Unshackling yourself from the Microsoft ecosystem

Discussion in 'Technical' started by DarkLight, Aug 7, 2015.

  1. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    I'm done giving Microsoft my money and my information.

    Here are some suggested replacements for Windows and associated apps. If you are looking for a specific type of application, post and I'm sure that @sec_monkey, @melbo, myself or one of the other monkeys out there running Linux can track down a replacement. Please, do not let lack of experience with a new OS keep you tied to the Microsoft ecosystem.

    I'm focusing on FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) here rather than one of the other half-dozen closed source offerings available. I'm not morally opposed to OSX...yet, but I did get tired of being treated like a child with my iDevices. That's a religious argument for another time though. This list is strictly for open source replacements so you can jettison Windows.

    OS: Linux
    • Fedora
    • *buntu
    • LinuxMint
    • Qubes-OS
    • Whonix
    • Gentoo (if you like building EVERYTHING you need to run from scratch)
    • LinuxFromScratch
    • Tails
    OS: Unix
    • FreeBSD
    • OpenBSD
    • Apache OpenOffice
    • LibreOffice
    • Google Apps *shudder*
    Cloud Storage:
    • DropBox
    • Box
    • OwnCloud (self hosted cloud storage)
    Cloud Storage Encryption:
    • Cryptkeeper
    • Updated Firefox
    • Tor Browser Bundle
    Search Engine:
    • Thunderbird
    Email Encryption:
    • Enigmail (GPG plugin for Thunderbird)
    • Clementine
    • Rhythmbox
    Password Management:
    • xKeepass
    Graphics Manipulation:
    • gimp
    If you just can't live without MS Windows for something specific (running with the key you already have...I am NOT advocating piracy) run it in a VM:
    • Oracle VirtualBox
    • Boxes
    • Virtual Machine Manager (libvirt)
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
    Ganado, Mountainman, kellory and 7 others like this.
  2. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Good list DL
    OwnCloud is also another good home PC based cloud sync solution.

    As you mentioned, there are quite a few here willing to help migrate to FOSS solutions.
    DarkLight likes this.
  3. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    And Whonix

    Actually. Strike that - DL is trying to keep things simple for windows converts. No need to over complicate with advanced setups.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
    Tully Mars and DarkLight like this.
  4. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    I have added the above to the list. Thanks for keeping me honest.
  5. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    Well, I included gentoo so I might as well throw LinuxFromScratch on there. However, @Tobit, if you end up scaring people off with hard to manage OSs...I will give you such a pinch!
    kellory, sec_monkey and Tully Mars like this.
  6. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    I'm drawing the line at slackware. ;)
    sec_monkey likes this.
  7. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    Ditto on Slackware. Didn't ever run SLS but used my friends university SLIrP account to get online and download the two floppy image for a base install and then got on again to download the rest of the bits/pieces needed to make it "usable". This would have been...1992-3?
  8. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I have used Drop box. Doesn't it require a subscription?
    Ganado and DarkLight like this.
  9. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    First 2GB free, .25 GB for completing their "getting started" (do 5/7 things). .5 GB for each friend you successfully refer.

    I've been using google drive but I'm done with no support for Linux. For the love of Pete they ARE android for all intents and purposes...there's Google Drive for android (phone, tablet, OS) and that is essentially Linux...what's the friggin hold up?

    Encrypting my information before it ever leaves my box gives me at least a wink and nod to security. I would like to know for sure it's AES 256 for example but since I can't read code I have to rely on others who say it is.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  10. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    Duck Duck Go for a browser... Who else can program in RPG?
    DarkLight likes this.
  11. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    Backblaze is a great backup site. It is $5 per month but it is unlimited and silently works in the back ground. We had tried Mozy pro but had a few issues.
    Tully Mars and DarkLight like this.
  12. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    @Motomom34 - Any mechanism to perform encryption client side before it's sent up? Just curious. I'll look into it.
  13. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I have no idea but it truly up-dates/ backs up as you work vs. Mozy that only backed up once daily.
    Tully Mars and DarkLight like this.
  14. William Warren

    William Warren Monkey+++

    I advise new users to avoid Fedora: Red Hat's business model is to proprietize Linux by hyping their brand name and convincing purchasing managers that they own the OS: in other words, they're trying to be the other Microsoft. They sell a "stable" version under the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) brand, and relegate non-paying users to "Enthusiast" status and expect them to participate in Alpha- and Beta-testing future releases for the paying customers, by reporting bugs in the Fedora releases. In other words, unless you fork over thousands of dollars, you don't get the "good stuff" from Red Hat.

