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Henry Burt Stevens

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Tech Trek: Apple-> IBM PC Windows-> Linux
by Henry Burt Stevens   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Sunday, October 01, 2006
Posted: Sunday, October 01, 2006

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Henry's computer experience to date, and where he's headed these days.

Tech Trek: Apple -> IBM PC Windows -> Linux

by Henry Burt Stevens and Jill Christine Carpenter,
Sept 24, 2006

"When the student is ready a teacher will appear."

The first Apple computer was a kit.  I didn't buy one.  But I bought the Apple II as soon as it came out. It was the funny plastic box with the keyboard mounted within the box.  I've been using personal computers ever since.  I'm not a techie, just an user.

My first use was to get rid of the mimeograph machine I used to print price lists for my mail order stamp business .  My wife Pat had had her fill of typing the masters for the mimeograph machine, because the masters had to be retyped from scratch each month, to bring up to date the sold items and the new added items.  Using the Apple Pat could just do the changes, save, print and have me take the printed list to a commercial printer. Progress that.

I also used the Apple with my ham radio in various applications. The most interesting was being able to send pictures back and forth on a radio signal.  Crude by today's standards, but exciting at the time.  I still have my ham call, KB1Z , but I am no longer active  on the air.

In the mid 1980's I purchased a print shop.  Included was a Radio Shack TRS-80.  A few years later I went to IBM PC and have been using Windows ever since.  I've used windows because it provided the service I needed to run my business interests.  Money was available for both big heavy programs, and the machines to run them.  No  problem.

Now however, my requirements have changed.  I am retired. My business is under able management.  I use computers to email, write for pleasure, make personal videos, look up subjects I am interested in knowing more about, working on genealogy- in short - all home projects.

I've always admired Linux, and my interest kept growing till I came to understand that I was never going to run Windows Longhorn, now called Vista. I finally decided to try a Linux machine.  What to do?  Buy an other machine with Linux installed?  Take an old machine and load Linux?

Enter Jill........ who sent me a message  on AuthorsDen saying "......

9/20/2006 Jill Christine Carpenter

Henry! I'm astounded to have found a fellow Digger on AD! Do you hang out on Groklaw too? Slashdot?

"Free" is definitely a hopeful development in the world. What's sad is that so many people don't understand the differences between free, as in no monetary costs, and free as in freedom. It's also worrisome that so few people are concerned with consumer's rights and the slow death of "Fair Use." Many very serious freedom and privacy issues face us today because of our computers, I'm glad to see more people on AD spreading the word. Good job, Henry! 

Henry's response..........

I been moving away from Windows the last few years. Now all open source except still using Windows XP. I'd like to get going with a Linux OS. I made a thumb drive with DSL, damn small linux, but I didn't easily catch on to the commands to make it work. But I use Mozilla Foxfire, Filezilla, Democracy video player, Nvu, and Foxit reader all the time. Can you suggest how an old dog could learn some Linux--enough to play with words and pictures? Thanks, s/henry 

Posted by Jill Christine Carpenter (author) at 9/20/2006 4:58:57 PM

Hi Henry Stevens:
Yes! Check out Ubuntu. E-week declared it the current desktop champ (here's the link to the e-week story:,1895,1990780,00.asp and here's the link to Ubuntu: )

Then there's Freespire. It is the free version of LinSpire, however it's a very polished system. They opened the code to developers earlier this year and it has taken off. The most recent release has gotten rave reviews for ease of use and compatibility. Also, just a few weeks ago the company opened up their C&R service and now offer it for free, so it's an excellent "newbie friendly" place to start.

If you have a good internet connection you can download both systems from the websites. They offer "Live" CDs so you can test your computer to make sure it will run the software. The real trick to any Linux installation is to make sure your hardware is compatible. Just like Windows machines are outfitted with hardware that is certified to work with Windows, it makes things easier if hardware works with Linux too. Nearly everything does on the newer computers, but older hardware might take a little more work. It's the fault of hardware makers not opening up the specs for Open Source developers so they can write drivers for Linux.

Ubuntu and FreeSpire probably work on the widest types of hardware of all the distrobutions. They are both pretty amazing.

If downloading such a large file is not an option for you, you can order CDs from them. I don't know about FreeSpire, but I do know Ubuntu will gladly send free CDs to anyone that asks. FreeSpire might charge postage.

If you download the programs and don't know how to burn an ISO CD, write to me and I'll walk you through it. It's very easy to do.

Let me know how it goes...I'm happy to help if I can. Jill :o)

Hi Jill Christine Carpenter:

Hi Jill. I'm writing you from Freespire. Many thanks for your help and suggestions. I downloaded and burned a ISO disk and started to install but stopped when I got to the scrub the hard drive part. That was about 9:30 Friday night and so I knocked it off. Next day, (today) I thought about what I wanted to do and about 4:00PM I decided to go ahead and scrub the hard drive, (slick), and do the install. I'm working on my backup laptop so there wasn't anything really to lose, and so I put the ISO disk back in the machine and proceeded. Everything went smoothly and here I am and I'm very happy to be using open source Linux. Many, many thanks for your suggestion and encouragement. Mostly these days I use internet applications, Google, Hotmail, Authorsden.....I'm partial to applications using someone elses' server. Why should I host programs and data on my machine??
 Many, many thanks. s/henry
My conclusion so far is that a new powerful computer and the new Windows Vista, when it gets here, is not needed by the vast majority of home computer users.  My suggestion is to keep your old machine and install Freespire or Ubuntu.  It's free.  You can always spend the big bucks for a Vista machine if you need to.

Thank you.
Henry Burt Stevens










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Reviewed by Mary Grace Patterson 6/10/2008
There are lots of new ideas and computers out there . Your write is an attention getter . Do we really need all those extra things that cost a lot more ? I guess it depends on how much a person wants to spend and how much knowledge they have about computors. ...M
Reviewed by Jill Carpenter 10/3/2006
Hi Henry,

How fun that you were able to make the transition so easily. Having choices, and the ability to customize your system to your own needs is nice. Not havng to accept a mile-long EULA that's subject to change without notice, and being able to legally install the system on all the computers you own, without being tagged as a thief or a pirate is even nicer. No code keys to remember or keep track of, no activation process. The better security is frosting on the cake.

Good job on the article, Henry. Hope you'll periodically write more as you get more acquainted with your new OS. I'm glad I was able to help.
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