Your Rights As A User

By Nathan Gaylinn

You have the right to decide how your computer runs.

You do not need to run all the bulk that comes with Windows to do
everything you want with your computer. You don't need the fastest
computer if you are using software written to use resources efficiently.

If there is any insignificant detail about how your computer runs that
you do not like there is no reason why you have to live with that. Even
without being a l33t Linux H4x0R, or even without knowing much about
computers at all, you can make your computer do what you need.

There are alternatives to Windows and most overpriced corporate software
bundles (Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft Office)
that are just as powerful, easy to use, and convenient. For any of these
cases, there is usually a cheaper lesser-known alternative and often
even a free alternative that is just about as good. You don't have to go
with the brand name.

Windows is designed to limit your use of the computer.

Windows XP is expensive, keeps information about you and your computer,
and is specifically designed NOT to allow you certain upgrades

Windows blocks you from doing many important system maintenance tasks
and assumes that it knows what's best for you in all cases.

Windows Explorer is one of the most exploit-ridden worthless pieces of
code available, it can be unsafe (especially older versions), and is
integrated into the core of Windows to turn users away from other
alternatives and to make it seem more efficient.

Most computer rights issues are in the realm of privacy

Privacy is a function of how secure your system is. There are many ways
to secure a computer, but by default Windows doesn't really do any of
them.

Things to add to windows: passwords, virus scanner, spyware
blocker, cookie filters (Mozilla), firewall, enable certain security
options that are by default off, etc. These things are important if
using internet

Other OS's are often more secure than Windows and more stable,
hence most servers run some form of Unix.

Other security issues that people should be aware of:

There are many internet scams designed to get information from you to
sell or exploit or just to cause general trouble.

Don't believe chain letters. They lie, and most of them take
only a minute or two to disprove.

As in real life, no one on the internet really wants to give you
money. Don't believe them no matter what they say.

It is functionally impossible to track how many people you send
an email to! You won't see a funny animation, you won't save a starving
child, you won't win anything, you'll just piss people off.

If you get a desparate/personal/serious and formal/money-related
email from someone you don't know or a service you've never worked with,
the sender WILL address you by name.

There are many disreputable online shops; don't give out a credit card
number to just any website.

(Nate originally posted this article to the BLUG (Brown Linux User's Group) discuss-list on Oct. 23, 2003. It's mirrored here with his permission.)

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2003 Dave Pacheco
Last updated 2003-10-24