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Saturday, 19 June 2010 11:04

Be a pal; share Linux with your friends and family

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Are you the local computer boffin in your social circle? Tired of forever having to clean off that annoying fake super anti-virus 2010 trojan? Well, friends shouldn't let friends run Windows. Be a friend to your friends.

Why do your friends run Microsoft Windows on their laptops and desktops? Chances are the main reason is simply that's what shipped with the computer when they bought it.

Windows is familiar; it's accessible; it's available. You have to credit the Microsoft marketing machine for bringing it to the people through mass distribution and licensing agreements.

Only just a short twelve months ago I lamented the netbook market - which, ironically, came to exist because of ASUS' use of Xandros Linux - had become a Windows playing field.

The reason for this was vendor's alleged market research indicated consumers wanted a cheap machine, but yet also wanted an operating system familiar to them.

However, running Microsoft Windows on a netbook simply hamstrings it. Windows Vista ran like a dog, and although Windows 7 fares better Microsoft has chosen to insult netbook users by issuing the restrictive, and patronisingly-named, 'starter edition' for such devices.

I'm not here to argue the case for Linux on netbooks (I've done it before) - but rather the case for Linux on computers in general, of all makes and sizes.

I bring up the netbook history because it's relevant; whether in fact or fiction, vendors believed consumers wanted to use Microsoft Windows because they'd seen it before, they recognised it and they knew how to use it. Yet, it's time to challenge this thinking.

 


 

Love the ubiquitous range of Apple i-products or hate them, Apple has done the Linux world a favour.

After all, how many Windows-using folk do you know who have an iPhone, an iPod Touch or even a shiny new iPad?

Of those people, how many had to return their i-gizmo because it was unfamiliar? How many stared at the home screen and puzzled where to find Internet Explorer or Microsoft Outlook? I would wager none. The 'mail' icon is self-explanatory, and it took only a moment to equate 'Safari' with 'web browser.'

No matter your personal view on whether Apple's products are akin to a tablet from heaven of if they are a shameful locked-in censored bastardisation of an operating system, it surely must be agreed that Apple is successfully making people use an operating system, a web browser, a mail program and other tools which do not originate in Redmond.

Consequently, if you have tried in the past to show Linux just to be met with cries of 'Where is Microsoft Word?' maybe it is time to try again.

'Sure,' you can explain, 'it looks different. But don't worry. Here is your web browser and here is your e-mail program ... just like you have different icons on your iPhone.'

All this said, why would you want to run Linux anyway? For most readers of this column that question has many equally obvious answers.

For newcomers, let's put forth just one argument at this time: security. Actually, that itself involves numerous aspects. Safety, integrity, stability, and maintenance-free operation are all bundled up in this term.

 


I began with the notion that friends don't let friends run Windows. Think for a moment about offering a friend a glass of their beverage of choice. You have two glasses. One is clean, and the other is dirty. Perhaps the dirt is not visible, but the glass is teeming with microscopic weevils all carrying festering pestilent droplets of infection. Yet, it is closest. It's convenient. It is easy to grab.

So it is with Windows and Linux. Consider a Google search for 'Which Windows antivirus is best?' and the plethora of results and opinions. There are 43,100,000 results.

By contrast, 'Which Linux antivirus is best?' yields are far smaller 5,730,000 results - of which many, including on the first page, simply note that Linux does not need an anti-virus program at all. If you do choose to run anti-virus on Linux it's merely to be a good netizen and protect nearby Windows users.

Consider Internet banking and keyloggers and password snafflers. There are banks which are looking into making available Linux Live CDs for their Internet banking customers to use, because the security and strength of Linux is far greater.

Think about your friends. Next time they come to you with their virus-laden laptop what is the best thing you can do for them? Sure, it's faster to spend 30 minutes running Malwareytes' Anti-Malware but all those 30 minute blocks add up.

Worse, though, the root problem hasn't been dealt with. You can tell your friends 'don't click on all those pop-ups', 'don't visit hack or download sites', 'don't open all those attachments' but they will and so will their small children.

You could treat someone each time they get sick from salmonella. Or you could make them clean their kitchen and eating utensils.

Consider Linux. Friends don't let friends run Windows.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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