Monday, December 31, 2007

Waiting for Windows.

My friend Matt and I were recently talking about computer boot times and how long it really takes Windows to get going when first started. If you run Windows, the next time you start it up, check your watch.

If you're in the norm, you'll probably find the following: it takes Windows XP approximately 1 and a half to 2 minutes to boot.

But it's not so much the initial boot time that is the problem. It's what happens after Windows boots. This is when the various virus scanning software programs that automatically update go into action. They download patches and updates to keep your Windows system secure (if that's what you call it). This takes somewhere around two to three minutes. So, we can safely say that from the moment you hit the power button to the point that your are finally given access to your Windows computer is about five minutes (maybe even more depending on your Internet connection speed).

Five minutes.

Let's calculate that out. If you start your computer once each day, that's five minutes in one day you have to wait for Windows to come up to speed.

In one week (seven days), that's 35 minutes of time lost spent waiting for Windows to start.

35 minutes times 52 weeks in a year equals 1,820 minutes. Or, 30.33 hours of waiting for Windows to fully start and allow you to begin working.

30 hours. That's like waiting one full hour each day for an entire month!

Get Linux. Linux boots fast and runs fast. ! My Freespire system boots in about 65-70 seconds. (Other Linux distros boot even faster!)

But, again, the big difference is, once Linux is up and running, you won't have to worry about waiting around for third party anti-virus software updates. Linux is immune to Windows viruses and malware, so you don't need this extra bloat-ware eating up memory and other system resources. (This stuff slows Windows to a crawl.)

No waiting for patches or updates to download and install. Just dive right in and start working in Linux!

Make 2008 the year you move to Linux.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Scribus part two.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I used Scribus to design this year's Christmas card.

I also use Scribus to create one of my features, George's Word Ladder. Freespire 2.0 updated my version of Scribus to version 1.3.4.

With this latest version, the interface has been improved and there are tool bars galore! Scribus has page navigation tool bars, history tool bars, properties dialog tool bar/window for making adjustments to images, text and shapes, a scrapbook for storing clip art and much more!

Scribus also has a layers menu allowing you to work and build your pages in multiple in layers much like Gimp/PhotoShop. So,as you can see in the above screen shot, I keep all the artwork on one layer, text on a separate layer, etc. This way, I can turn things on and off and more easily edit specific elements of the page.

Scribus allows you to output your pages as PDF or any one of several image file formats. I output my pages as EPS files. I can then open these in Gimp and define the resolution I want to the page to be. In this case, I open these EPS files at 600 dpi as B&W images and save this new file as a compressed tiff.

Scribus really has all the tools, bells, and whistles to replace your current desktop publishing program.

So, get Linux and Scribus will already be installed and ready to use.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Windows, Linux, and Viruses

Yesterday, I got together with my nieces and nephew for little post Christmas gift exchange. (I got all three Pirates of The Caribbean movies! Woo-Hoo!)

During our visit, the oldest niece lamented that her Windows laptop was LOADED with all kinds of pop-ups and other problems. I suspect that she may have visited a malicious web site or shared a file that has compromised here operating system. indows simply isn't as secure as folks believe. And third party virus scanners don't catch everything and sometimes cause more problems than they solve.

Coincidentally, a recent thread on the Freespire Forums regarding Linux viruses prompted me to do a bit of research on the subject.

So, can a virus compromise your Linux system?

Well, the short answer is, "No."

A more involved and well written answer can be found here.

Please, do yourself a favor and read the entire article. You'll understand all the more why ditching Windows and getting Linux is the move to make this New Year.

And if there is one thing you can do in 2008 to make your year better and brighter, it's simply to switch to Linux! You'll say goodbye to viruses and malware and hello to a safe and secure computing experience!

(Oh, and I plan on getting Kiowa Linux for my niece's laptop soon.)

Friday, December 28, 2007

Web building

I've been using computers for years. I can remember when web building software was all the rage. WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) became the new and easy standard to build a web site. You no longer needed to hire a webmaster to build a web site for you. If you could run Microsoft Word, you could build a web site. It became that easy.

Today, building a web site online is becoming more and more the standard. Simply by using your browser,you can build a web site. Templates are pre-designed, shopping carts are easily inserted, and everything is correctly coded to be read across all browsers and computer platforms. This blog is a perfect example of a web site built entirely online through a browser.

So, if you move to Linux, you need not worry about Web building software. Simply build the web site online. I built this blog running Linux and using the Firefox browser.

So, if you switch to Linux, you may have that one web building program from Windows that you still need to access. I'm in that boat. Although the Linux Nvu web building program is quite good, I still needed access to MS FrontPage.

I started out with Microsoft's FrontPage product right from its first release. I grew up with the program, so to speak. The last version I purchased was FrontPage 2000. I was going to upgrade again, at one point, but ended up making the switch to Linux.

Now that I've switched to Linux, I still need to use FrontPage every now and again. Once more, Crossover Linux to the rescue! Simply by running CrossOver Linux (which is really the commercial version of Wine), I'm now able to run FrontPage 2000 in Linux just as if I were in Windows! Check out the screen shot above. That's Microsoft FrontPage running in Freespire Linux! Windows is not needed at all!

As you may know, I run a virtual machine in Linux which can run Windows. But the Crossover solution does not need Windows to be installed at all! Somehow, Crossover (Wine) fools the program into thinking that it's installed and running in a Windows environment.

The bottom line here is if you really need one or two Windows programs, they just may be able to install and run in Linux simply by using Crossover Linux (or wine). You can check out the entire list of compatible programs here.

