Switch To Open Source Today

Aron Schatz
June 7, 2007
Switch To Open Source Today
Are you tired of the Windows products you use? If only there were a free, easy alternative, you say? There is! Join us as we touch the tip of free and open software.

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Good News for Windows Users

Are you tired of the Windows products you use? Resentful of the antivirus and antispyware programs you need to constantly run tests with and keep updated, and the firewall you must have installed and active to keep Windows safe at the expense of your computer's speed?

Tired of constantly restarting your computer to install the latest Microsoft updates, service packs, and patches? Tired of the fact that even after just a few months on a fresh install of XP your computer almost invariably slows down, and nothing really speeds it up short of installing XP again?

How about your upgrade options? They all come at a price, especially on older computers. Take the latest Windows software, called Vista. It requires a bigger hard drive, more on-board memory and a more powerful processor than any version of Windows software that came before it.

Paying good money for new hardware, then paying more money for Vista, then trying to figure out which of the six different flavors of Vista might be the right one for you, sounds like more trouble than it's worth.

Darn. If only there were a free, easy option to Windows that you could use even an older system without having to install a ton of protection for it, that you could test drive without committing yourself to it, and that you could install and use daily without pulling your hair out.

Here's some good news: there is an alternative. It doesn't cost a dime to ditch that Windows system for a free, open source operating system that's easy to use, and that uses less memory, hard drive space and processing power than most Windows products do (which helps your computer to run as fast as it can).

It's Easy to Try Out or to Switch

An operating system is what most of us know by it's official name, such as Windows XP or Linux. It's what you've used all along to run programs on your computer that help you get things done, like read email or surf the Web. Isn't it nice to know you can get one for free? It really is true.

There's many such systems today (called "distributions" or "distros" by open source communities) that are free to try, to share with others, and to keep forever. You can try one today by using a Live CD. A Live CD contains the most important files that an operating system needs to run. Getting one is easy and trying it out is fun.

If you have a fast Internet connection, you can download the files for a Live CD (called an ISO or DVD image) from many Linux Community websites, burn it to a CD, then use the Live CD from your CD-ROM drive without disturbing your current operating system. Another way to try it out is to have one of the Linux Community websites mail a Live CD to you.

How to Get it

Here's some Linux distros that are easy to use. They are available both as Live CDs and regular CDs. You'll find links to Linux communities on these pages as well:

* Ubuntu--download or order a free CD at:
* Kubuntu-- download or order a free CD at:
http://www.kubuntu.org/download.php (Editor's Note: This is my choice of distro)
* Xubuntu--download only (no free CDs) at:
* Ark Linux--download or donate to Ark Linux get a CD:

You can't make changes to files or save new files with a Live CD, but if you decide you want to switch to the Linux distro you're testing, you can do so by installing it permanently. You can also decide not to decide by dual-booting the old and new operating systems together. Dual booting is beyond the scope of this article but will be covered in a later one.

This is Software with a Sense of Community

Using free, open source Linux distributions are a nice change from using Windows software for many reasons, but the most important one is the large, supportive community behind them. The communities are always on hand to answer your questions and to help you.

Communities are made up of many people devoted to making Linux the right choice for you: developers who ensure the distros work, people who put together the programs in them, and those who help by answering questions asked by the distro's users and who file bug reports when there are problems. These communities constantly seeks ways to improve the distros that they support, so your suggestions and ideas are always welcome.

What are you waiting for? See what lies beyond the world of Microsoft's products today.

This article was written by Deborah Meyer for ASE Labs.


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