Linux versus WannaCrypt

You don’t have to read this, but I do have to write it.

Some of you, dear Readers, are sympathetic to my ranting about the virtues of switching from Windows to Linux. The recent big wave of ransom-ware commonly known as “WannaCrypt” (AKA WannaCry) has raised the consciousness of the very real danger of the near monopoly of Microsoft.

Basic truth: With Microsoft, the user is the product. Users are captivated and delivered over for all kinds of exploitation, both by Microsoft and their partners.

The basic problem is that Microsoft won’t give the customer what they want. It’s not profitable. There’s a certain degree of appearing to serve the user, but a big part of that is convincing the user they have been served by manipulating the market and the user. It’s not a question of whether Windows works well enough; it works too well. That is, what Microsoft has done to improve Windows just enough to make the users willing to keep using has seen people resisting upgrades to the next version. Once people got used to the new technology, MS could have stopped changing the user experience a long time ago. But as the technology advanced, there was a great deal of change to Windows that was not driven by demand, but by commercial necessity. That is, MS realized how profitable it was to assert more control over user choice. Once everyone was using Windows, they had a captive audience that could be herded into just about any pen they could build.

In terms of consumer demand, MS could have stopped with XP. The problem for MS was that XP was no longer profitable enough. You cannot pin this down to merely one single driving factor in the market. Simplistic microeconomics will not explain manipulation on that scale. There is this huge wad of propaganda lies about security and new-n-better technology, but so far as consumers actually experienced it, XP was fine, and could be for a long time to come.

No, I’m not promoting resurrecting that pile of steaming crap for an OS. I’m just noting how the user experienced it. Consumers tend to operate as if nothing significant will change during their lives. But MS wasn’t moved so much by the security problems, because the have yet to fix the underlying security design flaws in any of their most recent versions; it’s still Windows. Rather, MS is using the security issues as an excuse for seizing more and more control from the user. Look up “Windows 10 S” and try to understand how this closed, walled garden approach where you can’t install third party software is exactly where it’s all headed. (It’s somewhat like Google’s Chromebooks.)

The great thing about Linux (and other Open Source software) is that users have total control. There’s no profit motive involved in the design. Until recently, the greatest weakness of Linux was the dire necessity of users having to take control to a degree they didn’t want. I would say only in the last few years have we seen the rise of Linux projects that understand users don’t want that much control right up front. There has been a long existing need for a Linux that had sane defaults — sane not for geeks, but the vast horde of users who will never be geeks. (Genuine computer geeks are culturally somewhat hostile to ordinary users, but things have changed just a little here and there.)

So what’s holding us back? Public consciousness.

You aren’t going to get there by simple advertising. That would help, but I don’t see any global ad campaigns promoting Linux in ways users might actually pay attention. That requires way too much money. Nor would a change likely come with the continued ratcheting of torture and abuse from Microsoft; all Big Tech doing the same thing. What it requires is one recognizable voice of authority to tell folks it’s a good idea to migrate. And what would it take to see that happen? What kind of thing would cause a major figure to stand up and say that you should no longer trust Microsoft?

This puts us right back into politics. On some level, there will have to be some sense of betrayal, something that paints a target on Microsoft. It need not be an act of betrayal, only the sense of betrayal. It has to fail in ways where everyone — the media in particular — decide it’s no longer possible to stick with the default. Just a few companies here and there, even really big ones, won’t do it. Money and technology aren’t the issue. It has to be a political issue, because what keeps MS on top is sheer politics — not economics, not the market, not technology, or anything else.

For example: Would you believe that, despite my comments above, I still keep an instance of XP running in a virtual machine on my Linux desktop? It’s because the software environment has favored Windows and Microsoft for so long that a lot of development effort was captivated to it. So there remains an XP-oriented package or two that I need in order to do what I do on a computer. Indeed, I sit here writing this in Notepad++ text editor running via WINE because the folks who make this editor aren’t really that interested in giving us a version for Linux (so far). For my uses, it outshines everything available on Linux. That’s in part because every Linux editor is designed by and for serious computer nerds, not writers. It’s a matter of nerd politics. Match the features and how it works, and I’ll switch.

