My Linux Story: Lee Brian turns to Linux

My dad, Linux, and me

Posted 03 Jun 2015 by 

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When I was a young girl, I remember my dad showing me Linux on his computer.

He was showing me what was known then as Red Hat Linux—it was a fresh version of Colgate 4.0 from Best Buy. At that time, I was familiar with Windows 95 and knew how to use a computer, but Linux was new to me. It looked like a bunch of code and too technical. So, it was many years later, in January of 2009, that I finally made the switch.

This is my Linux story.

The worn out laptop I was using kept getting viruses. My resistance to getting a new one had been due to my college professor demanding I write my papers using only Microsoft Word. Yet the constant crashing was causing too much stress, so I finally said "Yes" to my dad and "Yes" to Linux.

My dad offered to set my laptop up so that it would dual boot two operating systems, Fedora 9 (Linux) and Windows. Over time, I found myself using Windows less and Fedora 9 (aka Sulphur) more. As I wrote my college papers on Open Office instead of Microsoft Word, I truly believed my professor wouldn't be able to tell the difference, and why should she care as long as it was a great paper?

Unfortunately, what seemed to be more important was that my paper was formatted a particular way. I was told to use a certain font family, style, and size along with margins set to Modern Language Association standards. That's all well and good, but shouldn't we be focused on the writing? First, my professor complained about the size. And, the margins were off. When my papers came back with a lot of red pen corrections for formatting, I revealed that I used Open Office to write it. Bad move. She told me to go back to Microsoft Word. Of course, I didn't.

Since then, I've fallen for Linux. My dad taught me how to load packages. And, once I deleted an important folder and my system crashed! But all was not lost. When you get involved with your computer, mistakes will happen, but that's ok. It's fun, because when I find a program I want to install, I get the package and test it out. If I don't like it, I promptly uninstall the package and move on. I love how there are always new programs to go out and try, and most of them are free.

GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) is has been and is still my favorite program in the Linux family. I am learning how to use it with Open Office's Impress to design presentations, cards, book covers, and more! It's funny, I actually learned how to use GIMP before I learned how to use Photoshop. Usually it's the other way around with people because they are more familiar with the proprietary programs than the free and open source ones. Go figure.

Things I love about using Linux

I don't have to worry about getting a computer virus. Which, as you'll recall, is why I turned to Linux in the first place. My laptop was crashing at an unprecedented rate.

I don't have to  pay for upgrades to my system.

Linux programming is efficient and runs on the smallest devices while maintaining lightning speed.

My Linux rig

Right now, I'm running Fedora 20 (aka Heisenbug). It is impressive and has a fluidity that is clearly touch screen ready. The transformation and evolution Linux has achieved over the years is beautiful to see—and much different from what my dad showed me when I was a little kid.

My dad now teaches his friends and others how to install and use Linux. At a recent lunch and learn meeting where he works, he also explained open source software to his coworkers.

We need more meetings like these, where we can invite friends and others to learn about Linux and open source in a comfortable setting. My dad and I believe that if more businesses understood the benefits of Linux, they would implement it in their offices and then hire more Linux users who are familiar with it too. Cost savings from not having to constantly upgrade equipment and programs might even mean more raises!

Sharing my Linux story is my way of giving back to the open source community that has given so much to me. Open source has given me the freedom to expand my future and create my legacy.

My Linux Story

This article is part of a series called My Linux Story. To participate and share your Linux story, contact us at: open@opensource.com.

73 Comments

Ahmed Alsebaee

Great story I have similar story in reverse I convenes my son to make the switch and now we are happy linux family

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Lee A Brian

Would you like to share that story or maybe another? :-)

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Gary Maxie

I ran Windows 11 years and then a good friend showed me Ubuntu Linux and only then did I realise I had an option for my computer OS.
I was introduced to Ubuntu with Hardy Heron' 8.04. Had dual boot with windows XP and in 6 months wiped windows and was hooked on Ubuntu. Had it not been for Ubuntu I would NOT have ever used Linux, it was easy and I was Not a Geek! I will support Ubuntu and I will NOT ever talk Bad about Any Linux Distro, we are family as each of us are different. I have introduced many folks to Ubuntu and it was as easy as Windows and most all switched to Linux Ubuntu. Humanity Towards All - UBUNTU! PS I love Unity after giving it a chance for 6 months found out what it can do. Have tried Mint and Zorin I run Trusty Tahr 14.04 LTS Totally!

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Lee A Brian

That's the thing that's great about Open Source, there's a flavor for everyone. Not everyone loves Fedora like I do, my sister got started on Ubuntu too. I believe she's running Mint now. The Open Source community realizes people are not alike, and that we all have a mutual need, which you're right Unities us.

