Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Seven Step Program

The Washington Post's tech columnist Rob Pegoraro has some advice for those of you that get a new computer this Christmas: 7 Steps to Get Your New Computer Running Right. It's heavily Windows oriented, of course, since that's where the major problems come from. However, here's the Linux version:

  1. Virus Protection: Not necessary. There isn't one Linux virus in the wild, and, even if there was, not running as a user, not root, will keep your operating system safe from harm, if not your datafiles.
  2. Security Updates: Available more or less automatically with any modern Linux distribution, just as for Windows.
  3. Update Flash, Java, and QuickTime: For Windows, you've gotta do this separately for each program. Depending on your Linux distribution, and how Free you want to be, Flash and Java updates might be available at the same time you perform the previous step. There's no QuickTime for Linux, of course, but there are programs that play QuickTime files, again depending on your definition of Free.
  4. Get Rid of Unnecessary Programs: According to Rob, “Most Windows machines arrive loaded with junk programs that mostly waste space.” You think? Anyway, that's not a problem with a Linux distribution. Just choose the programs you want while you're doing the installation. No “trial” versions of programs on a Linux CD, either — you get a fully working, fully paid-for (i.e., free) version of every program.
  5. Selective Upgrades: Uh, Rob means dumping IE for Firefox and Outlook for Thunderbird. Of course, Linux has a veritable plethora of web browsers and mail clients. Pick the ones you like best, or go all-in-one with SeaMonkey.
  6. Don't Rush to Reinstall Old Programs: For, verily, some of them won't work on your new computer. This happens, occasionally, with Linux, but in most cases you don't have to worry about restoring old programs — there will be an up-to-date version of each of your programs with your new Linux distribution.
  7. Pick Up Some Inexpensive Hardware: Like Pen Drives, UPS, ... Agreed. The Sunday Supplement advertisements for Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, etc., have some amazing loss-leader bargains, like the 500 GB external disk I got for $50, after rebate. Check out the ads religiously every Sunday — you might just find what you need. Just remember, you don't have to buy anything else when you go there. You are permitted to drool over the 96" plasma screen.

You'll note that many of these points apply to Linux users as well as Winnies or Macophiles. You'll also note that the Linux version of the solution is mostly faster, easier, and cheaper. Not to mention more secure. And, if you don't want to install it yourself, you can buy a preloaded machine. What's that about Linux not being ready for the home?

Here endeth today's sermon to the choir.