I suppose if the world of Windows computers were to simply grind to a stop and there was no possible fix to bring them back to life, we might see a migration without any further political propaganda. That’s just barely possible, but that kind of Doomsday scenario is highly improbable.

If you as an individual user feel moved internally to try it, let me recommend Linux Mint with XFCE. If it’s more for corporate of business use, let’s talk about Xubuntu; pick the LTS version. I’ll be here to hold your hand if you need it. Just my two cents.

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About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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8 Responses to Linux versus WannaCrypt

  1. [ Smiles ] I would recommend Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop environment; I am no fan of Xfce.

    Red Hat is ideal for business.

    Also, thank you for sharing your thoughts on the WannaCrypt ransomware.

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  2. Ed Hurst says:

    Thanks, Renard; in this case what I recommend is a matter of what I’m willing to support personally.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. steven says:

    Wubi doesn’t work for Xubuntu, nor for Ubuntu 13.04 onwards. Likewise, Mint4Win doesn’t work for Linux Mint 16 onwards. What should I do? Can I get a “sleeping forever” if I use an outdated version?

    Given what you said about firmware in The Current State of Electronic Snooping, should I try to buy a Vista/XP computer rather than installing Linux on Win7?

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  4. Ed Hurst says:

    Keep in mind that the eternal sleep issue is exceedingly rare these days on Linux. But if you worry about it, there are ways to avoid it.

    Actually, WUBI still works past 13.04, but it’s not actively supported and was always pretty buggy. If you want to keep your Windows based installation, use a virtual machine (VM) and install any version of Linux you like in that. It’s not as spooky as it looks. The simplest to use is VMWare Player; be aware that they will make the free version very hard to find and will insist on advertising their commercial product. You won’t get that from VirtualBox by Oracle, but you will have to invest a little time in reading how to install it on Windows. Then, all you have to do is set up your virtual machine and grant it enough memory and drive space according the specifications required for whatever Linux you are installing. Everything else should be pretty automatic; just accept the defaults offered by the setup dialog. As long as your Linux installation is in a virtual machine, it can’t interfere with your regular hardware operations; you can put the virtual machine to sleep and wake it up when you like. Note: If you do your Internet stuff from a Linux VM, the Internet will think it’s a Linux machine, except for the normal background chatter that Windows carries on, always keeping in contact with Microsoft and their partners.

    Using a Vista machine is just a general guideline I offered. If you can afford a Vista machine, look for the ones that were sold as high-end business hardware. They are pretty cheap on eBay (well under $200 US for laptops and under $100 for desktops) and generally work quite well with Linux. It’s highly unlikely you’ll get the “sleeping forever” thing; it’s more likely you’ll have some trouble with it coming back up from hibernation on laptops. I can help you diagnose any hardware issues, but if you use Mint, most everything is automated fully with all the optional drivers included.

    On the other hand, if you could tell me more about your current hardware, I can help you assess how it might work under Linux. If you don’t want to use email for that, I can always delete that part of your comments to cover your privacy.

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  5. steven says:

    If I remember correctly, it happened to me with Fedora 14. Can you give me some examples of these ways to avoid the sleeping forever?

    My problem is that heat incapacitates me (aspies are very resistant to cold but very vulnerable to heat. Some people think that Asperger is a phenotype developed during the Ice Age), so I was seeking for a fast, easy way of installing Linux when I stumbled on this:
    https://uglyduckblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/goodbye-linux-mint-hello-ubuntu-gnome-oh-wubi-i-missed-you/
    This guy basically praises Wubi and Mint4Win as the best Linux installers ever made. What do you think?

    “…and install any version of Linux you like”

    However, I need you as my tech advisor, and you said to Renard that what you recommend (Xubuntu and Linux Mint) is what you are willing to support personally.