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A College Technophobe

I too had an issue with college professors insisting on Microsoft formatting, and a lot of my schoolwork has to be uploaded to a drop box in Microsoft's .doc form. I have discovered an easy, simple way to perfectly format my LibreOffice documents that never messes up the formatting when converting to .doc! I offer it here for all the rest of us starving college students who can't afford a new computer and all that money to buy Microsoft Office: https://technophobeconfessions.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/converting-libre...

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Lee A Brian

Thank you for the share. I hope everyone will find it useful. Honestly, I dropped out of college to pursue my dreams.

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r3bl

I had actually confronted to my college professors multiple times and said that I refuse to use Microsoft's Office for my assignments. I have a license for Office 365 and most of my professors know that, but it's not about the license, it's about the principle.

Sometimes, I succeeded and they allowed me to use LibreOffice (well, actually, they say that I'm allowed to use OpenOffice, but like there's any significant difference between them). In one class (called Introduction to CS) I even got extra points because of it. I was writing a report about the open source software so the professor appreciated that I was actually using open source software to write it.

One time, I didn't succeed and I was forced to use Microsoft's Office, but even then, I refused to boot to Windows and used the web version of Office 365 instead. I'm just too stubborn.

Of course, not everyone's in the position to stand up to their professors like I am. Fortunately for me, I have a reputation of being one of the best students in my year, so they kind of go easy on me.

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Lee A Brian

LOL "I'm just too stubborn" that's me to a T. I've heard how businesses look at degrees as a sign of a student being able to conform to rules and regulations to attain their goals. I won't knock the system though, because I plan on hiring some college students along with non graduates. Einstein flunked math, and I had to retake English so many times you'd think it was my second language. Glad to see you're stubborn enough to stick to your classes, you are better than I am.

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Don Watkins

I love your story. I returned to college about six years ago but was determined to use only OpenOfffice.org as my word processor and Impress for any presentations I needed. All of my papers had to conform to APA format and standards and I found that I was more than able to compete with my peers. No one was the wiser except me that I was not using MS Office. I did buy a Mac instead of using Linux but in retrospect that was unnecessary too. I could have used my Linux laptop for everything. I also used OpenOffice at school too and regularly interacted with colleagues who were using MS Office 2003 and 2007 and none were the wiser about my use of open source software.

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Lee A Brian

Being a Mac user, you probably have some interesting compare/contrast stories. Last time I used a Mac, it was during a Graphic Design degree program. It was fairly easy to use, the different command keys threw me off.

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Trengo

I helped my wife move to LaTeX to write her college papers in APA format.
On the other hand, I had to move back to Windows as there is no Outlook for Linux :/

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Somewhat Reticent

So you don't believe in Evolution?

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Lee A Brian

I've been reluctant to use it because I always have Google at my finger tips and my family is always sharing calendar dates or Google Drive files. Maybe when I switch to company email accounts on my server I'll take it out for a spin. Right now it's a redundancy to me.

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Lee A Brian

I probably used Outlook way back in 1995, assuming it existed. I refuse to use Evolution, because I've had Yahoo accounts, and now I use Gmail. I will probably use Gmail till the day I have a company server. Nice thing about Gmail, is if you're using an Android phone and you're sitting at your computer you can see which machine notifies you first.

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Pel

"I don't have to worry about getting a computer virus".

This is WRONG ! TOTALLY WRONG !
This is a big MISTAKE we have to fight against !
It will make Linux unsecure because of humans. And the weakest part of Operating Systems is humans !

Linux virii exist and will continue to exist. You can protect your machine against them, but never NEVER think Linux is virus-free.

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Elder-Geek

In theory you are correct. There are Iinux virii. In practice no desktop Linux user has ever been compromised by one. Even if every Linux desktop on the planet was infected at the same time. They additional 2% of world PC users compromised would still be a drop in the bucket compared to the number of currently compromised Windows PCs.

I also think it would be wise to look around about once a year and see if there are any credible desktop threats that a Linux user has to worry about.

Also, I suspect most virus attacks would be isolated issues. Each distro tends to patch packages their own way. Most distros do at least 2 releases a year, so even for something like Ubuntu targeting 10.04LTS to 15.04 is 12 distinct versions with the possibility of 60 or 70 various kernels. Then in addition to that a half a dozen major desktops. All of this adds up to the fact that it is very hard to target the Linux desktop for a real virus/malware attack.

Linux would need to triple their market share before it becomes more attractive than Macintosh as a target.

