What if I told you that there was a bit of activism you could do that doesn’t involve working within the system, doesn’t come with any risk of jail time or fines, and not only doesn’t cost anything, but will, in fact, save you a lot of money? Furthermore, what if you were offered a choice between continuing to support corporations that rely on intellectual property laws, and those that thrive without the threat of violence? Would you participate in this sort of activism?
I thought so. Today, I would like to write about exactly how you can do just that. I’m talking about changing your computer’s current operating system. If you’re running Microsoft Windows(any version) then you’re essentially hurting the cause of freedom. Let me give you an example to help explain why this is.
Mircosoft Windows relies on intellectual property laws to prevent users and developers from copying or tweaking its software architecture. Imagine having purchased a house that you are prevented from modifying or adding on to as well as it having a design that others are prevented from replicating. You would clearly recognize that not only are you not a true owner of the house you occupy, but also that others are not true owners of their own building materials if they cannot do with them as they please, such as build a house in the same manner.
As anarchists we understand that the principle of private intellectual property is incompatible with liberty. And it is for this reason alone that anarchists should shun the Windows operating system. But if virtue doesn’t motivate you enough to switch operating systems let me give you some practical reasons.
Microsoft Windows is written in a way that prevents users and developers from reading its source code. Imagine owning a home that you cannot inspect. You would have no idea as to whether or not the foundation is faulty. There could be termites or dry rot. The plumbing and electricity could be in disrepair. There could be a number of maladies that you would be unaware of, potentially threatening your safety. With the Windows operating system, or any software that prevents users and developers from inspecting its architecture, there is the possibility that it contains malicious code that threatens your privacy. For example, there could be code in Microsoft’s browser Internet Explorer, their mail client Outlook, or the entire operating system Windows, that sends your information straight to the N.S.A. The truth is that we simply do not know and have no way of finding out.
But what we do know is that the Microsoft Windows terrain is rife with malware. The reasons for this are slightly more technical. Put simply, imagine your house being completely susceptible to the elements and attackers and your best method of defense are inept and reactionary police and fire departments.
These are the reasons why I recently made the switch to the Linux operating system. It is what is known as free and open-source software. I first started to look seriously into Linux after I began communicating with Paul Rosenberg, which motivated me to learn more about online security. I have come to realize that the number one greatest threat to our online security is the Windows operating system. I had initially taken some baby steps to better online security only to conclude that it was merely hacking away at the branches of evil instead of striking at the root. However, while I still strongly encourage everybody, especially activists, to take small precautions to protect themselves online, the very first step I would recommend is to make the switch to Linux as soon as possible, first at home and then in the office.
Since I have made the switch I can testify to the fact that my computer runs much quicker and smoother under the Linux operating system. I also find it considerably easier to use than Windows. While there may be a slight learning curve of a few days, Linux isn’t just for techies anymore. It has been made so user friendly since I experimented with it one-half dozen years ago, that now I can assure you any old granny can operate it.
I also very much appreciate that it is nearly impossible to succumb to malware attacks on Linux and that I will be saving roughly sixty dollars every year by not having to purchase anti-virus software. In addition, I have noticed that many open-source programs run smoother on an open-source operating system. Initially, I had fears that Linux would either be prohibitively difficult to operate as a technophobe, or would lack the frills and goodies afforded to Windows users. I was pleasantly surprised to find that neither of my fears were justified. Linux has been a blessing that has given me a revamped joy for computer technology. It also makes me happy to know that I am withdrawing my support for the corporate state by choosing freedom software over its tyrannical counterpart.
To be clear, there are several different versions, or designs, of Linux to choose from. I have chosen Ubuntu, the most popular, and am glad I did. I recommend that you install Ubuntu on your home computer as well. You don’t even have to remove the Windows operating system either. This way you can smoothly transition your usage to Ubuntu while you’re figuring things out and know that Windows will still be there for you if you need it. You’ll do this by creating a partition in your hard drive as I have done. Don’t worry. Doing that is easy as it happens when you install Ubuntu.
Before you begin, find out how much available space you have left on your disk. Slightly less than that amount will be what you want to allot to your Ubuntu partition. Next, go here and follow the directions to download and install Ubuntu. If you are unable to download Ubuntu because of bandwidth restrictions, or if you are unable to copy files to a CD or removable storage device, go here and request to have a free CD shipped to you in the mail. They claim it can take up to ten weeks, but you’ll likely receive it in less than two.
After you’ve finished installing Ubuntu I highly suggest thoroughly reading the Documentation and clicking on all of the links therein to better familiarize yourself with your new operating system. If you spend one hour per day doing so you’ll likely be finished within the week. It is simple to read and understand and the penalty for not doing so could lead to frustration and the abandonment of Linux altogether, which would be a most terrible foible indeed.