    If I had to have a "Red Hat" version of Linux, I'd use CentOS, but Red Hat decided to support CentOS and might be planning to copy another Microsoft tactic: "Embrace, Extend, and Extinguish."

    Ubuntu & Kubuntu are both free, and offer long term support (LTS) versions. Mark Shuttleworth doesn't play games with trademarks, and he gives credit to Ian Murdock for publishing Debian Linux, which Ubuntu is based on. I think Ubuntu is a better distribution for new users, but those who want a little more "under the hood" access can always use Debian instead.

    OSX is a *BSD variant, but I don't remember which flavor it descends from. IIRC, FreeBSD is the security champion, with one or two exploits in ~20 years.

    I moved away from Open Office when Oracle bought Sun Microsystems: Larry Ellison turned Open Office into "Hypeware" and tried to make it a vehicle for advertising the Oracle brand. The same thing happened to OO as happened to Red Hat's distribution of Linux: Open Source adherents forked the code, and created LibreOffice, which is what I use now. I don't know if NeoOffice forked from OO or from LO, but that's a third choice for those who want the option.

    Oracle donated Open Office to Apache around ~2011, and so it's probably a viable choice again, but I'm used to LibreOffice now.

    As for Google Apps: don't knock it if you ain't tried it. The simple fact is that there's enough bandwidth available now to return "desktop" data processing to its roots in a centralized platform, with all the users needing only "dumb" terminals (i.e., browsers) and all the expertise and code concentrated at central locations where it's easier to feed the animals and to keep their cages clean.

    Seriously, most computing tasks are very simple, and when you strip away glitz and hype, one word-processor is pretty much the same as another. Nobody cares if their spreadsheet has 10,000 lines or 100,000: I've never used more than 2,000 lines of a spreadsheet, and that was for a multi-million dollar project that spanned three states.

    Of course, "Security" rears it's pointy head with GAPPS: Google makes its money by scanning what the users type, and figuring out how to sell them things with that info, so it's hard to encrypt things done with GAPPS, since that would deny Google their main revenue stream.

    "Cloud" storage gives me the creeps: it's not that it's "wrong" or "right", but rather that I don't like having my data "out there", when "there" could be any server anywhere in the world, with any level of experience being used to run it, and any level of backup against power failures, theft, and disk errors. I just reinstalled W7 on this laptop I'm using to type these words, and I backed up everything to a USB drive from force-of-habit, even though I theoretically had a backup via the Norton security suite I use. I couldn't figure out how to retrieve the data from wherever Norton keeps it, and wound up using the USB drive to restore my stuff.

    Now, I'm not saying that my data was never backed up or that it isn't available "somewhere" right now - but the time it would take me to find out how to get it back isn't worth it. Ergo, cloud storage means "easy backup, complicated recovery", and I don't use it if I have a choice.

    I don't think Mozilla has cured the Firefox memory leak issue yet, so I recommend Chrome instead. Those whom are doing things the cop in the woodpile won't like are, of course, advised to use Tor, or better yet to not use the Internet at all.

    DuckDuckGo is another alternative for "anonymous" searches, but if you're concerned about Big Brother knowing which sites you visited, you'd do better to employ more serious tradecraft than depending on a single product or system.

    I use Thunderbird; it's fine for ordinary business emails and occasional encryption of sensitive items, but (as with browsers) those whom actually need "red book" levels of security should have much more capable products and better-validated procedures in place.

    I'll shut up now: my Honeydo list is about to fall off the fridge from the weight of the ink.

    William Warren
    Tully Mars and Ganado like this.
  15. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    So, for the novice; you just download Ubuntu and install it, replacing your Microsoft OS? Will it still run all of my installed programs, or do I have to save them somewhere and reinstall after the OS install? Will I still need Norton?
    Tully Mars and Ganado like this.
  16. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    William Warren - 49 minutes ago...

