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Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Thin Line Between Victim and Idiot

En Espanol

This is not meant for Linux user's consumption...rather it is meant to pass along to your friends that still use windows. It has some irrefutable arguments within.


That's a fairly strong word. I can't think of a situation where most people would not find it offensive.

Or rude.

Let me tell you something else that is rude, the offensive part I will leave to personal opinion.

Asking a friend to repeatedly fix your computer.

Not "fix" as in something inside the computer broke like a hard drive or a power supply.

I'm talking about your forays into Myspace and

I'm talking about having to repeatedly clean the garbage off your computer so it will run halfway decently again.

You seem to have no shame when it comes to this.

I personally stopped "fixing" Windows computers three years ago. That includes my wife's computer. my ex-wife, but that goes a bit farther than the scope of this discussion.

See, many of us have found a way to run our computers where we don't have to worry about that crap anymore.


Many of us have told you of this miraculous operating system and have went as far as to offer to install it on your computer for of charge.

Many of our motives are far from altruistic.

We're sick of cleaning up your messes. If we install GNU/Linux and Free Software on your computer, we simply won't have to be bothered again. I don't speak for all Linux Users...but enough of them to hear the applause in the background.

And trust is a bother, whether we verbalize it or not.

In 2004, a variant of the Sasser worm infected my three-city network, and by the time the dust settled, it had cost me $12,000.00 in business. My machines were fully protected and fully patched. See, that's the problem with Windows exploits. These viruses and worms mutate quicker than the anti virus software makers can issue the fixes. In my case, Symantec was 72 hours away from fixing this variant...I was one click away from disaster.

It's convenient to blame the virus writers and anti virus software makers but ultimately it is your fault you get this crap on your machine. You are using a system that not only allows fosters it. Let it be known that by reading further, you will learn that you have a choice in how you operate your computer. A free-as-in-cost and free-as-in-no-restrictions choice.

You will no longer be able to identify yourself as a victim.

The cost I incurred was in business loss. Today's viruses are not in it for the mischief...they are in it for the money.

Take a look at this.

These people are not going to stop. They are stealing billions of dollars a year by infecting your computers. There is too much money in this for them to even think about taking a break. What's worse, they are operating out of Russia and Nigeria for the most part...we can't get to them to stop them.'s not going to happen to you is it?


It wasn't going to happen to me either.

Linux is an alternative operating system much like Microsoft Windows...and no, it's not a "program". "Programs" run within an operating system. Think of it as a walnut. The shell of the walnut is your operating system. The goods within the walnut shell are the programs.

I'll not bore you with the details. If you are interested in finding out why Linux is safer and better, you can go here, here and here. There is a fairly comprehensive explanation as to why you don't need anti virus software here. Here is an article from a long-time Mac and Windows user who has seen the superiority of Linux and has put it on is own computer.

But this isn't a lesson on computer usage.

It's a wakeup call for common sense.

Did you know that most computer repair shops, once they "repair" your system; project future profits on the fact that you use Microsoft Windows? They know for a fact that you are going to need them again in six months.

They put their kids through private schools and upper-crust colleges because you are a Microsoft Windows User and are not able to adequately protect your computer.

It's getting harder and harder to do so. And don't look to Windows 7 for your will still need to laden your system with the same anti virus garbage and registry cleaners you did with XP and Vista. There's an even money chance that they are going to fail anyway. So you've paid for what?

There is however, a thin line between being a victim and being an idiot. If you do not know you have a choice and bad things happen to you, then you are a victim.

If you know you have a choice and still insist on personally using a system over and over again that will ultimately lead to the same problems....

I think the descriptor of idiot is fair.

You disagree? You know that Windows is the know that it's just a matter of time before you have to do it all over again. You know you have an alternative but you insist on putting the source of the problem back on your computer. You may be uncomfortable with the term "idiot" give me another name for it then.

And if you have to use it at work...I understand. Unfortunately, as flawed as it is, it is still a Windows world. The good news? Slowly but surely businesses across the globe are making the switch. Even those that are not yet Linux companies are letting some employees run their choice of operating systems on their work computers. That choice is Linux.

Look. Here is the way it is.

When you buy a new computer, chances are it will have Microsoft Windows on it. That didn't come free...the price of the computer is jacked up anywhere from $100.00 to $300.00 to pay Microsoft. It's known as the Microsoft Tax. Microsoft has entered into deals with many of the computer manufacturers to insure that Windows is on about every machine they sell. The kicker here? Those agreements are secret and you and I cannot see them. We've written about this before.

Microsoft has a virtual monopoly on new computer sales.

Now there are independents such as that sell nothing but GNU/Linux computers and they are great folks to deal with. In fact, I have never encountered service like Earl and Cathy Malmrose provide....and for the most part, they provide it for free. Dell has also begun selling Linux computers. Do you think Dell would sell a system on their machines that would cause them to lose money or damage their reputation?

When you call Microsoft for support, the first thing they ask for is a credit card.

So suppose you have bought a new computer and here comes the first 90 start getting popups saying your anti virus protection is about to expire and if you want to continue to "be protected", you need to renew your subscription.

What? some anti virus companies go an entire year before they expire but still...eventually you are going to be frightened into shelling out more money in exchange for your peace of mind.

In other words, you have to purchase software to insure the software you've already purchased is going to work. Did you read that carefully? And you are ok with that?

If I did that, I'd be in jail by now...and so would you.

Linux amputates that part of the computing experience completely. Some people cannot get their head around the fact that they don't need to pay this extortion anymore. You have no idea what a sense of liberation this brings. Now some of you are sure to comment:

"I've run Windows for years without a problem."

Congratulations. You wanna Google it and see how many others have not? I suppose as long as your computer is ok, then all is right with the world.

We can open most any attachment without fear...we can visit websites that will bring a Windows machine to its knees...and we don't notice anything. And please...don't be foolish and say that Linux is too hard for the normal Windows user. We have 10 and 12 year-olds picking it up in a couple of hours...they never look back. Entire nations have already or are in the process of switching to Linux. Many countries in Asia and South America have made the switch. India is booting out Microsoft in their schools and migrating to Linux as we speak.

So. You've been told. You do have a choice...and it doesn't cost you one thin dime. If you choose not to at least look into it, and trust me, most of you won't....don't ask us to come fix your infected computers.

We know which side of that thin line you stand.

EDIT: A friend of boh was kind enough to send us this faux-sign...just seemed to fit the theme of the day.

All-Righty Then


Anonymous said...

"I've run Windows for years without a problem."I am one of those but you are right. Most people don't have a clue. That's not to say I haven't been infected, I have but I know how to get rid of it. Most people either just blow it off or panic and shut their computers off and don't turn them on again. My friend runs a computer repair business out of his home and charges 75 bucks an hour on-site to fix them.

Funny you should mention it. Both his kids go to private school.

NoobixCube said...

Most Windows users who say they've run Windows for years without a problem probably only think they've had no problems. Hmm... Your computer getting a little slow is it? Well, I suppose it is three years old. Still, isn't it strange that with the same software on it as when you bought it, it's getting slower? Not like you've upgraded the OS or anything...

Anonymous said...

I've become the dumbest guy I know, I couldn't fix a Windows computer if there was nothing wrong but the keyboard unplugged.

But you know something? Since I got stupid I don't have different so called "friends" showing up two or three times a week to get their computers fixed.

Only one neighbor hasn't figured it out yet and he keeps showing me his infested laptop. I tell him to shut it off and take it and $100 to BestBuy and they can fix it. Since he does nothing but surfing and e-mail I've offered him a free Linux install several times but he isn't interested in switching.

I figure that aside from what it has saved me to switch my 9 computers over to Linux in cash and time I've been averaging 6 hours a week of additional free time. Well minus qbout 30 seconds per visit of a dumb look and a head shake anyway.

Even mom is on her last warning, next infestation she is getting Linux installed and some basic training. She is only 84, it shouldn't take more than a couple hours to get her up to speed.

Anonymous said...

Do you think it is wise to call the very people we are trying to help "idiots"? I am personally offended by that and consider it way past rude to do so. I will go as far as to say I think it tilts on the border of arrogance.

Chelle Minkin - Seattle WA said...

"I am personally offended by that"

I could be wrong here, but it occurs to me that you might be one of those people who go out of their way to become "personally offended". Just another method of claiming victimhood.

Helios only said what many of us have thought or said privately to each other and I for one am glad he had the stones to say it. He not only said it, he said it in a way that gave the Windows user a way out.

I admire this piece myself. If you come around the corner and slam your shin into the same table every time you do it, then that is pretty dumb. If you know you have a different way to run your computer that alleviates many reoccurring problems but still insist on doing it the same way, I think "idiot" is fair. A bit rough maybe, but apt.

