Linux might solve the privacy problems in Windows 10

In today's open source roundup: Linux might be the best solution for those worried about privacy issues in Windows 10. Plus: DistroWatch reviews Neptune 4.4. And the Debian Project finally dumps CDs

Linux might solve the privacy problems in Windows 10

The release of Windows 10 has generated many articles and comments from journalists and users worried about privacy problems in Microsoft's latest desktop operating system. One writer at BetaNews feels that Linux might be the perfect solution to the privacy problems of Windows 10.

Brian Fagoli reports for BetaNews:

Every day, I boot a computer running Microsoft's latest operating system to get work done. On the surface, everything is peachy-keen. Sadly, under the hood, there are some legitimate privacy concerns. There is a bunch of information being sent to Microsoft, and you may not even know it.

Luckily, Windows is not the only game in town, folks. Actually, there are many wonderful operating systems available to you at no charge. Unlike Windows 10, where it is only free with a prior licence, most Linux-based operating systems are entirely free. Period.

A good place to get started in selecting a distro (short for "distribution" and meaning operating system) is the wonderful DistroWatch. This site can alert you to new operating systems, information about the top choices and show you where to download them.

To keep things simple, I am going to recommend only two, both of which are great. My top choice is Netrunner 16, with the second being Linux Mint 17.2 Cinnamon. I have highlighted these particular operating systems because Windows users should be fairly comfortable in them. Both the Cinnamon and KDE desktop environments are straightforward with a very slight learning curve.

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BetaNews readers shared their thoughts about Linux as a solution for the privacy problems of Windows 10:

Kisai: "Use Linux" - Sure, just give Grandma a Linux disc and walk away. You'll find out she doesn't know how to install it on her TV or something.

It has to be repeated every single time someone says to "use Linux" just like people say "use adblock", the average person is a very much a luddite. They are not going to tinker with something they have that works, and they will not appreciate their whizkid grandkids changing stuff that already works for them. My mom went to college for bookkeeping back in the DOS era, and she still has problems with using the computer.

Switching to Linux does not improve that at all, instead it forces users on Linux to take larger risks by using questionable "cloud" services instead of running the the Office Suite/Accounting/Tax software on their own machines.

You can tell people there's better OS's out there, but until you can buy such a computer at BestBuy that is fully supported by the OEM, "switching" to another OS is may as well be brain surgery.”

Carl Draper: ”Sure, just give them a blank computer and ask them to install Windows, see how they get on. Then do the same with Mint Linux and then ask them which one was easier.”

G Annett: ”I've installed dozens of Linux distros in the last 20 years and I still can't find a compelling use for it compared to the alternatives. I have Linux mint installed but just to keep up with things. All my major programs are Windows or Mac only, so that's what I run as main systems. Linux has had a long time to get anywhere, and even after all this time it's not really great for desktop use and frankly, outside of some basic use scenarios, I doubt it ever will.”

RFKiller: ”Between my latest 2 laptops, I've run everything from UNIX to Linux to BSD and never had a problem. If the driver is installed at firstboot, then I just download the tarball for the driver I need, build from source, done. Hell, you can write a script to automate the process for you...”

AY Siu: ”I think instead of suggesting people make the jump to Linux, you should suggest they use LibreOffice and GIMP and all the open source Windows programs they can on Windows. If they like all those programs on Windows, the switch to Linux becomes a lot easier. Otherwise, you're basically asking people to study abroad without so much as a crash course in the language or a phrase book.”

Kisai: ”This is the first step in getting people to switch off Windows, get them used to the free alternatives. If they can do everything they need to do with free software, maybe Linux is for them.

Using Linux is very much a political statement by those that use it. Those who don't need Microsoft Office or Photoshop in their business, can get away with using OpenOffice or GIMP. But the tendancy is that if you work with photographers and artists, you need Photoshop. The GIMP will not help you. Likewise if you need complex features of Microsoft Office, any free Office software (eg Abiword, OpenOffice/LibreOffice) isn't going to suffice when clients require documents to work.

I can remember a decade ago sending RTF files as resumes because I had written (and still do) Resume's using OpenOffice and being asked to send the files as MS Word files instead because they didn't know the RTF could be opened with MS Word. Now-a-days a PDF file is preferred if it's not going to be edited, and that's something that any Office software can do.”

Psycros: ”Last I checked Crossover Office did a pretty good job of running Office 2010 on Linux.”

Amateur Analyst: ”If I leave my Linux Mint machine just sitting there for a month or more, I can come back to it, and pick up just where I left off. If I leave my windows based machine(s) for a month and then come back, chances are my anti-virus is out of date, other support software shoves pop-ups at me telling me there are mega-updates available that I must install now, etc. It can be a couple hours before I'm ready to roll.

At my convenience, I can tell Linux to do the updates, (if I approve them) and never lose a heartbeat. I've even taken an abandoned Linux hard drive, a couple years old, stick it in a different machine, boot it up, and it just finds any new drivers required, and just works again. Try that with Windows.”

RFKiller: ”Nobody who actually uses Linux says that they're safe JUST because they use Linux. However, there are far more security AND anonymity tools that work great with Linux and not much else.

Those who use Linux exclusively are also usually a bit more well-versed in understanding how an operating system functions, coding, security practices, application vulnerabilities, etc. With anything from Microsoft you just get what you get , you're not allowed to rewrite part of the operating system to fit your needs, or look at the code to make sure there's no NSA backdoors.

Furthermore, there are Linux distributions specifically geared towards making you as anonymous as possible ONLINE with the technology we currently have available to us.”

LT Tna: ”I use Linux Mint 17.2 Cinnamon. It's great. Can't stand that high maintenance pig of an OS called "Microsoft Windows". I have Windows in a VM for Visual Basic. I don't see the benefit of booting into Windows just for one lousy proprietary IDE to work with when I can just boot Windows inside of Linux through a VM, do what I have to do with that Windows IDE in the VM, then shut if off and return back to Linux Mint.

Ditching Windows as a whole in 2013 after taking that operating system's course in College was the best decision I ever made. It's the commercial standard that everyone uses that I don't want to deal with anymore. All the software with the exception of the Visual Basic IDE is on Linux. I rather run Linux as my only everyday OS, thank you.”

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