This year’s biggest ripoff is also this year’s best gift idea

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Here’s an idea. You have an old beat up computer running, say, Windows. You want to make it faster, crisper, more secure, and generally, better.

What can you do short of buying a new computer? Well, install Linux. Linux is so much more efficient as an operating system, your computer will simply run better. Guaranteed.

How do you install Linux? Go to the Ubuntu site or somewhere like it, and download an “image” (as it is called), and use some software that may well already be on your computer to put the image onto a USB stick. Then, turn off your computer, put the disk in, and as the computer boots up, hit the correct function key. Maybe F12. Maybe F9. Maybe F12. Don’t worry your computer will tell you “Hit FX for boot options.” Hit that key.

Now you get to chose the USB stick as the boot device. Do so. Your computer is now running Linux, literally. You now have a new operating system running your computer. The old OS is not running any more, but you will still have access to the disk drive and stuff.

Now, the correct thing to so, ASSUMING YOU HAVE BACKED UP ALL YOUR DATA ON A DIFFERENT DRIVE SOMEWHERE ELSE, is to use that operating system to literally install Linux on your old computer. There is probably a icon you select. Whatever. This is not hard, just follow the instructions.

But you don’t have to. You can just run your computer off the stick. No problem.

This, by the way, is a great way to leverage the immense power of that nice new work laptop they gave you that runs Windows. But I digress.

So, that’s the best idea ever, but how does that relate to a huge rip-off holidayh gift?

Because some brilliant entrepreneur figured out that people are stupid, in a particular, extra stupid way. Linux is free, and good. And you can install it using your own old and extra USB stick, so you need not spend a dime. But say you are stupid person, and you just don’t believe that something free can be good. Actually, that isn’t so stupid. Free stuff is usually crap. But there are very good reasons this does not apply to OpenSource software. If you are a stupid person, you think, “oh, I don’t want freeware on my computer” but that is like saying that you don’t want needed surgery at the Mayo because Jeeter and Justin down at the shop forgot to bolt your wheels back on after rotating your tires last week, which caused all kinds of havoc when you drove away from “Just Fine Tuned Auto Works Inc” and over that bridge with no guard rails on it … Linux is not Freeware. Freeware is a whole ‘nuther thing.

Point is: The world of computers runs on Linux. 500 of the biggest supercomputers run on Linux. Most servers serving the Internet run on Linux. Your cell phone probably runs on Linux. Linux is good. It is also free. And you can put it on a USB and play with it on your computer.

Or, you can pay PrarieIT anywhere between $30 and $67 bucks for this product: Xtra-PC Turbo 16 — Turn your old, outdated, slow PC into a like-new PC, 16GB. Its a USB stick on which they’ve installed a Linux system, that you can do the above with.

Very enterprising. So enterprising, this product has actually gotten itself on to several “coolest gift” lists.

And yes, go ahead and do that. If you feel better paying out some fifty bucks for a free operating system, if that make you feel like it will work better, do that.

Or, just get one of these if you don’t have one of them already, then go here or here or wherever, download the image, and use your system’s disk management software to make a bootable USB disk with that image on it. Like this if you use Windows.


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3 thoughts on “This year’s biggest ripoff is also this year’s best gift idea

    1. None of your present software will work, if you are using a Mac or Windows computer. In fact, if you use this “live distribution” (the USB stick) to RUN Linux, you won’t even have access to your old software, essentially.

      However, Linux distros come with versions of most of the software you would normally use, and it is very easy to install what is not built in. Libreoffice is pretty close to Microsoft Office, Linux comes usually with Firefox browser (but I prefer Chrome and install it right away), etc.

  1. Long ago, I got a Raspberry Pi as a result of your review… It got me interested in the Linux universe. The above posting spurred me further and I just finished getting my MACbook going with a dual boot including Kubuntu (with only moderate twists in the learning curve!)

    I am interested in doing a data acquisition project with C/C++. However there seems to be a bewildering plethora of IDE candidates. Do you have an IDE recommendation?

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