Helios isn't known for his bedside manner and doesn't suffer fools gladly. I am sitting here compiling a list of people I will send this blog to. Right now, I am up to 16.

Chelle Minkin

kdnewton said...

Great writeup. I may be tempted to send your article to the next family member who asks me to fix installation of Windows.

In years passed I may not have minded so much, but even now my wife gets more irritated than I do when I get called up for family tech support.

Anonymous said...

Virus protection is NOT one of the highlights of linux because of its superior design, but because of its scarceness. And allthough the maleware will probably either not affect the system performance or it will be rather simple to fix the loss of users data is very likely in linux viruses (because there is not much more you could do). And that's why I don't think it's wise to use such arguments to spread Linux.

By the way, I am a dedicated linux user, which is not as easy as you make it sound. As a student, a lot of my assignmets are windows orientated, making my life hell.

Anonymous said...

In other words, you have to purchase software to insure the software you've already purchased is going to work.

Dude that is brilliant. Now I know what to say without them having a comeback.

NoobixCube said...

Dude that is brilliant. Now I know what to say without them having a comeback.Unfortunately, the comeback to that would be "Oh, I don't pay for antivirus software." They probably use AVG or Avast.

Randall Meyers said...

Virus protection is NOT one of the highlights of linux because of its superior design, but because of its scarceness.You are not in the minors here pal...and that is where statements like that least you posted it anonymously...saved you some embarrassment.

Ever heard of pwn2own? That dispelled your little theory quite nicely. I am guessing you are close to one of the ones this blogger is talking about. Just a guess mind you. Do yourself a favor and read this link.

I find it interesting that some of the hackers said that if they had been given "just a little more time", linux would have fallen. Well, it's been two years and Linux still hasn't fallen. Just an excuse to save face.

Let's take it a step further. About 70 percent of the internet runs on Linux code. Even your seeming ignorance couldn't place that number as "scarce". Why are IIS sites slaughtered while attacks on Apache and other code more widespread? Lesson two.

It's the architecture that makes Linux hard to hack, not because it is scarce. I am guessing you are American. Some of you seem to think The US is the center of the Universe. Did you read this author's reiteration about entire nations are using Linux? is THAT scarce? The US Navy went to Linux itself because it got tired of the attacks on it's desktops and servers. The central battle units for the US Army. Ditto.

What I find most interesting is how this myth proliferates...but it should not be a mystery. With willing mouthpieces like you, it seems to spread nicely.

Unlike viruses for Linux. That's too funny.

Randy Meyers

Unknown said...

Unfortunately, the comeback to that would be "Oh, I don't pay for antivirus software." They probably use AVG or Avast.

The only thing unfortunate about it is that while I am using my computer and enjoying it, they are updating virus patterns, doing system scans and suffering a dog slow computer because the application chokes it to a near halt.

So they don't pay for it in cash...they pay for it in time and lost productivity.

Either way, they pay.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the comeback to that would be "Oh, I don't pay for antivirus software." They probably use AVG or Avast.

You missed the point of this authors post. The fact that they HAVE to run anti virus protection is ridiculous. So maybe he should have said "you have to purchase or use software in order for the software you already purchased to work."

I used AVG and a couple of other free programs and even some of the big ones like Norton and McAffee. Every one of them screwed up my registry so bad I ended up reformatting and reinstalling. That was what got me to using Linux in the first place. It wasn't the viruses, it was the software that fights the viruses that messed my machine up all the time.

James Nyland - Austin said...

I don't speak for all Linux Users...but enough of them to hear the applause in the background.

Amen Helios! I am indeed the sound of two hands clapping.

Beautiful post. I know of 5 people right off the top of my head I will send this to. Anonymously of course.

James Nyland

neonblue2 said...

Leo Laporte has been going on like this for a while now. Why do people put up with something that needs constant maintenance to do something as simple as browse the web?

I've also switched my nana, at least temporarily. Her Windows PC was running slow, eventually getting to the point that it wouldn't do anything. I checked it over but all I found was some simple spyware ("simple" is relative). Hours later I gave up and installed Ubuntu on her other computer, a Compaq laptop. At least she can't get infected again.

The only problems she's had are installing Flash (download .rpm, YUM, .tar.gz, or .deb?), and printing (which, living several kilometres away, is hard to explain). Other than that she's been browsing the web and checking her email perfectly fine.

You can read about it here.

Anonymous said...

I remember that infamous day I got screwed by Nimda (or Sasser, can't really remember). Back then I didn't know about the importance of keeping system patching. But even after I understood the importance of it with the other system routine maintainance stuff you enumerated, I was a never ending story agony. Thank goodness I discovered salvation in the form of Linux a year or two after that. Keep the fire burning Helios, people should know the truth that is Linux.

Anonymous said...

That's not to say I haven't been infected, I have but I know how to get rid of it.And that's the point, why should we have to do all of this. Yeah I know, in a perfect world...

But in computing, at least to my experience, Linux is as close to perfect as it gets. At least on the worry-free side of things.
When people finally discover how good this thing is, there might be a revolution.

Dale Forrester - Trenton NJ said...

Ken, this is the perfect balance of tough love and facts. You've condensed the entire thing down to what it needed to be brought down to. A lazy, unmotivated person who rather get his ass kicked every time he turns on his computer rather than spending a couple of days learning something better.

I take it a step further. When someone asks me to fix their messed up windows computer, I ask them if they are willing to learn a system that won't get messed up. If they say no, I hand them my card with a large "70.00 an hour" printed boldly on the back.

If people are going to be stupid, I need to profit from it.

Dale Forrester

kozmcrae said...

"So they don't pay for it in cash...they pay for it in time and lost productivity."

Don't forget the cost of the constant anxiety. It's hidden but it can be deadly.

Kathi Mertz - Miami said...

Ken, this is by far the best explanation of the facts I've ever read. I appreciate the way you guide the Windows user to the ultimate choice. True, most of them will stay on the idiot side but that's because most people are sheep and are frightened to death of being different or unique. Prepare yourself though...the Windows Fanboys are going to attack like it means their lives. They won't address your points, they cannot and remain honest. They will just resort to name-calling and spout their same old tired and long-ago defeated talking points.

It's a pleasure to belong to a blog where the author has no such fears.

Kathi Mertz

Anonymous said...

Virus protection is NOT one of the highlights of linux because of its superior design, but because of its scarceness.

Go back to Digg and spread that around where people believe it. You are in a place where people not only know better, they eat people that don't.

Now run along pork chop.

Unknown said...

Thanks man. I was in Best Buy today, and what I heard there had me thinking of this issue. You said it far better than I could have.

Thank you!

Will said...

Bravo, Helios! I first discovered Linux about halfway through college, and I didn't really switch over to using it full time until a few years later. So what I'm trying to say is, yeah, I was one of the unofficial tech support people in my dorm.

(side comment: any other "tech support" people out there that ran into plenty of cases where the only feasible solution was a complete reformat/reinstall, and after the reinstall, you find out the user misplaced or lost all their software CDs and CD keys, making software reinstalling a pain if not impossible? Another thing I don't miss about proprietary software. When they did that with MS Office, I just installed OpenOffice for them, and most never knew the difference. The ones that did never had a need to go back. )

These days, I answer any requests for help cleaning out malware with a Linux liveCD.

Also, I'm the poster that asked several posts back about whether Ubuntu or Mint was better for a neophyte. After a little more thought, I still agree with you that Mint is probably best for a home user, but I've begun to think that Ubuntu would be better for a business user (or for someone that will potentially show it to their business). The reason is that Canonical and its paid support options might be a little more comforting to any bosses of the "pointy-haired" variety that need to be convinced. I think Mint also has paid support options, but with Canonical's direct backing, Ubuntu would appear to have a little more weight behind it (the kind that doesn't necessarily equate to higher quality but does sound better to a PHB). I'm not mentioning Fedora here because I think, at the moment, Ubuntu and Mint are still more welcoming for new users. That's just my take. Any thoughts on the differences between introducing home users and business users to Linux?

(I don't mean to pester you about this, but I take first introductions to Linux seriously. There's enough FUD out there as it is, and some distros are by design unapologetically not for inexperienced users. When friends and businessmen notice that my PC laptop isn't running Windows, I like to make sure I steer them towards something that will make a good first impression should they show further interest.)

Unknown said...

but I take first introductions to Linux seriously.

As well you should Will. One of the biggest mistakes people who try to advocate make is just handing someone a live cd and walking away...often that does more harm than good. In defense of those people, quite possibly the level of involvement into that person's life just isn't feasable. Some folks just don't have that one-on-one connection it takes to mentor a new Linux user.

