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