bq.. New Windows updates, new anti-virus software, new ad-blocking software � regular people are starting to realize that the cycle never ends, that they are never going to successfully secure Windows, and that the easiest and best solution to the Windows security problem is not to use Windows at all.
The masses are restless.
>> “For Whatever Reasons”:http://daringfireball.net/2004/09/for_whatever_reasons
p. Windows is at a dead-end. For the majority of users these days their computers spend more time as paperweights or at a computer hospital than in use. _Most regular people don�t even realize that there exist any choices other than Windows. It�s not they haven�t heard of Apple or Linux, but that they don�t really understand what they are._
Macs are just to expensive, while windows doesn�t run so the best alternative one is left with is one of the many linux variants out there.
Ubuntu Linux and Fedora Core are both going to be releasing new versions by March/April 2005. For new users, both are very simple to use and provide a much better out of the box experience than windows. They match or beat Windows in just about every respect for typical home use – and if you take viruses and spyware into account there is just no competition. It�s amazing the amount of crap people are willing to put up with from their computers. Go stand outside any computer shop and observe the customers. They all have the same problems – windows keeps crashing or their brand new P4 is slower than the 286 they just replaced a month back. The computer shops are happy – after all they�re in demand and some charge money for reinstalling windows yet again.
bq. How big a problem is it on Windows? EarthLink offers a free program called Spy Audit which scans your PC for various forms of crapware; in March, they published a report showing that after scanning over one million PCs, Spy Audit had identified nearly 30 million instances of �spyware�, nearly 28 instances per PC scanned.
>> “Daring Fireball: Broken Windows”:http://daringfireball.net/2004/06/broken_windows
It�s no wonder that so many people don�t use their computers for anything besides email and web browsing – for tomorrow or the day after it�s going to act up anyways, and in the process their data might just die.
The ironic thing is, its the non-nerds of the world who can switch to Linux with the least amount of trouble. They�re not playing the latest games (ed: but Doom3 runs on Linux!) or using the latest hardware (though linux deals with that just fine also), or upgrading their computers every other month. They have fixed needs – email, word processing, perhaps some picture editing/organizing and instant messaging. Hell, if their pc didn�t crash more regularly than the electricity goes around here then they might just also use it for things like balancing the checkbook, maybe some online shopping, perhaps write a book or two even. Sadly, most people view their pc�s as a timebomb likely to go off at any time, and use it accordingly.
‘Computer stores’:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/pakistan/2004_01/computer_shops_in_karachi.html in this city are a real horror story for the computer illiterate – I had to go to one today as the powersupply on my pc died a few days back, and while there I observed the people going in and out. They all had the same problems – spyware, spyware, and more spyware, along with a whole bunch of viruses thrown in for good measure. The sad part about the whole thing was that all of them had no clue as to what had hit them, and the computer shop people went out of their way to make sure they stayed uninformed. After long and bitter experience, they had learned that firewalls and anti-virus programs are essential but even then there they were, back again with the same old song and dance.
I know some people who�ve completely given up on their computers in disgust, sick and tired of incessant visits to the computer store or calls to nieces and nephews to sort out the latest problem. It�d make an interesting study to compare how many hours people are willing to put up fighting Windows against the time it would take them to learn Linux. For most people, I figure switching over to Fedora Core or Ubuntu and learning the basics would take about 10 to 15 minutes, and perhaps an hour more going through the included documentation to learn more about Linux than they ever did about Windows. The benefits are so many that it staggers the mind why people stick with Windows – it would make an interesting study for anthropologists down the road in their search to figure out why exactly is it that people worldwide stick with third class alternatives.
The above doesn�t really apply to those well versed in computers for Windows can be made secure – long as you put it behind a firewall running some other operating system! Though that is only a stop-gap measure – Microsoft is soon going to be blocking pirated copies of Windows from using windows update – which is going to sound the death kneel for millions of computers around the world, as the latest security patches pass them by. No one is safe, even those like me who have put their Windows pc behind a Linux based firewall:
At work, I was working on 4 spreadsheets, a word document and an email – I stepped out for a few minutes and lo and behold the damn pc restarted by itself! None of the documents were saved, and they all disappeared into oblivion, never to return. I�m not alone in this either, it�s happening all over the place:
bq. THANK YOU MICROSOFT! I didn�t need those hours of work anyway. I feel so much safer now because I don�t have to worry about evil crackers getting to my data because I can be certain that you will mess it up first. God. There goes my weekend.
>> “Photomatt: Bizarre Windows Behavior”:http://photomatt.net/2004/10/15/bizarre-windows-behavior/
Sometimes I wonder what all those supersmart people over at Microsoft are thinking… maybe they need to hire some not-so-smart people?
bq. Windows update is getting dangerously close to the definition of a computer virus: _A program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes._
That’s not the half of it… perhaps Microsoft was just practicing for how best to disable pirated copies of windows – one of the pc’s never booted back up after this ‘update’.
Have I even mentioned yet that linux is ‘free software’:http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html? For example, look at ‘Ubuntus philisophy’:http://www.ubuntulinux.org/ubuntu/philosophy/document_view:
bq. 1. Every computer user should have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, share, change and improve their software for any purpose, without paying licencing fees.
2. Every computer user should be able to use their software in the language of their choice.
3. Every computer user should be given every opportunity to use software, even if they work under a disability.
*Does Windows even have a philisophy?* _(besides making money?)_ Back in the days Bill Gates used to have a vision of a computer on every desk, but somewhere along the line that vision turned into every person paying a yearly subscription to Microsoft.
For those stuck with Windows, good luck battling with the *hundreds of thousands* of spyware/viruses out there – you’re going to need it. The more adventurous out there can try out one of the many Linux distributions over at Distrowatch and rest secure in the knowledge that their computers aren’t going to mysteriously crash on them.
* ‘Daring Fireball: For Whatever Reasons’:http://daringfireball.net/2004/09/for_whatever_reasons
* ‘Daring Fireball: Broken Windows’:http://daringfireball.net/2004/06/broken_windows
* ‘Computer stores in Pakistan’:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/pakistan/2004_01/computer_shops_in_karachi.html
* ‘Photomatt: Bizarre Windows Behavior’:http://photomatt.net/2004/10/15/bizarre-windows-behavior/
* ‘GNU: Free Software’:http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html
* ‘Ubuntu Linux Philosophy’:http://www.ubuntulinux.org/ubuntu/philosophy/document_view
* ‘Linux – Youve Come A Long Ways Baby!’:http://www.w-3productions.com/cvcs/weblog/archives/2005/02/linux_youve_com.html
_originally published in ‘Spider Magazine’:http://spider.tm sometime near the end of 2004._