I agree with you on the Ubuntu vs Mint in the Enterprise. I think that the CanMan has it polished and buffed to perfection and their interaction on a paid support level is probably superior...but that's pure guessing from empirical observation.

Speaking of one-on-one skills, I need to polish mine up quickly. Was just informed that the new owners of the transportation company I drive for has just cancelled all current contracts. As of 10:12 pm I am officially unemployed.

Where did I put that resume...


Anonymous said...

Ken as much as I thoroughly enjoyed your article and intend to distribute it outside of the Linuxphere, I have to say that your header graphic is fantastic. It is obviously gimped but just coming up with the concept is pretty ingenious.

There may be better bloggers around. but I haven't read them lately.

I am absolutely richer for the experience of reading you.

Unknown said...

I've been reading your blog for some time now and must say I enjoy reading it. I'm in the process of moving over to Linux from windows. Every time I install a linux distro (ubuntu @ this time) I'm happy again for all the good things it brings me. Then I want to sit down and play GTA sa (for instance) and I'm back with windows. I'm still bummed that I have to install windows to run my games. For the rest keep up the good work. Greetings from the Netherlands.

Felis said...

I'm happy to see more and more of my colleagues refusing to be victims anymore. They are switching to Linux on their home systems, occasionally asking for advice on e.g. getting wireless to work - which can still be a problem. Now I will spread the word about how they can use Linux for work - like Pidgin to talk to the Sametime servers, or saving files from OOo in MS format (seeing that MSO 2007 SP2 doesn't really support ODF 1.1 :-) )

Who knows- striking the pendulum with a feather, we might me able to set Corporate in motion, too.

Anonymous said...

"Virus protection is NOT one of the highlights of linux because of its superior design, but because of its scarceness."

You can tell a patient with AIDS they should have taken their vaccinations, but that would not help them much. The same with Windows users.

What is most damning to your comment is that there has NEVER been shown a single Linux virus that showed ANY propensity for infections.

So you might start by showing us a single existing Linux virus? Because, if there do not exist Linux virusses, maybe they cannot be made?


Arun SAG said...

Ken, As you did,i will stop fixing those windows machines :) (

E of E said...

Hey, good post, though I would like to submit that switching to Apple would work just as well for getting rid of virus/spyware trouble. I switched to Mac OSX several years ago and have been using it without firewall/antivirus for all that time and haven't run into any problems. Also got my Mother using a Mac and she really enjoys it, and I have far fewer tech support calls from her. Nowdays everytime someone asks for help cleaning out viruses I tell them I'm no Mac's now and don't have to deal with that, if they want help speak with someone else.

Anonymous said...

@ Winter:

"So you might start by showing us a single existing Linux virus? Because, if there do not exist Linux virusses, maybe they cannot be made?"

Winter, they CAN be made,... They do exist, but they do not propogate. Most are computer lab concept viruses. A very few have been attempts to exploit something, and died on the vine...

You are right in that Linux is not safe simply because of scarceness, but is safe because of design. But even a Linux user needs to take some basic steps to secure their system against attack. It's just that all of them only involve a trip to, or a quick google search, and maybe an install of a configuration tool or two with Apt-get or Yum. Also, most attacks on Linux systems have a person behind them,.... not an automated script or piece of malware code.

Anonymous said...

Why is it when the Linux folk have nothing good to say about Linux, they turn their attention to their old chestnut, Windows bashing.

Like the politician who does not have much of a platform or policy so they resort to the smear campain. It's the

"Yes, sure I suck, but the other guy sucks more".

It's about turning the attention away from your own shortcomings and trying to focus on your biggest perceived threat.

If MS is such a threat to your cause why dont you adress the issues that people actually care about.

Like functionality, common usage, defacto industry standard, quality and so on.

For FOSS, the sad fact is Virus/malware and so on is a non-issue for windows users in 2009.

The only idiots, are the ones who think that modern windows OS's can be run stablely and securely.

They can, and for the vast majority of computer users **THEY DO**.

FOSS not seeing this has put it 10 years behind.

Considering linux has been with us for almost 20 years now.

Anonymous said...

It will take a Windows user one step to go from "idiot" label to enlightenment by at least trying Linux. Wear the proud label of a penguin.

Anonymous said...

you should be ashamed turning people away from windows. Al these schoolboys fixing infected computers will loose there income.
A whole industrie of virushunters would disappear. More people out of work.
Microsoft generates jobs like no linux will ever do ;-)


in everlasting love to

debian and co ;)

PV said...

Ken, you bring some badly needed sanity and common sense to the interwebs, and I thank you a lot for it.

-a Linux Mint 6 user for over a week

Nevyn. said...

When deciding on an OS for my mother I decided Linux with OpenBox. Why? No viruses. No Virus scanners. No Malware concerns. Completely customisable. If I know she's going to be surfing the web and maybe (hasn't happened yet but it might) writing up a document. Simple. OpenBox, Avant for eye-candy, sans-virus scanner. Brilliant. No problems to date except maybe the sound card (although that's a whole other story to do with licensing and blobs).
Best of all, given that I gave her my laptop in exchange for a desktop, I get the use of a laptop whenever I visit and never have to leave the lounge.

loosehead01 said...

Sounds obvious, your story and why to choose linux above windows.

I present you another example of an obvious choice. Just replace 'OS' for 'bicycle'.

I live in the Netherlands and over there we all ride bikes as world wide is known.

In my case I don't use a regular bike or an ATB or a racing bike of that sort but a recumbent bike. You can take a look at my model on:

Ther are only advantages using such a bike. I have bag where 27 liters ( about 7 gallons ) fit in, which can easily be hung up on my seat. Ergonomy is much better than a conventional bike, so less calories and more meters ( yards ). No back problems, no sitting problems, no special cycle clothing, a a better eyesight.

So considering the enormous advantages the dutch bike market should already have been flooded with recumbents pushing conventional bikes into oblivion.

Nothing of that kind happens here. Only geeks ride recumbents. They are not taken seriously by the masses. It's odd en strange. Silly jokes - like 'how are you sleeping' - are shouted.

Leaves to me my conclusion: people look only to the greatest common divisor as we call it over here; what does everybody use and know and nothing else matters.

So now my question for the fanatic cyclists: are you now perhaps considering jumping on a recumbent now you know of it or is it only in linux you're wise?

Anonymous said...

2 thumbs up to the author. I loved this article. I even laughed a few times. Beautiful.


Great post! You pretty much hit all of the nails on the head. There are currently more than 2 million pieces of malware that attack Windows. People need Windows like people need a hole in the head.

I stopped fixing Windows machines in 2007. The money isn't worth the idiocy of "fixing" Windows.

Raúl said...

I guess many people will feel "offended", but hey! if somebody finds out to be fairly an idiot... That kinda hurts. specially when you try to keep being the idiot, and now everybody knows because some guy made an article about it for everyone to see on the internet. especially the guy who "fixes" your pc every four months or so.

Anonymous said...

Ok I have windows and I would change to Linux but I'm concerned about all of my files and existing programs etc. will they work the same way?? HOW do I change to Linux?

Anonymous said...

For FOSS, the sad fact is Virus/malware and so on is a non-issue for windows users in 2009.What in the hell are you talking about? As an independent computer tech in Burmingham, I make my LIVING from these moron's that snivel and whine about their computers being slow. When I asked them why they didn't reinstall like I suggested, many of them say they don't know how to save the stuff on it...that's after I show them for 20 minutes, step by step, painfully going over it again and again.

For FOSS, the sad fact is Virus/malware and so on is a non-issue for windows users in 2009.I don't know what world you live in but you need to come spend some time in mine. Hell, I'll even buy you dinner.

The putz's that pay me unnecessarily make that bit of charity possible.

And yes, my daughter DOES go to a private school. They pay for that as well.

Anonymous said...

I am a Windows user and want to switch to Linux. The only thing that I'm worried about is that I don't have any clue how it works, and so don't know how complicated it would be. You say that it takes just a few hours to explain, but isn't that just the beginning? Or is it really THAT simple? Btw, AWESOME post.

Unknown said...

@ HOW do I change to Linux?

You have just scored yourself you own personal Linux instructor. Email me at and let's get to work.


Anonymous said...

