Windows Walk Away

despair nytimes

All the love that you had for Windows, got you in a downward spiral of betrayal? Are you so spent having your every second watched and followed and sold that you dread logging on? Does the mere thought of going online make you cringe? We all know that Windows is not the only “eyes” watching our every move, but when you have to have/use a Microsoft Account Login to even set up your new laptop, it does put Windows at the top of the Most Dreaded List for most users. In addition, their change in their Terms Of Service (TOS) policy that states they will restrict or freeze your account if they do not like or agree with things that you say online, is about as Orwellian as you can get. So much for free speech!

Of course the best step is to not have a Microsoft Account, however, if you really need one for your work or Skype or gaming, then the next best thing is to limit you dependency to only those required apps and use non-Microsoft services and programs for as much other stuff as possible. Previously, we have discussed the first-step away from Microsoft via the use of Open Source Programs. And I really encourage you to explore any of the Open Source options that you might need to accomplish your same daily grind in a more relaxed and private environment. Yes, there will be a learning curve; but first, anything worth having requires work and second, how many times have you had to relearn your go to Microsoft program because some update changed everything on you?

Somethings that you need to keep in mind, especially if you try out some of these programs while still using Windows….the layouts might be different once you switch to Linux, but you will in almost all cases (I cannot think of any that do not apply) have all the same things, and the big plus is that you can change and modify and tweak your options and layouts and tool bars to suit you personally!
Another thing to keep in mind, is that Linux has some options, such as WINE and Play On Linux, for setting up a virtual space to run Windows programs, however, it might not be easier than learning an open source version or you might be reverting to an older version of a program to have success.

I confess, that I personally do not have any luck with using any of the virtual Windows options on Linux distros. That being said there are lots of users that use them daily. For my part, while there are like maybe 3 programs that there is not true matches to my liking in Open Source offerings, those 3 programs are not important enough to me on an often enough basis for me to put the effort into figuring out how to make them work.

To share, they are OneNote, which I do really miss and really wish that there was a true ‘copy’ version in Linux. Linux does have a couple really good note-taking options, that are not geared towards devs, so do not restrict their ‘pages’ to using markdown, but are instead WYSIWYG UIs. CherryTree is probably the most popular or best known option. However, there is always new code being written and someone wanting something different or better and thus you can always find new stuff. When I was first looking, BasKet was the actual closest Linux version of OneNote that I could find, however, it does not appear that BasKet is being maintained anymore. That is another issue that you need to be aware of, making sure that programs are still being supported. In spite of that, like I said there are always options to try out such as those listed here, one of my go to sources for finding new options for old habits! Furthermore, OneNote does have a browser option, I did consider this, however, I had been using, if memory serves, the last stand alone version of the program, before it went into Office/Cloud only subscription basis, and my old notes would not upload into the browser version, no matter how I tried, as I had back-up of my notebooks in all formats available.

Another program that I really liked was PhotoScape. I used it to make really quick and easy collages. There are versions that do work in some of the ‘Windows on Linux’ programs, however, they were older than the one that used and so not as fast and easy as what I had been using. All that being said, I can, absolutely, use other programs to do the same thing, in most cases with more options and features and versions to create much higher quality output, thus, I am fine without PhotoScape. As, it really was a quick and easy version to throw some images together without any effort.

As we move forward in our journey, I will share my experiences and thoughts on my individual searches for specific replacement programs, what I was looking for, what was more important to me, and how the options stacked up with those goals. Finding all your individual best fits is probably the best and worst thing about making the switch to Linux.
The best, you do have the option to find the program/option that works best for you.
The worst, you have to find that bast option by searching all the available options that Linux has to offer, which is quite literally, on par with searching for the perfect piece of straw in a haystack!

Fear not, it can be done and you are not alone in your journey! If I, just another ordinary her in the world looking for techno utopia can do it, so can you! And to make sure that you can, I am here to help you along the way.

Photo Credit: NY Times

First Step – – Open Source

Open Source Logos

I know that one of the hardest challenges to dumping Windows is the fear of not having what you are used to anymore. The fear of the unknown and the fear of thinking that you are going to lose everything that you have can be paralyzing. But, we are going to help you with that aspect too.

We all have our favorite go-to programs and apps that we do not know what we would do without. I completely understand that. So let’s look at some of the most common types of software and apps that we use daily. But, before we do that, let me introduce you to the 2 broad types of software and apps.

The 2 basic types of software:
1) Closed Source or Proprietary software; think of them as high-end brand names. Microsoft and Apple are the largest, they keep their code ‘secret’, another words it is not readily or openly available to other programmers and coders.
2) Open Source; think of these as the upstart and generic brands. And just like with other industries, if you are willing to take the chance you find out that most of these products are as good as if not better than the big boys. These programs have ‘open’ code, another words the companies and writers using Open Source make their code readily available to everyone.
And as we go on you might be surprised at the number of Open Source companies and products you are already loyal to.