    "Cloud" storage gives me the creeps: it's not that it's "wrong" or "right", but rather that I don't like having my data "out there", when "there" could be any server anywhere in the world.

    No kidding! The company I work for is in the process of entrusting it's clients' databases to this huge potential disaster.

    Too too too many opportunities for hacking, loss, hijacking for cash, the list goes on and on. What are the company managers thinking???

    Oh well, I'm not too far from retirement.
  17. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I appreciate your points about Red Hat but charging for FOSS software or FOSS services is allowed by the GPL. If you don't want to pay for RHEL services you can use CentOS. I like Fedora for its bleeding edge package updates and don't mind being a beta tester for what will eventually make it into RHEL.

    Free isn't only as in Free Beer all of the time. I run Fedora at home and am very happy with it.

    If you couldn't create a business model from FOSS efforts, I think that development of Linux and its associated benefits to me would be slower. IMHO

    Then again, I'm an An-cap :whistle:
    Anarcho-capitalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015
    Tobit likes this.
  18. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Frequently Asked Questions about the GNU Licenses- GNU Project - Free Software Foundation

    Does the GPL allow me to sell copies of the program for money?(#DoesTheGPLAllowMoney)

    Yes, the GPL allows everyone to do this. The right to sell copies is part of the definition of free software. Except in one special situation, there is no limit on what price you can charge. (The one exception is the required written offer to provide source code that must accompany binary-only release.)

    Selling Free Software- GNU Project - Free Software Foundation
    Many people believe that the spirit of the GNU Project is that you should not charge money for distributing copies of software, or that you should charge as little as possible—just enough to cover the cost. This is a misunderstanding.

    Actually, we encourage people who redistribute free software to charge as much as they wish or can. If a license does not permit users to make copies and sell them, it is a nonfree license. If this seems surprising to you, please read on.

    The word “free” has two legitimate general meanings; it can refer either to freedom or to price. When we speak of “free software”, we're talking about freedom, not price. (Think of “free speech”, not “free beer”.) Specifically, it means that a user is free to run the program, change the program, and redistribute the program with or without changes.

    Free programs are sometimes distributed gratis, and sometimes for a substantial price. Often the same program is available in both ways from different places. The program is free regardless of the price, because users have freedom in using it.

    Nonfree programs are usually sold for a high price, but sometimes a store will give you a copy at no charge. That doesn't make it free software, though. Price or no price, the program is nonfree because its users are denied freedom.

    Since free software is not a matter of price, a low price doesn't make the software free, or even closer to free. So if you are redistributing copies of free software, you might as well charge a substantial fee and make some money. Redistributing free software is a good and legitimate activity; if you do it, you might as well make a profit from it.

    Free software is a community project, and everyone who depends on it ought to look for ways to contribute to building the community. For a distributor, the way to do this is to give a part of the profit to free software development projects or to the Free Software Foundation. This way you can advance the world of free software.

    Distributing free software is an opportunity to raise funds for development. Don't waste it!

    In order to contribute funds, you need to have some extra. If you charge too low a fee, you won't have anything to spare to support development.
  19. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    I love how techie you guys are but this is a bit intimidating for someone who has only used the two most used platforms. I.e. apple and Microsoft

    So to break it down for a newbie to alternative operating systems would you give a 1,2, 3 guide for the rest of us?

    Recommendations for:
    Operating system
    Web browser
    Word processing

    Please ? In layman's terms?
    Dunerunner likes this.
  20. William Warren

    William Warren Monkey+++

    I don't have any (and I mean "any") objection to any FOSS distributor making money. I object to what I perceive as deception in Red Hat's advertising: IMHO, the company does try to deceive buyers into thinking that "Red Hat" is not Linux!

    Debian, Ubuntu, and most other Linux distros offer support to buyers, and that's as it should be: it costs money to provide, and money to advertise, so it needs to be a professional, value-added service. Their business model is honorable and supportable: buyers trade money for services in an arms-length transaction.

    Red Hat is different, for the reasons cited.

    William Warren
    melbo likes this.
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