I would say: low market share + no previously known exploits + no currently known exploits + how different linux systems are from each other = I am comfortable telling an ignorant and new Linux user that "Linux does not get virii"

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Pel

Here is a simple question: How many exploits target the Linux kernel ? So many.
What ever is you distro.

This is the concern here.

"low market share" ? I really disagree. What is the market share of Linux in the servers world ? Huge.
And we are talking about the same "Linux" that is the bae of your distro to run GIMP or Open Office.

Linux is the kernel. If it is vulnerable, it is for servers AND desktops.

Therefore, please, DO NOT try to convince people to switch to Linux with the wrong and dangerous idea that Linux is safer and does not have virii.

That was my point, and I am sorry if my first comment was a little bit aggressive, I did not mean that.

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Lee A Brian

You have your opinion and I will let you make your comments. But remember you are commenting on a Open Source community site and they are fully aware of how their systems function and I will NEVER stop convincing people to switch. Telling people what to do is in itself an aggressive act. I am sharing my story regardless.

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Pel

I did not say to stop convincing people to switch to open source OS (I use them everyday), I said to stop convincing people to switch to open source OS "by saying that you do not have to worry of virii". This idea is dangerous and can be harmful for the open source products and community.

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some_guy

Dude, chill... Linux viruses exist. So what? How many times have you gotten a virus on linux? I have been using it since '98. Never had a virus. I have been using windows since '95 and I've had countless viruses, malware, spyware, antimalware and have seen the infamous crypto-locker on a few machines. Just don't install random crap off the net and you should be fine. Always install from your distro's package manager or compile from source. Never trust those random deb's or rpm's on some shady torrent site. Use your brain. Same thing goes for windows. Think before you click.

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Lee A Brian

Thank you

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somedumbguy

Writters who states "do not have to worry", "do not have virus", and "do not..." will get people fired up! Writter need to say "You are less likely to get virus." - Also, how do you know that you don't alrady have a virus and/or back door already opened. There still exists a major flaw in the HTTP protocal which affects all OS.

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Lee A Brian

I was stating my ease of mind, and the only person one person has gotten fired up. Your point was better made in this statement. The editing staff and I could take this into consideration, however it is up to us.

The article was submitted to a community that realizes every OS is not perfect, even the HTTP flaw. We appreciate your concern and I am sure once the HTTP is fixed someone will created another problem.

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Lee A Brian

I'm sorry you feel this way. I've been running Fedora since 2008 and never had a problem. Thank you for your comment. I hope you continue to enjoy the operating system that you are using.

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BrentRBrian

While the general idea that "no OS is malware proof" ... I have to agree with the idea that Linux is the safest of the lot.

I have personally built over 350 systems.

I have installed Windows (as an OEM) since Windows 95

I have recovered data from Windows machines that won't boot.

I have done forensics on infected machines and sent the data to major security software companies.

I have installed Linux on dozens of machines ... (probably over 100 by now) for folks that repeatedly infect Windows machines (most often because of risky behavior).

I have NEVER lost, or had to recover, a malware infected Linux box. EVER.

I have never had to coach a Linux user on malware prevention tools or ask them to modify their risky behavior.

I DELIBERATELY TAKE LINUX TO INFECTED SITES TO RESEARCH MALWARE.

I have probably heard every argument there is why WINDOWS gets more malware attacks than LINUX.

The biggest reason Windows remains a popular target is because it is SUCH AN EASY TARGET.

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dragonbite

Good story. And it is sad that a professor would be more focused on the formatting rather than the content except when the requests are to make it easier for aged eyes or sight difficulties.

I think if Open[Libre]Office would be 99.9% formatting compatible with MS Office, then people with professors like this aren't forced to use something they don't want to.

What I have had to do is use MS Office Online to check my non-MS Office made documents for major formatting issues. Even though the web application cannot create or run certain elements of a document (macros, etc.) it does a very good job of rendering what it looks like accurately.

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Lee A Brian

Now that's interesting. I wonder if they had this back then, because I would have loved to use it. Although, would my article have existed if I had access to such a tool. ;-)

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Somewhat Reticent

My instructors had me use more than one software tool, so I would discern between task and tool.

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Lee A Brian

Now that's a logical approach. Creates the ability to be flexible and builds decision making skills vital in the real world. Awesome share. Thanks

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Uncle Geek

Lee, forgive me, but when I saw your topic, I expected it to be SOOOO boring. I forget that there are still places where people aren't open to new ideas.

I'm the OTHER professor, now retired. I used to teach a few sections of "Computers for Learning" that purported to be word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and that sort of thing, but was actually teaching THAT COMPANY'S software. I complained about this to about anyone who would listen--and discovered I was preaching to the choir. They all agreed. However, there was a holdout whom we weren't going to convince, so I gave up and behaved myself and cooperated. Well, that's what I tried to look like.

