We tend to avoid the ‘W’ word but this is a special occasion because Windows XP is officially dead, killed by Microsoft. Support for the longstanding desktop operating system has ceased and it has left millions of PC
systems on security life support. It’s a sickly side effect of the proprietary world that people can be forced into using an insecure operating system, unless they keep buying new releases or new systems.
There is a way out, there is an escape. If you’re reading this because you’re trying to flee the locked-in insecure Windows world, welcome – there is hope. The shining light of the computing world is GNU/Linux. It powers the heart of the internet, it pushes bits through the fastest supercomputers in the world and it can also run all your home PCs. If you’re looking at how you can replace Windows XP we'll show you just how easy it is to install Linux. If you’re hesitant, don’t be – we’ll show you how you can keep Windows XP just in case. If you want to start discovering more, see our Terminal tutorial in this month's issue for an introduction to just
how powerful the Linux system is. The situation with Windows XP is yet another example of Richard Stallman being right. His warnings about how government and companies would use proprietary software to monitor and restrict us all (accidentally or not) seem to come true. We’re lucky that Stallman’s vision of computer freedom exists. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s based on four pillars: the freedom to run a program for any purpose, the freedom to study the source code, the freedom to distribute copies of it and the freedom to modify that code. Software released under this ideology is set ‘free’ for all to use.
Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is everywhere, from Firefox OS phones to designs of 3D printers on and infiltrating education. It’s powering gaming systems and games themselves, while development and programming languages proliferate – see our Python tutorial and Gambas. It’s an exciting time to join the open source revolution.