My wife got a new laptop with Vista on it, it ran ok for 6 months. The it got the black screen of death, ot the blue screen on death of maybe just locked up with only a power off to cure it. Now I have some computer experience, a little VM - the mainframe version, a little MVS or zOS as it is currently branded, some AIX, HP-UX and Solaris - recovered that for an office mae who need room and nuked vmunix or something like that and even some OS/2. Only been using linus since 1995 and consider myself competent but no expert. Oh yes there was also some DOS and a few version of Winwhatever in there. I found a wonderful windows ap that made Vista run like a real solid OS - something caled WUBI. My wife - not really a computer expert has run the 64 bit vewrsion of that for the last 9 months exclusively on that Vista laptop. An occasional hangup of the user interface due to too many compiz gee-whiz turned on with flakey proprietary drivers were seen - fixed by the command line bozo using a kill command - which also works fine when Seamonkey finds one of those marvesous webpages that won'tdie that claims she has multiple trogens and viruses.

Anonymous said...

"But even a Linux user needs to take some basic steps to secure their system against attack. "


I have to stress that there is a difference between a self-propagating *virus*, which ONLY exist on windows machines, and other assorted malware like troyans and root-kits. The latter require active involvement of a human (user or attacker) to get installed. The former need active involvement of a human to PREVENT installation (reading email should NOT be equated to installing malware).

The existence of virulent computer virusses is only documented on MS Windows machines. It is a direct consequence of deliberate choices to weaken security as a way to shorten time to market and include bells, whistles, and eye candy beyond what was technologically safe.

In that respect, I am quite sure none of the other *nix OS' will fall for virusses.


Anonymous said...

HOW do I change to Linux?You have just scored yourself you own personal Linux instructorDude, if you ignore this your a dummy. Having Helios teach you Linux is like having Clapton teach you guitar.

Lucky, man, lucky

Unknown said...

Hey Ken. I enjoyed reading that blog. Have you considered doing the AdSense thing? With as much traffic as you're getting lately, you could very supplement whatever income you can get so that you can spend more time on your passion in life.

Anonymous said...

Show me a linux OS that supports a Tablet PC, with its touch pen and apps that use it, and I'll start considering the switch.

Unknown said...

@ nixed.

Everytime I think of doing the adsense thing, I go to and watch the ad rotations.

And Ballmer had the rocks to call Linux a Virus.

Poor Carla has to be close to apoplexy.

Unknown said...

"Show me a linux OS that supports a Tablet PC, with its touch pen and apps that use it, and I'll start considering the switch."

See, you illustrate something important here...


You are a Windows user. You have come to expect things to be done for you and you openly accept any code or application that does what you need done.

That's need what you need and you use the tool that best fits that need. You buy it, find it as freeware/shareware, steal it or....

"Go to your own community and have it created".

Actually, the last one you cannot are a Windows User.

It took me less than two minutes to find the answer to your question, and there has been wacom support for Linux for quite a while now. Is it perfect? No...there are some features that are missing but that are being developed as I sit here and type this. Someone, somewhere is sitting at a computer writing the code so you can indeed have your features on a Linux Machine.

The fact that you choose to ask for such features in the form of an ultimatum is disturbing...but again; you are a Windows take what you can get.

Linux users may have to wait a bit for what they want but when they get it, it is with a sense of gratitude and humility...that someone out of the kindness of their soul, put forth efforts so you can benefit.

Had you spent two minutes googling your question, you wouldn't have had to read this tirade.

By the way. My personal laptop is a Toshiba portage...fully swiveling screen with lay-flat feature.

I can use my laptop as a tablet easily. What you seek has been available for years.

Because you are used to having things done for you, I will accommodate you further. Against my better judgment.

Peronally, I don't care if you "consider the switch" or not. If you have actually read the EULA prior to using Windows and are comfortable with it...I really don't know what to say to you.


Anonymous said...

Ken, I like you. I like what you do and I like your blog. I believe in what you do and I have supported you in the past, although you will never know who I am. Let me share something with you that came to me last night...after I read "Thin Line". Our pop culture holds a hint as to why most people probably won't switch to Linux.

Line Dancing.

Most people are not comfortable stepping out of the norm. I've read you somewhere as saying one out of six people will consider using Linux. A good way to qualify a migration candidate?

Do you like line dancing?

DaySleeper555 said...

I like what you wrote. Way to go. You're not afraid of writing what you think even if it's offensive. You're a genius.

Anonymous said...

My personal laptop is a Toshiba portage.

Hey Ken, so is mine. I don't know what this dude's problem is but I use my tablet stuff all the time. It's not as "pretty" as the Windows version but it works great. Those missing features are coming soon by the way. I have the dev irc channel on lurk all the time. they are kicking ass.

Felis_silvestris said...

@ tablet pc,

Just search for Linux tablet pc. If you don't look, you won't find anything.

There's even a HOWTO on exchanging the screen of an Asus EEE pc 900 with a touch screen ...

Felis_silvestris said...

adSense - delicious irony to make Microsoft contribute money to the blog :-)

Oh, and just delete my previous tablet pc post, you said it much better.

Anonymous said...

When you include cents in your dollar figures, you come across as being an infomercial for Linux - it's cheesy in a southern used car salesman sort of way.

Anonymous said...

Hey look above this post everyone...we have a Boston intellectual doing some slumming on Ken's blog. Sounds like he might know John Kerry...same attempts at humor anyway.

Obviously a windows user.

Andrew Magnus said...

you come across as being an infomercial for Linux.

That "infomercial" has done more for his community and the kids within it than any five people I know.

Your haughty attitude is showing. Might wanna take a day or two and give Ken and his guys a hand. You might get an infomercial of your own. If you can keep up with them that is.

Marcus said...

The acknowledgment that Linux can be troubling to get started with is big.

While I'd bet that all computers can get setup and installed quickly, getting the proper drivers working can be troublesome. This will be most difficult for a new person to configure--especially netowrk/wifi cards. This was my biggest hurdle during my recent conversion to Linux.

Also, people are lazy. For one, the GUI. While many distros can run mostly via GUI--some things just need done via command line. Secondly, while most of the information is freely available by researching and asking. People are too lazy to understand that linux users are here to help other linux users and there are forums, blogs, and for asking questions.

Finally, this may sound stupid but iPod touch and iPhones. Their still is no way to get those to sync via usb cable unless you crack the phone. Some (including myself) are not comfortable with this, although I am tempted to. But for now, I will just use dual-boot and go back and forth.

Good post--and I did enjoy it and agree with a lot of it.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those who has to use Windows at work. The IT department knows better but the senior management insist on using Windows. They insist that their servers use Windows and they do in a virtual computer hosted by a Red Hat Linux operating system. I have notice that the network is getting more and more like Unix. Eventually the senior management will retire and we might get a modern computer network and operating system. It is funny I am 56 years old and use Linux exclusively at home. Even older people get it. Self taught my self Linux and several programming languages. Being old doesn't mean you cannot learn new neat stuff.

evilgold said...

But what about those windows users who simply pirate all their software, and/or use free antivirus solutions? (there are some decent ones out there)

Piracy is a big problem for free software, because to pirates, all software is free (in cost). And probably 99% of the people who steal software don't code, so they still get the other "freedoms" that FLOSS users get. They can run the program and they can give it away for free.

Sure, they aren't "allowed" to do this by the software companies, but that doesn't stop them.

What can we do to help this situation?

Unknown said...

Marcus, We have to have a talk.

"getting the proper drivers working can be troublesome. This will be most difficult for a new person to configure--especially netowrk/wifi cards."

I install Linux on about 500 machines a year. I actually had to look at the date on your post to make sure it wasn't coming from 2003. I don't mean that in a mean-spirited way man...but seriously...there are only a couple of computers and chipsets we've encountered problems with in the past year. The SiS boards are a nightmare to be sure and the Intel 828 thru 830 boards can cause problems. However recent improvements in the .27 kernel have alleviated those. SiS remains a Windows-only board for all practical purposes.

The release of the .27 Kernel took us from "webcams and wireless suck in Linux" to "they just work". We just finished testing 9 wireless brands on a large number of different machines and the ONLY one we had NOT work out of the box was an old 3 Comm pcmcia device.

Now...we can complain about "aircards"...and you and I can agree on that. You know, the little pcmcia cards you stick in the side of your laptop and connect anywhere? The only one we found to work without any setup was the Verizon. The AT&T was a nightmare and we never were able to get that to work.

"While many distros can run mostly via GUI--some things just need done via command line."

Not true. Now if you are talking about python coding...well ok, but there isn't one single daily task the user does that has to be initiated or finished via command line. I would be interested in knowing what those "some things" are. In fact, I have 10 and 12 year old kids that go months without even knowing what the command line is. this simply isn't a true statement anymore.

As far as your second point. Yeah...that was the point of my article here.

