On Monday, my neighbor came to my house and asked me if I had a “spare Windows XP disc.” He’s not very computer savvy, but someone owed him some money and he wanted a computer so that his 15 year old daughter could access MySpace. His requirements were minimal, but he had gotten a relatively decent Dell machine – something like 1.2 Ghz with 512 MB of RAM – and it was hosed. The guy had given him a Windows 98 SE disc; they left off the actual restore disc and the drivers.
So I told him the truth – I didn’t have a copy of Windows XP I could legally give him (in truth, I don’t even have a copy of Windows XP I could illegally give him since we are PC free). I told him, if he was feeling adventurous, I could give him an operating system that had tons of programs, would likely work with no additional drivers, and was completely free and legal. So he took it. I burned him Ubuntu Feisty Fawn. I told him to give the installation a shot, walk through and read everything carefully, and see what happens. If he needed help, I’d visit the next night.
But I didn’t hear from him the next day. So, Wednesday, I saw him pulling into his driveway and went out to talk to him.
Result? They successfully got Ubuntu running. They got Flash installed in Firefox. The programs that came with it were “totally sweet” and he was able to get everything figured out. It was online successfully, they had used OpenOffice.org, they had figured out Pidgin and his step-brother was in the process of backing up his files to put Ubuntu on his machine.
Maybe 2008 is the year of the Linux desktop and maybe not, but Linux is ready *now* for people who are ready for it.