Once again, with the turn of the year, I celebrate my freedom from Microsoft. Short bursts for special purposes aside (like BIOS updates or network configuration that required it), I haven’t used Windows in three years — with New Year’s Day 2006 as my liberation date from Microsoft, when I overwrote my dual-boot test systems with pure Ubuntu.
It’s been an interesting run, and I’ve learned an amazing amount. Probably the most notable revelation has simply been the feeling that I have a choice — that I’m no longer penned in by the bounds of what Microsoft feels I should be able to do with a computer I own. I haven’t bought a new computer in as long, and I’ve been consistently amazed by what old, leftover hardware is capable of.
If Microsoft had its way, every computer I own would be at the bottom of a landfill, and I would be several thousand dollars — maybe even US$10,000 — poorer, for the computers and the software I would have to buy … just to keep doing the things I enjoy.
I’ve introduced a few people to this freedom along the way — my mother, most notably, is a rabid Linux fan now too. My father and brother are begrudgingly coming around, although it’s taking them years to acknowledge the transition. A friend is quite possibly a greater and more aggressive evangelist than I, and his wife uses it from time to time too. A co-worker has a dual boot, another one experimented and keeps a CD on hand … the list goes on, and those are just the converts I know personally.
If I could wish one thing for you in the coming year, it would be time. Time enough to drag an old computer out of the closet, or home from the recycling center, and give it a chance to keep working. If you already use Linux then you know that it’s really only time that makes it difficult to change your mind about a machine. Given enough time, you can fine-tune a machine to perform far beyond the level it was intended.
And once you realize that it doesn’t require a huge effort or a lot of money, then you realize that an old machine is just as usable as a new one. And from there, the need for new machines and upgrades suddenly … evaporates.
So do what you can, learn what you can and try to put together enough time to spark the same revelation. That epiphany will reward you in many ways. …