Granny Finds Linux/KDE Easier Than Windows
In this rather passionate story, Granny shares how switching to Linux opened her eyes to see many positive improvements in her computing. Granny takes us through Email Security, Office Productivity software, Spyware and Internet Security, the many Free Tools, Driver Installation, and much more. In the end, Granny acknowledges that she loves her Linux/KDE.
Read more of our Granny HUMOR Files: Granny Chooses Linux Over Windows... and Linux Makes Granny Cry and Even Granny Has Linux Installed and Granny Dumps MS-Office for Star-Office.
Hello my dear friend, thank you for stopping by my page where I uncover the secret about Linux/KDE. Yes, the secret is now out. A crusty old lady like me has an easier time with Linux than with Windows. Linux/KDE is so easy to learn and use, even I can enjoy it!
But please sit down, have some of my fresh cherry cobbler and tea! Would you like sugar with that? One lump or two? Speaking of lumps, let me share about the years of suffering I personally had with Windows. Using it was like stirring a pot of cold oatmeal. No matter how hard I tried, I could not un-stick things! Of course, there may be others who've not had such oatmeal experiences. But I personal had a lot of these before I started using Linux and KDE desktop.
There I was sitting behind my brand new computer given to me by my dear son. He said it would help us keep in touch and he could send me pictures of the kids every week. I'm still waiting for my pictures Josh, so if you're reading this remember you have to be nice to your mom on more than just Mother's Day! Oh well.
So I started to tinker with all of those new fangled buttons and pictures and menus. Pretty soon I got the hang of it and liked it. Yes, I'm talking about Windows!
I enjoyed using MS Outlook for emailing my family. I also had a grand old time writing letters with MS Word to friends, proving that even I can get cracking on a computer!
Boy was it great to get their replies in hand written notes with comments like "you're a wiz" or "radical dude, let's skype" -- that one from my grandson. I'm still trying to figure out what it means.
And on occasion, I did fancy things like draw pictures to include with my letters in MS Paint. I also had the joy of adding fancy gadgets to my computer like a brand new CD-ROM burner! I was enjoying myself and although I had an occasional hiccup or two, all seemed to work well.
Then one fateful spring morning my oldest son came to visit and shared with me something I had never heard before. He told me thousands of the world's best computer programmers and engineers all got together through the internet to create many great new things like Linux and one of many interfaces to Linux named KDE. These people worked hard, he kept telling me. They apparently are sleep deprived, giving up their lives to write code that makes them no money, gains them no personal glory, but gives back to the world.
God bless you wonderful Open Source programmers. I love you all! So I told my son I'd like to invite them over for some hot fudge brownies and milk. He insisted it was difficult. I still don't see why they wouldn't come if I baked them my extra sweet brownies with almonds and a touch of vanilla extract! They deserve the best, I insisted.
Anyhow, when he finally convinced me that it was too hard to invite the whole Linux and KDE team over, he put a Linux CD into my computer and up popped the cutest little penguin I've ever seen. The little mascot looked so happy and radiated such joy I knew I had to try this thing called Linux.
So, I did try. It was the saddest day of my life.
I wept for two hours after that session. My son went home after fully installing Linux on my hard disk and wiping out Windows.
No, no, I was not sad because he did that. I begged him to do that. I pleaded with him to get rid of every trace of Windows from my life.
I had finally seen how much I had been missing. No one told me that all of those system lock-ups and those strange failures, along with those nasty little "blame it on you" messages were not my fault. No one told me that the spam and spyware along with those terrible problems with Outlook emails tricking me and doing bad things was avoidable. No one told me that my troubles with trying to write documents with Word had to do with its limitations and controls rather than my own stupidity.
So in that fateful hour with my son, I quickly learned some things few have shared with me personally. I admit these are my little personal experiences and there are sure to be many happy Microsoft Windows users out there too!
But, I wasn't going to remain one of them when I found out these things.
First, my son told me that I had gotten viruses and also that my list of friends and contacts had been sucked out of Outlook and that was why so many of them were getting strange spam emails and solicitations. I was saddened to learn this but I didn't know it could happen.
I admit it. I just didn't know. I was unaware and felt ashamed.
He helped explain there are programs to address this but that you have to be aware of the dangers. So he switched me to Linux. Something he installed called SpamAssasin worked harmoniously with my new email program, KDE Kmail, to ensure l felt secure. Frankly, Kmail was so much simpler to learn than Outlook.
You don't believe me. Next time you want to write a simple email to a friend use them both side by side and see what I mean. I learned how to use KDE Kmail in five minutes. All those windows, settings, switches, options, and such in Outlook scared me half out of my whits and I'm already short on them as it is.
I was also safer from bizarre attacks from meanies who want to steal my contact list! I suppose, now that they have the list, they can go bug Aunt Vanista all they want. She's so gruff and impatient she'll make mince meat out of them for sure.
