Windows/Mac alternative…..

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that geekness is one of my traits. It goes way back to early high school with Apple II, Atari (with cassette tape program loading), learning BASIC programming on Commodore 64s, college work with Lotus, a brief artwork stint with the first Macintoshes, designing and instructing computer training for Windows and DOS, business systems and mainframe work, and side entrepreneurial work in wireless, security, and web design. So computers and I go way back for more than half my life.

I am also an early adopter. For example, I bought my first DVR back in 2000, went filmless in 2002, had a home wired and wireless network in 1999, and bought my first PDA/handheld organizer in 1997. I routinely have tech/geek projects around the house that my wife puts up with. A couple of the more successful ones on top of my early adoption efforts are a whole house music server and a terabyte RAID server and backup routine for family pictures, videos, music and documents.

One interest I have always had but not had the time, effort, or expertise to tackle is with Linux, specifically using it as a replacement for my day to day computer system. It’s one thing to have it on a server or to use it on a specialty PC. But it’s another to embrace it for your day to day tasks. Previous inquiries into this effort revealed that Linux wasn’t “ready for the masses” or public consumption. The entry level tech barrier was huge in that you needed to know Unix or command line. There were also driver and peripheral challenges. And finally, there weren’t a lot of software options once you got Linux installed on a computer. All of those tend to turn off 99% of the general public who don’t want to mess with the geek aspects of it.

I am here to say that all of that is over. There are several Linux “distros” or distributions that can suffice for your normal day to day computing needs and effectively replace the Windows or Mac operating systems you use. The one I loaded this weekend is called ubuntu. It is packaged on a single CD and installs in about 15 or 20 minutes onto your PC. It does not require a level of geekness more than Windows or Mac and allows you a clean install of a desktop operating system packaged with some basic programs most of us use every day such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software, internet browser, email, DVD/video watching, music listening and photo browsing and organizing to name a few. These all come included and are also in the software’s “auto update” manager that provides current releases, patches and fixes. And because Linux is open source, the selection of software available has ballooned to include almost anything you can think of – at least anything that can rival commercial “paid for” software. Unless you are unbinding DNA molecules or producing a proprietary 3D video, almost all of your software needs should be met. Oh, and did I mention that all of this is FREE? And on top of all that, the software tends to be more robust and more secure than your commercial variety operating systems.

I would highly recommend giving ubuntu or one of the other Linux distros a try. You can get ubuntu and other information at

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net