Time to switch to Linux and boycott Microsoft?

This is very bad news for naive souls like myself who saw Microsoft as a liberal and open-minded organization — cut-throat and monopolistic, yes, but also socially enlightened. Or so I thought.

Actually, I’m not computer-savvy enough to switch to Linux, so maybe I’ll have to buy a Mac. Pricey, but I don’t know how I can buy a Windows machine and live with myself.

Update: Ouch.

The man dubbed “The Right Hand of God” has fingerprints all over Microsoft. Still.

Ralph Reed is more than a Friend of Bill — he is a paid GOP consultant, getting $20,000 a month from Microsoft to help shape the software behemoth’s image in the global marketplace.

Judging from Reed’s past — he was the former head of the evangelical Christian Coalition — that means serving up vitriolic viewpoints about gays and lesbians.

Judging from Microsoft’s actions — the company just yanked its support of a legislative bill in Olympia to protect gays — the Reed brand of insight is shining through.

The Discussion: 39 Comments

Richard, I’ve been a Mac user for a long time – I suspect you won’t go back once you’ve switched! And the prices have come down substantially.

April 26, 2005 @ 1:35 pm | Comment

Have you checked their donations during the president election? I am 90% positive that M$ bribed both sides.

April 26, 2005 @ 2:23 pm | Comment

Speaking of another 90%, you could always do as most Chinese do and use a bootleg version of Windows :P.

April 26, 2005 @ 5:52 pm | Comment

Linux has come a long way from its early geekiness. Try the current SuSE or Red Hat. You can install it on a portion of your current hard drive to try it out. Help is plentiful through the install and beyond. Working from the KDE desktop is easier and a lot more useful than Windoze. (e.g.: don’t hunt through three open windos and four minimized to find the progam you want, just change virtual desktops leaving what you need arranged for work.)
It also has the advantage of being cost effective.

April 26, 2005 @ 6:23 pm | Comment

Appreciate the advice, Dum Luk. It’s actually time for me to replace my old Gateway desktop here at home, so I’m going to have to think about it very carefully.

Lisa, I actually did have a Mac back in the 90s, when 8 megs was considered a lot of RAM. I loved it. But honestly, with XP there hardly seems to be any difference in terms of ease of use. When I think of all the stuff I have on my hard drive (none of it backed up, of course) and what a headache it would be to port it over onto a Mac, I feel a sense of dread. However, now that I see Big Bill is sending money to my nemesis Ralph Reed I may have to just make the switch.

April 26, 2005 @ 6:30 pm | Comment

Richard, there are programs to assist in the migration between the Windows machine and the Mac by hooking a USB cable between them. Though you’ll need to get the Mac software to handle the Windows files, but that’s never been easier.

And then you can rehabilitate that old Gateway and install a Linux or BSD variant. (yes, I’m a BSD bigot.)

And there are definite ease of use differences. You’ll have to get used to the new MacOS, cuz it’s definitely different from the MacOS of the 8meg era. But at least for my work habits, OS X is far more convenient and easy than XP.

April 26, 2005 @ 7:30 pm | Comment

Richard, there are ways to get you familiar with Linux without destroying your Windows installation.

Projects like Knoppix are LiveCDs that let you boot off them completely. They are really nice, and actually come with a surprising amount of programs for just one CD.

I’ll also Dum Luk’s statement regarding the ease of Linux with Red Hat and SUSE. I’ll also add Mandrake/Mandriva to that list. I’m actually trying to get a job with the company that owns SUSE, so maybe I’ll help making it even easier to switch. SUSE also has a LiveCD version, though I think it might run off a DVD now.

April 26, 2005 @ 7:38 pm | Comment

You guys are on the verge of convincing me. Will you give me free tech support?

(And what’s BSD? That’s how dumb I am.)

April 26, 2005 @ 7:44 pm | Comment


BSD is (very) basically the original operating system of all operating systems. It’s free and it’s the industry standard of all open source software.

Also, I know your level of expertise and although there are lots of support out there I do think you’d get frustrated with Linux pretty quickly.

And macs are actually cheaper. http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=10403

But you won’t like some of Apple’s history or methodology. They engage in periodic bullying campaigns to control the press, especially when it comes to the launching of new products. And Jobs is a bit of an authoritarian himself. http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=1028

If you did get a Mac though, get a Mac mini. The product line will be refreshed very soon, so wait about a week or so.