If you any doubts about this technology, simply read Codeweavers' Mission Statement:

"CodeWeavers' goal is to make Unix (including Linux and Mac OS X) a fully Windows-compatible operating system. All Windows applications should be able to be run on Unix: cleanly, harmoniously, within the native environment, and without using an emulator. To that end, we maintain this Compatibility Center. Here, you can learn the exact status of any given Windows application vis-a-vis Wine. We also hope that you will join us in helping to support your application in Wine."

So make the switch to Linux. There are plenty of groups and companies helping you make the transition an easy one and at the same time,allowing you to bring along that much needed Windows software program. For instance, Kiowa Linux has a wonderful and easy to use version of Wine available! It's free and comes with their Linux operating system!

So get a Linux system and have the ability to run a Windows program without all the Windows headaches of viruses and malware!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Best Way to Protect Your Data...Get Linux!

Avoid those nasty Windows surprises. Get Linux.

I received an email offer from PC Magazine which reads in part, "Are you doing everything you can to protect your data? Malware—from viruses to spyware—continues to plague many businesses, not to mention internal security threats. Does your small business have a holistic security strategy in place?

Don't have a plan to secure your business data? Let the expert editorial staff of PC Magazine teach you everything you need to know. Attend this course of four dynamic online webcast lessons each of which includes practical downloadable coursework. "

I'm not surprised. These kind of courses and strategies have become necessary because Windows is under constant assault by viruses and malware.

I can't stress this point enough: if you run Linux , you don't need to worry about these Windows security threats. You don't need anti-virus programs. You don't need to sign up for courses to understand how to safeguard your system. You don't need yearly subscriptions to anti-virus services, etc.

Linux is safe and secure. It's immune to the viruses and malware that plague Windows systems.

Hang on to your money and at the same time, have piece of mind. Get Linux and say goodbye to all those Windows problems!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Virtual Windows Update.

This is an an update as to the progress I've made running Windows in VMware as a virtual Operating System. Originally, I was running a Windows XP, but decided to enlarge the area for storing files and installing software. So, I reconfigured and reinstalled a second version of Windows XP. (After speaking with Art Miller from the Freespire Forums via IMing), I decided to go with a larger virtual hard drive. So, I configured a 20 gig area to host the WinXP Virtual Machine.)

The big "must need" application for me is Quickbooks 2005. I use another product to help run certain Windows software programs called Crossover Linux. Quickbooks2005 will not install under Crossover Linux (or Wine), so getting it on the Windows Virtual Machine is a huge help.

Well, Quickbooks installed with no problem! I'm able to run the data file that we use at the main office. I bring this data file home to back-up on my own system. Once I'm in my hone studio system, I open my back-up drive in Linux and drag and drop the Quickbooks file to my shared folder (which Art helped me set up). This shared folder acts just as it would on a networked computer. It allows you to transfer files from Linux to Windows and vice-versa.

Directly from the shared folder, I can run the office data in Quickbooks and generate reports, print invoices, bills, etc. I can do everything in Quickbooks in Virtual Machine that I can do in a regular installation of Windows.

The next time I'm at home and need know sales numbers, etc., I don't have to boot into Windows on a separate Hard Drive. I can boot Virtual Machine, run WinXP, bring up Quickbooks, open the office data file, and give him all the info he requests. And I have access to all this data in less than one minute!

In addition, I was able to successfully install Power DVD Player in Virtual Windows. I can now play DVDs! The movies run quite smooth! it really is remarkable!

I also installed MSWorks due to having a database file I use. MSworks runs in Crossover, but will not save file info. It appears to run in a read only mode. With Virtual Machine, I can run MSworks, open files, create new files, save current files modifications, etc.

With VMware's Virtual Machine, you can run Windows on your Linux machine! It's easy to set up, easy to use, and just plain brilliant! Having Virtual Machine running Windows makes the move to Linux an easy one.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

To all who visit this blog, wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2007

What do I Want For Christmas? Linux!

It's the 24th of December and there's still time to give Linux for Christmas!

The fastest way is to simply surf over to and download a Linux distribution (or two). Next, burn the downloaded .iso file to disk. You can affix your own label and wrap! You now have the perfect Christmas gift for a friend or family member! Especially those whose Windows computers have been acting up lately due to viruses or spy ware.

(If you'd rather order an entire Linux system, check out

Give the gift of stable and secure computing! Give Linux! It's inexpensive, easy to give, and one size fits all!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Run Windows in Linux!

If you're contemplating whether or not to move to Linux due to needing a specific Windows Software program, your solution is only a few clicks away!

Freespire forum member Art Miller introduced me to VMware's Virtual Machine!

This free Linux application allows you to install Windows inside Linux! as you can see from the screenshot above, I'm running Windows XP Pro inside of Freespire 2.0. You can see that I'm running Internet Explorer and visiting where I'm streaming a video.

Once you've installed Windows in Virtual Machine, you can simply run all your needed windows applications inside Linux! Add and remove software, run IE, download from iTunes, access your CD-Rom and USB drives,etc. It's all there! And it's quite easy to install and get things up and running. Art posted easy to follow steps. These steps can be found in the Freespire Wiki here.

In a nutshell, you simply install VMware from your Linux repository, then go to EasyVMX (the online configuration tool), to set up your virtual machine. Insert your Windows disk, boot the file you configured online, install Windows and that's it! you're now ready to run Windows in Linux!

