I am declaring myself to be a rebel. Well, sort of, maybe I am a rebel. I have decided to tread the road less traveled in church offices. Computer wise most church offices are populated by Windows machines. Not necessarily a bad thing, XP is a good operating system, although there are a few offices held captive to 'gasp' Windows 98. If they don't have Windows boxes they have Mac fishbowls. Either of which are rather serviceable although Macs are hindered by the fact only a few Liberal Arts types know how to use them. Now, while they are capable machines they are expensive to maintain and purchase. Hence, the reason why there are still churches using Win98 or worse ME. So, I have decided to take the third road, Linux.
Unfortunately, people have gotten the idea that Linux is for that weird kid who never leaves his parents basement and prefers to be called by his hacker alias, iwanab3ne0. A reputation it has earned by still requiring the use of command line, for those of you born after 1988 that is when mice did not exist and you had to type everything. This is no longer strictly true. While Linux power users still use a fair bit of command line the GUI has improved drastically and if you get the right distribution it takes little time for a Windows user to get up to speed for most tasks. Now, I cut my teeth on Fedora Core 6 about 3 months ago. Fedora is good but not the best for a beginner, my mistake, I went with the distro I knew from friends in college. It because of its non support of restricted licenses does not support them in its installation catalog which means you had to manually install things like printers.
And then I found my dream distro. Ubuntu, if you can use WinXP, you can use Ubuntu. They do not take Fedora's hardline on opensource, so they support a wider range of software through their automated catalog. That means set up is nearly as easy as most Windows based programs if not easier because all you have to do is find and pick the program you need and Linux does the rest. So with Ubuntu you have an easy to use Os, that is fast (my 3gig Celeron w/ 512 ram boots in under 45 seconds compared to the 1.5 minutes of XP), secure (virus do not work well in Linux due to its structure), and cheap (free is hard to beat, although they do charge for support and would not say no to donations programmers have to eat too). What is not to like?
Let me guess Windows compatibility. That used to be a problem but no longer. Linux can now read the NTFS file system (WINXP) in addition to the various versions of FAT (floppy disk formats in Win) so if a church member comes in with their disc from home, no problemo. But I want to use things like Publisher. Ok, understandable, of all the things Microsoft has done Office is the best, no problem here either. There is a program called WINE (stands for Wine is not an emulator) that will allow you to run Windows based programs on a Linux system. Currently, I am using WINE to run Bibleworks 5.0 and it works great. So if you are looking for a cheap and good alternate when upgrading your system check out Ubuntu. Oh, I nearly forgot, they have about a six month turn around on new stable editions so if you like having the latest it is much easier to keep up with the joneses by using the Linux distros.