Why I Use GNU/Linux

Do you want the technical reasons or the philosophical ones? I have a plenty of both. Maybe it would be good to give you some background....

I started my computer career back in 1990. It was really a love/hate relationship back then. You see, I love the technology but I hate typing and while I am getting faster at it by the day I failed all my typing courses and courses that required me to type things out in class. I can currently type a whopping 30 words per minute on my good days and well, on bad days... lets just say I leave something to be desired. Anyway, back in 1990 I was taking Automotive Tech at my local collage. One of my courses were something like computers 101 or some such thing. I was taught how to boot the computer to a DOS prompt (from a floppy diskette back then) and then use a word processor, a spreadsheet and a few other programs common to the businesses of the time. It was all quite antiquated by today's standards but that is how things were back then. The machine didn't even have a hard drive in it, just two 360k 5 1/4" floppy drives, a monochrome display and a keyboard. I am not even sure it had a mouse but it might have. Most of what I learned was just done using the keyboard. Fun Fun!! Programs that ran on the OS worked once setup correctly and rarely (if ever) crashed unless you ran out of RAM. By 1992 I was out of collage and embarking on my automotive career having received "A's" and "B's" in all my classes except my computer class as I hardly ever got my assignments done in class. As fortune would have it (or just good luck) I became a service-station manager after being employed as an automotive technician for several months. I found myself swamped in paperwork and looking for a way to help elevate the load. Good luck was on my side, my brother had taken computer science and was looking to upgrade his current computer and for a few bucks I could have his old machine. He came up and helped give me instruction on getting the basics setup. Mind you I did most everything he would point and give advice when I would get stuck (the beginning of my "teach a man to fish" philosophy instead of just "give a man a fish"). So after his 3 hour visit he went home to OR and I was plugging away at my new to me computer. The most frustrating thing was facing my poor typing skills yet again but I knew that this would help me in the long run. I was given a large stack of books for my computer and each of the programs I would be installing to use in business. Learning MS-DOS 3.3 sucked and I was sure happy when I received my copy of MS-DOS 5 (I really despise edlin). As such Life with Microsoft, me and my computer was started. After I learned how to allocate RAM for my programs life was relatively good. No major problems did I ever face until Windows95 came out and I tried to use it. It seemed my programs would crash constantly and if it wasn't them it was Windows it's self. Now mind you I had never used a version of Windows prior to Win95 at the time. This was all foreign and new to me. I couldn't believe any one could release such cruddy unstable software and call it a release version. It took Microsoft 5 versions of Win95 to finely get things fixed well enough to use and by then I was fed up. I started looking for alternatives. I had never heard of Unix at the time but I did find a Linux kernel and tried to figure out how to use it. I just couldn't get it to work as I didn't/couldn't figure out how it was to be installed on the computer to boot from. That was about 1996/7.

In 1998 I had found out about Linux distributions and the community growing around open-source (then called simply "free software"). Things were pretty antiquated even though there were 4 or more GUI environments to choose from in Linux. I became familiar with Gnome, KDE, XFCE and ICEWM. I chose KDE over the others as it was the most functional (in my opinion at the time) and the closest to what I was use to. I loved the stability, not having to worry about viruses or trogens (mal-ware wasn't really invented yet), and the emphasis on security. Best of all, it had internet connection sharing (ICS) (DNSMask on Linux systems) and since I had upgraded to Windows NT4 as it was more stable than Win95/98 I couldn't use ICS (at that time). So I set up Mandrake Linux as an ICS server and such started my Linux career. Things had been getting pretty lean for me in my work field and so since I was good with computers I started building them on the side to sell. I had already been working on computers for my family and friends. I am not sure if I beat my brother to having a home network or not but I think maybe I did. Back then it was unheard of for someone to have a network setup at home and there were no end user devices not designed for businesses to perform that service. Having 5 computers all routed threw a single 56k dial-up modem was the high-life (albeit very slow by today's standards). Then something happened to me, In June of 1998 I was doing some cleanup at a new home and picked up a section of cedar fence. As I twisted around with it I felt this twinge in my back. I paused and then took a step, something was wrong and as I went to set the section of fence down I collapsed from the pain that shot threw me. I had broken an already damaged vertebrate in my low back. As the months went by I was told I couldn't be fixed. I could no longer work my old jobs doing any kind of physical labor. My wife at the time had to go to work to support us and became very unhappy, bitter and resentful. I started working on more an more peoples computers. The only thing was is they would have to set them up for me and then I could do what was needed. I also started ordering components to build computers for others. I could put them together as my body allowed me. This was getting to be fairly lucrative for me but I still could not work a regular job. Most of my computers were running WindowsNT and they were doing well compared to Win95/98. My little computer endeavor was paying off and I could make a bit of extra money to supplement our meager income. I had always been the bred winner and my wife had never been forced to work. She did at times but it was for her pleasure, this was different. She had no choice and was very resentful over it. Eventually she left. but I digress, this is about Windows and why I use Linux these days isn't it?