You can also add Internet access and shared folders to exchange information with your Linux desktop. (Art was kind enough to give me help with these steps. Once again,the Linux community is extremely generous with their time and knowledge. Thank you, Art!)

So now you can Get Linux and still keep Windows for those one or two needed softwae apps. (But this virtual machine version of Windows boots faster and is safer and more secure!)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Asus Eee PC - A Second Look

I ran across these two videos which give a more in-depth look at the Asus Eee PC Linux notebook computer. After reading reviews and looking over the various videos showcasing this notebook, I'm more convinced that new Linux users should pass (for the time being) on this device.

It's not because it's a neat, portable computer. It is. But if your aim is to experience the FULL power of Linux, you're much better off buying a new Linux desktop or laptop.

For instance, at, you can purchase a desktop with Linux pre-installed for under two hundred dollars! And this system will be running a full version of Linux, have faster processing power, better graphics support, etc.

You can also grab that older Windows PC (that no longer runs due to virus infection or other Windows problem )and simply download Linux for free. Burn the ISO file to disk, install it on your old desktop and BINGO! A Linux computer!

And the most cost effective, easiest way to get Linux is to buy Linux on a thumb drive! Simply plug the Linux thumb drive into any computer, start it up, and you'll be running Linux! And for as little as $30.00!

If you're looking for a simple, easy to use computer for surfing the web and sending email and opening office applications, the Eee PC may be just right as a second computer. And it's going to get better in the months and years to come as the Linux community starts inputting their ideas and customizations.

But if you require a main computer for getting all your daily tasks done in a stable and secure computing environment (and with access to thousands of Linux programs), it's best to go with a large desktop or laptop.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Asus Eee PC

I thought I'd run a few of the many video reviews popping up on for the Asus Eee PC. This little gadget packs a lot of features for those who simply want an ultra-portable notebook computer for surfing the web, emailing, and editing office documents and spreadsheets. It runs a flavor of Xandros Linux and weighs only a couple of pounds.

The price is about $400.00. And the Eee PC shows you how Linux is being used and adapted in today's computing world. Linux is an amazingly versatile OS!

Although the Asus Eee PC is a neat item, for those who want to try Linux for the first time, I'd suggest getting something a bit more robust such as a Linux Desktop system from

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Something else you won't have to worry about.

I get email updates from PC Magazine with various offers. Every once in awhile, they mention something about Linux. But but mostly, they discuss Windows related software and hardware issues.

I recently received an email stating that PC magazine had a brand new utility to help defrag your Windows hard drive.

According to Wikipedia, "Fragmentation occurs when the operating system cannot or will not allocate enough contiguous space to store a complete file as a unit, but instead puts parts of it in gaps between other files..."

In it's simplest terms, Windows, rewrites files in such a way that when space runs out, the file fragments. So a piece of the file is placed someplace else on the hard drive.

Fragmenting can make a mess of your hard drive. So much so, that your system performance slows down. In order to try and boost your system's performance, you have to do a defrag routine to the hard drive. Defragmenting a hard drive is an attempt to reassemble the bits of files that have been scattered all over the place. Windows attempts to piece things together again. This way, your system doesn't have to spend time searching the hard drive for all the pieces of file when it's opening up.

Linux never needs to be defragged! An explanation of why this is so can be found here.

So with Linux, there's no need to buy the latest and greatest utility to defragment your hard drive. Linux hard drives don't need to be defragged.

Get Linux and hang on to your loose change for other things.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

OS Airlines

Following is a piece of computer humor that's been circulating around the Internet for some time. (It shows up in my my email box every once in a while.) I'm not sure who wrote it, otherwise I'd gladly give credit. In addition, it appears that it's been updated to include the current OS entries of Vista and Mac OSX.

It's funny, inventive in its round-a-bout commentary, and all too true.

If Operating Systems Ran The Airlines...

Everyone brings one piece of the plane along when they come to the airport. They all go out on the runway and put the plane together piece by piece, arguing non-stop about what kind of plane they are supposed to be building.

Everybody pushes the airplane until it glides, then they jump on and let the plane coast until it hits the ground again. Then they push again, jump on again, and so on...

All the stewards, captains, baggage handlers, and ticket agents look and act exactly the same. Every time you ask questions about details, you are gently but firmly told that you don't need to know, don't want to know, and everything will be done for you without your ever having to know, so just shut up.

Windows Air
The terminal is pretty and colourful, with friendly stewards, easy baggage check and boarding, and a smooth take-off. After about 10 minutes in the air, the plane explodes with no warning whatsoever.

NT Air
Just like Windows Air, but costs more, uses much bigger planes, and takes out all the other aircraft within a 40-mile radius when it explodes.

Windows XP Air

You turn up at the airport,which is under contract to only allow XP Air planes. All the aircraft are identical, brightly coloured and three times as big as they need to be. The signs are huge and all point the same way. Whichever way you go, someone pops up dressed in a cloak and pointed hat insisting you follow him. Your luggage and clothes are taken off you and replaced with an XP Air suit and suitcase identical to everyone around you as this is included in the exorbitant ticket cost. The aircraft will not take off until you have signed a contract. The inflight entertainment promised turns out to be the same Mickey Mouse cartoon repeated over and over again. You have to phone your travel agent before you can have a meal or drink. You are searched regularly throughout the flight. If you go to the toilet twice or more you get charged for a new ticket. No matter what destination you booked you will always end up crash landing at Whistler in Canada.

