Grandma switches to Linux

In July I ranted about Microsoft Vista, sparked by my elderly mother's acquisition of a laptop computer that came infested with it. I vowed to replace it with Linux, and the result was a prominent link on Google searches for "I hate Vista," a steady stream of comments from irritated Vista users, and a couple of angry rants from Microsoft fanboys.

I spent the holiday weekend in Columbia, Mo., where my mother lives, and where I'm speaking Tuesday at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. And I took advantage of the opportunity to make good on my threat.

I discovered that Toshiba had shipped Vista on a dual-core laptop with only 512MB of memory. With that hardware, Vista is unusable. Clicking on any application took three to five minutes just to get a window open. The options were: Spend a hundred or so on additional RAM, or nuke Vista forever. I took the easy option.

Now Ubuntu Linux is installed. Launching Firefox takes three seconds. Opening email is instantaneous. Connect a camera via USB and it's detected automatically. Picasa imports and organizes everything. It all Just Works. And no viruses, or popups, or popups from antivirus programs.


Weird, I just bought a new Toshiba laptop about a month ago (U-305) and it runs great with Vista. Of course it came with over a GB of RAM, and with the dual core it runs like a dream compared to my old HP laptop.

I was a big XP fan in terms of usability, I have heard plenty of horror stories about Vista but have hit only one bug so far (a frustrating one, but it had an easy fix). I've avoided the bigger problems because I really only installed about 6 programs on it (Office, Firefox, SPSS, Endnote, Dreamweaver, Photoshop). Sort of glad I'm using popular programs or I'd likely be swimming in bugs.

You're lucky it worked with Linux. I had a friend who runs a computer business that had a client buy a new Sony Viao. Of course it had Vista, and he wanted XP. Couldn't get it to work no matter what he did. Tried to talk the guy into Linux, but no go. So back it went.