April 26, 2005 @ 8:03 pm | Comment

Also, not only is the new version of Mac OS X that’s coming out visionary and easier to use than XP, but it has features Microsoft won’t have for another two years. What are you waiting for?

April 26, 2005 @ 8:35 pm | Comment

Adam, how’s the price on the new models?

I wish you would comment more frequently. Even if you and I were at each other’s throats a lot, I miss your intelligent comments and insights.

April 26, 2005 @ 8:42 pm | Comment

Richard, the Mac Mini is pretty inexpensive – $499 I think, for the box. You can use it with your existing keyboard and monitor because everything is USB. I like OS X – I’m on 10.3.3 – it really is hard to crash. The new OS comes out this Friday.

Speaking of screamin’ machines, my first computer was an Amiga 2000 with THREE megabytes of RAM!

April 26, 2005 @ 9:20 pm | Comment

Amiga?? My god, memories of when I was using a commodore!!

How powerful a machine can can the $499 Mac be, Lisa? I need a machine that can multitask on a couple of applications at once, help me get around the Web fast using cable broadband, and not take ofrever opening up and closing programs. Back to the Mac?

In any event, I’m going back to bed now, so except to see little of me until tomorrow.)

Last questions? Does havng and Apple or Linux machine make a difference in regard to comment spam. If it could take that albatross off from around my life, I’d consider it in a heartbeat. Thanks for all the great help, guys.

April 26, 2005 @ 9:41 pm | Comment

Amiga, Commodore… The only thing I think of when I see those names are their different versions of Pac Man which were supposed to put my Atari to shame. Now THAT was something that got me interested in computers!

April 26, 2005 @ 10:20 pm | Comment

Yeah, I liked that Amiga…

From the Apple website: “Apple engineers designed this small wonder from the ground up to deliver the most Mac for the least dinero. Inside its petite 2-inch tall, 6.5-inch square anodized aluminum enclosure, Mac mini houses a 1.25 or 1.42GHz G4 processor, 40 or 80GB hard drive, a slot-loading CD-R/DVD-ROM optical drive, 256MB DDR SDRAM and ATI Radeon 9200 graphics chip with 32MB dedicated DDR SDRAM — all whisper-quiet.”

Check out Apple.com and see what you think.

I don’t do anything very complicated on my computer – I just use a 12″ iBook. I like it quite a bit.

Good luck tomorrow, Richard!

April 26, 2005 @ 10:56 pm | Comment

I’m an enemy of Microsoft of long-standing … and I use alternative products where its feasible, such as firefox, etc … but I just don’t see Mac as a viable option. They’re overpriced and underpower and for all the propaganda from Mac users, no more reliable … to be honest, I hate the damn things. I’ve been forced to work on a number of Mac machines at uni for various publishing projects etc, and they constantly hang or do other stupid things. I wouldn’t go Mac.

Now, where did I put my raincoat and steel helmet … there’s going to be a lot of outraged spluttering and rock throwing coming my way I guess. But that’s the lesson of my experience … Macs are crap.

April 26, 2005 @ 11:00 pm | Comment

But they’re PRETTY!!!

Actually we use macs and pcs at work – the macs have been so much more reliable, there’s no comparison.

Also, I kind of meant it about the “pretty” part. I am a sucker for cool design. They’re just nicer to use. With PCs I always feel like I’m fighting with them. Like, you go to “start” to turn it off?!

April 27, 2005 @ 12:33 am | Comment

Hi Richard, new to your site. I’d just posted something on M$’s backflip too. Anyhow, the switch to Mac is not as hard as one might think. But see what others say – there’s lots of Mac online forums out there, and they’re generally quite helpful for people thinking about switching to Mac.

Also, all the best for the press con.

ps. left a msg on an old post from 2003 about Sg.

April 27, 2005 @ 2:10 am | Comment

I would definately give one of the Linux live CDs a try. You just pop the CD in the drive and reboot the machine. It doesn’t mess about with any of your files under windows, so if you don’t like it, reboot, remove the CD, and you’ve lost nothing.

Knoppix is good, and so is kubuntu – http://www.kubuntu.org

April 27, 2005 @ 3:03 am | Comment

You might also want to check out this migration howto:


(as an aside, how can I make links appear as links in comments?)

April 27, 2005 @ 3:08 am | Comment

What is BSD? Berkeley Software Distribution.

And there were OS’s around before BSD, but guys like Bill Joy added the little things like TCP/IP to the operating system, so one computer could efficiently talk to another computer over a network. This of course has inevitably led to modern innovations like comment spam on blogs.