You enter a white terminal, and all you can see is a woman sitting in the corner behind a white desk, you walk up to get your ticket. She smiles and says "Welcome to OS X Air, please allow us to take your picture", at which point a camera in the wall you didn't notice before takes your picture. "Thank you, here is your ticket" You are handed a minimalistic ticket with your picture at the top, it already has all of your information. A door opens to your right and you walk through. You enter a wide open space with one seat in the middle, you sit, listen to music and watch movies until the end of the flight. You never see any of the other passengers. You land, get off, and you say to yourself "wow, that was really nice, but I feel like something was missing"

Windows Vista Airlines

You enter a good looking terminal with the largest planes you have ever seen. Every 10 feet a security officer appears and asks you if you are "sure" you want to continue walking to your plane and if you would like to cancel. Not sure what cancel would do, you continue walking and ask the agent at the desk why the planes are so big. After the security officer making sure you want to ask the question and you want to hear the answer, the agent replies that they are bigger because it makes customers feel better, but the planes are designed to fly twice as slow. Adding the size helped achieve the slow fly goal. Once on the plane, every passenger has to be asked individually by the flight attendants if they are sure they want to take this flight. Then it is company policy that the captain asks the passengers collectively the same thing. After answering yes to so many questions, you are punched in the face by some stranger who when he asked "Are you sure you want me to punch you in the face? Cancel or Allow?" you instinctively say "Allow". After takeoff, the pilots realize that the landing gear driver wasn't updated to work with the new plane. Therefore it is always stuck in the down position. This forces the plane to fly even slower, but the pilots are used to it and continue to fly the planes, hoping that soon the landing gear manufacturer will give out a landing gear driver update. You arrive at your destination wishing you had used your reward miles with XP airlines rather than trying out this new carrier. A close friend, after hearing your story, mentions that Linux Air is a much better alternative and helps.

Linux Air
Disgruntled employees of all the other OS airlines decide to start their own airline. They build the planes, ticket counters, and pave the runways themselves. They charge a small fee to cover the cost of printing the ticket, but you can also download and print the ticket yourself. When you board the plane, you are given a seat, four bolts, a wrench and a copy of the seat-HOWTO.html. Once settled, the fully adjustable seat is very comfortable, the plane leaves and arrives on time without a single problem, the in-flight meal is wonderful. You try to tell customers of the other airlines about the great trip, but all they can say is, "You had to do what with the seat?"

So, if operating systems were airlines, I'd be telling you to Get Linux Air.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Surpised And Amazed!

A friend of mine decided to buy a laptop for his son for Christmas. I've been touting the advantages of Linux to him and others for a long time. And what does he do? He turns around and buys a Windows Vista laptop. It was on sale for $599.00. Now, that's a pretty good price, but my friend got socked with additional charges that he didn't see coming.

For instance, he was told that it would be prudent to buy an anti-virus package for $129.00 because, well, Windows is vulnerable to viruses. Then, he also bought the student version of MSOffice because his son is going to be writing a lot of papers for school. The price for that was $149.00.

This $599.00 laptop is now costing $877.00!

And he's going to find out that Windows Vista is going to run slow on that bargain laptop. I've already reported that in order to run Windows Vista at a decent pace on a laptop or desktop computer, you'll need to do a major upgrade of hardware. And that means spending additional money for memory, etc.

I'm always surprised that, even though Windows gives folks so many headaches with crashes, viruses, pop-ups, and Trojans, they still continue to spend money on yet another Windows system! I'm amazed that people are so blind to Linux! They don't see this wonderful alternative OS right in front of them and free for the taking!

Had my friend bought a Linux Laptop, the price would be the cost of the laptop. Period. No extra charges for anti-virus software or spyware scanners. Linux is immune to Windows viruses. An anti-virus program is not needed.

And with Linux, there's no need to purchase extra software, either. For instance, every Linux computer comes with OpenOffice. Openoffice is the free open source office suite fully compatible with MSOffice. So, there's no need to buy Microsoft Office or any other software program. Thousands of Linux software programs are available for download and installation absolutely FREE!

So, Get Linux and keep more of your hard-earned dough-ho-ho in your pocket!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Gimp Tips - Improving The Interface

I was speaking to my friend Matt of and the conversation turned to using Gimp. I shared with him a Gimp tip I picked up from the Freespire forums. I thought I'd share it you, as well.

Gimp uses an Open Window interface. Unlike PhotoShop where everything is contained in one window, Gimp's toolbars and work areas float on the desktop in their own windows. First time users may get a little intimidated and confused as to which window is which. But there's a really neat way that allows you to keep all of Gimp's tool bars right here you need them and gives you full access to the work area.

First, open Gimp. (Menu selections are lightly highlighted. I've also added a few notes in red to explain/clarify the screen shot) Notice that on the main tool bar window (and all windows) in the upper left hand corner is the little Gimp icon. Clicking on this reveals a new menu with options. Using this menu, we are going to set the Gimp's tool bars so they are always on top of other windows and will shade up and down (and out of the way) so you have more access to the image you're editing.

So, click on the menu and select "Advanced." In this fly out menu select "Keep Above Others." Now this tool bar window will always remain on top of other windows. Next, click the Gimp icon once more and move down the menu until you see the the selection marked "Shade." checking this selection will now Automatically shade the window when the mouse is moved away. Moving the mouse over the title bar of the window immediately shades it down so you can access all the tools.

If shading is not working, then click the icononce more and select "configure Windows behavior. in this new window select "Advanced" and make sure Enable hover" is marked. Now, when you work with Gimp you can open your work area to fill the entire screen and the toolbars will always remain on top. the tool bars will open and close when you pass your mouse over them.

