Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Now is the time

Now is the time,
Now is the best time,
Now is the best time of your life!
Life is a prize,
Live every minute
Open your eyes and watch how you win it

Yesterday's mem'ries may sparkle and gleam,
Tomorrow is still but a dream
Right here and now,
You've got it made,
The world's forward marching and you're in the parade!

Now is the time,
Now is the best time,
Be it a time of joy or strife,
There's so much to cheer for,
Be glad you're here for it's the best time of your life!

Sorry. Got a bit carried away with pre-1994 Carousel of Progress song lyrics.

While it may not seem like the best time to many, for 30 and younger there will be a lot of new opportunities ahead. I highly agree with consumer advocate Clark Howard; hard times and economic strife tend to push the creative flow and innovative abilities of Americans. If we can adapt to the changes to come, we can be in the best times of our lives.

Now, on with the show.

This post is about Now is the time for Free and Open Source Software. I know that's been said many times, and many people are saying that now. I'll give my reasons why now is the time, and how it can happen.
  • The popularity and use of Open Source solutions is gaining momentum in the non-geek market. is probably the primary path.
  • Most people did not know there were alternatives to Windows or OSX. With very usable Linux distro's out, even the almost-but-not-quite geek types are installing Ubuntu, Fedora, and OpenSuSE for people.
  • Windows XP isn't exactly easy to install, or re-install. Ubuntu is very easy to install from a LiveCD.
  • Windows Vista's horrible public reception. Whether or not it really deserved the bad publicity, it did happen. Apple's marketing campain against Vista worked. Vista itself was a turn-off, even for many geeks.
  • Windows XP, while it's still preferred by most consumers, is pretty much a sponge for malware. XP gets infected within three months. The scareware popups can get a new machine infected in one day.
There are two paths that can will bring Linux to the forefront

Re-Install XP and install Ubuntu for a Dual Boot Machine
IT people, in their spare time, will do a complete reinstallation for a very low price. The standard price for this service is $50. Don't over pay Geek Squad, so they can buy more VW Beetles and helicopters. Once a system has been compromised, it can't be trusted. Anti-virus and anti-spyware programs can tell you if you've been infected. Some malware can't be detected. If your machine is just getting too slow, it's time to do a reinstall.

When I do a reinstall for someone, I also setup a Dual Boot with Ubuntu. With StartUp-Manager (SUM) on Ubuntu, the preferred OS can be set to default boot. If I setup a computer for somone prone to malware infestation (porn sites, gambling sites, travel sites, and hair care sites), I make Ubuntu the default boot OS. I'll teach them how to use Ubuntu if needed, but most people take to it quickly -even without my help. I encourage them to use Ubuntu whenever they're surfing the internet, and to use Windows ONLY when they are doing something that just isn't available on Linux: Some sites that require Internet Explorer, people who use Quicken or another Windows only financial product, or they use other software that won't work on Linux. Some students need software for school that only works on Windows.

Over time, most of those people use Ubuntu far more than Windows. There are the occasional few that have difficulty with any change, and will stick to Windows only, and will need a reinstall every three to six months. I need to meet more of those people.

Trickle-Up tech
For the past thirty years, we've been in a trickle down economy. It has been argued that we need to move to (or back to) a trickle up economy. Linux has a chance to be a part of trickle up.

As a Free Geek volunteer, I know know how many thousands, if not millions, of usable computers are sitting unused in closets, attics, and garages. Most often, there was nothing wrong with those computer other than a malware problem. Or the person got a newer, faster system, and never bother to get rid of the older one. Getting hold of those computer, installing Linux on them, and giving them out to people who can't afford a new computer is part of what Free Geek is about. Those computers can be used by millions of people.

Small businesses can take advantage on second tier market too. The can greatly lower that IT and tech costs, and possible improve their security and up-time in the process.

Vendors Will Notice
As more computers are being used with Linux installed, hardware and software vendors will have to take notice. They already make hardware and software for Mac and OSX, and that is only a little more than 5% of the market. If we can get Linux to even 10%, vendors will have to respond.

While I prefer my OS to be Free and Open Source Software, I don't really care if a program I use is free or open source. If a program is good enough, like a movie or book, I don't mind pay for it at all. I'd feel a bit more secure with an Open Source package, but I'm not opposed to closed source programs. I'm GREATLY OPPOSED to closed source systems and programs being used in government -especially education and law enforcement. Let just say when it comes to that, my opposition borders on the extreme.

This can be done. Other than vacuuming lots of dust from older computers, it wouldn't really take much effort.