And the $499 MacMini would be perfectly capable of multi-tasking and surfing the web fast and safely.

And somewhere on the other side of the ocean lurks a mini computer museum with my old Macs and a Commodore. Cassette tape drives. 800K floppies that contained the entire OS, Microsoft Word AND your documents.

April 27, 2005 @ 4:26 am | Comment

Imron, you need to use html to make the links show up as links in the comments. Email me for specifics if you need to.

Then of course, there are other considerations, like my HP LaserJet and other peripherals… Do I just start over?

April 27, 2005 @ 6:16 am | Comment

I made the switch but it wasn’t pleasant. The mac mini is cheap but it’s a little underpowered. After my friend helped me put more memory in and stuff it didn’t seem all that cheap. Spam is the same. Getting data over was hard too and i can’t read any of my word files anymore. And even if its supposed to be easier to use it’s different from windows and therefore you have to relearn everything. i’m still trying to get the hang of it.

It looks cute though and matches my desk.

April 27, 2005 @ 7:26 am | Comment

Hey, you’ll have to get a new computer sooner or later, and port everything over…

I love my flat-panel G5. Great computer, very powerful, very small footprint.

April 27, 2005 @ 9:17 am | Comment

Well, hang on just a minute.

I don’t know anything about this particular story, but I do know that my fellow Microsoft employees gave millions for the tsunami relief effort, and as a matter of course Microsoft employees through an annual fund-raising drive give tens of millions more to a whole variety of charities, and I’d be willing to bet that it’s far more than Apple, far more than any Linux vendor.

And that’s not to mention the *billions* given by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to developing countries.

Lastly (oh by the way) a PC is many times cheaper than a Mac, runs far more programs…

April 27, 2005 @ 10:56 am | Comment

Barry, I start by sayiong how much I’ve always respected Microsoft for its open mind. And its charity efforts are legendary. But this is a matter of Bill Gates funding The Enemy. Ralph Reed is hater of gays and represents the ugliest side of the Evangelical movement. I can’t give money to Microsoft if I know they are funding this scumbag.

April 27, 2005 @ 11:27 am | Comment

As a happy linux (debian) user, I can heartily recommend you to use a Mac. (Unless you can get good tech support, or don’t mind spending hours tweaking it).

(On some things, such as installing new programs, Linux is *way* more useable than windows. But still not perfect.)

I had seen a really neat video about their new operating system, tiger, that’s coming out tomorrow .. read about it at http://www.apple.com/macosx (couldn’t find the video), there was some hype but it still looks like it rocks.

I’ve never used a mac, but they sure look like they have their act together. Linux is copying mac instead of windows now, that shows something 🙂

April 27, 2005 @ 11:32 am | Comment


If it’s any comfort, this stroy will not die in the Seattle area and it is starting to get nasty. It is starting to go from blaming Microsoft for being two-faced to focussing on Ralph reed’s influence and that of a large locla evangelical church in Redmond. Maybe we could learn a thing or two from the Chinese when it comes to dealing with churches and clergy.

April 27, 2005 @ 4:55 pm | Comment

Interesting, Jim. This was an incredibly stupid blunder and I hope it’s a wake-up call Big Bill & Co.

April 27, 2005 @ 5:28 pm | Comment

I was a system admin for some Mac labs at my uni and I found that — duh — they were practically unusable. That’s because they didn’t have anyone on top of it.

It is well documented that Mac OS X is more stable than XP. I use a 12″ iBook and it’s only fully crashed (where I had to reboot) once. Once. Word and some browsers crashed on their own plenty of times but there was no need to reboot. I have kept the system running for weeks at a time without powering down.

Using a mac won’t affect your comment spam for better or for worse, but it is immune to the vast majority of viruses, spyware, and other devilish stuff out there.

The mac mini has plenty of power for daily needs. I am a power user and get by on a machine that is significantly slower. It starts at $499 but you’ll probably want to soup it up a little bit. Good news is you won’t have to re-purchase a keyboard or monitor. Just use the ones you have now and replace the brain.

In the end, Richard, go to an Apple store and take one for a ride. If you find the differences of the way things work big enough that it puts you off, then you should just stay with windows since there’s an even bigger difference with Linux. If you find that you feel at home, don’t even hesitate.

You need more advise feel free to email me.