This customization only works in Linux and will not work in Windows. So, Get Linux!

You'll get a better better Graphics image editor in the Gimp and experience a better interface! And the great thing is, Gimp is free Open source software and comes pre-installed on every Linux system (or any distribution you download).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Connecting To the Internet And Community

If you've been reading this blog for some time now, you know that I've been talking about two Linux distributions. The first is Freespire. Freespire is a really terrific Linux distro. It comes from the folks at Linspire. Linspire has been touted as the "World's Easiest Desktop Linux." And I have to admit, Linspire made my transition to Linux very easy. Not only are Linspire and Freespire both easy to use, the community of people surrounding this distribution (The Freespire Forums) are welcoming and very helpful in answering any questions you have.

The second Linux distribution I've been talking about is Kiowa. Kiowa is installed on my laptop. I've found it to be a wonderfully stable and secure Linux distro! And wonderfully easy to use, as well. That's why I talk about it (and Freespire) so much.

Kiowa is based on Mandriva. Now, I've used Mandriva in the past (back then it was known as Mandrake), but I found the learning curve to be a bit too steep for new users. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just that Mandriva assumes that a new user is already up to speed on certain Linux functions and features.

Kiowa changes all this. Kiowa take Mandriva and makes it quite user friendly and adds in some really nice extra touches and features (particularly in installing fonts, managing software, and playing multi-media files).

And the really great thing about Kiowa Linux is their technical support. Matt (the man behind Kiowa Linux) and crew really go above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to technical support. Just last night (Saturday evening), I needed to adjust my wireless router settings for my Kiowa laptop. Matt was right there on the phone with me talking me through the settings. Couple this support with all the help the folks on the Freespire forums gave me regarding this issue and the solution fell right into place.

Yes, I paid for a year of technical support from Kiowa Linux, but the charge was quite affordable when compared to that of Windows. In addition, Kiowa also has its own forums where you can log on to ask other Kiowa Linux users questions about the OS.

The point is, because I'm active in Linux forums and (have Kiowa technical support) the problem was solved in a timely fashion. That's why it's so very important to become an active member in the Linux community through forums like Freespire and Kiowa. You make friendships and establish associations with other Linux users who really do care about your having a successful Linux computing experience. (And it also helps to obtain paid technical support.)

Freespire, Linspire and Kiowa. All three are wonderful Linux operating systems. When you connect to the Internet, make sure to connect to their respective forums and technical support venues. You'll receive terrific support. In the process, you'll learn much more about Linux so you, too, can help the next new Linux user.

(By the way, is having a sale where you can purchase a system with BOTH Kiowa Linux and Freespire Linux installed!)

Saturday, December 15, 2007


If you've been a longtime Windows user, think back to when you first used a computer. Chances are that first computer of yours had some variety of Windows installed on it. And when you first sat in front of it, you had a lot of questions. Luckily, you had a neighbor, friend, or family member who had been using Windows for some time and knew the "ins and outs."

These folks were able to help you over the rough spots. You sat down with them, face to face, and were given hands on instruction. Only then did you realize that Windows wasn't such a tough operating system to learn. Someone showed you a keystroke or mouse move and suddenly, Windows became quite easy to use!

It's the same thing with Linux. Linux has a familiar look and feel to Windows, but, at first, some things may seem a bit foreign to you.

Wouldn't it be great to have someone show you, face to face, how some of these Linux features worked?

Well, that's where the LUGs come in. LUGS are Linux User Groups. Simply put, A Linux Users' Group (LUG) is a Linux club. It's a local community group made up of Linux users who provide support, help and education for Linux users, particularly newer, less experienced Linux users ("Newbies"). Linux User Groups meet in person. It's at these meetings that new users can get the hands on help that is sometimes necessary in understanding a new OS like Linux.

Locations for Linux user groups can be found online here.

Another great way to help familiarize yourself with Linux is to attend a local LinuxFest. a LinuxFest is a conference sponsored by local area Linux user Groups, corporations, and other groups and businesses. At these weekend long Linux Fests, folks can attend talks on Linux, try out the latest software and hardware from exhibitors, and meet with other Open Source Software professionals and enthusiasts.

Just like when you were learning Windows (or Mac), if you meet others who run Linux, Linux will become quite easy for you to run, as well.

Get Linux. It's easy to use and there are lots of other Linux users ready and happy to help you.

Friday, December 14, 2007

An "I told Ya So" Update.

I just wanted to share with you a small, personal story.

Yesterday, I talked about having to reboot Windows due to Patch Tuesday. I also contrasted this with how wonderfully secure Linux is. Well, today my brother mentioned how his Windows computer was throwing fits. The browser, when booted, was launching pop-up after pop-up. It appeared a piece of malware had gotten onto his system.

Just as suddenly as it started, a day later, it stopped. He concluded that the recent security patch issued by Microsoft (Patch Tuesday) may have taken care of this problem. But then again, perhaps not. Who knows? In order to find out,he would have to invest in a malware scanning program or update his anti-virus software.

He mentioned that what he really needed was a Linux system!

He, like many others, are starting to realize that Linux is the answer to getting rid of Windows viruses and malware. Linux is secure and stable computing.

Linux is easy to use and easy to get. if you have a spare system, simply download a flavor of Linux and install it. Linux will install, update itself and get you on the web in no time.

If you'd rather not go through the legwork of downloading and installing Linux, then get over to KiowaLinux and buy a system. They are reasonably priced and come pre-configured with Kiowa Linux or Freespire Linux (or both!)