I wanted something in my course that wasn't from THAT COMPANY and there was an optional web page project. I went to the boss (yet another member of the choir, as it turned out) and quietly asked if I could have KompoZer installed on the lab machines. After all, I said, it's not like I'm asking for Open Office. (Before LibreOffice came to be.) He shrugged and told me I could have Open Office, too, if I wanted it. So now I could have two projects with software from immoral subversive un-American sources.

I had a student whose computer died a painful death and when he got it repaired, he couldn't afford a copy of THAT Office. (Don't want to know where his first copy came from.) So he asked me if he could finish the semester using Open Office. I sent that question up the food chain to a chorus of yawns and what difference will it make. Can anybody imagine what it's like to have beliefs and feelings and a sense of right and wrong and you can't even get anybody to fight with you?

No, this is isn't utopia. The formatting thing has two sides. If it were a subject where a paper might be submitted for publication, the journals have expectations for format that are almost unbelievable. There may have been (rightly or otherwise) an attempt to teach that, along with the topic of the paper. OTOH, most of the formatting matters like line width, margins, line spacing, etc., can be set into the word processor so you don't have to think about them. It's not like my Master's Thesis in 1989 when the typist I was paying left out a line and she ended up retyping three pages to get it back in.

And my family has holdouts. My daughter teaches and the school issued her a MacBook to use for schoolwork. My grandson's school gave him a lesser version of the same thing. My son-in-law is an engineer and has some specialized software to use. However, my teacher wife has been using Linux since MEPIS 6, with only a short break when her school had an application that required IE6. (Thank goodness those days are gone.) She's now up to Mint 17.1 and it will do all the online forms and software she needs.

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Lee A Brian

You sound like me, trying to look like you're behaving. " Can anybody imagine what it's like to have beliefs and feelings and a sense of right and wrong and you can't even get anybody to fight with you?" We should trade places. I grew up around heated debates. :-) I enjoyed reading your comment.

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Przemo

It's a lovely story, but it's sad what teachers are forcing tu use ms word. It's like forcing someone to paint with toothbrush.. Anyway to get proper, consistent, high quality formatting LaTeX is the way to go.

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Lee A Brian

Thanks for the share :-)

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nonya

Cool story! I believe that it is easy to format documents any way that is needed in Libreoffice, but M$ has set up MS office to mess up the formatting when any other program has created a document in their native format

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Lee A Brian

In coding terms, think it's a snitch command. ;-)

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r3bl

I have to agree. I have to say that I think that they did not make their software completely compatible with the open formats on purpose.

I mean even opening (and saving) an .odt file using Microsoft's Word is a painful process because you have to get through several dialogues every single time.

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Lee A Brian

So wait, Windows will allow you to actually open a file extension labelled .odt? I don't remember it even letting me do that back then...which Windows version is that under?

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r3bl

Yes, Word now enables you to open .odt files once you click through the warnings correctly. I'm talking about Office 365 version, which is the latest rolling release version of Microsoft Office.

The web version of the office (office.live.com) even allows you to select .odt as your default extension. I do not know if you can do the same with their desktop version, but it is clearly one of the signs of Microsoft FINALLY accepting and supporting openness, alongside with the open sourcing their .NET framework and releasing Visual Studio Code text editor for all platforms (including Linux). :)

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Fred McKinney

I've noticed that Abiword does better at formatting .DOC formats than LibreOffice Writer in that they cause very few if any issues when opened in Word. Ditto for Gnumeric and Excel spreadsheets. As such, I prefer to use those and use LibreOffice only if I really have to.

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Lee A Brian

I've never heard of Gnumeric. I'll have to check that out. Thanks.

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Kobe

sure.. do you know why its rare to get virus in linux? be smart about it..
90% of PCs in the worlds use Windows OS, so why hacker should write a virus to linux?
he want to infect as much PCs as possible.. and he can achieve much better
success with his malicious code if he writes it for windows.

windows much more friendly for a user than linux,
you also cant play high graphics games in linux,
there is much more applications available for windows over linux,
if you have any problem you will get lots of results how to solve for windows over linux by far.
and more and more..

Linux is the best OS for servers
70% of the servers in the world run linux because it faster then windows
much more secure, and very flexible,
but for the common user and is routine job its the worst choice, period.

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Lee A Brian

Linux is not difficult to use. My dad has taught many friends and family members how to use it. High graphic games are being run on Linux every second of every day. The companies that do have routines jobs that run Linux will tell you it was their smartest choice. The Open Source community is growing and being used everyday. Maybe if Windows would actually design software that wasn't so easy to penetrate, and focus more on developing better code than trying to find a new way to rob the user blind.

