GNU/Linux

I think the most important step in my life as a computer user was the decision to leave M$ behind and start using GNU/Linux. The reasons for this judgement are many; I'll only discuss some of them here.

Freedom

For me, the most important thing has become the notion of freedom. I'm not only free to choose - in theory, this would hold true for proprietary systems, too - but am not restricted by my choice in any way. It's the best thing I can think of to use a powerful system AND be able to change it as it like, make every use of it I can think of - and even be allowed to not only spread the word but put the actual system on a disc and share it. As long as I don't forget to give all due credit, I'm not forbidden to do all that, and I'm more than willing to fulfill this small request.

That most Free Software comes at no price at all is an added bonus. However, I don't know if Free (libre) Software will stay free (as in "beer") forever, but frankly, I don't care too much. The most important thing is that I'm not getting fooled and bullied.

All of this nonwithstanding, I've found a very interesting article I think you should read (or listen to): Windows Is Free is a very thorough account of an important side of the game one normally misses to consider.

Open Source

Most proprietary software goes out of its way to keep its true functionality and inner workings out of sight and out of reach of the user, which is - in contrast to common believe - inherently a bad thing; it may be true that in daily operations, it's not desirable that each and every user can look at the code, let alone change it, but that's not the point. The moment I buy a product, there's no reason why I should only own (or rather, rent) its functionality, and even this most commonly only for a given time.

In fact, if something's not right with a piece of software, I should be explicitely allowed to peek under the hood. To make use of the "car" metaphor a little further: Why should I be bothered with who repairs things how? And what if the producers use their exclusive rights to do their repairs in their own time in most cases, even if this effectively prevents me from using the product I bought because it simply doesn't work as advertised? I'm not even speaking of complete failure or serious bugs here. And what if there's someone who could fix things in no time, maybe even I myself? With cars, you cannot be prevented from doing what you choose, albeit at your own risk. But with proprietary software, they expect you to abandon all your rights above pure usage - that's not only stupid, verging on moronic, but also criminal: You don't own what you pay for, you may not use it as you choose, and you may not fix it (or have it fixed) if you need it fixed. In fact, you pay for a potential non-service and by doing so give them the right to put you under general suspicion of what they call "abuse". If you don't believe me, read any EULA you find; M$'s is not the only abomination you'll find.

User-Friendliness vs. Real Usability

The gift-wrapped proprietary software products present themselves with what is often called "optimised user-friendliness" and "ease of use". This mostly boils down to: "Follow our rules, or you won't get happy". In other words, you've got to learn how to use a specific interface, even if it is full of incoherence and contradictions.

TBC

Learning Linux

For the time being, here's a short list of GNU/Linux courses featured on the Linux.org website:
There's a lot more out there, but I'll take some time to select the best material.

TBC

Hardware issues

STC

Wireless

STC

TBC