Geoff Rivell on 6 Sep 2004 14:40:02 -0000

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Re: [PLUG] Interesting Article from eWeek

On Sunday 05 September 2004 09:12 am, Tobias DiPasquale wrote:

> True, she
> didn't set up the system for herself, but how many members of this list
> were called upon to do a Windows XP install for friends or family? I'll
> bet that it is the majority.

I've been a Linux user since 1996.  But I never thought I had it that much 
better than a Windows user.  I know, no viruses, etc.  But I didn't think it 
was that bad since I mostly saw the beginnings of Windows 95 and lived in DOS 
before that.  Viruses weren't that huge.

I was so wrong.  Everyone and their cousin are coming to me looking to have 
their systems fixed.  I never imagined that many people could get a 

Re-installing an OS isn't that bad.  Hey, I've been building systems for years 
and install Linux on all of them.  No biggie.  OK.  Some have Windows 98, 
some have Windows ME, some have Windows XP.  OK.. Comparison.  Debian 1,2, 
and 3 :)  With Linux they all would get Debian 3.0 upon re-install.  They 
can't do that with Windows unless I break the law.  And I don't want to have 
blood on my hands for someone else's mistakes in computing choice.

OK, so I re-install their OS's.  Now comes the fun part.  They want to get on 
the internet.  Oops.  No network driver... No modem driver....  No video 
driver.   No sound driver.  ARGGG.  With Linux it is pretty much clear cut.  
Either the kernel supports it (which means you automatically have the driver) 
or it doesn't.  And if it doesn't, you can bother looking around.  Don't have 
the driver cd's?  ARGGG.  So what do I do?  I take my Knoppix CD and boot the 
computer from it.  Oh, what a shock.  It detects everything.  Then I do a 
google search for drivers.  (must I say I hate working on peoples systems who 
use 56k modems :).  Download the drivers after a little while of searching 
for some obscure ones (3dfx voodoo 3 is fairly hard to find a working D/L 
link for).

OK, now thats done.  Time for patching.  Windows Update.  Download a huge 
amount of security fixes/service packs.  Some on 56k mind you.  DONE.

This next part is a cheat.  I know they all need Anti-virus and Anti-spyware 
software.  And that if they don't have MS Office, they will want something 
like it (Open Office).  So I burned a CD with all those programs.  This saves 
download time and frustration :)

Here is the kicker.  I have been back to 2 people to re-install yet again 
within a 6 month timeframe.

So my solution lately has been to ask these questions:

1)  What kind of games are you into?
2)  What web sites do you visit?  (In case Mozilla won't render them)

If those questions match up right, I proceed to install Linux on their system.

Have I had complaints in the months following?  No.  Just requests for things 
I didn't think of upon install time.  So I tell them to login as root and run 
the "enable-ssh" script I wrote and that gives them their IP address and 
opens up firewall ports.  Then I proceed to login to their system and install 
the program they want (DigiKam :) and so forth.

This proves to me Linux is ready for the desktop today.  Not for everyone.  
But neither is Windows.  Neither is MacOSX.  If you get through the install 
(which should be done by the local geek you go to) then everything is a 
breeze.  No more worrying about viruses.  No more weird lockups of the system 
(although YMMV depending on hardware).  Everything just works.  Today and 
everyday.  Thats not a dream.  Thats my solution to frustration I've had with 
an OS I haven't used in 8 damn years.

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