Don't let another year go by fighting Windows viruses and malware. Make it your new year's resolution to Get Linux.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Windows Reboot Blues

Today at the office, the Windows system I was working on flagged me for a security update. Well, I figured it was probably due to Patch Tuesday, so I went ahead and allowed Windows to download and install the security updates.

While all this was going on, I was in the middle of taking care of some paperwork in an accounting program.

Windows finished it's installation of the security patches and said it needed to reboot. So, I had to stop what I was doing, make sure my data was backed up, Save other files I had open, close down the application I was working with, and allow Windows to reboot.

Then, I had to await for Windows to once again initialize, start up, scan for the security updates, launch anti-virus software and other programs to block viruses and malware, and generally get back up to speed.

Five to seven minutes later, I'm back up and running.

During this whole process, I lost time when I could have been productive. Multiply this by a the number of Windows computers a business runs, and it translates into lost hours, let alone minutes!

When I come home to run Linux, I say goodbye to all these security updates. Linux is immune from Windows viruses and doesn't need to be constantly patched and secured. Linux is secure! (At home, I no longer run Windows to access the Internet. Windows is simply too vulnerable to attack.)

If you get Linux for your home or business, you can forget about being bothered with Patch Tuesday, malware and Windows viruses. You can run your system without being bothered and simply get your work done.

Get Linux, get secure, and get productive!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Scribus Greetings!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, each year, I create my own Christmas card to send to family and friends. This year, I created the card entirely in Linux using the free Open source desktop publishing program Scribus.

Scribus is incredibly powerful and gives you the tools to do everything all the other desktop publishing programs can do.

The interface is very straightforward. Simply create a text box and start typing or import text. You can drag images, text, shapes,etc. anywhere on the page. You can also drag objects off the printable page and move back on to another page. Scribus allows you to set up master pages,as well, so certain elements will automatically appear on each new page that is created.

One feature that I love about Scribus is the "Collect For Output" option. When creating a publication, Scribus links all your fonts and images. When you invoke the "Collect for Output" function, all of these images, fonts, etc. are collected and saved into one directory. This allows you to copy this directory (folder) to a thumb drive and move your publication project to another computer.

This came in quite handy when I created this year's card. I was able to use this option and take the project from my studio to the office where I had Scribus on my office PC.

This year's card design wasn't a folding card, but rather a strip reprint on one side and my contact information on the opposite side. I was then able to print three-up, cut to size, and then enclose in a business size #10 envelope.

You can see more screenshots of Scribus on this page. Scribus comes pre-installed on many Linux distributions.

Or, buy a Linux system for the holidays and turn Scribus loose and create your own holiday card.

Get Linux and get creative!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Creating Cartoons in Gimp.

As a cartoonist, the most useful tool in my studio (and most used) is my computer. Because I draw four features for DBR Media, I rely on my computer to streamline some of the tasks in creating my cartoons. And because of the problems I've run into with Windows (crashes, viruses, etc.), I moved to Linux.

And I was wonderfully surprised to find so many graphics software applications available for free.

The "top-shelf" graphics app in Linux is The Gimp image editor. Gimp is a PhotoShop clone of sorts. Gimp works like Photoshop, feels like PhotoShop and even opens PhotoShop .psd files.

With Gimp, you work in layers just like PhotoShop (check out the above screen shot of my feature Word Pile). In fact, you can do everything in Gimp that you can do in PhotoShop, PaintShop Pro, PhotoImpact and other image editors. You can can add color, cut, paste, clone, crop, move elements, create mattes, select areas, add filter effects,etc. It's all there! And the cost is...FREE.

(I like Gimp a lot. It's worth re-visiting.:) I've blogged about it before here and here.)

When parents ask me what kind of computer or graphics program they should give their children, I tell them to get a Linux system. All the tools a young budding artist needs are already installed. And this software is incredibly powerful. Best of all, the cost is much more affordable than a Windows system and certainly thousands less than a Mac.

Linux is perfect for the family budget. Plus, the system is secure and immune from Windows viruses.

If your child is showing signs of digital creativity, get him or her a Linux system. Linux is fast, powerful, packed with creative digital tools, and wonderfully affordable.

I use Linux to create my cartoons. You can, too.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Linux In Your Pocket

The great thing about Linux is how adaptable it is. Linux is everywhere. It runs Tivo, MP3 players, cell phones, computers, computer servers, and many other electronic devices. Linux even runs Google! And, by now, you know that Linux can be run directly from a Live CD.

But did you know that Linux can run directly from a thumb drive? That's right! It's possible to install Linux to a thumb drive and, simply by plugging this drive into any computer, you can run your own Linux desktop on that host computer.

You can install software to the thumb drive, edit and save documents, surf the web, etc. When you unplug the drive, you take everything with you. Nothing is left on the host computer! It's pocket-size Linux!

You can purchase a thumb drive from any electronics store, then simply install your favorite flavor of Linux. You're going to need at least a 4 gigabyte thumb drive in order to completely install Linux. Anything smaller won't work as well. is one site where they take you through the entire formatting and installation process, step by step, for specific Linux distributions.

However, for the beginner, I highly recommend you save yourself some time (and money) by checking out Right now, they have 4 gigabyte, 8 gigabyte, and 16 gigabyte thumb drives on sale with Linux pre-installed. These Kiowa Linux thumb drives are part of their 25 days of Christmas sale.

For the same amount of money it costs for a blank thumb drive, you can purchase one from already pre-installed with Linux!