I don't know about Iphones but one out of every three people we set up have an ipod. If you use Songbird, it just happens. the synch and seek feature are just as smooth as they are in the actual itunes app and you can skin it so you will not even know the difference. Fact is, when we set their songbird application up, we make the itunes skin the default. About half the people don't realize they are using something else until they discover that some of the features work differently or the order of doing things is not the same.

I think maybe you might wanna look into some of the things I've said. The problem with dual booting can cause laziness in itself Marcus. I've told you that these things are possible and even easy in Linux but what do you wanna bet that since you don't have to learn anything new while you are still booting into Windows, you won't bother.

I'd put money on it.


Anonymous said...

hello all :-)
i sent your article The Thin Line Between Victim and Idiot to 44 of my contacts and got one responce of entrest from JOE GEORGE to nixuser
I'm not sure how I got on the list of people who receive this news letter. According to this edition of the news letter, Linux is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm wondering if it will work for me. My computer is a Dell Vostro 200 currently running Vista Home Premium.

I'm almost deaf so I don't care about videos, games, or any things like that. I'm only interested in it if it will run programs and utilities I need. So will it run Family Tree Maker? Will it work with the web site? That web site seems to work the best with Internet Explorer. It does most things ok with Firefox, but it does not display graphics like census images as well as with IE.

I'm also using a Kensington trackball called Expert Mouse. The driver for this device does works correctly with XP but not with Vista. Will it work with Linux so all four buttons are programmable and other unique functions work?

I use a backup utility called Casper. Basically it copies my system partition on one drive to a partition on another drive such that the system may be booted from the second drive if the first fails for some reason. Will it work correctly with Linux?

I have used Unix on other platforms. I suppose that the superuser and other user security stuff is also used by Linux. My computer is a single user in my home system. So I don't want to mess with such things as the Unix type of user permission stupidity. Can Linux be installed so that I am the superuser and have no problems with permissions for everything except things that are part of the main OS package?

Thank you,
Joe George
nixuser toJOE
hello Joe
i have been using various versions of Linux since 1998 ,i got fed up with all the problems with ms windows and my neighbor is a Linux programmer he installed Linux on my computer in 1998 and then the next version of this Linux came out with a user friendly install system and since then i install my own. there is a way to run all your programs within Linux with virtualbox , if you have enough ram you can install ms windows in virtualbox and run all your ms programs on ms windows in virtualbox within linux , the version i use is ubuntu 8.10 i386 alternate it allows you to encrypt the home and swap with a twenty character pass phrase and when your computer is shut down no one can access you computer but you !! here is where to get it and here is what you click on on this page to download it for free PC (Intel x86) alternate install CD . when you burn the image to a CD and do not open the file just burn an image of the file to a CD this is the best i can explain it to you do not try the latest ubuntu 9.04 as there is still a problem with encrypting swap and if you don't encrypt swap then hackers may be able to retrieve some personal info on your hard drive .
thanks for your intrest and have a nice day :-)
JOE to nixuser
I don't think you understand. For one thing I don't want any security stuff on my machine other than virus and other malware programs. My other security is my house has locked doors. I refuse to have to type anything to have access to my own computer.

I am certainly not interested in running stuff in some software emulator. I had enough of that stuff in my over 40 years of programming and system design work with computers. If the OS won't run the stuff I want to run in native mode I don't want it.

I have read quite a bit of "Linux is really great and will run anything better, if only you ...........".

Please take me off your news letter.


this an example of ignorance is bliss !!!
- Show quoted text -

linuxiac38 said...

Thousands of hands of Linux technicians are clapping in favor of your sentiments, so mimicking our own!

I install Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, and others for FREE to all Microsoft's victims who come to me, but, I charge to "fix" any Microsoft products.

Linux is less than one hour. To get any computer working in Microsoft systems, with all protection, drivers, and tweaks, can take over 8 hours.

No wonder most shops charge $180 to re-install Microsoft Windows!

The hundreds of Linux systems I create each year, for school children, outreach ministries, food shelters, and even State and County offices, are based on dumpster donations of "broken" Windows boxes!

Been doing about five Linux conversions, and one business conversion, on average, each week, since 1997.

I do believe the sworn testimony, and the SEC reports (under Federal Felony penalty of perjury!) of Microsoft Officers, who state that Linux is their greatest challenge, with growth of 3% to 5% per annum, now at over 26% consumer and government market penetration, worldwide!

Linux is said to hold over 71% of Server market. Microsoft is running 15,000 leased Akamai Linux Servers to protect their MSN domains!

Hotmail has continued to run on a mix of Linux and BSD servers since Microsoft purchased Hotmail in 1996!

Anonymous said...

unpaid windows support is like helping your friend get one more 'fix' when he really needs intervention.

Brett Dreher said...

I'm sorry author but this article *appears* highly misinformed and shows you really don't have experience with end-user home needs and mass deployment of GNU/Linux based operating systems.

It works for you, that's a good thing. It works for me too that's why I use a FOSS solution, but the question is if its highly adaptable for the non-technical?

The answer is no, and forcing people on it is a dead end street. You think you aren't going to get calls after you install this foreign operating system and one day after an update xorg fails to load? how about when one of the three to four layers of sound services fails? are you going to tell them to google? to post a bug report? non-technical people don't care - these are the same people that fall for nigerian scams and the attractiveness of 'custom emoticons' - they don't want to do any of that, they don't mind paying the 'windows tax' and being 'locked in' in order to NOT have to know these things. What about if they do try to venture into fixing a problem themselves, they're a pretty decent windows 'power user' that can fix simple problems, but now they get a tarball that needs to be compiled from source .. but its missing dependencies, yeah, good luck with avoiding phone calls from that.

I see no realities in this article only wishful thinking. The GNU/Linux model is a *great* thing for those looking for it for many reasons, the licensing, the freedom -- but you can't turn a blind eye to it's faults. It has its strengths and disadvantages just like Windows, it's not better, it's not worse, it's DIFFERENT, it's a CHOICE.

And one minor nitpick, you should inform new users that its not "Linux" operating system but a GNU/Linux based OS, not because of the GNU projects need to feel they must be represented (which they somewhat are in the right about), but to explain to new users that it's a collective of open source software that makes the system run, which again adds to the amazement that everyone was able to organize as much as they have to do so, but also leads to different ideals and practices that *do* sometimes conflict in real life.

Marcus said...

Thanks for the reply helios.

I think that 1)wifi not being recognized, 2) task that needed to be done by command line, and 3) needing to dual boot, I encountered all in one example.

I have Atheros 5007eg wifi card, I also have no access to a wired connection. When I installed Ubuntu 8.10 on this computer, the wifi card was not recognized. It was a pretty simple fix...had to install back-port modules. But since I did not know this, I was glad to have windows to fall back on to connect to the internet and find the answer.

After that, it was all great wifi worked well for a bit. 9.04 came out, and I updated-however that messed up my wifi again. So again, I needed to use windows to get online and find the answer. What it took was downloading a .tar and then rebooting into 9.04 and using the tar to get the driver I needed. Then did all the command line stuff to untar, make, etc.

I then needed to edit the modules at startup to get the driver to load at startup instead of the default that loaded everytime.

So I for one am glad I had dual-boot so I could find the answers. If I had wired connection, perhaps I wouldn't have needed windows--but I did not have one.

Hope this explains sorta why I had the problem with driver, needing command line, and dual booting.

As far as Songbird, I have checked it out. iPhones/touch firmware 2.x and above are not able to be loaded. The only option is jailbreaking and I'm not comfortable with that for now. While other iPods i know you can setup, the iPhone/touch are much more difficult. Perhaps I could do a virtual-box, but that would still require having windows/apple loaded.

As for lazyness with dual-booting and not learning. Perhaps for some that is true, but for me it is a useful backup. I, more often then not, run on Ubuntu. As long as I have drivers working properly-I can fix most of what I need.

I switch over to vista when I need to use an application for that is windows only or the laptop overheats and needs a break(ubuntu has a cooling problem for me and will just shut down--think I'll need a cooling pad).

Kevin Benko said...


I copied this post into my ${HOME}/GNU+Linux/advocacy directory... where my ammunition lives. This posting was a serious .44 magnum of advocacy.

I've given up "helping" Moft users back in 2005, when I stopped dual-booting GNU+Linux/Winders.

What's particularly irritating amongst the GNU+Linux community is the GNU+Linux users who have actually stated that the primary reason that GNU+Linux isn't affected by viruses is its lack of popularity. Aaarrrggghhh!!!

But, then again, the more GNU+Linux users there are out there, the lower my "coolness factor" is... I'm not too sure about that....

Andrew Magnus said...