Then I tried using OpenOffice.org. It was so beautiful. sniff
It makes me cry just thinking about it. I had plenty of experience with Microsoft Office. But to find out that OpenOffice.org can open all of my existing files without any costs was too much. I personally could see there were distinct benefits from using OpenOffice over MS Office. Being a goofy granny I want a program that understands my need for flexibility.
OpenOffice Writer includes a handy and super easy to understand left icon menu. For an old granny like me, simplicity and easy to understand pictures are truly worth a thousand words. Even though I got use to the menu in Word, I've still no idea what those hundreds of icons mean. I don't need the world, just the basic tools to write a document mind you! Don't give me a hundred icons, give me the ten I need! OpenOffice.org creators, thank you so much for understanding this!
What about changing languages. In Word I had to setup my computer for "multilingual editing" -- oh my! It took me quite a bit of effort just so my dear Luise in London could get my letter using the UK spellings. It shouldn't have to be so complex. Everything is so complex. After every time I spell checked it would return me to the default language. I had to go, as I told you already and try to figure out where the "system language" setting was so I could change this and then restart Word. And then to top it all off, it stuck for every document. Sheeeesh! In OpenOffice.org I simply went in to Tools, Language Settings, Languages, picked my language from the huge list and checked that little box titled "For the current document only!" Those are just a few of so many examples. I could go on all day, really.
Most annoying, if I decide to add or change anything for Word (like languages), off I go trying to find my CD. If I'm so lucky as to actually find it among my clutter of collectibles, I end up having to install yet another thingy it needs but didn't install to begin with from the CD! I like the idea that ONCE INSTALLED it is finished. I'm not getting any younger you know.
Would you like another sip of tea dear? No. Then let me share with you that on top off all of this, I was greatly shocked to find out upgrades to OpenOffice.org are free. You heard me: FREE! Now try asking for a seniors discount when buying an upgrade of Microsoft Office at the computer store. They just give you this dirty look and charge you the full amount. I'm an old lady on social security. How am I suppose to pay a few hundred dollars each year for upgrades??? Oh well. I am relieved to see that some folks understand the needs of the elderly. I love you OpenOffice.org developers. I wish I could hug you all and kiss you and cuddle you and... sorry. I get emotional sometimes.
SPYWARE & INTERNET SECURITY
Something else that shocked me was that my son found over sixteen sypware on my computer. I was terrified at first. I thought the communists were out to get me and I didn't even want to touch my computer. But he assured me that spyware was not a communist or even a secret agent thing, but rather a marketing thing. He told me with Linux/KDE my problem would be resolved. He mentioned something about protected "user space," core kernel security and memory management and such. I've no idea what he meant, only that Linux would slap down those dirty little spies, whereas I needed to buy a $50 software to do the same with Windows. I prefer to use the $50 for gifts for my cute little grandkids or at least to get my next prescription filled.
I've learned the dirty little "secret" to solving most of these problems is to PAY SOMEONE FOR YET ANOTHER SOFTWARE! But not with Open Source! Oh how I wish I could have all of those dear Open Source programmers over for my hot fudge brownies, or at least some of my special lemon tarts!
PRELOADED TOOLS AND PROGRAMS
When I started using MS Windows, I was very happy that I had lots of programs to enjoy and use. It seemed really generous and kind that Microsoft would include them. As I mentioned, I use to create little pictures to send to my grandchildren. So I used the Draw program. But it was not easy. The mouse is hard to control and I could never do anything fancy. Then I switched to Linux. As part of the installation I had a program called Gimp. This incredibly simple and easy to learn program came free with Linux. But do you know what? It seemed far far far superior. Maybe I'm wrong, but it sure seemed robust and capable.
In two minutes I was using something called script-fu to create the most amazing logos, shapes, colors, designs, and even doing things like shading effects, rotation of objects on three dimensional planes, positioning of light effects. How long did it take to learn this stuff? Less than the time it will take for me to bring you another cup of tea.
Yes, Microsoft Windows does come with programs for free, but the free ones are sometimes simplistic even to an old tree like me.
You don't believe me? You think I'm making this stuff up? Please let me compare a brief list with you.
With my Windows I got Paint and Microsoft's Photo tool.
Now compare it with my Linux. I got with the base installation: Adobe acrobat PDF viewer, ghostviewer, faxviewer, and a nice simple picture viewer called Quickshow. That's just the VIEWERS MIND YOU!
I also had Gimp which allowed me to make really fantastic images with just a few clicks of the mouse. I also had xsane that easily connected to a TWAIN compatible scanning device and let me quickly scan images. There was also Didikam, KDE's photo management tool that offered really rich features and connected great to my digital camera. Am I making my point. This is JUST THE GRAPHICS PROGRAMS THAT CAME FOR FREE. I can write an endless list of the hundreds of other software that came preloaded with Linux. Games, office tools, system support tools, etc.