Seasons came and went, Windows 2000 Pro showed up, a great system except one major drawback for me... all my backup hardware had had it's support dropped and was non functional. I had to have those, they were my life’s bread working on computers for others. So, it was Linux to the rescue for me. Linux loved my old, dated but still very useful hardware. I started to learn of the corruption of Microsoft's business practices and learned of law suit after law suite. Everyone suing everyone. Microsoft used it's mighty net worth to sue company after company out of business. Many law suits were upheld in the favor of Microsoft's competitors but they were too wounded to recover and had to file for bankruptcy. Business after business went down the tube as MS went sue happy on every one of it;s competitors. This started to bother me greatly. How could I support something that does this? Still, I clung to Windows as Linux just wasn't there yet. Win2k came and went and Windows XP showed up with all it's bells and whistles. Really it looked nice but it had stability and major security problems. Linux had grown and matured and was becoming rather a nice usable system. I had bought enough copies and licenses of WinXP Pro to upgrade my network and started doing so. Admittedly, I should have read the ELUA before I installed my first upgrade... but as most people I am guessing, I just hit the "I Accept" button and moved on as I had read the previous agreements and had been fine with them. So there I was one installed system and several left to go when I received a message telling me I could no longer install a piece of software I used on my network. Amazingly this was an explanation given to me by the program I wanted to install. It informed me that I needed to read the EULA as if I was installing the application in the USA that it would be in violation of my new agreement. Ugg. More reading and sure enough after digging out the hard copy of the EULA Microsoft was now going to tell me what I could or could not install on my own computer, I was ticked, absolutely furious. I just spent several hundred on new WinXP Pro licenses for everything. Not only that, I had to put up with Windows activation as they no longer trust their customers. Being branded a possible thief by Microsoft was bad enough, now I couldn't use software I needed to use. The end result was windows came off of every computer I own. I just can't live with supporting a company that is so corrupt and then I learned they were supporting things with their billions that I didn't want to support. These funds were to lobby congress for changes I do not want made to our great (or once great) nation. Sorry but my ethics and morals coupled with all the garbage Microsoft has put upon others is just too much for me. I quit using Windows on everything. Even my computer business all uses Linux for it's everyday use each day of the year. The only reason I ever boot or maintain a Microsoft product is for my customers. They have access to the same info and have their own conscience to deal with. I don't harp on them about using Microsoft but now you know just why I don't.

To each their own, if you can put up with the viruses, mal-ware infections, trogens, all the crashing, Microsoft spying on you now, other spy-ware written for it and live with supporting something that sues decent respectable software engineers in to oblivion for no ethically valid reason so be it. I won't criticize you to others. Just get the facts. MS is not the nice respectable company you may think they are. For myself, I just can't do it any more. I support my customers, that is it. Microsoft has not received one dime from me since XP and that is the way it is staying since they have shown they can not be trusted to honor their own words. Just be aware, you don't own the software, they do, you rent it from them and they control the whole thing. A few years ago Microsoft even raised the price and enforced huge penalties on companies that would not install their OS exclusively on their hardware. Finely the lawsuit was won by some poor company getting shafted by Microsoft and it was deemed an illegal business practice (not to mention the ethical connotations of it). Examples like that are very common to Microsoft. If they will do that to businesses who is next? Yes, all-be-it cliche, there are really Microsoft police out looking for your number. Recently in the news MS raided a unsuspecting business that had bought licenses for their MS products years ago but because they couldn't find the 10 year old contracts MS sued them for tens of thousands for each copy of the software they had on their computers and network. All because of not being able to find the paperwork that was older then what the IRS and Government requires you to keep. It's up to you now, you have been given enough info to make a choice if you choose. If any Open-source project acted this way they would be long gone so I know what I am supporting with my hard earned buck.

Best regards,
Michael


This has all been the opinion of this author and may have errors. Please research things for yourself and draw your own conclusions.
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