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I've noticed that on a regular basis I see facebook statuses complaining about viruses (e.g. "sorry I haven't been on in a few days... my comp got socked by a virus and I had to reinstall everything")

Lately I've taken to commenting on these with a link to Ubuntu with a short testimonial about how I've been using Ubuntu exclusively for years and have not had any virus problems since (nor have I installed any anti-virus software).

On the flipside, I know that Ubuntu is not the savior to all computer problems, and that it has its own issues, but I just want to let people know that there is a choice out there, and they can choose if they would rather deal with Windows' issues or Ubuntu's issues. For many users, Ubuntu would make a lot of sense.

But I rarely get any response to these comments, and I wonder if I should stop bothering. Do you think this does any good? Maybe it just aggravates people? Maybe they have no idea what I'm talking about and the link I post makes no sense to them? Any thoughts?

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Avoid asking questions that are subjective, argumentative, or require extended discussion. ... Avoid asking questions that are subjective ... Avoid questions subjective ... subjective –  Diablomarcus Jan 19 '10 at 23:39
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subjective, yes; but argumentative, no. it should be a Community Wiki question, though. –  quack quixote Jan 20 '10 at 2:14
    
Problem solved, and no you should not! Your grandma won't like you after that! –  Ivo Flipse Jan 20 '10 at 7:31
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8 Answers

I've been using Ubuntu exclusively for years and have not had any virus problems since (nor have I installed any anti-virus software).

I've been using Windows exclusively for years and have not had any virus problems since Windows XP RTM (nor have I installed any anti-virus software). Should I pitch Windows to virus victims?

User education goes a long way.

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Actually, it needs some knowledge to keep Window Virus free...but it does need nearly no knowledge to keep Linux Virus free. ;) –  Bobby Jan 19 '10 at 23:29
    
I don't understand why you said "Actually", like you were somehow countering my point. I never said it needed no knowledge to keep it "Virus (sic)" free. –  ta.speot.is Jan 19 '10 at 23:31
    
I was somehow countering your point. ;) But you're right, of course, you never suggested anything like this. Because you can keep a XP RTM virus free doesn't mean that user 'x' can...on the other hand I'd say that user 'x' would have a hard time infecting a Linux. ;) –  Bobby Jan 19 '10 at 23:46
    
"your point ... never suggested anything like this." I still don't know what "point" you're countering. –  ta.speot.is Jan 20 '10 at 0:04
    
That it is also possible to keep Windows Virus Free without appropriate software. At least I think it's what you tried to say. –  Bobby Jan 20 '10 at 8:25
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It could come over as patronising or you being smug. It certainly happened for Mac users in the past. There may be very good reasons why they can't switch from Windows - you just don't know.

The real solution is to educate people not to click on every link they get sent.

In the meantime suggest a decent anti-virus, firewall and malware package.

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In addition to this. Move them away from the "Everyone is admin model" Create a managed user for them and that way they won't be able to screw up the machine. Lock it down! –  Kelbizzle Feb 3 '10 at 16:15
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Someone untrained with any Linux distro (well most, non locked down ones), is just as dangerous as someone on a Windows machine.

It is all about education - do not download from people you don't trust, don't be an idiot!

Many people open up emails from "Microsoft" about patches, install it and get a virus or similar.... Install any/all crap they find online because it is free etc.

I have been using Windows for years without a Virus problem, I never used to use Anti Virus either - I just started with Microsoft Security Essentials. I would recommend that you advise this to people who have had problems.

Someone switching to Linux from Windows is not an easy task - if they only use web apps, or programs that work with WINE, it is doable, but I think that giving someone a basic education of computer security would be a lot better.

Side note! - The more people who use Linux are simply going to make it a bigger target, the more people you recommend, the unsafer it gets! Every OS has its fair share of bugs, you cannot be 100% safe... Security through obscurity works to a point, but sooner or later, people will start abusing the bugs.... I have seen quite a few rootkits or similar viruses installed on Linux machines recently.

Edit -

It should also be said that UAC in Windows Vista and 7 really help - tell a user to always click deny (or set it to automatically deny). If the machine is set up how they like, the average user should never have the need to allow/elevate.