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Somewhat Reticent

That would reduce the volume of business for many anti-malware vendors, thus reducing Microsoft royalties…

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Lee A Brian

No kidding. The anti-malware vendors seem to struggle to keep up with the viruses and I recall one year they were even getting attacked by viruses making their programs a breeding ground. I don't miss that Anti-Virus logo at all, booting Windows running those updates before I could even do what I logged on to do.

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r3bl

I rarely had any problems using Linux that a simple Internet search was not able to resolve. When I had them, I was using a Beta version of the operating system. Developers were here to help me out. It feels really great to have a developer explaining to you directly how to resolve some issue. That couldn't happen on Windows of course.

I disagree with the claim that Windows is much more friendly than Linux. New popular distros are pretty easy to use. I would say even easier than Windows by my previous experience. While I was using Windows 8 (before the .1 update), it took me a month to figure out how to actually shut down my system. I ended up searching the Internet and I felt quite stupid because I couldn't find a GUI option even with my 10+ year experience with the computers. I would never figure out that Charms thingy on my own.

About the viruses, I agree with you on every single point. But you're forgetting something. Linux is completely open source. Even in the case that Linux got hit by a virus, a researcher could just inspect what exactly did the virus do, noticed the developers and the patch would be released within days (if not hours).

As for the applications, I disagree. Every single thing that my family used back in Windows days was just a browser, an email client, Skype, picture viewer, .pdf viewer and something to play videos. Of course, everything was available on Linux. Since you're talking about casual users, casual users do not really need a lot of professional software, do they?

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Don Watkins

You're absolutely right on the ease of use of Linux compared to either Apple Macs or Windows PC's. I'm an alumnus of the University at Buffalo and they even recommend Linux as you can see from this URL, http://www.sens.buffalo.edu/software/linux. I know there are other schools in the US that do the same. Here is a link from Clemson University, http://www.ces.clemson.edu/linux/. North Carolina State is a Linux friendly school too, http://www.linux.ncsu.edu/.

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Lee A Brian

Oh, cool. Thanks.

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r3bl

It's good to see schools that are Linux-friendly. Unfortunately, that rarely happens in the development countries (like mine). Our ministries of education are happy to sign the agreement with Microsoft and place their products into every single school possible without even considering the alternatives. They even brag that they got a good deal by doing so because Microsoft gives them some kind of a discount. The same thing happened in Croatia, Serbia and it is now happening in my country Bosnia & Herzegovina (they're in the process of negotiation). :(

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3arn0wl

Having to say, I'm not liking this attitude from "professors" at all! Teaching is all about "Standing on the shoulders of giants": disseminating the best ideas to the next generation. Surely Education is the very essence of Open Source! :/

I'd been an Apple devotee since the '80s: all my laptops were Mac, & the computers I used at work. I was one of the first to get an iPhone.

I think it was the planned obsolescence that finally got me. The fact that apps I'd downloaded (some of which I'd paid for) no longer worked because Apple updated their OS and deliberately annexed users. Then I saw Mr. Shuttleworth's pitch for the Ubuntu Phone, and I was hooked. I now happily run the latest version of Ubuntu on an old MacBook, and will wait for Convergence to update my hardware. There seems to be no depreciation in Software, and the Open Source software I use is at least as good as their proprietary counterpart.

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A Professor

I really don't understand why anyone would insist that students use MS Word specifically. I am a university professor and insist on proper formatting and a legible 12 point font, but that formatting can be accomplished through any word processor.

Obviously, not all professors are so committed to Microsoft products. I teach in the humanities. Many of my students get their first exposure to Linux in my classroom, and I've been linking to OpenOffice/LibreOffice on my WebCT/BlackBoard/Moodle sites since about 2005.

Having said that, my institution makes it very difficult for professors to use open source software. I have to dual boot, and use Windows in order to log into my employee account or use print services, since IT uses active directory and windows printing. I'm pretty adept with Linux, and have learned how to work with the outlook server, etc., but I've never been able to get around those issues. I intend to have a chat with IT to see if the windows image can be installed in a vm, but they're pretty committed to MS, and careful about licensing. They also use Deep Freeze, and I don't know if that will play nice inside a VM.

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Lee A Brian

Lee A Brian has grown up using Open Source operating systems, since she was about ten years old. She loves using GIMP to create playful cards to friends and family or even generate animated images. She hopes to one day master Blender in order to make a motion picture and have a rendering farm entirely made of Raspberry Pi. When it is all said and done, she just wants to show the rest of the world what Open Source can do to help them.