[oclug] Newbie Question
Stephen M. Webb
stephenw at xandros.com
Tue Apr 5 10:27:14 EDT 2005
On 05/04/05 09:20 am, Frederick Emrich, Editor, info-commons.org wrote:
> Newbie question here:
> I am a strong supporter of the *idea* of OS, but although I am not afraid
> of technology or of computer tinkering, neither am I by any means
> completely comfortable with it either. I'm tired of the deficiencies of MS
> products and very interested in trying OS in my personal computer, but I
> also need to be sure that my computer lets me get my work done--long
> learning curves would be a big problem.
> So I am considering a move to OS and looking for information that is aimed
> at a user like myself (no experience with software coding, but able to use
> a book to learn to do things like HTML, etc) that will describe:
> 1) Whys and why nots of OS software
> 2) How to install
> 3) What to do when things don't work
It sounds like you're equating open source software with computer programming.
I think you'll find that it's possible, as a non-technical joe guy, to
install and use a computer system that runs nothing but open source software
with the same ease and confidence that you would a typical system running
software from Microsoft and third-party vendors.
The most agnostic argument in favour of open source software is the cost. You
can pick up a commercial distribution of Linux (say, oh, Xandros 3 Deluxe, to
"randomly" name one) for the same cost as a really good computer game, and it
will include right out of the box all the usual applications most people say
they need -- word processing, spreadsheet, web browser, collections of
drawing tools, instant messenger clients, web development tools, various
games like solitaire and minesweeper, etc etc etc., and usually upgrades when
they become available. The equivalent from Microsoft will run you well over
the price of your computer hardware and will require install after install
after install from separate disks.
There are other arguments, such as increased security and freedom, but those
are harder to demonstrate and get belaboured to death every where. Ask
slashdot for more information.
Installing most open source is as simple as a few clicks and you're there.
Like a working woman, open source software has to be many times better than
the other kind just to be considered "good enough."
Getting help when something goes wrong? (1) Use commercial open source -- one
of the things you're paying for is support. (2) There are fora on the
internet for any given open source product, where experienced users will
usually post responses to problems within the same time period you will have
to wait for paid support from Microsoft to respond that the problem is with a
third-party driver. (3) oclug at lists.oclug.on.ca.
If you want to take the OS plunge, get yourself a copy of a modern Linux
distribution and install it -- the good ones will create room on your hard
drive for installation without harming your existing OS. Some distributions
offer a "live" CD, but those are actually poor demonstrations and I don't
recommend them for your purposes.
Come on in, the water's fine.
Stephen M . Webb
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