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"set it to automatically deny" is not such a good idea, as this will deny them to run such useful applications like Ccleaner or MBAM, to name but a few programs that do require elevated rights. –  Molly7244 Jan 20 '10 at 0:27
    
... You can always put exceptions in, however, I have done this on a machine I got for a grandparent - I am the one who supports them and in many situations, the average person does not use tools such as those. (I would also say on a side note, but not 100% accurate, if you install a good AV and do this, there should be no need to use MBAM!) –  William Hilsum Jan 20 '10 at 0:31
    
i have seen MBAM cleaning up the mess caused by the incapability of pretty much ANY antivirus software under the sun. and the average person doesn't need to run Ccleaner? right, i forgot, they know how to manually delete temporary internet files, cookies, recently used, etc. –  Molly7244 Jan 20 '10 at 1:27
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"It is all about education" -- too true, +1. –  John T Jan 20 '10 at 5:37
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@Molly, Temporary Internet Files are usually capped to something like 600 mb and do not normally need to be cleaned, the oldest resource will expire as the cache fills up. I don't see the need for most users to delete cookies unless they're the users that wear tin foil hats. I don't understand why recently used is a problem, I like having a history of files I last accessed. –  ta.speot.is Jan 20 '10 at 6:40
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For many users, Ubuntu would make a lot of sense.

Quite so.

But those who are most plagued by viruses couldn't care less for Ubuntu (or Linux in general). Those who are interested and concerned about IT security will adhear to certain rules and are much less likely to infect their systems anyway.

From experience i can tell that it's easier to introduce them to the basics of virtualization (dispoasble VMs, sandboxing and deepfreezing, for the toughest cases).

And from a personal point of view, as a 'techie', i'm busy enough without answering calls like 'How do i install a iTunes in Ubuntu', if you know what i mean. :)

If you want to do this, make yourself available for assistance. just telling someone 'Get Linux' (for whatever reason) isn't good enough.

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Nope. Non-techies don't learn computer stuff as easy as us. You can spend a few hours teaching them the basics of safe computer usage, or about 5 weeks of phone calls teaching then Linux, then another 5 weeks of phonecalls teaching them Windows again if hey need it for a job.

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In my opinion if the user was not tech savvy enough learn how to avoid being infected with a virus, he/she is probably not going to figure out how to use nautilus to move files around in Linux or how to install some application/plugin that he/she downloaded off the internet.

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My opinion is that it is a good suggestion depending on your target audience. Younger generations will be able to easily pick up on the basics as most younger people tend to be "web-centric". They could care less the OS as long as they can access their web apps. In their case they would be able to pick up on the nuances of browsing and downloading pics and videos with ease. The benefit here is that though it is till security through obscurity, the attack vector is not Linux alone but a combination of linux and the browser which are constantly competing to to claim security superiority (the browsers). They are less likely to get infected this way even if they do something stupid (not impossible though). The older your target audience gets thought the harder the challenge. not because they are stupid though. It is generally because of what their expectations are in a computer. they have most likely spent their entire computing lives on windows releases and they have a different level of expectations in the form of usability and support. They can pick it up but they will be a little more finicky about it though since linux tends to be a support it yourself proposition. I use both windows and linux at work and at home. I prefer linux for most everything but Windows does still have the edge in some areas. If you feel that strongly about your OS/Distro choice, you should create a USB Stick loaded with your distro that runs and provide it to those friends with instructions on how to boot to it. If they like it they will come back for more help from you. if they do not, they will stick with what they know and will continue to have their problems until you or someone else educates them on how to properly use their OS of choice. An old saying goes that you are what you eat; the same applies to computers, if you feed your computer garbage is will become that regardless of your OS choice.

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I only use linux etc etc bu in all honesty the people getting infected on the windows side are going to be the same people who you install linux for and they constantly get confused why the .exe they are trying to install from some random website isnt working. Get confused when this or that happens. It comes down to, you can either charge them to fix there windows machine :), install linux and maintain it until they are semi competent ( which is easier now with VNC etc) or just ignore it and let them get by how they are. Maybe suggest an antivirus, firefox + adblock + noflash and the host file from mvphosts.

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