5 Reasons your parents should use Linux

It’s no secret that tech-savvy computer users typically become the go-to guy for all technical help in their circles. More specifically, Mom and Dad tend to always ask us for help with their computers. If you’re tired of the phone calls from Mom and Dad complaining on how sloooww their computer has become, how fast it used to be, how many pop-ups there are, etc., spending hours upon hours fixing and repairing, re-installing and scanning, then this post should convince you with 5 reasons why your parents should use Linux.

  1. Security
  2. The most obvious and important reason your parents should run Linux is the security the Linux operating system provides. While many of us tech-savvy computer users have little to no problems surfing the web and staying connected 24/7 without running into viruses and spyware, it’s almost inevitable for a non-savvy Internet user [read: majority of moms and dads] to stumble across a virus or malware on a website or in an e-mail. Linux is well known for the safety and security of browsing the web without the worry of the popular viruses that plague a good portion of the Internet. The main reason being that virus and malware developers stick to Windows due to its popularity and worldwide reach.

  3. Cost
  4. Why should your parents have to pay money for an operating system and additional applications when there are hundreds of Linux alternatives that can do the same things they probably need for absolutely free? The GNU General Public License (GPL) gives users the freedom to change and share free software. This is where GNU/Linux derives from. Mom and Dad shouldn’t have to fork out upwards of $300 just for the basics of an OS. Linux is free and widely available, it should be a no-brainer.

  5. Hardware
  6. One great aspect of Linux is that it works well with old hardware. Many times I’ll find that a lot of my friends parents have older model computers. They are brainwashed into thinking that in order to get off Windows 98, or Windows ME, they need to upgrade their whole system so they can install Vista. Linux works great on old machines – don’t even think about installing Vista on your Moms old 386, it just won’t work.

  7. Administration
  8. Administration of a Linux machine involves little to no work. If you chose to install Ubuntu Linux on your parents computer, they most administration they would have to do is click yes to install the updates when the Update Manager prompts them to. As an additional plus, for us savvy Linux users, if we needed to, we can open up SSH with a port forward and log into our parents computers remotely if needed. Additionally, I’ve had Linux computers that have literally sat turned on for years in a closet with very minimal administration. Linux just works.

  9. Dell
  10. You no longer can use the excuse that when you install Linux on your parents computer, it doesn’t work “out of the box”. With the semi-recent Dell and Canonical partnership you now have an option of buying a computer or laptop that comes pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux.

Alternatives to Mom & Dad’s Windows Applications

Below are a few alternatives to some common Windows applications that Mom and Dad may frequently use. For a more detailed list, see Alternatives to Windows Programs, Open Source Alternative, and The Linux Alternative Project.

Windows: Internet Explorer
Linux: Mozilla Firefox

Windows: MS Outlook
Linux: Mozilla Thunderbird or Evolution

Windows: Solitaire
Linux: AisleRiot Solitaire

Windows: ITunes
Linux: Banshee or Amarok

Windows: MS Word
Linux: OpenOffice.org

What do you need to do?

Step 1. Head over to the Ubunutu download site and download the latest Ubuntu Desktop ISO image.

Step 2. Burn the ISO image to a CD-R.

Step 3. Bring the CD-R to your parents house.

Step 4. Back up any necessary files on your parents computer.

Step 5. Place the CD-R in your parents CD-ROM drive.

Step 6. Reboot the computer.

Step 7. Install Ubuntu by following on screen instructions.

Step 8. Reboot after installation is complete.

Step 9. Enjoy the fact that your parents will stop bugging you to fix their computer. Instead you’ll get calls from mom asking Linux questions – isn’t that awesome?

Gaming on Linux

I’ve always been the guy my friends and family turn to with computer questions. I’ve also always been the guy my computer literate friends turn to with Linux questions.

“Why do you use Linux?”

“What’s wrong with Windows?”

“Should I use Linux?”

Though the answers to these questions can seem mundane and overused, I always find myself answering the “Should I use Linux?” question with one simple answer: “Not if you want to play games. Stick with Windows.”

Sure, there are plenty of Linux games out there, as well as some decent emulators that allow you to run Windows Direct-X style games on the Linux desktop. But the true fact of the matter is that Microsoft dominates the PC desktop gaming market. When the majority of PC game developers decide on making a game, my guess is that Linux is far down the list of worries, if not completely non-existent.

Why?

One obvious answer is money. C.R.E.A.M. Cash Rules Everything Around Me. Dolla dolla bills y’all. However you put it – Money makes the world go round big time commercial developers listen. The simple fact is that there’s just not a big enough market in the Linux industry for commercial game developers to spend time, money, and resources on developing on a OS platform that they don’t see dollar signs in. The majority of Linux users advocate the use and distribution of free software, so what Linux user would pay thirty dollars for a game?

So what do we have to do in order to have our cake Linux and eat it play our best-selling games too?

When will I be able to answer “Yes you should use Linux” without hesitation?

DRM-free MP3′s

“2 Million Songs From More Than 180,000 Artists and Over 20,000 Labels, Including EMI Music and Universal Music Group”

Wow.

If you haven’t heard already, Amazon.com has launched a public beta of Amazon MP3, a digital music store offering customers a huge (see above) selection of DRM-free MP3 downloads, encoded at 256 kilobits per second, priced from 89 cents to 99 cents, with CD’s as low as $4.99.

What is DRM?

Digital rights management (DRM) is basically a technology that aims to limit the use of digital media, in this case, mp3′s, or digital music. An MP3 that contains DRM is supposed to restrict you from copying the file, or converting the file to other formats. Online music stores tend to adhere to DRM technologies by restricting usage of music purchased and downloaded.

Check out the DRM wiki for more information.

Check out this post for a quick review by GigaOM of the service.