon this, I can't help but do it. Why do Linux users accuse Microsoft of bundling IE and Media Player and thus killing off competition? Ubuntu ships with FF (that too, a BETA), totem, pidgin, evolution and also tops it off by bundling in an office suite. Who's the competition killer now? "Ubuntu allows me to uninstall them and use other software", you say? Well, hello. You can install firefox, OO and VLC and real player (if not totem) on Windows. They're not preventing you from doing so.

    Play games: I won't even get started. You know the truth. Solitaire and Mines? (lol)

    Chat: Ubuntu: Pidgin by default. Vista: Windows Live messenger.
    A kid would prefer downloading Yahoo messnger and engage in Video conferencing and voice chatting rather than work on a pathetic looking stone age chat client. Mutiple accounts you say? Well Yahoo and MSN have merged their chat services, you know?

    video conference: See above

    Listen to music: Ubuntu: spend from 15 minutes to 2 hours installing codecs. Then run music on totem or rhythbmox, when no sound comes or only one channel is working, post messages on Ubuntuforums.org to get answers like, "It's working on my computer". Windows: Insert my music CD and BAM! Media center plays it. Click on an MP3 file and BAM! Media player plays it.

    Watch movies: See above

    Write email: Most home users use web based mail, which are in many respects, better than mail clients now days. I'd say, both Linux and Windows are at par at this.

    Type a letter or something: Okay. Ubuntu wins here. It comes with an office suite bundled to cut off competition from other office suites.

    Mr. Toponce, one must be a hypocrite if he has to counter these claims. Just admit it. Linux is not for the home user. Computers are not made with only techies on mind. If something like that were so, then Airline companies would be asking passengers to fly the planes and fix the pressure drop problems, and cars wouldn't come with manuals. See, Airline and automotive hobbyists are not zealots who shout about their experimental creations form the rooftops and ask common users to use them. That's what the Linux community is doing. It's blabbering a lot about persuading home users to switch to a hobby OS. I'm not a Microsoft fanboy or anything. Quite on the contrary, I like Ubuntu for the efforts they've made. But it just won't work. Marketing to home users requires a traditional business setup, which the linux community cannot do. I've used 1 distro of Mandrake Linux (my first linux), and 3 of Ubuntu (Feisty, Gutsy and Hardy). I like my Ubuntu desktop, but it's not aesthetically appealing even after the best modifications and it's too much of a pain to use it in a home environment. It doesn't have great usability. If you're to run a web server, Linux is the answer. But not for a home user.

  14. Aaron using Firefox 3.0.1 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | August 14, 2008 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    @lol- Ubuntu Linux is for the home user just fine. My wife is loving it, and not missing Windows at all. Just as you mention, she doesn't care if Firefox renders a page more correctly than IE, but it does render the page. And, unless you're running many extensions, Firefox 3 has not crashed on me yet. It's very stable.

    Yes, MP3 encoding and DVD playback are an issue, because you don't have a license to do so in the United States, due to copyright restrictions, when you install Ubuntu Linux. You purchase this license when you purchase a copy of Microsoft Windows or Apple Macintosh. Getting them installed, however, is trivial. Ubuntu will recognize that you need the appropriate codec, and recommend installing it for you, giving you the warning about the legal issues also.

    I'm not going to get into a debate about this piece of software versus another. Suffice it to say, Ubuntu can learn things from Windows, which I rightly admit, and Windows can learn things from Ubuntu. No operating system is perfect. I won't take anyone serious who claims such, writing them off as ignorant and naive.

  15. lol using Firefox 3.0.1 on Windows Vista | August 14, 2008 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    that wasn't fun

  16. lol using Firefox 3.0.1 on Windows Vista | August 14, 2008 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    What about the software bundling issue?

  17. lol using Firefox 3.0.1 on GNU/Linux | August 14, 2008 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Where are you, Mr. Toponce? Look I'm using Linux now! Will you reply now?

  18. lol using Firefox 3.0.1 on GNU/Linux | August 14, 2008 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Since Mr. Toponce hasn't replied in a proper manner, we're going to assume that he knows the truth about how sucky Ubuntu is for the home user, and prefers not to answer rather than answer something hard to believe. Thank you, Mr. Toponce. I have pwned your blog! lolllllllllllllll!!!!!!!!

  19. Aaron using Firefox 3.0.1 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | August 14, 2008 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Or, Mr. Toponce has other things to do other than watch his blog every second of the day to see of lol has commented so he can reply.

  20. lol using Firefox 3.0.1 on GNU/Linux | August 14, 2008 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    lol

  21. Jack using Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows Vista | August 15, 2008 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    wow, that was one heated dis! Anway, methinx communists and linusses have lot in commn. They're both groups nobody cares about, and who constantly keep blabbering abt how good their publicly rejected system is, to grab attention and get over their insecurity of not being diff frm others.

  22. Jack using Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows Vista | August 15, 2008 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Oh, and did i mention that both have an inferiority complex, and never admit dat they hv one. Both r propagandists of der publicly unaccepted nd unpractical ideas, and propgate dem by spreading propaganda and lies about how good their system is?

  23. Jack using Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows Vista | August 15, 2008 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I cnt help but go on. Both adopt things tht are not adopted by normal ppl. Both are hypokts and characterless persons, who switch ideologies on teh basis of wot'll make dem appear in da public eye

  24. Aaron using Firefox 3.0.1 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | August 15, 2008 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    @Jack- Please continue. Your apparent lack of spelling accuracy is hilarious.

  25. Jack using Internet Explorer 7.0 on Windows Vista | August 15, 2008 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I misspell just for the sake of speed, Aaron. I don't have much time to waste commenting on blogs like this.

  26. Aaron using Firefox 3.0.1 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | August 15, 2008 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    @Jack- Well, that was your 4th comment over the span of 2 hours...

  27. AJ using Firefox 3.0.1 on Windows Vista | August 17, 2008 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    omg this blog is hilarious...and i love "lol's" blog too...Aaron is right by the way...and linux sucks [censored]

  28. naib singh using Internet Explorer 6.0 on Windows XP | August 24, 2008 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    windows messenger accidently lost, now want to load it. I shall be highly thankful for this act.

  29. sex using Google Chrome 0.2.149.27 on Windows Vista | September 5, 2008 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Just checking whether pthree.org ecognises Google Chrome

  30. sex using Firefox 3.0.1 on Windows Vista | September 5, 2008 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    It does not. It says Safari. And I was using Vista. Work on that javaScript, pthree.org!

  31. Aaron using Firefox 3.0.1 on GNU/Linux 64 bits | September 5, 2008 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    @sex- The icons are identified from your user agent string. Google Chrome uses the Webkit engine, and identifies itself as Safari. So, the PHP is doing exactly as it should.

  32. factotum218 using Opera 9.52 on Windows XP | September 8, 2008 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    hah, this is hilarious

  33. PenisBoy using Firefox 3.0.4 on Ubuntu | November 29, 2008 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    This has to be the gayest thing in the world.

  34. jguyg using Firefox 3.0.4 on Ubuntu | November 29, 2008 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    kwjhdbiwuehbfouwefefw

  35. linux using Firefox 3.5.3 on Ubuntu 64 bits | October 10, 2009 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    Every single school i ever attended ran on apple. And i went to seven different schools.

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