@ Brett

Man...I am guessing you are new around here. That would be a pretty accurate guess based on your reply. Let's start with this.

I'm sorry author but this article *appears* highly misinformed and shows you really don't have experience with end-user home needs and mass deployment of GNU/Linux based operating systems.Having worked as a volunteer for The HeliOS Project and helping Ken set up his logistical needs, AND working closely with him for 8 months, I know he has installed over 400 Linux Systems for new users. And yeah, I said Linux. I address it as GNU/Linux once a day. A friend of ours in California said it best. "I drive a Chevrolet but in conversation it's a Chevy. That does not make it any less of a Chevrolet.

Stop getting hung up on semantics.

Mr. Starks is highly skilled in not only installing Linux for the new user but is keenly aware of their needs and he becomes so by intensely watching them and questioning them as he observes them work. His notes are meticulous and he takes very seriously the needs of his kids. He has over a thousand at this time I believe. Their last audit of 300 clients showed an 81 percent retention rate of Linux on the computer he donated to that user. 81%,

I believe you can go to sleep tonight knowing that your written fears and observations are not only inaccurate, they are grossly inaccurate.

I'm giving you a huge benefit here though. What does your opening observation have with people not making intelligent choices? How do you go from his article to:

I'm sorry author but this article *appears* highly misinformed and shows you really don't have experience with end-user home needs and mass deployment of GNU/Linux based operating systems.Seems to be a nasty disconnect there somewhere. Ken is not only highly skilled, he cares enough to make doing what he does his calling in life.

Just curious, what is yours?

What about if they do try to venture into fixing a problem themselves, they're a pretty decent windows 'power user' that can fix simple problems, but now they get a tarball that needs to be compiled from source .. but its missing dependencies, yeah, good luck with avoiding phone calls from that.In the first place, Ken is skilled enough not to let his kids or clients get to that point in the first place. If you have, then I believe we've identified the problem. And calls? Ken has gotten out of bed at 3:30 in the morning to answer questions from people in Australia and in one particular case I remember, from the Sudan. Those are rare though. The people that work with Ken at HeliOS Solutions, and I am one of them, receive extensive training on how to instruct the new Linux User.

I really think you should get to know your target before you start shooting Brett. Sounds like we might have a bit of professional jealousy here...but hey, what do I know? You would be a bit embarrassed if you really knew the answer to that question.

Ken's one of the good guys. If you don't like his methods or style, then intervene and do it differently. Your points are not only way off and incorrect, they show an obvious ignorance for the person and entity you are criticizing.

Andrew Magnus
Austin Texas

Unknown said...

I think sometimes we need that person with the bullhorn to point out that something's wrong with this picture. "You're offending people!" Is one argument being made. I counter that by asking, "Well, what have you done lately?" Either follow, lead, or get out of the way. It's time to put up or shut up when it comes to marketing freedomware.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who can see how arrogant this blog is?

Anonymous said...

I don't regularly use Windows anymore. So when people ask me to support it, I tell them I won't do it, as it's not what I use. If they're interestd, I help them get going with Linux, which is what I know. Makes my life easier.

Brett Dreher said...

Wow Andrew you got at me, but I'm never one to stray from constructive conversation :)

I said appears on purpose as it was my first visit to this blog from a reddit post and I wished not to offend, but that doesn't change the fact that this particular article comes from a "Linux is the answer" standpoint, it offers all of the advantages of using the system without any of the real world technical and user drawbacks and was the real reason behind my post (a new user reading this may think "I'm one of those idiots using Windows, Linux MUST be the right solution for me!" which we all know is not necessarily the case, in an ideal world sure, in our world of proprietary software and hardware it is not always the case).

Again, as posted in the beginning of the article it's proposed to send this to new users, a new user needs to be aware of the separation of the projects (the point I made in my original post) to fully understand the scope and how things are done in the FOSS world. (again, I'm not a GNU zealot trying to force semantics, just that a blurb about it would help a new user understand the project relationships, they're no longer dealing with a single company they can run to, they must know at least vaguely who is responsible for what projects to find proper support)

I may have stepped out of bounds out of the gate with my post and for that I withhold my judgment so harshly now as comparing large deployment with a single capable admin is not in the same park with individual deployment for a single home user. I agree that if a capable admin is running the network of a large deployment the need for the user to compile packages necessary falls to the admin and that's fine, that's why that model works so well.

*However* once again, this article is directed to be sent towards new users, which I would assume are home users. A home user needs to admin their own machine on a day to day basis, having someone like Ken around to control the software of their machine isn't an option for them, they NEED to know these things when a problem arises or they need an updated software package in some cases for the needed task that hasn't yet made its way into a binary distribution blob of one type or another, this isn't a bad thing - it's simply the way it currently is in the Linux world.

You seem to assume I made some attack that Ken couldn't handle support calls -- I'm sure with how much he backs Linux is probably excellent at supporting it for any of his clients, but the article implies that simply having everyone running Linux will make them not an idiot. (The implication is VERY heavy in the article that Linux is infinitely more secure, but the more you dumb down the UI, the more control you give to an individual user, the same people that will now download a trojan installer on windows and hit next->next->next are the same that will give up their root password to install a trojan service on a Linux machine -- anyone is honestly kidding themselves if they think otherwise). Sure you will no longer get support calls asking to update their antivirus or troubleshoot some browser hijacker, but you WILL still be getting plenty of support for xorg issues, alsa issues, these are MAIN components of many home Linux machines that are by no means perfect.

This is a user issue, an education issue, software can only go so far if you leave administrative tasks up to any non-technical user -- which is the *majority* of home users. Instead of taking my original post when I say mass deployment, don't think mass deployment in the admin-client model, think of it as the wide distribution to the average home PC -- that is of course unless the author also intends to personally ssh into any home user machine that they ask and fix any issues that has arisen on their machine :D

Question, of those 300 clients that retained Linux on their machines, are they administered themselves or through a central administration point? Does HeliOS provide support themselves? Just curious as now you've peaked my interest as to what you all are involved in (going to be doing some poking around after posting this).

As for information about me, I'm a 22 year old typical geek who's been infatuated with the whole workings of GNU/Linux and all that since I first gave Slackware (v4 I believe, whichever version before the big version jump) a try. In my last job with a hosting company I deployed CentOS and Debian servers anywhere from a single to a hundred machines at a time in both physical and virtual capacity. I've also done a personal 'consulting' business since I was 16 and have both cursed (due to frustration) and loved (due to repeat clients) Windows in a support capacity for some time -- I understand where the article is coming from I just found it misguided on it's promises to new users without correctly addressing the faults of the typical GNU/Linux system. Also CompTIA Linux+ certed (not that it means much), and recently got my Cisco CCNA & CCDA certs (so if anyone is hiring feel free to contact me -- times are tough :D)

Anyway Andrew I hope that clears up a few things about my post, if you wish me to further clarify my view on anything there please post and address it :)

Chelle Minkin - Seattle WA said...

Am I the only one who can see how arrogant this blog is?No. There are probably two or three others like you. Given the popularity of this blog, he's doing something right.

Seems you mistake confidence with arrogance. Having just moved from Austin to Seattle, I had the chance to work with this guy. Did you know he personally built and delivered 329 computers to disadvantaged kids last year? The year before that it was 231. that's over 500 computers built with one set of hands and a huge heart.

Not to mention a boatload of humility.

Ken's a passionate man, and sees what he does as his life's calling. I am personally richer for knowing him. You would be too, if maybe you knew him and judged him less. He has an assertive, no nonsense way of clearing the clutter and getting to the point. Some times you just have to care enough. Like the fact that people are stuck using a system that is abusing them. He wrote an article to get their attention, to jostle them from their apathy.

Besides, his blog just broke the top 50,000 mark in the "technology" category. With 1.8 million blogs in that category, I would personally allow him a bit of uppity-ness. He's stood rock solid while thousands have faded away. He's been doing this for 5 years now

You signed this as anonymous but I am going to assume you are a male. Little hint just so I can say I passed on some good advice.

Women are attracted to confident men. Threatened men not so much.

Chelle Minkin

Andrew Magnus - Austin said...

@ Brett

Points taken and absorbed. I'm glad you returned the post. I understand things a bit clearer now.

By the way, I would start working My LinkedIn membership a bit harder. The author of this blog just got laid off himself and has had two job offers in the last 24 hours because he updated his LinkedIn page.

Andrew Magnus

Anonymous said...

Totally valid points of view. I totally agree. There's a rather humorous document called "Pringao Howto" by Santiago Romero on the web that refers to the same situation. It's time to stop fixing the mess caused by inferior software, software that is far from being a fairly reliable solution. I'd like to translate this text to Spanish so it can be more accesible to non English speakers. Let me know if I can do so.