It' a perfect stocking stuffer and a great way to easily introduce someone to Linux!

Imagine giving a friend or family member (or even yourself) an entire computer operating system on a thumb drive! And it'll run on any Windows PC! (Remember, it does this by booting and running Linux from the thumb drive. Linux runs on the computer, Windows does not.)

Linux, is everywhere! It should be on your computer. At least, get it on a thumb drive and take Linux with you!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Desktop Linux On The Move!

There's a great opinion piece at describing how Linux is poised to take over the low end desktop PC market. One sentence grabbed my attention. "Today, no one can argue with a straight face that people can't get their work done on Linux-powered PCs."

How True! As a cartoonist, I'm creating my comic strip and comic panel features using Linux. I scan artwork using Xsane, I edit the drawing using Gimp, I layout templates in Scribus and I handle all my web correspondence with my editors at DBR Media via the Firefox web browser. When Wine (or it's commercial counterpart, CrossOver Linux), is added, then folks can run popular Windows applications such as PhotoShop 6 or 7, DreamWeaver, Lotus Notes, Quickbooks, plus others.

Low end PCs are remarkably powerful when compared to what was on the market a short three to four years ago. They have fast processors, at least 512 megs of RAM, and plenty of hard drive space. What we think of as "Low End" is really quite powerful for the everyday user.

As the article points out, there is a revolution going on in the Desktop (and Laptop) PC market and it's called Linux.

Get Linux, or a Linux system, and be a part of this revolution.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Green PC

One the biggest Linux items to come along in some time is the Green PC. Also known as (informally) "The Google Computer" , or more simply, "gOS ." It's created a lot of buzz mostly because it's a Linux system being sold at the rock bottom price of $199.00. You can pick up one of these online at Walmart's web site.

But should you spend $199.00 on an easy to use Linux computer?

One reviewer doesn't seem to think so.

The reviewer writes,
"The gPC was slapped together to sell to Web-savvy people who have very little pocket money. My advice to these people? Save up for just a little longer and buy something for at least $450 that runs Windows Vista,..."

While I agree that, for a bit more money, you can get a computer with hardware that is more robust, I disagree with getting one with Vista. (He does mention a Linux based laptop as another alternative).

To get the full potential of Vista, a computer needs a heckuva lot more memory and hardware upgrades. You can read more in this blog post. And here, you can learn how you need not even buy a Linux computer if you don't want to. Simply get a used Windows PC that no one wants, download Linux, and install. Bingo! New computer!

My point is, there are a lot of really great Linux alternatives out there besides the gOS. Why is it assumed that because a Linux distribution under performs (in the opinion of one reviewer) that the choice automatically becomes Vista? Vista suffers greatly from under performance due to not having top shelf (and more expensive) hardware installed. And needing this hardware upgrade increases the price of a Vista computer considerably.

Rather than simply suggest Vista, I really wish the reviewer would have recommended the many other Linux computer makers(and distributions) out there on the web.

For instance, check out The folks at Kiowa Linux have a sale going on. A Kiowa Linux desktop computer (with some nice hardware and 512 megs of RAM) can be purchased for as little as $169.99. They also have some terrific moderately priced, and quite powerful, Linux systems.

All one need do is type "Linux computers" in Google and a number of Linux computer makers are listed. Alternatively,simply visit a Linux forum and ask where one can buy a good Linux desktop or laptop at an affordable price. The community will respond with many suggestions and recommendations.

The reviewer wraps up by saying, "
Aside from being cheap and unaffected by Windows viruses, there's not a lot to recommend in the Everex gPC."

Oh, really?!

Not being affected by viruses,Trojans, spy ware and malware is more than enough reason to purchase this Linux computer over Windows.

Friday, December 7, 2007

David Pogue Reviews the $100.00 Laptop

I came across this terrific video review of the One Laptop Per Child Laptop. David Pogue is a tech columnist with the New York Times. I emailed David to ask him if I could run the video here and he said it was okay since it was already posted on YouTube.

If you're interested in reading more tech reviews, David's blog is located here. His web site, Pogue's Pages, is here. He has a wonderfully informative and humorous view (and review) of technology, computers, and high-tech gadgets.

And before I forget, other video reviews and news can be found at the New York Times' website here.

Anyhow, I've been quite curious in seeing this laptop in action and actually getting a look at some of the features. David does a wonderful job in showing you this computer. As many of you who read this blog know, this laptop is powered by Linux. And it really is amazing how much technology is packed into such a small unit.

Again, this laptop is available for sale to folks in the U.S. and Canada for a limited time. You are required to buy two (Give One, Get One Program). One laptop to keep and one laptop to give to a child in a third world country. In doing so, you can make it a doubly nice Linux Christmas.

(My thanks to David Pogue and the New York Times for allowing me to stream this video review here.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tis The Season...

'Tis the season for sending out Christmas cards! Being a cartoonist, I design and print out my own Christmas cards. Each year, my Christmas card features characters (or a comic) from my George comic strip. This year, my Christmas card was created completely (100%) in Linux! I designed it using Linux, I printed it using Linux and I addressed all the envelopes using the OpenOffice envelope and database functions. And, yes, this was done in Linux, as well!

Now, after using Windows all these years, how did I make the transition? And, was it difficult? Not at all!

First, I designed the card completely in Scribus! Scribus is a free, professional level desktop publishing program for Linux. It worked just like any other desktop publishing program I've ever used in Windows. More on that process in a later post.