    “…except for the normal background chatter that Windows carries on, always keeping in contact with Microsoft and their partners”

    Isn’t this the very problem (snooping) people try to solve when they switch to Linux? I need to keep my Windows archives and programs, but I want to actually install Linux so that I can have some actual privacy.

    Well, what you exactly said is “Malware can change firmware. If your machine was designed for Win10, that’s true already. So in practice, anything you bought starting around Win7 is highly vulnerable to firmware changes without you knowing it”. Aren’t you implying that, if you use a Win7 computer, you may as well don’t bother to install Linux, as you will be snooped anyway because of the firmware?

    What do you need to know about my hardware?

    Off-topic: How many years do you think it will take for Europe to fall?

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  6. Ed Hurst says:

    I don’t believe I can offer examples of ways to avoid the sleep loop. It’s just a matter of the hardware and whether the Linux you use has the drivers for it and that those drivers are appropriate. What I can tell you is that the sleep loop is exceedingly rare because the kernel developers have done an awful lot of good work since Fedora 14.

    That blog post you linked is an example of the highly partisan fanboy chatter that gives Linux a bad reputation. Someone lacking the expertise of the developer calling the developers liars discredits just about everything the writer has to say. You have read past that and realize that the author liked certain things that could not be supported. The developers aren’t support Wubi and Mint4Win, so using them is very risky these days. That blog post is from January two years ago and lot has changed since them in terms of the Linux experience.

    Yes, Windows is snooping and I think it’s better to run that in a VM than the have Windows host a Linux VM. I was simply trying to offer alternatives that I have experience with. If you really need those Windows programs, you’ll need to research a bit to see if you can run them under WINE or if it needs a full VM. You can use the Application Database search engine, but most of the reports are out of date. I’ve had stuff work that was rated low, and stuff refuse to install that rated highly. It helps if you can find bloggers who share their experience in a more useful way. I don’t know what Windows programs matter the most to you, but if you really want to switch to Linux, I’m pretty sure we can come up with some kind of useful mixture. Your personal priorities will determine what you end up with. If snooping is the biggest danger you see, then it will require sacrificing something else. Yes, that means you won’t take the path of Windows hosting a Linux VM. The issue of firmware is why I recommend using older machines where possible, unless you can afford the very expensive made-for-Linux hardware.

    If you want to discuss your hardware: If you have a standard machine from a major manufacturer, then I need to know the model and options. If it’s a home built, then I need a list of what you put into the case: motherboard, add-on cards, and specific processor. These days, things like the hard drive and optical drives are rarely a problem, so those matter less.

    Europe: The fall of Europe is already under way. Some places are already too painful for native-born residents. Other places will hold out longer. I don’t have a strong sense of timing because I don’t live in Europe; it’s all just a memory for me, now more than 20 years old. I left the Netherlands in 1993. The Europe I knew is long gone and my prophetic insight about Europe is highly limited. That said, my social sciences head-knowledge suggests that much of Europe will be unrecognizable to people living there in another five years. Either the society will survive by very harsh crackdowns and strict enforcement controls (a right-wing takeover) or the Muslims will run everything. At this point, there is simply no way to absorb the invaders, and they will not adapt to what Europe once was. Either way, it won’t be the Europe any of us once knew.

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  7. steven says:

    Fedora 14 was released in 2010. From which year onward Linux developers made the sleeping forever a rare issue?

    Hmm, you seem pretty upset because of what this guy wrote. You are probably right about him, but as an individualist I’m not disturbed because an amateur dares to criticize an expert. For ex, I think that Tails developers should allow 32-bit users to download Tails 2.12 at their own risk, as Tails 3.0 only works with 64-bit computers. That said, lets focus on my issues with Linux installation:
    1. I agree that using Wubi and Mint4Win would be very risky, so which Linux installer do you recommend?
    2. If Wubi and Mint4Win are very risky despite the fact that Linux is, per se, more secure than Windows, why it isn’t very risky to use WinXP/WinVista, which are also unsupported by their developers?