Kind regards.

A. Damluji said...

You are the man Helios!

Almost all the problems I encounter from Windoze users can be outlined in your excellent post, however few remains:

Someone always claims they need a fast internet connection to be able to use Linux (because of the updates)
I'm Iraqi, although I live in Sweden now, but I spent half of the previous decade around the Middle East, where mostly the internetz are still so bad/expensive you would not believe it.

The lack of proprietary software support: e.g. Yahoo! voicechat feature: this is a serious issue because Skype (which is infinitely better) has not penetrated the ME as much as MSN or Yahoo! just yet.

A third problem is that everyone uses pirated copies of Windoze and are proud of it, they actually laugh at me when I try to explain how Linux is free compared to paid software. Nobody uses paid things there, everyone picks cracked versions of Winamp off of rapidshare or similar places.
The percentage of new Windows computers sold to locally-built pcs with pirated Windows is less than %1 I guess.

sorry for the long comment, and thank you for the inspiration I get when I read about what you do to help people know Lin :)

a proud Lin user since 2006

Anonymous said...

"But even a Linux user needs to take some basic steps to secure their system against attack."

Sometimes you'd have to wonder as to why some Linux distro evangelists are going bald... I know one guy whom is constantly going backwards and forwards betw Linux and XP (& sometimes Vista) on a netbook, just because of some little problem with either. He changes so much, his computer doesn't get time to catch the flu, let alone a M$'ine virus (can anyone say pandemic?). I thought adding 'Wine' to get his one win (sic) only app going was the last hurdle. Then I find him trying to set up a blank password login in Ubuntu, and failly that, using his 7 digit phone number. Yes, idiocy is the correct terminology. Explanation was and continues for him, to be pointless.

Unknown said...

@ jpangamarca said...

I would be honored if this was translated into spanish.


machiner said...

Linux users pushing it and "open source" onto Windows users generally get frustrated because those Windows users won't see things our way.

Windows users, spooked by such demands, will absolutely "lock-up" and make no decision effecting change on any level to their loathed, revialed, but at least familiar Windows OS.

Linux users get crazy because we think, OMFG, what an Idiot so and so is to continue using a thing (s)he knows is garbage.

That's not the point, Sherlock. It's not that they don't want to use something good -- they don't want you in their face spooking them with your "voodoo"

In fact, and I say this with all respect, you, me and anyone else that doesn't handle that poor "idiot" Human's absolute terror or complete lack of interest, are the idiot.

Why am I the only one saying this? It's crazy. It's complete common sense, it's how we are wired, and yet -- we ignore it because we are not so god at arguing.

It all comes down to immediately failing the argument. If you're familiar at all with the very common, and, lol, almost "official" ways to "win" an argument, then yo are familiar with the need to establish communication.

Then when you have communication you don't immediately fail by being hard-headed. Well, you're not supposed to, but this is how we fail quite a bit. When we become dogmatic, we lose. When we judge, we lose. It's all common sense.

The other day I set up a laptop for a friend's daughter, 14. I do this all the time, for years, like a lot of you. I knew Linux would maybe cause some consternation, as we all do going into installing Linux on a friend's box. But maybe I did it differently because of fundamental HUman behavior assumptions I made in order to even prevent their fear.

We try logic and a bunch of other techniques. We try calling them idiots and telling them to pound sand when they come calling. Even if they hate to come calling to us, for whatever reason, we give them more fuel for their apprehension when we are are the way many of us are.

Aloof. Frustrated, angry or even lacksidasical. We aren't doing much to even further our own agendas, let alone helping a body out, when this is how we act.

I'm frustrated, too. I know they are idiots, too, but not for the same reasons. They are idiots for the same reason we are idiots. Bad behavior. I think it because of their weakness in succumbing to such fear and illogical resistance to change. That's what I address, not the fact that viruses won't infect their Linux boxes. That's so old news anyway.

It's nice to see such adoration for a fellow Linux advocate and a doer such as h and his gang. True enough. But it's tragically embarrassing when I read this giant list of comments and see generall fawning, bickering, and completely brown noses. It's obvious as to why and it's just one more reason I push the Human nature side of things and no longer the technical side.

We all need to keeping doing righteous things. H needs to drive on as do you and you and you and all of us. But let's treat this issue and the methodology of switching some hapless Windows victim with the same kind of attitude we would trick our aged parents into an "old-folks-home" with. Or something else as sensitive.


Unknown said...

@ Brandt Borges

Mr Borges, I assume you are able to read, lest you would not have posted such a cumbersome comment.

Given the fact that you can read, I am assuming you read the text right over the comment box. Aside from the onset of macular degeneration, there's little chance you could have missed it:

Our HeliOS Project clients do come here and many are children so keep it clean. Profanity is immediately filtered and the ip of the offending user is blocked. No potty-mouth stuff here.Should you have missed that somehow, it is also posted on the left side of the blog:

Only one hard and fast rule here
Many of the kids we build computers for visit this blog. Please post anything you want but do it with the thought of an 11 year old child sitting next to you. Our kids get exposed to enough garbage in the world, let's not add to it here. We can't "clean up" the internet, but we can do our part not to add to the garbage pile. - Thanks for being part of what we do. - h
That's twice that visible warnings have been posted if you are keeping count.

Reading this and you still choose to use the language you used in your post? I don't quite know what else to say to you Mr. Borges.

Dissent is openly welcome here. referring to others by private body parts is not. you are cordially invited to stay off my blog.

Ken Starks

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late to the comments party but I wanted to advocate that when Linux users try to convert their friends they take the time do more tech support than usual. At least initially.

I think it's been touched upon in this blog before but handing an Ubuntu disk to a lifelong Windows user and saying "Linux is better" isn't enough.

That person is going to need their hand held through the process. Windows users have picked up a lot of lazy habits over the years and they aren't all going to disappear with a fresh install of Ubuntu.

I've seen users, myself included, give up on Linux repeatedly over some of the most trivial problems because the person who converted them wasn't around to help. And the one stereotype I grudgingly agree with of the Linux community is that the bulletin boards can be...less than helpful...sometimes. Especially to a rank newbie.

Surely it must be easier to tech support a functioning Linux install than broken Windows one, so please invest the time with your friends / associates to get them through the rough spots about converting.

It will also cut down on the "Linux doesn't do (insert trivial thing Linux does just fine) properly" misinformation.

Roy Schestowitz said...

"In 2004, a variant of the Sasser worm infected my three-city network, and by the time the dust settled, it had cost me $12,000.00 in business. My machines were fully protected and fully patched."

Looks like you are the idiot, and a liar too. Had you been using a firewall, your machines would have been "fully protected", but you didn't use one. Assuming ANY of your story was even true. Given your history, I doubt it.

Michelle Minkin said...

@ Schestowitz

You have got to be the biggest fool to ever touch a keyboard.

In 2005, I inadvertently unleased a trojan into my network. I did it, it came from within. Ever stop to think that out of his 41 employees, that might have been the case.

Looks like you are so ate up with hate for this blogger, it's clouded your thinking. I would be willing to bet you wouldn't say what you said to Ken's face. I imagine you would only do it once.

Chelle Minkin

Dr. Roy Schestowitz said...


That message above which is claimed to be from me is a forger. I did not write this.

Michelle Minkin said...

Roy you have my apologies. Ken just called me and explained what happened and who the probable poster of this forgery is. I think she and I ought to go out and have a couple of know, girl talk.

It couldn't possibly have been a man that did this. Who ever was coward enough to call Ken a liar and an idiot and not sign his name most likely sits down to pee.


Randall Meyers said...

ROFLMAO @ most likely sits down to pee.
Ken, his writing and speech cadence is almost identical to that arschloch you banned a while back.

Good move.

Mark Waymeyer said...

To the person that signed Roy's name to their post.

You have a lot of nerve calling anyone names. You think it's cute what you did? Hope you have that keyboard with you when somebody you besmirch catches up with you.

I doubt you will do well hiding behind it then.

Chelle's're a little girl...and no one wants to hit a girl.

Mark Waymeyer.
Arcola IL

Desi Ramirez said...

@ fake Roy

You're a punk. You call someone a liar and then use someone else's name to do it?

You're a coward and a punk.

Desi Ramirez

NotARealName said...

Heh. Thanks for the rant.

I am an unwilling Windows user. As a usability consultant, I have to keep my computers near what an average user might have. Since Windows is what most people use, I use it, too.

