I've recently rebuilt Coffeestayne's PC again. This is partly because of a hardware fault and partly because his Windows XP installation has always been a bit ropey.
One factor that did not help was that every time my little brother borrowed Coffeestayne's pc to go on the internet, he would use windows messenger. This meant that despite all of Norton and my attempts to block the dangers, the PC would be infected with spyware, malware and viruses. Even the firewall (admittedly a software one) couldn't stop them. Thankfully Coffeestayne is on dial-up but still.
So I have cried enough after a very difficult recovery of Coffeestayne's data from a very corrupted hard drive. We put in an 80GB hard drive that Coffeestayne purchased and I have installed Ubuntu.
A very immediate advantage of this is that I no longer have to spend hours and hours reinstalling windows and running windows update. There is also the advantage of not having to worry about if the genuine advantage rubbish actually will work or crap out.
Ubuntu is under the GPL so essentially it is free (not just meaning that it costs anything, but also that you are free to modify it etc). With Free and Open Source software available to this distribution I have been able to automatically install some powerful tools to help Coffeestayne .
Of course with the Ubuntu distribution tools such as Open Office (as a replacement for MS Office) and gimp (Adobe/Paintshop pro equivalent) are already included in it. I have installed a couple of gimp's plugins that were available through the Ubuntu package repositories (collections of software that can be downloaded and installed automatically.) I have also installed a couple of other image browser/viewers that are similar to the ones in Windows that Coffeestayne uses.
Another advantage is that security is increased with Linux, partly because of the architecture that Linux is based on. Ubuntu also has a lot of the security turned on by default. You can install free antivirus as well. Malware has to have permission assigned by the user to be enabled. It's not an automatic process.
It is very difficult for anyone to make the change, well physically for most generic users it isn't really but psychologically it is. For all that most users use a computer for accessing the internet, email, producing paperwork, and entertainment, you are used to applications being a certain way.
To ease the transition for Coffeestayne I bought him Ubuntu's official book. This comes with a DVD and money goes back into Ubuntu for development. The DVD is very handy as it acts as a live cd so that you can try the software before installing it on your hard drive. It also acts as a repository for some of the software available to the distribution. Parts of the book are included on the DVD for help. Coffeestayne is working steadily through it as he already has an old Fujitsu laptop with Ubuntu loaded on it. As Coffeestayne doesn't play video games Ubuntu should cover his needs, plus as he doesn't have a lot of money the software will not require money to keep it up to date.
Some Windows applications can play in Linux with a few utilities for example Wine primarily developed for Unix, this implements a Windows API to enable you to use Windows applications. Although bear in mind that the latest versions of some applications will not work.
The only downside for coffeestayne was that he had started playing with MS Publisher so he had a few files utilising that. There is a desktop publishing equivalent called Scribus, it cannot convert publisher files (publisher has problems converting between versions itself. Luckily Coffeestayne only had a few publisher files.
I feel that the peace of mind from better security and not having to worry about Microsoft Windows licenses is worth it. Luckily Coffeestayne thinks so too, as he had decided earlier to try it. He just had to try it sooner than he thought he had to.