    Hardware: What do you mean by “options”?

    Europe: However, from time to time you write about it, prophesying that Europe will become a Caliphate in the near future, and calling this gruesome fate “the Wrath of God”. I think that you are basically right, as even before I met you, my own insight told me that soon Europe will be forced to choose between Islam and Fascism, which implies that every european will be forced to choose between Slavery (be the master white or arab) and Suicide (the best option IMHO). I calculated that it will happen in 2022, which is now confirmed by your estimation (“in another five years”). This synchronicity between two christian mystics cannot be overlooked. That said, each european country has its own culture, language, religion, customs and history, so a prophecy about Europe as a whole is more likely to be inaccurate than a prophecy about North America as a whole. The EU pretends to be “the United States of Europe”, but its actually the Neo-Carolingian Empire. Thats why the EU cannot survive without France or Germany, while the other members (ex. Greece) are expendable. The EU is a Nazi dream made true through economical domination.

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  8. Ed Hurst says:

    In my experience, Linux solved issues like the permanent sleep around 2014. I suggest “upset” would be the wrong word for how I felt about the linked article; annoyed is more accurate. I’ve very much into helping people use their computers without having to join the geek culture. Most Linux geeks cannot comprehend how the ordinary user experiences things in general, and computers in particular. The same dislike I have for mainstream Christian religion writing is the way I feel about most computer geek writing, all the more so with Linux writing. It’s this same presumption that people need a highly partisan sales pitch, that people desperately need to be told the “pure gospel truth” about computer technology. As you suggest, I’m sure that writer knows more than I do about computers, but not about human needs involving computers.

    As for your complaint with Tails, you are up against some of that same elitism that now dismisses 32-bit computing, relegating it to legacy machines and niche computing. For now you can get Xubuntu 32-bit, but the company behind it all the Ubuntu stuff is going to drop it soon. I think the Debian project on which Ubuntu is based will continue supporting 32-bit far longer, because Debian is fundamentally a server distribution and is meant to be rather universal, running on any common hardware platform. It’s just nowhere near as user-friendly.

    The best way to run Mint in Windows is with a virtual machine. That way you are installing in a sandbox created and optimized for it. Neither VirtualBox nor VMWare are quite perfect, but both will allow you to run Linux while keeping Windows. The reason I run XP in a virtual machine on Linux is because it is the easiest to get and I don’t let it go online. Lately I don’t use it all since I found a copy of MS Office 2003 and that runs with WINE very nicely. I have no other use for Windows than a need to produce files in MS Office format. I actually prefer LibreOffice for personal use, but too many folks I deal with want MSO, and exporting it from LibreOffice isn’t quite the same as something originally formatted in MSO. MS did a lot of weird stuff just to distinguish themselves from open standards, always trying to be the standard instead. But their engineering was crappy when it comes to document formats.

    Hardware “options” means what kind of guts does your computer have: motherboard, video card or video chipset and networking chipset are the most common variables that require research to see how Linux works with them. Almost everything else is quite likely covered just fine.

    I agree that Europe is not all one thing. I suspect Eastern Europe will survive much better because those countries never forgot what a serious problem Islam can be. I’m convinced the elite rulers of Western Europe have determined to destroy their national cultures in favor of a globalist fantasy that cannot be. But unless I actually lived in Europe, it would be impossible for me to get a clear message in my spirit. A major element in heart-led psychology is that you have to connect to your local land. It’s possible God could offer a specific prophesy about foreign lands, but most of what I deal with is prophesy as a talent or gift built into my personality. Most of my prophetic sense derives from that gift; my specific prophetic visions are quite few and bluntly stated on this blog as such. My human side would love to see Europe again, but my prophetic sense tells me it’s unwise to even pray for such a visit. I’d much rather see more Europeans learn the heart-led way and develop their own prophetic talents.

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