Taxes plus Windows equals a huge headache

In today's open source roundup: A FOSS Force writer fights Windows to get her taxes done. Plus: LibreOffice or WPS office suite? And the i7-CM tablet offers Ubuntu and an Intel Core M Processor

Windows hell and taxes

Windows has always had a reputation somewhat difficult at times. But a writer at Foss Force recently ran into a slew of problems trying to use an older computer with Windows for her taxes. She shared her experience and it serves as a cautionary tale for all of us.

Christine Hall reports for Foss Force:

So today I pulled the cables from my main Linux desktop, plugged them into the Windows machine and hit the power button, just to see if it would still boot for a few days — long enough for me to prepare a couple of returns. Because the machine is old and hadn’t been started for a year, I fully expected the hard drive to fail during boot. Unfortunately, it booted, and in a few minutes I was greeted by the Windows splash screen.

I’d forgotten that antivirus software hogs resources. With AV updating, Firefox took forever to load, and even after it did, it was barely responsive. But I was eventually able to get to the tax software folks’ webpage and navigate to check system requirements — just to make sure XP was still supported — and to purchase the software.

...Firefox and Thunderbird both ran out of resources and refused to respond or close, necessitating the opening of Process Hacker, the third party software I used as a task manager in Windows. After three minutes or so, Process Hacker finally found the resources to open and I was able to kill Firefox and Thunderbird.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that my problem is with old, antiquated hardware and has little to do with the operating system. The hardware is obsolete, true enough. But I have a laptop with similar specs running Bodhi Linux and guess what? It runs just fine. It even runs Netflix — like a charm.

I hate Windows — and today has reminded me why. I’m determined not to go through this again next year.

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FOSS Force readers shared their thoughts:

Mike: "The irony is that by the time you did all that, you could have finished your taxes on paper and been done."

Uncle Ed: "Christine, you went through EXACTLY what I did when I got started on my taxing. Well, except that I bought my last laptop with W7 a few years back when I was teaching and had to be able to run that other office program at home. It dual boots and defaults to Linux, of course, but W7 is available if I have to have it.

As in your case, it had been almost a year since it had been up and running in W. After it was kind of cooperating, I decided that next time I wake it from long nap, I’ll get logged in and then go get a cup of coffee–in another town.

FWIW, and I am terribly ashamed, I’m running Quicken 2003 in WINE on Mint 17.1. It has given up trying to get me to update, so it lets me just use it. It isn’t cluttered up with all the investment and stock market following stuff that the newer versions do and does my checkbook just fine.

I’ll probably try the tax software in WINE next year and if it works, you may hear the “YES!” all the way from Arkansas. OTOH, there may not be one; Linux does what it does so conveniently that I rarely have to work hard enough to justify shouting.

John S: "In order to do taxes this year I had to create a login on my wife’s Windows 8 laptop. And interesting experience to say the least. The laptop has specs that are four-times faster than my 10-year-old Linux PC. And the open-source apps that I run in Linux run like stink on the laptop. But the OS is slow… circa Win286 from 1987 slow. I suspect no 8-core processor on Earth could wake up that POS OS."

Hunkah: "I made that decision a while ago. I was doing something 8 years ago on Windows and it was stuttering and chirping a music video I was trying to listen to and write a paper… then boom! Crashed. Lost my paper. I said that’s it. Frig this. I switched to Fedora. I used to have a few programs that I missed at first, now… I don’t even remember what they were. I do my taxes online. I don’t care. It’s cheap and easy and runs in a browser."

Dot Net: "I had similar problems running tax prep software. I seem to remember that TaxAct worked OK-ish in Wine. There were problems with .net compatibility, I think… and fonts… and other things… So, I gave up – and do them on-line."

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