Why might knowing about Open Source companies and products matter for ditching Windows, cause chances are you will find that at least some if not all of your favorite apps can go with you! You might recognize some of the logos in the picture above, but, did you know that all those companies and more are Open Source and can go with you to Linux!?!

Let us briefly list some of the most common Open Source products out there;
Browsers: Firefox, Chrome, Vivaldi, Yandex, Opera, Pale Moon, and Epic, just to name a few off the top of my head. And for every one that I did name there are a dozen more that I did not.
Office Suites: By far, the top two are Open Office and Libre Office. The former was my first step away from MS Office, however, the later is my long time favorite! Again there are others and some distros are creating their own in-house suites.
Mail Clients: Thunderbird, Mailspring, Claws and Geary are probably the most common but several of the Open Source browsers have their own as well. For example Thunderbird is part of the Firefox services from Mozilla and SeaMonkey has a whole range of products in addition to their browser.
Audio/Video: Most of us have heard of Audacity, and VLC, there is also Blender, OpenShot, Clementine, Audacious, and many others depending on your needs, from listening to mixxing to creating/composing. As with Microsoft and Apple most distros have a music/video/media player included.
Graphics/Publishing: Here we have GIMP, Inkscape, Blender, and Scribus. Plus tons more for specialized needs from artist sketching to scientific publishing and everything in between. There really are too many to mention here, especially since most are niche focused. The ones I have included are standouts in their respective areas. In addition some of the suites and browsers have applications that cover basic needs.

If eBooks are your thing how bout Calibre. Into gaming, you will not lose Discord and Steam has its own Linux OS. Into communicating 20 different ways there is Slack and Franz and Rambox, along with lots of linux versions of common VoIPs such as Skype and Viber and IRCs too.

So as you can see there is absolutely no shortage of cross-over programs and there are a multitude of Linux specific programs that will seriously meet all your needs. As a matter of fact, the sheer volume of Linux options can be downright overwhelming. Not to worry, H and I have sifted through most of them for you already in our own journey. Part of the reason that we are here, to help you transition more easily.

Photo Credit: via linuxrocksonline

 

Where Do I Start?

No-Windows-10

So you are fed up with Windows?!?
Take heart! You are not alone! So many others, including my boyfriend and myself, have been exactly where you are!

Updates dropping our favorite features!
Options we used all the time, gone!
Programs we relied on daily being dropped!
Or worse, everything is a “Cloud Only” Subscription!
Instead of Opt In you have to find the secret location to Opt Out!
Privacy is now a joke!

You have thought about switching to Mac….but, there isn’t much difference. Apple was the proto-model for cloud only storage, and the price of iAnything is the top end of the retail market!

The only other option you have heard of is the mysterious Linux. But, isn’t that only for computer hackers and tech geeks?
It’s complicated and you have to type commands and such!

What if I told you that is not the case any more, or at least not the whole truth of Linux today!
Today there are lots of different Linux distros for the non-tech savvy user to choose from. Matter of fact, most new to Linux refugees find the number of options to be daunting and overwhelming!

Fear not we are here to help you navigate and understand the options.

First there are two major styles of Linux; debian and arch.

For most of us ordinary users debian will be our choice. But, that being said, do not totally discount arch! (We will surprise you in a future article)
So let’s talk a little bit about debian.

While, Debian is a distro in its own right, it is more commonly a term to lump all the distros that are built on debian together. What that means is that most of the distros that you will consider have taken the debian foundation and built on to it and packaged it with different features and options to focus on differing priorities.

It is basically the same thing that Microsoft did with DOS and Windows. DOS was the structure and Windows was the facade or decoration that you saw, used and interacted with.

In addition, the debian tree has several large branches that split off and have many smaller branches sprouting from their larger branches all the way down to individual leaves or versions of distros.

Feeling overwhelmed yet, trust me, H and I know just how you feel. Being a man, H was less concerned with knowing if he got the perfect distro right off the bat. I on the other hand, read and read and Googled and watched more videos than I had watched movies and TV in the same amount of time and still was not truly sure of my choice.

Solution: “Babe, make a few LiveUSBs and test them out and then go with the one you like. And if you change your mind in the future, switch!” He’s great! And correct!

That is the best advice that you can be given when it comes to wading into the waters of Linux. Don’t worry we are going to give you some help and our opinions and advice about different distros and where to start in future articles, but, it is best with Linux, to create a few LiveUSBs and really test them out, get a feel for them and see if you like them at all.

There were several that upon reading all about them, I LOVED! Then I tried them and guess what….. not so much love all the way to hated it!
That being said, there is a distro for everyone and we will help you find your perfect match!

Photo Credit: via Calibre Computer Solutions