As some of you may know, and most of you don’t, Mommie Dammit was a licensed cosmetologist for 25 years until my back and legs informed me “we’re not doing this any more.” I then pursued my other mania – Information Technology. For the past 7 years I’ve been working in Technical Support at various levels for a couple of different companies – a degree in Network Administration isn’t as hot a commodity as one would think, unless you’re from India. But let’s not get Mommie Dammit started on the lies and hypocrisy that is the H1-B debacle – that’s a whole series of posts on its own. For now, suffice it to say that the Corporate Masters of the Rethuglican Party decided they didn’t want to pay an American worker what they were worth so they demanded a change in immigration rules – and they got it. Immediately thereafter, 6,000,000 American jobs got shipped to India, China, Pakistan, and Mexico.
rant post isn’t about that. This is about the organized plot by certain Computer and Software manufacturers to regularly force you to take out second (or third) mortgages, or sell your children to a Pakistani sweatshop in order to purchase their latest gizmo. It’s called “planned obsolescence” and American corporations invented the concept. Our computer and software companies not only mastered the game, but took it to new and glorious heights.
Microsoft, Apple, Intel, and Google are gods in this arena, and they work furiously to keep us convinced that we really, reeeaaaaaly, REALLY! need to have every single new brain-fart they come up with. Today I stumbled upon a perfect example. I’d been reading the news archives on InsideTech.com when I happened to find an article called “Business PC Age Highest in a Decade, 74 Percent Running Windows XP”.
The thrust of the article was that the vast majority of businesses skipped Windows Vista and kept their XP-based systems, referencing an earlier article in which Steve Balmer, CEO of Microsoft, said that Vista “was not well executed…” Well, no, Mr. Balmer – Vista was a bloated pile of crap that didn’t work, never has worked, and never will work so quit making excuses for it. You bragged about it’s “security” and then dared the Black Hat group to hack it. They did, in a matter of minutes, and walked away laughing. I used it for all of about 2 weeks – for which I am still in anger-management classes – and immediately restored my Windows machine to XP. I’ve been building computers since the days when you actually had to solder the mother board together, and I’d never seen a mess like Vista. WindowsME, with all its foibles and a memory leak you could drive cattle through, wasn’t as big of a cluster. Ah, but Balmer is positive that Windows 7 can
save Microsoft’s ass bring us back into the fold. Nothing doing. I’ve seen it, and while it is a dramatic improvement over Vista, I’ll still keep my XP.
The reason we keep using XP is because IT WORKS. We already have it, and it does what we need it to do. Another reason we’re not buying Windows7 is money – as in “you want too damned much of it.” Windows7 follows the same business model as Vista – by the way, Windows7 IS Vista, minus a good deal of the bloat – and in order to get a version of it installed that will actually do all that a modern office requires you will have to go with the Ultimate edition, and that will cost you $319.00 per license. Given that the economy has been in free-fall for over 8 years, and most companies are seeing more red ink than black, there is no rational justification for that additional expense.
Now I will admit, XP is getting a little long in the tooth. Maybe there are circumstances in which companies and home users really do need to upgrade their operating system. But the question remains – why should we bankrupt ourselves to purchase Windows7?
Answer: We don’t have to. We all want an operating system that is reliable, secure, stable, and that runs our favorite programs without us having to perform microsurgery on the registry. We want something that is easy to install, that recognizes all our hardware and peripherals and has (or automatically goes and gets) the best drivers for it. We want something that offers us security – real security, not the illusion of it – without driving us postal with “Are you sure?” every time we left-click.
Guess what, children? You can have all that… and you can have it for free. No, I haven’t been hitting the Stoli, and yes – I said “free.” It’s called Linux.
Now before you get all paranoid, and start thinking you have to sink $50K into a Computer Science degree before you’re ready for Linux, let Mommie Dammit explain a few things… Yeah, if you’re a glutton for punishment and enjoy staring at your flat-screen for hours on end, speaking in tongues and chain-smoking, there are “flavors” of Linux out there that will let you live out your fantasies to the fullest. If you’re a real masochist check out Slackware. But if, like Mommie Dammit, you have better things to do with your time – like eat, sleep, bathe, feed the cat – I highly recommend you check out Ubuntu. While there are almost as many “flavors” of Linux as there are types of people who use it, I’ve found Ubuntu to be the easiest distribution to work with.
The installation process is extremely simple, I have yet to have any serious issues with hardware drivers, and it comes loaded for bear from the minute you log into your account. Ubuntu comes with the latest compatible version of Firefox, so you’re all set for safe, stable, b.s.-free Intertube snurfing. Also included is the latest compatible version of Libre Office, so you can tell Microsoft to take it’s uber-expensive, resource-hogging, security-holes-the-size-of-a-’56-Buick MS Office and stick it where the sun don’t shine. Ubuntu has been my mainstay on the desktop since I first installed it 6 years ago – desktop version, that is. I first tried their server version 3 years ago, and I’ll never touch another Windows server again. It’s that damned good!
“But what about my Windows games, files, etc…?” Keep ’em. You can set up a virtual Windows machine in minutes, or you can use the trusty old WINE (windows emulator), or you can set up a dual-boot system and keep your Windows machine separate and intact. Or – if you’re nuts, like Mommie Dammit – you can build your own computer, install multiple hard drives, and tinker with the setup until even the Pentagon can’t figure out what the hell you did. It all depends on how “geek” you is… and I get geekier by the minute. As for your MS Office files, no worries. Libre Office will open, work with, and save to just about any viable format – and if you create a new document in Libre Office, and it needs to go to
some poor sucker someone who still uses Microsoft, just click “save as” and select the appropriate version of MS format. When the pop-up “pops” telling you that some of the formatting may change or not work, and do you want to keep the document in the .odt format, just click “keep current format” to save to the MS document type. I have yet to see any major screw ups, with the exception that the older, proprietary drawing tools weren’t compatible – and much of that has already been resolved.
So no, Mr. Balmer. We don’t need
your flaming mess Windows7, nor do we need the gigantic hole it leaves in our wallet. We have better, less painful, more stable and secure options available to us… and they’re free.