Daily Archives: April 17, 2012

Yesterday, I discussed what you can do with your perfectly good PC after Windows XP goes away. Today, I’m going to rant a bit about why you may want to give Linux a try. Keep in mind that I’m no “Fanboy” of any particular hardware or operating system. If it works for you, then it’s probably just what you need.

If you have an older PC, then Linux maybe just what you need. One reason why we keep having to buy new PCs is because the next release of Windows outstrips the capabilities of your hardware. Even though Vista came out (Hey! It wasn’t bad  after the 1st service pack was released.) was released to the entire world on January 30, 2007 – my 55th birthday – and Windows 7 was released in July of 2009, thousands upon thousands of XP users stayed right where they were because XP worked for them and they didn’t have to buy a new PC.

Linux has less stringent hard ware requirements. If your machine could run XP, it will most likely be faster under a Linux distribution like Ubuntu whose requirements are basically:

  • A 1 Gigahertz processor (Pentium 4 or better)
  • 1 Gigabytes of RAM (memory)
  • 15 Gigabytes of hard drive space (I have a 12 Gigabyte hard drive on my shelf that came from a client. It is considered to be an antique.)

In fact, Linux will quite well (read faster) on a machine with somewhat less than the above requirements. Indeed, the distribution called Puppy Linux only requires 256 megabytes of RAM.
Now before I go further, let me explain just what a Linux “distribution” is. To quote Wikipaedia,

A Linux distribution is a member of the family of Unix-like operating systems built on top of the Linux kernel. Such distributions (often called distros for short) are operating systems including a large collection of software applications such as word processors, spreadsheets, media players, and database applications. These operating systems consist of the Linux kernel and, usually, a set of libraries and utilities from the GNU Project, with graphics support from the X Window System. Distributions optimized for size may not contain X and tend to use more compact alternatives to the GNU utilities . . . There are currently over six hundred Linux distributions. Over three hundred of those are in active development, constantly being revised and improved.

The thought of 300 active distributions of Linux is simply mind-boggling. So which one should you use? I am going to recommend Ubuntu. Of course there are other distros that are just as good and have their own legions of fans but I am trying to keep things simple for you. Once you get your feet wet with Ubuntu, you may wish to try additional distros to see whats out there.

Most Linux distributions are F-R-E-E. Free. There are some specialised ones with specialised  software written to fulfill some need but most of the ones we are concerned with are free and the company or organisation behind it charges for things like support services. In addition, most of the software for distros is free as well. Hey, you can’t beat that!

Many of the common software applications that you use on a daily basis have a version for Linux or at least an analogous application in the Linux world. If you are seriously attached to a Windows application like Quicken, you can still run it on your Linux system via a software application called WINE.

So, before your eyes glaze over, I’m going to give you a couple of links and let you go. (My goal is to explain the basics and give you a taste of what Linux can do for you). These links are all related to Ubuntu.

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. Mark Twain

Statistics can be used or massaged to prove or justify just about anything. If you doubt that, simply take a look at any political ad on TV nowadays.

I keep an eye on the site statistics – more to see if anyone is actually reading any of this – and I have noticed 3 considerable spikes in my traffic. Each of those spikes came immediately after posting something about MACs with the largest spike coming in the wake of my “Welcome to the real world” post . This has led me to the conclusion that there is a significant interest – at least among my “audience” – in MACs or at least my posts about them.

My MAC posts have been on things that simply fell into my lap, so to speak. I’m basically a Windows man who is also interested in Linux. Have nothing against MACs. Just never worked for a company that used them. To me, MACs are a tool just like anything else.

So the question becomes “Should I focus on MACs more?” I’ve always wanted to build a Hackentosh so this might be my golden opportunity. And, coming from 37 years of experience with all kinds of computers, I can probably give a more even assessment than some “Fanboy”. To help me figure all this out, I’ve got a short survey below.

Do you own a MAC?[show_poll “Yes” “No”]
Should Howard start blogging about MACs more often?[show_poll “Yes” “No”]
Should Howard build a “Hackentosh”?[show_poll “Yes” “No”]

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April 2012
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