I believe that anybody can use Linux and get by just fine, doing all they want to do. I am working to make that possible by opening doors for the newcomers.
Who’s this anybody?
I resolved a few years ago to work with people where possible to get them into operating environments which more closely match their needs and budgets. I find that it is rare indeed that anyone needs to buy Windows, to buy MS Office, and to then purchase a host of other Windows only software in order to do what they need to do.
Some users can easily switch to Apple computers if they can afford the hardware and the Mac operating system. This is likely another very small sliver of the computing world. Apple makes great hardware but it comes at a premium and they don’t concentrate on the bottom of the market (though the Mac Mini is an excellent contender).
That leaves a lot of folks, like you and me, who can do everything they want to on an operating system that is both inexpensive to obtain and maintain and which is stable, safe, and performance oriented. The backbone of the Internet is built on Unix and Linux based systems precisely because they are secure (safe), stable (rarely crash), and reliable (consistently do what they are asked).
I feel comfortable in advocating Linux for Anybody. What I mean by this is that my mom, who has trouble just checking her e-mail, ought to be able to use a Linux system given the currently available resources. As such, I am working to create posts and links to posts which provide the instruction for doing those things which any casual computer user may find useful.
Through this I hope to be able to provide the assistance necessary for Anybody to walk into the world of Linux.
GUI, so gooey!
With the advent of OS 10 (OS X) the Mac operating system became essentially a Unix core overlaid with a very handsome and intuitive graphical user interface (GUI). New Linux systems, those being distributed over the last few years in fact, have GUI’s to rival anything that Microsoft (Metro/Aero) or Apple has put forward. What that means to you is that you need not fear having to stare down a command line any more. A host of developers have done that for you. Now you can interact with pretty dialog boxes and click clearly labeled buttons.
But, I can’t…
One of the chief complaints put forward for not trying Linux is “well, it doesn’t have [some application]”. If you are thinking you won’t be able to do what you want to do because the application you use to do it isn’t available for Linux, take a look at this comprehensive table of alternative applications. There is a way to do what you want done; it is probably called something else. (As an example, Gimp is a photo-manipulation software similar in scope to Photoshop—and it will run Photoshop plugins.)
For a number of reasons I have chosen Ubuntu as my distribution of Linux for this project (I have also tested and used Fedora, Red Hat, Cent, SuSe, and some others).
In conjunction with this I am seeking out discarded machines (usually from corporate sources—the stuff they slough off every three years or so) in order to build Ubuntu machines. I intend to then distribute those machines to folks I encounter who have not been able to afford a computer; alternatively, I am also looking to assist non-profits and charities in setting up donated machines with operating environments appropriate to their needs.
I encourage others to follow this example.
Also, if you have computers you’d like to donate please let me know (fully functioning machines only—and I have the means to destroy sensitive data on hard drives, so please include them).
If you’d like to contact me about machine donations (desktop, laptops, and servers), please write to linuxforanybody at soundunreason dot com. Any other (monetary or gift) donations, please use the HelpMe link at the top of these pages.
Where to begin?
If you know a good candidate for a donated machine, please write to me at linuxforanybody at soundunreason dot com and help me connect with your friend.
If you are inclined toward trying Ubuntu on your own system, to get started you’ll want to head on over to Ubuntu and download the latest desktop version. I usually recommend using their Long Term Support releases and the latest LTS release is 14.04—I have run machines with 8.04 through 14.04 (inclusive) quite happily. (I am currently installing 14.04 on machines.)
You can burn the CD and then check out Ubuntu by booting into the CD (without actually installing anything), though I recommend just making the plunge as you will learn and become comfortable with Ubuntu and Linux a lot faster this way.
If you choose to do your own installation, you may also want to make some of the modifications many users make when they build a machine. I have written a basic build-guide (which I use for every build I do) to help anyone setting up an Ubuntu machine.
Finally, the Ubuntu Forums are a great resource for any questions you might have as time moves forward, and for news you will want to keep an eye on OMGUbuntu! as they will keep you in fresh information.
If you would like to see my articles which relate to Ubuntu, use the search box in the right panel or fine the word Ubuntu under “Poke it with a stick” to the right. If an article helps you, please do leave a comment or a suggestion.