Why Not Linux?

How safe is your computer? If it runs Windows 10, it is not safe at all according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The EFF accuses Microsoft of “blatantly disregarding” user choice and privacy, and says that by default, Windows 10 sends an “unprecedented amount of usage data” back to Redmond’s servers.

The EFF further states that while it’s possible to opt out of some of Microsoft’s data hoovering, this is “not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft’s servers”. Indeed, you’re forced to share at least some telemetry data with Redmond unless you’re running an enterprise version of Windows 10.

You can read the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s report at https://goo.gl/IY3TX5.

What should you do if you are presently using Windows 10?

Reverting back to an earlier version of Windows will create a bit more protection but not much. Earlier versions of Windows really are not much more secure than Windows 10.

Macintosh certainly is more secure but also has some security issues. To find a few thousand articles about Macintosh’s better security, go to Google.com and search on:

“Tim Cook” Macintosh security

Or go to https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%22Tim+Cook%22+Macintosh+security&t=hj&ia=web to perform the same search in a more secure manner on DuckDuckGo.

The downside is that a switch to Macintosh requires the purchase of new hardware. That is a good option if you are thinking about a new computer anyway but it may not be practical to abandon a rather new, expensive, and reasonably functional Windows computer.

You can find a number of excellent Macintosh genealogy programs available,including MacFamily Tree, Heredis, and Reunion.

WebProbably the best option is to switch to Linux, especially one of the versions that are noted for security. The better-known security-centric versions of Linux include: Tails, Qubes OS (a favorite of Edward Snowden), Whonix, UPR (Ubuntu Privacy Remix), and SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux) developed by the NSA for use by US government agencies and also available to the general public.

Other Linux implementations are more popular and still are far more secure than Windows. The more popular Linux implementations for personal use include: Linux Mint (my favorite), Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Arch Linux, Puppy Linux (good for very old computers), and probably a dozen or so others.

Today’s Linux implementations are much easier to use than the versions that were available some years ago. In fact, many of today’s Linux systems are easier to use than Windows 10. Installing new programs is also easier in many of today’s Linux implementations than it is in Windows.

Gramps-300x300For genealogists, the biggest downside is the fact there is only one really good Linux program available. GRAMPS (Genealogical Research and Analysis Management Programming System) is free, open source, genealogy software. GRAMPS is easy to install, easy to use, and contains most of the features found in today’s leading Windows and Macintosh genealogy programs.

Of course, the most attractive part of GRAMPS is its price tag: FREE. Versions for Windows and Macintosh are also available. GRAMPS may be found at https://gramps-project.org.


If you’re really, Really, REALLY hooked on a particular windoze genealogy application, you might want to look into WINE for Linux. It’s a pretty complete, pretty stable windows emulator. I’ve used it in the past, tho’ not exhaustively, and found it an adequate replacement for having Gates’ Universal Computer Virus (GUCV) infecting my machine.
Another alternative would be to install a virtual machine on your Linux or Unix computer and run a version of GUCV in that environment. You’d have to have a copy of GUCV to do so, whereas WINE does not.


    If you’d like your comments to be taken seriously, I’d suggest avoiding bias-laden terms like windoze and your GUCV. In case you’ve missed it, Bill Gates has had very little to do with Microsoft since 2008, or so. He’s now busy trying to exterminate actual viruses and illnesses.

    Although, I did get a kick out of your description of Wine as “pretty” complete and “pretty” stable. Wine’s been around since 1993 and has some corporate sponsorship (including Google) so I would hope that it’s more than “pretty” complete and “pretty” stable by now.


Steve Fleckenstein August 21, 2016 at 6:21 pm

My laptop is dual boot Mint and Win7. The only two items I find a problem with Mint (Linux) are a lack of support to auto switch between the Intel and Nvidia GPU’s and the hassle of uninstalling an application, in my case I wanted to use Open Office instead of Libre Office. If they streamlined the uninstall process I would be happy.


CrossOver 15 for (Mac and) Linux is another alterantive for running your Windows applications in a Linux environment. Its built on a Wine foundation but makes the process of using the Windows programs way easier. Its said to have ben tested with many mainstream applications including Roots Magic and Persional Historian.


Organizations like EFF have very strict interpretations of “privacy”. It appears the issue with MS isn’t what they’re doing with the information, but that they’re not giving enough details to keep EFF happy. In all the years (decades!) that Microsoft has been around, there’s been much handwringing about their power, but I can’t remember anything that shows they’re interested in anything beyond selling software. I take issue with the claim that prior versions of Windows has “more protection”. Prior versions are less secure from malware – a far greater threat to the average user.


Geir A. Myrestrand August 24, 2016 at 3:54 am

Note that SELinux is not a Linux distribution, it is a set of kernel modifications and user-space tools that have been added to various Linux distributions. SELinux enforces mandatory access-control policies that confine user programs’ and system servers’ access to files and network resources.


    And this is one of the reasons that Linux and Unix never got any real traction on the consumer side of things. Unless you’re a pretty serious techie, you just don’t want to deal with kernel modifications and user-space tools. 95% of users want an OS that comes installed and doesn’t require research and technical knowledge to run. That’s why Windows is successful. That’s also why Apple has been successful with their version of Unix (OSX).


    —> Unless you’re a pretty serious techie, you just don’t want to deal with kernel modifications and user-space tools

    With almost all of today’s Linux distributions, there is no need to ever get involved with kernel modifications or user-space tools. That was true years ago when I first started using Linux but those days are long gone. I suspect most of today’s Linux users have never heard of kernel modifications or user-space tools.

    —>95% of users want an OS that comes installed and doesn’t require research and technical knowledge to run.

    I agree. Check out Linux Mint or any of the other modern Linux implementations. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Most of them are easier to use than Windows with little or no technical knowledge required. If you can use Windows, you can use Linux.


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