On June 30th this year, you will suddenly find it very difficult to buy a fresh copy of Microsoft Windows XP off the shelf at your local software dealer. That’s because Microsoft is ending the sale of this soon to be considered “obsolete” operating system, priming Microsoft fan boys for their annual upgrade bum rush. Yes, that grim day coming in the middle of April 2009 when you will suddenly stop receiving all security updates for Windows XP and be cornered by Microsoft with an expensive proposition. You’ll soon be facing a tough decision, made up of the following possible choices:
- Buy Windows Vista for a couple hundred dollars — more after hardware upgrades to support Vista’s heaving girth and blubber — so you can continue to sit down to do exactly what you used to do with Windows XP: Browse the web, play games, write novels, download videos and other common tasks like scanning for viruses and spyware.
- Buy a Mac, participating in an even more frequent (costlier) upgrade pow-wow… but you’ll look trendy while doing it. You’ll get to browse the web, play (a few) games, write haiku’s for your legacy-sounding text-to-speech software, listen to iTunes and other common tasks like reminiscing over I’m a Mac commercials and standing in line for 24 hours to buy a freggin’ cell phone.
- Decide not to upgrade to Vista at all, eventually exposing your XP system to new security exploits that will never, ever, ever see a repair patch written for them. The lease is up… Perhaps you need something new but you don’t wanna pay anything for it?
- Switch to Linux, forget about viruses, spyware, bloat-ware or software costing you time and money.
And so comes the question: What the f— is Linux? Linux is open-source software. It is a product that is the sum total of decades of volunteer collaboration made by millions of computer programmers world wide, and is one of the most refined, stable operating systems in existence today. Because it’s open-source, it’s considered public domain. You practically already own your own copy. It can be downloaded, burned, shared, installed on as many PCs as you wish for free.
Is Linux Right For You?
Well, it was right for me. I switched over just a year ago, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. Here are the applications I use regularly on my installation of Ubuntu Linux:
Firefox – Web Browsing
Evolution – E-mail
Audacity – Sound editing
Avidemux – Video editing
DeVeDe – Convert AVI to DVD
Gimp – Edit photos; similar to Photoshop
Open Office – Microsoft Office Replacement (can open and save in Microsoft format too)
VMware – Run a Windows XP virtual machine inside a window
Google Earth – View maps of the world and of outer space!
Pidgin – Allows me to chat on Yahoo IM, and about 15 others like AOL or MSN
Skype - Make phone calls around the world
Photoshop – Just kidding, I haven’t installed it, but I could and so could you.
Games – I don’t play games too much, but I recently installed Quake 4 and it runs like a charm. Though I could throw in some Warcraft 3 or WoW if I wanted to. More classic Windows games are on the way.
The bottom line is that Linux is an available option to you that is free of charge and of obligation. And switching over to it will afford you the advantage of never having to feel chained to Microsoft’s vendor lock-in (or Mac’s vendor lock-in). You’ll also find yourself not upgrading your PC’s hardware for a few more years, as the use of system resources is much more efficient than Vista’s. And when support for your version of Linux is expired, you can just upgrade to the next version free of charge. So now if you actually need a hardware upgrade, you’ll have the extra dough to do so.
Thursday, January 31st, 2008