Monday, August 11, 2008

Friends help friends use Linux

A few weeks back I helped Steve and June, friends of over 30 years, put Fedora 9 on their severely infected computer. We tried to keep the machine running with the old operating system, but, the ANTIVIRUS, SPYBOT, AD-AWARE and HIJACK THIS treatments were not enough. Our phone calls were becoming consumed with talk about "keeping the thing running". It is a shame when you can't spend time on the phone with an old friend without the conversation falling into "geek speak". Even worse, that was just a fraction of the time that was being spent on keeping the system usable. E-mail, phone calls, face time all getting wasted on the security issues that plagued his computer.

To make it worse, the machine was very capable, Dual Athlon 64, 3G RAM, 350G HD and a good video card .. and it crawled like a whipped dog ... booting took MINUTES and launching anything was PAINFULLY SLOW. I'm no slouch when it comes to keeping a system purring, Lord knows I help a lot of folks do just that ... but this was becoming hopeless fast. So, to quote the Gov. of California, we said "Hasta la Vista, baby!" to the old operating system and installed Linux right beside it.

Now I had been bragging about Linux to Steve as much as Steve brags about Sirius Radio to me (and that's a bunch). Steve drives truck for a living, and Sirius rides shotgun with him every day. I'm a geek that drives computers and Linux and Windows ride shotgun with me every day.

Steve has mechanics, at work, to keep the truck humming.

I have full time support staff at work that worry about all the hassles of using computers on a daily basis.

I MAY HAVE TO run Windows at work, BUT I CHOOSE TO run Linux at home.

When I get home I don't want a full time job as a "computer repair man" any more than I want to be a "full time Handy Man".

When I get in my car, I expect it to work.
When I open the fridge, I expect cold soda and ice.
When I put dishes in the dish washer, I expect them to get clean.

I mean, really, would you tolerate ....

*** Burnt toast ... every day
*** Spam for lunch, every day
*** Alarm systems that never call the cops
*** A fridge that constantly melted ice-cream and let the meat rot
*** A door lock that refused to unlock because you were not the same person that locked the door (digital rights management).

You get the idea, and well, I digress. Linux got loaded, we spent a day playing questions and answers about the new system and went to dinner.

So, Steve and June can use Linux or Windows Vista on their machine, pick whichever they want when they start up. June still likes to keep in touch with her friends and relatives that run Windows Live Messenger (not available for Linux) and having Vista around lets her do that. Steve uses Linux most of the time, he can do whatever, wherever, however and not worry about getting the machine "horked up with virus programs".

Now Steve and I are spending more time talking about fun stuff these days, motorcycles, old friends, good times ... and maybe, just maybe that Linux operating system deserves credit for some of it.