gave me a good idea to document my switch from Windows to GNU/Linux
. If you decide to read this ongoing series, it was his idea from the start. I've wanted to "make the switch" since 1998 when Corel came out with its own version of Linux. That lasted about two weeks before I shelved that junk. In the meantime, I've toyed with various Linux distros, but knew I was never going to switch, so at best it was a convenient distraction. I'm no expert, so I'll be learning as this series unfolds. So if you ask me a question, I'll probably just google it, since I'm not that smart.
Fast-forward nine years to 2007 and the world looks a lot different, and so does GNU/Linux. Microsoft, while still dominant, has not had a good century to date. Apple is reborn and its users love OS X for reasons I can't fathom, ha! Google bided its time and then hit the scene with its simple search engine followed by a smash hit with Gmail. Now it's onto Google Docs and Spreadsheets which ain't too shabby either. On the geek side, GNU/Linux has kept plugging along, consistently improving behind the genius of its free software licensing
, all the while avoiding the entire generation of security problems that have plagued the last several versions of Microsoft OSes. Enter Mark Shuttleworth
with Ubuntu and by 2006, his $100m project and its grand goals caught the attention of a lot of users and suddenly there was an explosion of interest and excitement surrounding his Debian-based "distro" of GNU/Linux. Other distros like PCLinuxOS
and Fedora 7
would impress a small percentage of Windows users with their artwork, graphics, easy installations, and the ability of GNU/Linux to make an old machine new again, or at least extend its shelf-life.
By the time we get to 2007, Microsoft had spent five years developing Vista and making many promises they couldn't keep. Hardware was outpacing XP, and it seemed Microsoft had spent an inordinate amount of time on anti-piracy measures like WGA, OGA, and the absolutely unprecedented "device-dependent" EULA of Vista. Users like myself were deeply disappointed with Vista, with its increased hardware requirements, increased cost to administer, and the feeling that it offered little noticeable improvement over XP-SP2. As computing got more restricted by Microsoft, and combined with the new MS-OOXML file format introduced in Office 2007, Microsoft was suddenly ready to lock users into their OS and their proprietary file formats for many years to come.
It couldn't come at a worse time. 2006 was the pivotal year that the world decided to move on without Microsoft. Apple was doing its own thing and happy with itself. GNU/Linux users had a hit with Ubuntu, the OASIS OpenDocument (ODF) format
became an international ISO-certified standard for office data, the OLPC (one laptop per child) project chose a Linux variant while could potentially put Linux into the hands of kids in poor and developing nations around the globe for a generation, and Google kept poking Microsoft with a stick with its steady acquisitions and creative use of AJAX. Meanwhile, Microsoft delayed Vista, delayed Office 2007, and instead of leading, decided to play copycat with Google, Adobe, and even ODF, seeking unprecedented ISO standardization for its MS-OOXML format, which is nothing more than a product specification at best.
All this had me looking for the Exit door on Microsoft products. I'd been their biggest fan since 1990 and the first version of Word for Windows (and I'd been an Excel user before that), but even though I had paid Microsoft for every piece of software I had ever used from them, they got the idea that I was a thief and had to "show my papers" every time I booted my system. Then came Vista which held that if my computer didn't pass Microsoft's WGA checks, Microsoft would remotely disable my OS and lock me out. That kind of stuff pisses me off. Their idea of "Trusted Computing" was indeed Orwellian. So here I am, with the intention of slowly weaning myself off the Windows platform. And while I'll keep a Windows system on my desk for the next few years, I'm committed to moving on, to a free and open future for me, my data, my OS, and my wallet. What money I will have spent on various software to support Windows from the OS to security and antivirus, I will be able to spend on better hardware more often.
I'll post a new topic as I make progress and learn new things Windows users should know about switching. I'm not asking YOU to switch. In fact, I've come to the conclusion that among OS X, Windows, and GNU/Linux, they're all different and serve different needs for each. So I won't be like those annoying "I'm a Mac" commercials and evangelize GNU/Linux at the expense of demonizing Windows. (Microsoft, however, is another story!) To start, take four minutes and read this brief outline
on making the switch. In short, there are differences, some of them quite significant. I'll try to make it interesting and I hope you'll join in, especially if you find this whole "switch" a mistake. After that, look for my next post.
________________________________________________Part-01: My journey from Windows to LinuxPart-02: Which Linux distro to choose?Part-03: First impressions and first problems after installationPart-04: The "User Guide" as life raft, more n00b problemsPart-05: Ten Great Ideas of GNU/LinuxPart-06: Software Management is not that different