[linux-elitists] RFCW: Should I switch to Linux, or does Gates have me by the short& curlies? (fwd)

Eugene Leitl Eugene.Leitl@lrz.uni-muenchen.de
Thu Mar 21 12:24:27 PST 2002

-- Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a>
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2002 20:09:53 +0000
From: Russell Turpin <deafbox@hotmail.com>
To: fork@xent.com
Subject: RFCW: Should I switch to Linux,
     or does Gates have me by the short & curlies?

My primary personal computer is a Windows 98 laptop with 64Mb
of memory and a 4Gb hard drive with separate system and data
partitions, both 2Gb. It runs Windows 98, which sucks big time.
I do NOT want to "upgrade" to another version of Windows. I
would love to switch to .. anything else, really, but Linux
is the obvious candidate.

But can I, given my computing requirements and legacy data?
Here, briefly, are the things that must be carried forward:

* ZIP drive. Ideally, the new system would also read the
   MS Backup files I have on ZIP disks, but since I can
   install on the system partition without touching the
   data, that might not be an absolute requirement.

* Support for Palm Pilot cradle, synchronization, and
   PC edit of Pilot data. (I think Palm has Linux versions,
   so this seems OK.)

* Support for PCMCIA cards, to drive the 10BaseT connection
   to my SMC NAP.

* Support for Excel spreadsheets, both reading and writing.
   How is the latest version of Gnumerica? This is a hard
   requirement, because I have a lot of spreadsheet data,
   and generate more all the time.

* A good financial application that imports Quicken data.
   A year or two ago, there was some open source project
   for something like this. Is it any good? Does anyone
   have direct experience with this?

* The ability to READ Office documents, including Word
   and Powerpoint.

* What mail client should I use? Can it import mail files
   from Outlook Express?

* Is there anything that will import Rational Petal files,
   other than Rational Rose, which I cannot afford to buy?

While these are specific things to which I need answers,
really I'm most worried about the *unanticipated* frictions,
and looking for anyone's recent experience on making this
kind of transition. On my personal machine, I'm more of an
end user than a hacker. The good news is that a surprising
number of things I need are cross-platform, and easier to
install on Linux than on Windows. But there is still the
hard nugget above of legacy data and applications, and
the uncertainty of changing platform for one's personal

The ultimate question comes from the cigarette commercial:
Should I switch or should I stay?

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