Sunday, November 11, 2007

Can we afford not to give our kids Linux?

Stan Beer's article on iTWire hit home. I also have placed Ubuntu Linux on the machine that my wife and daughter use. My wife uses the computer to attend an online college. She doesn't have any problems with anything she has to do for her classes. My daughter uses it to play kids games (educational downloads or Nick Jr.). Since she is only four years old she doesn't do IM's and emails yet. By the time she does, she will know the difference between Windows and Linux. Especially when her friends talk about a new virus or malware they have on their machine and she is not affected.

All the machines at my house have Ubuntu Linux installed. I have one machine that dual boots Windows just in case I need to do something that absolutely cannot be done in Linux. Needless to say, I rarely have to boot into windows.

If you build it they will come. I have been saying this for a while now. If the programmers start compiling their programs for Linux as well as Windows, They will see more of a shift towards Linux. I am sure of it.

I hope you enjoy his article as much as I have. He is not trying to score points for Linux, he is just stating what I know to be true.

For any parent, myself included, setting your kids loose on the net is a daunting prospect. We have to do it because the net is a fact of life - it's in our schools, the workplace, public libraries and in many if not most homes of the developed world. Therefore, do we really have any option but to give them Linux?

When I first conceived this article I considered giving it the title "can we afford to let our kids use Windows online". However, I felt that taking a positive tack would be more constructive. The fact is that these days security is paramount with kids surfing the net, exchanging emails and chatting online while still in primary school.

Having recently migrated to Ubuntu from Windows, I fully appreciate the risks that our kids are exposed to everytime they venture online with Windows. Basically, kids online are an accident waiting to happen, regardless of what anti-virus, firewall and anti-spyware they happen to be running.

Every other day, some anti-malware vendor issues a media release about a zero day attack of a new worm or Trojan horse that has slipped under the guard of known anti-malware signatures. At least once a month - and quite often more frequently - we hear of critical vulnerabilities in Windows whatever the version that require software patching. Microsoft freely admits that exploits for these vulnerabilities could hand control of a computer to a remote attacker. Sometimes exploits are already in the market before patches arrive.

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