MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, March 16, 2013 ― In April, 2014 Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP. This will leave many people with computers that can’t be updated to Windows 7, because they are too old or will require the purchase of a new operating system. Notice that I didn’t mention Windows Vista, which even for Microsoft is an operating system full of problems.
The other alternative is to go the “designer” route and purchase an Apple computer (boy are they pretty), but they are very expensive.
Even for those folks who have computers with the hardware to support W7, upgrading is seen as a problem by the computer owner, and in many cases it is. I refurbish donated computers for use by needy people, and can tell that trying to locate drivers for the different components of a computer (peripherals) is tricky. Rare is the PC (both desktop and laptop) that upgrades without losing some functionality, until all drivers are found and configured properly. This process can take considerable time and effort.
For these reasons and because some people don’t want to go through the learning curve that a new operating system would entail, many people are still using Windows XP. So what are the options?
The options are limited: Continue using XP until it no longer works, buy an expensive new PC, buy an even more expensive Apple computer, or buy a relatively new used PC or Apple. Any of these options will cost ‒ either now, or when the computer no longer works and you have lost all your documents.
BUT WAIT! There is another alternative. For decades now many people have been using Linux.
Linux is an operating system developed originally by Linus Benedict Torvalds, a Finn who wanted to create a stable operating system based on Unix, but that would run on a personal computer. It is an open source system (free!), and because of that, many distributions (distros for the illuminati) have been created, providing something for everyone. Today the distro of choice is Ubuntu, developed by some nice folks in South Africa. By the way, another nice thing in Linux is that it is a world and the world. Clicking on this link will take you to a slick video on how to install the latest distro for this system.
The original Linux was a command line operating system that required quite a bit of knowledge to run. Today’s distros are as elegant and easy to use as any Microsoft or Apple operating system.
The screen shot above is of this article being typed using LibreOffice Write on Linux Mint in a virtual machine running VirtualBox. It has all the amenities of Word and is a lot less expensive ($0). Since the resources one needs are so reduced as compared with traditional operating systems, I can easily have Linux Mint running in a virtual machine in my quad core PC running Windows 7.
In non-nerd talk, almost any computer will run a version of Linux with a graphical user interface (Windows or Apple like). The dedicated Linux community will provide you with almost an infinite list of software that you can use to do whatever you want for the total price of $0.
So what is the catch?
There are things that are different in Linux. Some would say better. For example, when you want to install software, there are “managers” that takes care of that for you. The software manager finds and installs software, the package manager installs, removes and upgrades software. These managers make sure the software and all necessary components are installed, removed or upgraded. Once the software is installed, the user knows it doesn’t have compatibility problems.
Because of the differences between traditional systems and Linux, there exists a certain amount of anxiety in most people when considering switching. For these problems there are groups that are created to assist those wanting to install Linux as a trial or as a permanent replacement. In my area of the country we have initiated a group called Linux Neighbors for that purpose. The group has as its mission to help those thinking about using Linux to make a smooth transition.
So if you can’t afford to keep buying expensive operating systems and hardware, get on line with Linux.
This article was typed using free software, in a free operating system hosted in a free virtual machine.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a bleeding heart liberal, agnostic, exercise fanatic, Redskin fan, technophile, civil engineer, combat infantry veteran, jewelry maker, amateur computer programmer, Environmental engineer, Colombian-born, free thinker, and, not surprisingly, pacifist. You can find his articles - ranging from politics to cooking a mean brisket - in 21st Century Pacifist at The Washington Times Communities. Follow Mario on Twitter @chibcharus #TWTC and Facebook at Mario Salazar.
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