|Meeting Wednesday 10pm, SCCS media lounge
||[Sep. 7th, 2004|12:54 am]
Free Culture Swarthmore
Don't forget about our next meeting, in the SCCS media lounge below Tarble on Wednesday at 10pm! If you want to help create flyers etc. for the meeting, please meet in Mertz 1st lounge at 2:45pm on Tuesday.|
Our next campaign on campus will be a return to our roots as open source geeks :-) We would like to help people who are being forced to upgrade from Windows 98 and Windows ME to switch to Linux instead of buying a newer Windows. Get off the Windows upgrade treadmill, don't pay for another Windows bugfix. Use a virus-free open source operating system! Linux is a free alternative to Windows made by a community of volunteer and paid programmers around the world, and not owned by any one company.
There is a common misconception that Linux is ugly, that it's text only and not user-friendly at all. This has become completely false in recent years: Linux looks like Windows. Look at this snapshot that I just took of my Linux desktop. In some ways, Linux is easier to use than Windows, although it can be more difficult to install and set up. Fortunately, we've found a way to make trying out, using and installing Linux easy and painless: Knoppix.
A central part of this campaign will involve distributing Knoppix CDs. Knoppix is a version of Linux which runs entirely off of a CD, it doesn't touch your hard drive unless you tell it to. Using compression, it fits 2 GB of software onto a 700 MB disk, and loads programs into RAM to run them, just like any operating system. It can easily read Windows files, but it may not be able to write to your Windows partition, which means that if you run Knoppix entirely from the CD, you may have difficulty saving your files. One option is to save your files in what is called a "persistent home directory". A persistent home directory is a place to save your preferences and configurations, and also a place to dump Word documents, etc. You could put your home directory on a USB keychain drive, which means that you can walk up to any Windows computer, pop in the CD and the USB drive, and have your own customized computer the way you like it on the spot. The other option is to install Knoppix to your hard drive. Fortunately, this is very easy to do, and you don't need to get rid of Windows to do this. You create what is called a "dual-boot" system, which means that at startup your computer gives you the option of booting into either Windows or Linux. Basically, you divide your hard drive in half (or other fractions), into sections called "partitions", and Linux lives on one while Windows lives on the other. #1 advantage to Knoppix: Netreg is easy. There are practically no Linux viruses, and therefore no need for anti-virus software, so netregging is as easy as "rescanning" your computer once the Netreg page comes up. Basically, if all you use your computer for are basic things like web browsing, e-mail, IM, and word processing, Linux is ready for you. Knoppix comes with Konqueror and Mozilla Suite, and installing Firefox is easy if you install Knoppix to your hard drive. (You should use Firefox whether you're running Windows, Mac, or Linux, it's an awesome browser available on every OS). Knoppix comes with Gaim, which is an open source IM client that works with practically every IM protocol, including AIM, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ, and Jabber. You can have multiple IM names on each service, I have 4 AIM names on at once, and I am also online with Jabber and ICQ. Gaim has a lot of awesome features, such as tabbed IMs, and is great if all you want to do is IM people, it's perfect for IM power users. Sadly, file transfer only works sometimes, and it doesn't support audio or video chat. But it is available for both Linux and Windows, and the sexy Adium for MacOSX is based off of it. Finally, Knoppix comes with OpenOffice, (available for Windows, Mac and Linux), which is file-compatible with Microsoft Office. It can read and write Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents. It can read Word documents fine as long as the formatting is too complicated, it has some problems if you use lots of tables etc., but it's fine for most common uses of Word. In short, if you've been waiting to try Linux, what are you waiting for? Come to the SCDC meeting on Wednesday to find out more! Or, wait until we hold a Linux installfest, which is bound to happen one of these days.