DRIVERS AND DEVICE INSTALLATION
Oh, that brings me to another point. The Didikam software recognized my camera but with Windows I had a different experience. I was often filled with fear from those giant warnings printed in 50 point font and included with ever device I purchased. The warnings came with my camera, my CD-ROM USB drive, and even my network card! The warning was always the same. "WARNING: DO NOT CONNECT THE DEVICE UNTIL YOU HAVE LOADED THE WINDOWS DRIVER."
Bright yellow sheets that basically scared me half to death, and I'm already getting on in years you know! My heart can't sustain so many blows! Well, the warnings were to ensure that I install my "drivers" before connecting anything.
As my son converted the system to Linux I yelped at him to stop because I've not yet installed the drivers and something terrible may happen.
Guess what? Nothing happened. In Windows the whole thing could have flaked out. I know, since I tried to install a Network card and Windows hardware wizard didn't recognize it because I had forgotten the driver disk and didn't do exactly what the instructions demanded. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I didn't do it right, but please don't blame a poor old lady like me. My son had to remove the card, restart the system, load the drivers and then put the card back in. It was a sight!
Oh dear I need to take a breather for a moment. I get so excited about Linux it's hard for me to explain all the joy. Have another piece of cobbler while I catch my breath.
With Linux... well I just restarted the computer and the CD-RW drive (Iomega), Network card (Linksys) and the camera (Minolta) were all identified and ready for use! No driver disk this, driver setup that, and no more horror inducing warnings! Oh, Linus, if you were here I'd kiss you and hug you and cuddle you.
OTHER USEFUL KDE PROGRAMS
My dear friend, I know you're probably tired of hearing me rant and rave about Linux/KDE. But, I've not even begun to tell you the great things that KDE offers.
I mentioned briefly that Kmail was so much easier to use for my basic emailing. I also told you DidiKam comes free and is helpful.
But what you're not going to believe is that wizards in KDE like the Kinternet wizard that helped me with my internet connection was easier to understand. It didn't try to give me a lot of techy-mumbo-jumbo. It just worked.
I also found that having used Windows Explorer, the KDE Konqueror offered just as many useful options, but also included some very handy quick menu buttons so I didn't have to remember that my files were under some obfuscated directory buried deep in its bowels.
And probably even more important was the fact that Konqueror was a lot faster. When I clicked on the hard disk drive to get access to a specific file, instead of listening to my hard disk chugging along, trying to do who knows what, it just displayed the list. I guess Windows was trying to identify every possible connected device and since you have to go to My Computer before you get to your local disk it has to chug along finding network connections, other connected devices etc.
All I did was have a nice little click of the mouse on the nice cute little blue home button.
And what is all that hard disk chugging that goes on with Windows anyhow? My hard disk is nice and quiet now using Linux and KDE, and only makes noise when I'm actually getting a file or opening a program.
Also, KDE makes it pretty easy for a granny to find her way around and thankfully does not try to reproduce some of the annoying aspects of that other operating system! For instance, you want to find out where your word processing software is.
In Windows I end up choosing the main menu, then there is that horrid "delay" timing before the next menu shows, then I go to All Programs. From All Programs I traverse down to Microsoft Office, again waiting for the nice two second delay, then I go to the Word icon and click it. In KDE I choose the main menu, go to Office, choose Wordprocessor and up comes the OpenOffice.org program.
I know I shouldn't care so much, but now that I can actually use my mouse I like my computer to react to ME rather than the operating system. I'd also like to understand why every Windows user tells me I can easily change the locations of menu items (you can certainly do this with KDE as well). Instead, I ask them right back, "Then why doesn't it just install the way it is simpler and less buried in the first place!" I admit I've not taken my blood pressure medication today so this may explain why I'm so worked up. Sorry.
Well my dear friend, by now you're probably tired. You want to run out and scream "I'm being held captive by an aged woman who's a Linux fanatic!" I understand. But remember I use to use Windows everyday. My great shift came when I saw with my own eyes that things are often easier with KDE in Linux. I also found I could learn new skills easily that I never tried with Windows. For instance I never thought I could write web pages. But thanks to KDE's excellent Kate editor, I can easily write and edit even stuff written in html. It's yet another easy tool that offers free but powerful features.
And if ever I need to spruce up the look and feel of my wonderful Linux desktop I just click on the KDE Control Center and with the greatest of ease make changes that I would not dare make in my old Windows world. All this to say, I've found Linux/KDE a refreshing benefit to my own life. Oh, of course I'm sure there are many content Windows users who stand by their tools too. I'm just glad I'm no longer one of them.
Now, please have another piece of cobbler and tell me about your favorite Linux programs?