The next big hurdle was getting my Christmas list database printed out to individual envelopes. This was new territory for me because, in the past, I had relied on Windows programs to handle this task.

Well, the Linux and OpenOffice community came to my rescue! I visited and queried the support forums on how to convert my delimited text file (also saved as a spreadsheet file, both from Windows applications) to a database file. The folks gave me the answer here.

Now that I have my database, the next thing I needed to know was how to make use of this information to address envelopes. A quick Google search turned up this site. Here, I found my answer on how to merge the database with an envelope design and print out all my envelopes in OpenOffice. The process was flawless! And, even easier than other programs I've used to accomplish this.

So, this holiday season,if you're creating your own Christmas cards, remember to give Scribus and OpenOffice a try. For best results, first get Linux!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The One Downside to Linux

I've talked about how great Linux is. Once you get Linux on your computer, you'll never go back to Windows or Mac. You'll have thousands of free software applications at your disposal. You'll have widgets and themes and icon sets and fonts available at the click of a mouse, all built by members of the Linux community. You may even get into the act yourself and contribute your own themes, wallpapers, etc. But most important, when you run Linux, you'll have a safe, secure operating environment free from Windows viruses and spy ware.

But there is a slight downside to Linux. When a family member or friend runs into a problem with their Windows computer due to a Trojan or virus, your Linux system will still be up and running. And because your Linux system is up and running, they're going to want to borrow your computer...a lot. And they'll have no problem using Linux. It has a familiar look and feel. Linux is so easy, anyone can use it.

So, when the next big virus rolls through the Windows world, expect visitors to drop by and say, "Hey, can I borrow your Linux system and check my email? My Windows system is down." Then, simply create a guest account for them and let them loose. All your data and settings in your personal home account will be secure and locked away.

(By the way, if you don't want folks constantly borrowing your Linux system, just make sure to have some Linux Live CDs at hand. Give them out and tell family and friends to try Linux on their own systems.)

Get Linux, recommend Linux and Give Linux for the holidays.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Give Linux for Christmas...Twice!

One of the really neat Linux projects is One Laptop Per Child. It's an initiative to make a $100.00 laptop computer available to children in third world countries. The neat thing about the project is, the laptop runs Linux.

The laptops are available for sale to folks in the U.S. and Canada until the end of the month. The price is raised a bit, so by buying one for your child, one is donated to a child in a developing nation. It's their "Give One, Get One" program. Visit One Laptop Per child for more details.

If you want your child to have a neat starter Linux computer, you may want to consider the OLPC model. Reviews are here.

You can make it a Linux Christmas for your child and make computing possible for another child somewhere around the world..

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Linux is not Windows.

Linux is not Windows. And thank goodness for that! Because it means Linux can't be infected with a Windows virus.

I mention this because, as I was working on this blog last night, I was clicking around the web collecting information. At some point during my clicks, I landed on a site that displayed a scanning utility that started to scan my system. It looked pretty authentic.

The next thing I see is a screen claiming my system is infected with spy ware! It specifically names Windows viruses. but, here's the thing. It's saying I have this virus on a Linux desktop System. AND, the same results come up on a Linux laptop. How can this be? Linux is immune to Windows viruses.

Well, it's nothing more than a marketing ploy to convince uninformed Windows users to download the anti-virus program. i won't mention the company.I removed their name from the graphic.) Now, as far as I know, this product could be quite helpful to Widows users. It just may be very helpful in removing spy ware and other Windows Viruses. (Then again..maybe not...who knows??)

But this is the point. When you use Linux, YOU DON'T NEED THESE PROGRAMS!

You'll save money and you'll also gain piece of mind. It's a bit worrisome, when in Windows, to see a message stating that your system is infected. If you were in Linux, you could simply ignore the website/ad knowing that your system is immune to Windows viruses.

This year, make a resolution to move away from Windows, viruses, and spy ware. Resolve to start using Linux. Right now, there lots of Linux holiday sales taking place all around the web (especially at!

Get Linux
and make it a virus free 2008!

Saturday, December 1, 2007


My real discovery of Linux began when I downloaded Linspire 5.0. Linspire was touted as the "easiest Linux" to use. And they were right. I found Linspire to be incredibly easy. And from that point, I made Linux my main Operating System.

Since then, the folks at Linspire have further developed their Linux distribution. One of these developments has been their community Linux distribution called Freespire.

Freespire 2.0 is the latest and greatest offering. i have to tell you, next to Kiowa,this is one terrific Linux distribution. Freespire, like its name, is free. it's free to download and install. The folks at Freespire have complete instructions on how to do this here. And Freespire allows you share this OS with friends and family. Simply register on their Share It page. Once you've registered, download Freespire, burn to CD, and pass on to others!

Freespire (and Linpsire) have really made great strides in making Desktop Linux easy to use. One of their biggest developments has been CNR (Click and Run). Located at, click and run is a very easy method of downloading and installing Linux software. Register for an account, log in, find the software you want in the warehouse, then click! The software is downloaded and installed on your Freespire (or Linspire) system automatically. It's brilliant!

and the great st thing about Freespire is the community of folks at the Freespire Forums.
if you have any questions about Linux, Freespire, Linspire, CNR, files, etc. someone on the forums will help you find the answer.

the forum members are some of the nicest, most giving people anywhere in the Linux community. For this reason alone, it's worth getting Freespire. Not only will you have a great version of Linux, but you'll learn a lot about Linux from the folks up on the Freespire Forum. The Linux community really is made up of some wonderful people. And some of the nicest, most involved, and talented are at the Freespire Forums.