Yeah, so I ripped the title off Star Wars, so what? emoticon

About three weeks ago (I think… I lose track of dates eas­ily) on a Sat­urday I got a rather frantic call from my old friend Reap­er. Here’s the Hol­ly­wood ver­sion (for your read­ing pleasure):

Reap­er: “Aaar­gh! I’ve screwed up my hard drive and my com­puter is now use­less! I have an appoint­ment to have cable Inter­net installed on Tues­day and I need a work­ing sys­tem so that the tech­ni­cian can install everything. Can I bring my com­puter to your house so you can take a look at it? Help me Yama, you’re my only hope.”
Me: “You may, my min­ion. I know all. You may bow and kiss my ring.”
Reap­er: “Yes, my Liege! Thank you, Lord!” 

*ahem* Well it went some­thing like that, anyway. 

About an hour later, Reap­er shows up at my house with com­puter in tow. He some­how man­aged to kill his par­ti­tion table, and after much fid­dling I finally man­aged to fix it using gpart and (GNU/​Linux) fdisk. He needed a copy of Win­dows installed for the cable guy, so I chucked on Win2K (which sadly/​humorously is the best MS product since OS/​2). To bal­ance this out, I installed Man­drake 9.0.

Reap­er is a Win­dows user, so I tried to make his Win­dows exper­i­ence as non-MS (for both secur­ity and eth­ic­al reas­ons) as pos­sible. Open​Of​fice​.org and Moz­illa are not only very cap­able applic­a­tions (and IMHO are bettter than their MS coun­ter­parts), they also have dir­ect equi­val­ents in GNU/​Linux. So the only thing keep­ing him in Win­dows is Win­dows itself. Reap­er is a games play­er, but I think WineX can fill that void nicely. Of course, KDE is great for Win­dows converts.

I think a Win­dows to GNU/​Linux trans­ition is best achieved in two stages (to sim­pli­fy the pro­cess). In the first stage, the user weans himself/​herself off pro­pri­et­ary (par­tic­u­larly Microsoft) applic­a­tions. In their place, open altern­at­ives like Moz­illa and Open​Of​fice​.org are adop­ted. Once the user has grown accus­tomed to those pro­grammes, they can make a trans­ition to GNU/​Linux (or BSD, Mac OS X, etc.). The apps stay the same, and only the OS changes. The whole pro­cess can take place over a pro­longed peri­od, and the user is free to switch back and forth (dual-boot) between oper­at­ing systems.

Reap­er, I know you’ll read this soon­er or later, so tell us what you think. Am I talk­ing junk or am I talk­ing junk? 🙂 

Update: Reap­er messed up his hard drive when using Par­ti­tion Magic 8. Yet anoth­er reas­on not to trust pro­pri­et­ary soft­ware, I guess.

A New Hope / Sridhar Dhanapalan by Sridhar Dhanapalan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.
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