That being said - I've picked and chosen my updates. Still haven't downloaded IE8, and I won't until it gets respectable market share. That IE8 is still not widely adopted tells me that some people are getting wise to the Microsoft push and don't follow it blindly. I pretty much patch security and leave it at that.

Also, still haven't installed SP3 for my XP machines. Partially this is because I have IE6 in use on some machines for testing (it still has respectable market share), but partially because I remember the cluster f**k that was SP2, which I downloaded as late as possible so they could iron out the glitches.

Vista? I downgraded that on one machine so fast it never knew what hit it. I'm debating buying one of those netbooks now before they start forcing Vista upon them. (Or hell, getting two - one with Linux and one with Windows ;) )

My husband has Ubuntu on his machines, and has one of those Windows emulators (instead of a dual boot). It works for some things but not everything, so I just can't adapt it for my purposes. I can just look at his machines and sigh with envy.

cebi said...

I have to tell you this. My mom is a computer idiot. I installed a linux system to her for web browsing. She didn't see the difference ^_^

Bo said...

Out of everything ive read on the internet - this has been one of those articles that kept me interested. Good job, yet another kudos ^_^

think ill start spreading this link all over the joint. People dont know about this, that there are OTHER "os" to choose from... Thats the problem... Spread to good word - the good word of linux haha.

Anonymous said...

Hey what is the linux equivalent of Adobe Photoshop?... or how easy is it to get Photoshop to INSTAL, let alone actually run, on linux? How about the vast quantity of software that has no compatibility with linux? Or what about my ATI graphics card? how well will that work with linux.

linux is just another OS like all the others it has strengths and weaknesses.

Ronald Bishopson said...

No, you are wrong, and I have a hard time believing this has to be brought to your attention.

Linux is NOT just like any other OS.

Linux is free in price and philosophy.

Windows users must use AV software, We don't. Deal with it.

Photoshop will run versions 7 and 8 almost perfectly under Crossover Office. My daughter does it every day. However, she will ditch it for Gimp as soon as she gets more time to learn it. It does 90 percent of what Photoshop does. Regardless, it does Everything she needs it to do. she just hasn't found much time in back to back 18 credit hour semesters to fool with it.

I don't know what problems you are having with the ati...I do know there are some problems with the FGLRX drivers but as of kernel .28 they pretty much dried up.

Besides, none of this was the point of the friggin' article. Let me guess, you read the comments and commented on the comments huh? There are millions of people who are tired of fscking with viruses and crashes. They have been given a choice and choose to stay with Windows despite their choice. This author was kinder than I am. He calls them idiots. Because kids use this blog I cannot say what I call them but I promise it will hurt feelings or start fights one of the two.

Besides, if you are a windows user and you can read the EULA and still use windows, then you aren't an idiot...

My vote would be cast under pathetic.

Ron Bishopson - Blythe

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I have this correct, but isn't the reason why there are so few Linux viruses basically Defense by Obscurity?

Wouldn't there be just as many viruses on Linux if as many people used Linux as are currently using Windows?

Anonymous said...

No, there would not. I Am sorry but I have little patience for tomfoolery or blazing ignorance. Did you read about the file systems in Linux. There just isn't any way that "viruses" could be written at any level close to the windows system...ever.

Check out this author's blog a couple weeks ago called "What myth do you want to kill today" It is explained fully and the fools I speak of were dispatched handily in the comments.

You will learn much from reading it.

Theguy said...

This is fanboyish nonsense. Windows may have a lot of security problems, but video always works well, hibernates and suspends correctly, one can install any version of software without having to worry about dependences, even worse compiling if there's not precompiled binaries. Security? My computer isn't precisely one holding crucial information about government or military, as long as it doesn't get infected by viruses its fine by me. I don't care if someone accesses remotely my computer, I always have backups, and have nothing to hide. Paying to M$? Sorry, here nobody cares about paying. Blessed warez. People here could buy the original M$ software, but very few people does. They have a restrictive EULA, but they deliver a system that *works*. I don't care about computer illiterates. I am not one of them, so I can run my Windows system without getting it messed up. I know what I can install and what I must not. Linux will never make it mainstream if they continue the way they've doing things until now. Their inner fights and misuse of freedom (forking/modifiyng everthing at will, let alone the lack of standards, LSB is a disaster) hurt them more than MS's lobbying and FUD. I used Ubuntu for almost a year (9.04, 9.10 and 10.04), daily, from sunrise to sunset, and sorry, it's not as good as Linux supporters think it is, or make it appear. The only thing I miss of Linux is OpenShot video editor.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, here nobody cares about paying. Blessed warez

So you are a thief? I stopped reading anything you said after that admittance. Liars and thieves run in the same pack most usually.

Anonymous said...

"I've run Windows for years without a problem."
I've had (non malware) problems, but n*x distros aren't perfect either.
also, I go to "nasty" corners of the web (not normally, AFAIK, but nothing untoward occurs). there are sites with annoying scripts, flash, redirects, but that's unrelated to the OS.

the basic setup:
buy hardware router w spi, fw. nicer to avoid port forwarding, which will keep your software fw busy.
other than windows, you'll find good free or oss software:
software fw
other ppl use combinations of limited rights user (i tried, but too annoyingly reduced functionality in xp. don't know how practical in vista or 7) HIPS/IDS and sandbox/vm, etc. I haven't tried.
the net:
don't use ie, but go into intecpl and set all zones expect local to highest level.
the net for everyone:
java off, cookies off, and usually persite allow session-only. look for flash and js toggle button addons/extensions.
noscript was good years ago, but i gave up a couple months ago, because context menu has become less useful.
turn off refer(r)er in opera.
proxomitron (in wine). begin with "soft" settings. then learn to tweak. rule-of-thumb: usually if something on a site fails due to being blocked, the site or feature isn't worth bothering.
css history sniffing. appears ff4 will have the only non-annoying solution. but expect other browsers to quickly solve.

em said...

for common email, browser, apps, the way most ppl use them (weakly), *any* os will work.
beos, os9 (beos net apps are outdated, but haiku is coming along. they both run better gui than n*x on old pcs. icab3 is said to work ok with modern pages, though i don't think that will be true for long)
anyway, in an era when ppl throw out fast p3s and even late p4s (why!? i understand not wanting to upgrade a low-ram rambus pc, but those are rare), most pcs run the rather inefficient X graphics. a worst, i'd guess you might have to install a good gf4 or newer in a elcheapo igp 2002 pc.
so, as a person who uses win& apps intensively, i agree that n*x is the best os+pkgs for the usual casual pc user.
no matter the os, people need to have good backup/restore system, and imo partition-imaging is the most dummyproof.

em said...

"hidden cost of anxiety"
The anxiety is worries about id theft, not the pc becoming sluggish.
I'm not worried gramma will get a virus. Rather i'm worried she'll fall for a scam. And I dislike that the anti-phishing "services" (search engines, webmail, etc) track everything incoming by (gramma's) ip address.
Unfortunately no OS addresses privacy type defects in internet protocols. The whole internet needs an overhaul with user safety in mind.
About 10 years ago, the corporate proposals were, "bend over, and we'll anoint you with our approval of 'trust'". Luckily, that was mostly rejected.
But all that's been done since is to beat back scattered attacks on users.
Examples: why aren't tou/tos standardized? A user could spend time JUST ONCE in deciding what line items they generically approve. Then a browser compares this template to a site's tos/tou, and sends a counteroffer to site. (Site would likely automatically handle this based on their own template of 'fallback demands'.)
Why do referers still exist? (opera lets user turn them off)
All email should be encrypted by default.

'Squabbling' over OSes is a SIDESHOW.

Anonymous said...

Squabbling' over OSes is a SIDESHOW

Actually, it is not.

The vast majority of online fund theft comes at the heels of downloading or having malware on your computer. Sure some basic standards across the internet would help, but so would an operating system that didn't put out the welcome mat for every line of code malware authors write.

Will Linux ever suffer such a problem? Maybe. But it doesn't now and sticking your head in the sand by saying it's the "internet's fault" is goofy.

em said...

"But it doesn't now and sticking your head in the sand by saying it's the "internet's fault" is goofy."
i didn't write that malware is "the internet's fault"
and i'm still correct that the remaining *unsolved* problem is design of net protocols vis a vis net apps.
also i think i posted (lost in that the repository is microsoft's solution to malware. coincidentally ,i saw headline that apple will add osx apps to 'online store', so apple policy may be heading the same way (approved apps in repository for the 'dummies').

also, i think i opined, but not *explicitly*, that nix, bsd, osx, (or other "more alt" os macos9,haiku,beos) *is* best for newbs, because newbs have no special uses in mind, and newbs always learn the quirks of *whatever* gui with which they begin.