April 27, 2005 @ 6:12 pm | Comment

Every computer, every operating system, every software, and every peripherial works its own way . As Mark Twain said: “You can get used to anything — given time. Hanging takes five minutes.” The point is that you use the computer to do certain things in a certain manner. Find a machine and an OS that suits that and get on with your life.
(Most HPs will work with Linux.)
The 8088 ran on 64 kilobytes of ram. Those machines were more powerful than the sperry rand the pentagon used to run WWII. Humpfh. Said the old codger.

April 27, 2005 @ 10:04 pm | Comment

Many of your peripherals will probably just work under more recent versions of linux. And that’s the whole point of a live-cd. You pop the CD in to check to make sure everything works, and to get used to the new system. If you like it, you can install it permanently. If you don’t, or if things don’t work, no problem – take out the CD, reboot, and you’ve lost nothing except a few minutes of your time.

as for getting links to work: heh, well plain html makes it easy then 🙂 I had figured that raw html wouldn’t be allowed in comments, due to it’s ability to be abused.

April 28, 2005 @ 7:59 am | Comment


Check out the last few days of the seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Times if yowant to get a feel for the istuation, but I can sum it up: Today there was yet another article about soul-searching in Mocrodoft and now other corporate suites about the advisability of getting involved in social issues other than where it touches their own busioness operations, as in HR policies. That is huge progress. More than that is the way that Ralph Reed in particular and evangelicals in general have become political poison as a result of this, at last in Washington.

You might also check out Dan Savage, another voice in Seattle,and his sex advise column in the Stranger in which he desecrates the dead Pope every way he can, saying that even his reverence for this homphobic theocrat can’t stop him for working the Pope into a column on necrophilia and zombie fetishists. BTW, this was hat tipped on an Irish blog called Back Seat Drivers to all readers’ great amusement.

Things are going backward for theocrats these days, at least in this state.

April 28, 2005 @ 9:49 am | Comment

Jim, I am thrilled to see your comment. It’s just too bad Microsoft didn’t have the foresight to realize how this would backfire. It goes against all of the company’s relatively enlightened HR policies, as well as the magnanimity of Gates’ philanthropic achievements.

It is wonderful to see that something very positive is coming out of this. I realize Washington is not your typical state, but I see it as more evidence that the public is waking up to just how repellent the hard-right, intrusive Evangelical movement is. This has been further underscored in the Terri Schiavo melodrama and Bill Frist’s grotesque attempt to portray Democrats who vote against Bush’s justices as being “against people of faith.” Enough of this bullshit already. Let’s take our country back.

April 28, 2005 @ 10:13 am | Comment

This just in: Bill Gates lies to NPR.

April 28, 2005 @ 1:05 pm | Comment

Richard, here’s the NYT review of Mac’s new OS – makes me want to upgrade myself!


April 28, 2005 @ 1:36 pm | Comment

Lisa, what a review. It sounds awesome.

April 28, 2005 @ 1:59 pm | Comment

Richard, to be blunt, your a hypocrit.

You are critisizing microsoft because you supported this issue, but if Microsoft supported an issue that you were opposed to, and then dropped it, you wold be hailing this as a landmark success in fighting dollar politics.

I’ve been reading your blog long enought to know that if the a large coperation took up a social issue that you opposed (say promoting segregation) you would be all over it saying that mega corperations should keep their noses and their dollars out of social issues, and that it was wrong for corperate dollars to be used to influence politics. But because you support this issue, the second Microsoft says that a company sholdn’t get involved in such issues, you are calling it a turncoast and are saying that it was influenced by the enemy.

If it is right for Microsoft to fight for this bill, then it is equally right for an company to lobby for a bill that you consider damaging, or to fight against this bill.

For the record, I personally believe that spouce privilages should be saved for spouces (mixed gender or otherwise), and that Microsofts views went too far because they would give unmarried homosexuals equally rights to married hetrosexuals. Saying this, it is pretty hard to get find a married homosexual, but if/when it is legalized, they should have equal rights to mattied hetrosexuals (For me, its a legal commitment issue, not a sexuality issue )

May 3, 2005 @ 2:12 am | Comment

ACB, I’ve considered you a friend for a very long time, so I really don’t understand why youwould lash out at me by calling me, point blank, a “hypocrite.”

I think you misunderstand the entire issue. This is about Microsoft giving money to Ralph Reed. (At the same time, they dropped their support for a local pro-gay initiative.) Period. This indicates a huge about-face for a company that never catered to the Religious Right, the great enemy. It is onoy because it’s the Age of Bush, and they caved. Where’s my hypocrisy? Please, reconsider the tone of your language and think it through carefully.

May 3, 2005 @ 8:17 am | Comment

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