This last Christmas, I refurbished and installed computers for two of my children. As we still have a pile of old games in a drawer, I wanted to provide multi-boot systems. This was much easier and more satisfying than the last time I set up a Linux/Windows dual boot system (with LOADLIN.EXE, which I can't really recommend today). I also wanted to test out the current state of FreeDOS (a GNU GPL-licensed operating system that emulates parts of MS-DOS 3.3 and MS-DOS 6.0). I did try installing ReactOS 0.3.7 instead of Windows on one of the systems, but I ran into installation problems I couldn't work around (a topic for a later column, perhaps), owing no doubt to the immaturity of the ("alpha") software.
We have come to a cross-roads in the computer world today. Stick with the familiar Microsoft Windows, or try the stable, secure, but unfamiliar GNU/Linux-based operating systems that have recently started taking off. There are two big factors that stop most people from loading GNU/Linux onto their computer. The first is that they think they need to be a geek to install it. I admit that it is often hard to install something you’ve never had experience with. But with the right coaching, you can do it. Also, people think that you can’t run Windows if you have GNU/Linux (so they lose all their games and other important programs). However, it is actually possible to run Windows and GNU/Linux on the same computer. So what are you waiting for?
I'm still on my quest to stop dual-booting between Edubuntuand Windows XP. The hope is to solely boot into Edubuntu since I've switched the majority of our personal computing over already. The last pockets of resistance were the MS Money and Hallmark's Greeting Card programs. I could address MS Money with GnuCash, a QIF import and a little time (see prior blog Trial Balances and Tribulations). That left the Hallmark program.