Are you prepared to be challenged? Are you prepared to learn what a Linux machine will work like? I can imagine that personal preference and what others have told you will come into the equation rather than examining the facts coolly and patiently.

What are the advantages of running an ASUS EEE PC using the Windows XP operating system?

The first and major advantage is that most of us have been brought up with the Microsoft Windows Operating system, for the last 5, 10 or even more years. We are used to the way it works, its terminology and its tricks. Why should we learn anything else? You should remember that the AUS EEE runs Microsoft Works to handle its word processing, spreadsheet, and database.

Presentations can be viewed, but I do not believe that you can create a presentation with Microsoft Works. Why not add in Microsoft Office? The simple answer is that it probably would not fit on the small disk and also once it was there, there would be no room for any files to work on. We are already aware of some of the limitations of the Microsoft XP Operating system on such a small machine. Internet Explorer is the web browser of choice. Why Change? Internet Explorer is full of danger as it is the first browser that hackers aim for. It is slow and there are many ways in which it is not the best program for the job. Take a look at Opera or Mozilla Firefox for web browsing. Windows XP needs anti-virus software as well as a firewall etc. With the lack of disc space we need to understand how all this can be fitted onto the machine to prevent any infection passing to another Windows machine on the same LAN.

On both the XP and the Linux machines, we have Skype to allow the user to send and receive typed messages as well as send files, photographs and listen to spoken phone messages as well as video messages.

Linux comes as a surprising package. There is a built-in firewall called Firestarter. There are a number of screen handlers, and each flavor of Linux looks to have a different screen handler. Once you start to get used to the differences, then suddenly the differences do not seem that big. We still have a WIMP interface (Windows, Icon, Mouse, and Pointer) and you still left click and right click in similar ways. Rather than using Microsoft Works, Linux comes with OpenOffice. OpenOffice is a direct competitor with Microsoft Office. The major difference is the lack of an e-mail client in OpenOffice, but the Mozilla Foundation has Thunderbird as an e-mail client and that is excellent.

OpenOffice uses its own file format called the Open Document Format for word processing, spreadsheet and presentation files and these files are about half the size of the corresponding files in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. OpenOffice will not read or write files in MS Office 2007 formats (until version 3.0 due out in September) but will support files in the older formats used by MS Office.

The one drawback with Linux is when you are installing a new program, if it goes OK then that is great but if there is a technical problem there are very few people who will help. With the ASUS EEE I doubt if you will be installing a new program very often because of the limitations in available hard disc space.

The big issue is that we pay for what we have and then the sellers seek to lock us into using only their products for the next 10 or 20 years. We have no voice in what gets added or subtracted. With OpenOffice, you can always ask for changes and encourage others to vote for them.


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