What computer users say about...
Linux software over Microsoft By Johann Earle
Stabroek News
May 31, 2004

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On Saturday the Guyana Linux Users Group (GLUG) held an exposition on Linux Open Source operating systems and software for various applications. Stabroek News took the opportunity to speak to some of the participants on what they thought of the free software.

Vidyaratha Kissoon - Project Co-ordinator, Sus-tainable Development Net-working Programme:

'The cost associated with software in Guyana is a major issue. In Guyana we are not aware of intellectual property rights but we should be. We want to showcase free and open source software. For Linux the source codes are different. It is like a song that you like. The singer owns the music and the lyrics. But if you want to change that song in any way, you can't, since you don't have access to the song-sheet. In the same way you can't change the Microsoft programmes to suit you since the source codes are not available. The only condition with open source is that when you take it and modify it, you have to make it available to others to do the same. Linux can be seen as an alternative and it is completely non-commercial. If you have the skills and the knowledge to change it you can. There are some technical advantages to using Linux. We have Open Office and this is available free of cost, compared with the US$100 or so for the comparable Microsoft software.'

Girendra Persaud - Systems Administrator: 'The use of Linux has various benefits for anything possible. We at Telsnet did not have to restart our server for 269 days, using Linux networking software. It is worry-free and dependable. One of the reasons it has not caught on is because of marketing. Micro-soft has bombarded the market, but once you start using Linux there is no turning back. For persons considering the change the transition is pretty easy, since it is somewhat similar to Windows.'

Nicholas Andrade - Network Consultant: 'Because Linux is free it would greatly benefit Third World countries. You could go on the net and download the programmes. It would benefit Guyana. I am interested in the technology since some of the programmes are compatible. Also it is very solid in its stability, although it doesn't have a lot of users.'

Chad Arthur - Student: 'My use of computers has mostly to do with multimedia. And since the Linux software is free you don't need to pirate. The price for the Microsoft applications inhibits you in certain ways, while Linux is completely free. Anybody could get the source codes and 'redo' the software to suit their needs. Some people say that the games that Linux offers are a bit 'retro'. I would recommend Linux to people who are hardcore computer users. I think that Linux is superior to Windows. One of the programmes, Jpad, offers Palm computer synchronisation. The Windows operating system comes out something like every two years while new versions of the Linux operating systems are released every few months. With Linux you don't have to bother with firewalls and viruses. And you also don't have to bother with hackers getting into your system.'

David Cole - Senior Land Information Officer, Guy-ana Lands and Surveys Commission: 'I think that the exposition is a very good initiative. I work with computers but more at the management level. Linux is a good alternative to Windows.'

Abbas Mancey - UG Student: 'I think that Linux is amazing and there is so much to gain from it. Windows is so monopolising. Lots of things in Linux are better than Windows. With Linux, young people would get to expand technically. With Microsoft you can't change anything. It is encouraging to see so many young people here. I see a lot of ads calling for persons who know Linux and a lot of the firms out there are already using Linux.'

Scott Stadum - Peace Corps Volunteer: 'I am a big advocate for the Linux Operating System in developing countries. These countries have lax laws on copyright and soon Microsoft will be cracking down on them since that company does not want to be losing money all the time. With Microsoft you have to buy the software and also the programmes. With Linux it is all free and can be updated and it will be millions of people sharing ideas. Open source is a great idea and governments need to look into it. I think that the turnout here today was better than expected.'

Vanessa Cordis - Private Sector Employee: 'I think that it is refreshing that we can find support for Linux in Guyana. I am a pretty new user. The use of Linux can benefit Guyana in that they would be able to afford the programmes. My particular area of interest is networking and I would be taking some of the programmes with me.'

Sonyette Williams - Housewife: 'I heard of the expo and I am interested in what is available. My computer is always breaking down. I am thinking of giving Linux a try. The present programmes I am using are faulty and I have to be restarting my computer several times. I saw a programme on [NCN] Television yesterday speaking of this expo and I decided to come to it.'

Cheryl Fung-a-Fat - Systems Administrator: 'Linux is robust and viruses do not target it. I have some experience with it since it is an offspring of Unix. With Microsoft your computer freezes and does not respond to commands. [Where I work] we have a Windows environment for end clients and we also have Linux Red Hat Advance running our servers.'

Rolex Butters - IT Representative: 'I am very new to Linux but I understand that Linux is more secure. We have a small IT department and we are looking for fewer challenges, which I believe Linux will accomplish. I am more experienced with Windows and we face challenges every day in terms of security.

I feel that Linux would be better and we don't mind making the transition.