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My July fund-raising campaign, celebrating the 13th anniversary of the start of this website, has now ended. This was the second most successful monthly fund-raising campaign ever. Thank you again to everyone who has who donated or subscribed. It is difficult to explain what your support means to me.


You can still donate or subscribe to support my work if you wish, either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are four ways of doing so:


1. Zelle: This is the only internet method that charges no fees. All you have to do is use the Zelle link at your internet bank and give my name and email address (zimmerman at nasw dot org). What you donate is what I get.


2. Patreon: Go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation.

3. A Paypal Donation:

4. A Paypal subscription:

5. Donate by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman and mailed to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
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Dumping Windows and Apple and switching to Linux

My regular readers know about my utter contempt for Microsoft and its terrible Windows operating system. Any company that treats its customers like dirt, as Microsoft routinely does, does not deserve the business of anyone. I realized this reality two decades ago, and successfully switched to Linux back in 2006. I have never regretted it.

Moreover, the increasingly intolerant behavior of big tech companies like Microsoft to free speech increases the need for people to free themselves from them. The willingness of these companies to also treat your privacy and personal data as a plaything for their use, without your permission, is another rational reason to stop depending on them.

Linux accomplishes this, in that its open source software structure is really controlled by no one. There is also no software company using the operating system to gather your data for its own purposes.

In 2016, after seeing a number of my posts noting the advantages of Linux (or anything) over Windows, one of my readers, James Stephens, offered to write a series for Behind the Black describing step-by-step the process by which one gets and installs Linux on either a desktop or laptop computer. Below are the links to this series. I have since used it myself as a guide to convert two used Windows 7 notebooks (purchased for $35 and $80) to my favorite flavor of Linux, both of which I use regularly as my travel computers.

I wish more people would do the same, which is why I am reposting the links to this series again. Though six years have passed, James instructions still apply perfectly, as I can attest as I used this series to convert the second laptop only a year ago. Nonetheless, James has added an addendum to Part 2, which brings the entire series up to date.

I am sure almost everyone has an old computer they don’t use anymore. It will work like new with Linux. Dig it out, follow James’ instructions below and free yourself from Windows. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Jeff

    Thanks to Bob and James, I tried Linux Mint on my old failing Windows 7 desktop. I can not be happier. My old software was bloated with the typical MS “software rot” and continually gave me errors and crashes. Installation was very quick and painless with minimal hiccups.

    With the old Win 7 software, boot up was a long tedious exercise. I was used to waiting minute after minute to see what error would pop up next. Now I can flip on the power and this old machine will boot and be ready to work in 50 seconds! Amazing.

    Thanks again.

  • The internet basically runs on linux
    it is simply more robust and secure.

    For a personal computer or a 2nd personal computer
    I am using the inexpensive Raspberry Pi as a starter.
    Very good dual video in latest models
    Costs about $150 but need your own flat screen and keyboard and mouse
    You may just have those lying around

    It can do all the same things and more, but is a bit different.
    A great backup machine.
    Raspberry Pi started as an education tool and grew to a huge
    user base. Meaning there is a lot of help.

    Check in with your local teenager and see if they can help

    Rob in Solana

  • Shallow Minded Reader

    Rasberry Pi, not for the average Jane or Joe. You can get a very decent linux laptop for $150 or less from online auctions such as Ebay might cost you a little bit more.

  • Phill O

    It is time to change!

    Does anyone know if Linux will load Microsoft office 97.

    I find the older stuff more user friendly (for me)

  • Phill O: I am certain the Wine emulator will run Office 97. I use it to run Office 2003.

    However, a smarter choice would be to switch to either LibreOffice or OpenOffice, which do the same as Office but with more options.

  • pzatchok

    Rob Fryer

    Can I change what Linux I am running on that PI or am I stuck with what they give me?

    Can it boot to a flash drive?

  • BZZZzzz___

    Other than network stuff, I haven’t bought a piece of computer hardware since installing Ubuntu 10.04. (Oct., 2004-see how intuitive Linux is). I’m dual booting three machines + my dailey driver is a dedicated Linux box.
    Everyone gives me their discards, even after I tell them they could have it themselves after I do an install for them. Some folks are just scared of different, I guess. +++++ No Anti-virus needed!!!!!

  • Gary H

    I’ve used Ubuntu to run as a media server on a low power system. I’ve also used Open Office for the last 15 years. There is a sense of freedom when escaping the Microsoft/Apple landscape. I just wish it was equally easy to escape the Apple/Android operating systems.

  • James Stephens

    F.Y.I. I’m using Manjaro KDE edition. It’s beautiful! It’s a rolling distribution based on ARCH. I have used the same installation for years and years. It’s seen plenty of updates. They go quick, just a minute or two and I’ve never had a problem. It has changed some over the years as features have been added. The only maintenance I’ve done is to remove orphans, packages of software which are no longer used. They are kept just in case. It’s easy to do. But it isn’t in any way necessary. I just like to keep a clean machine. I must deal with Windows and Apple at work. It’s a pleasure to get home to a computer which works and doesn’t argue with me. Everybody at work complains and complains about the computers. Why can’t they work like yours? Then I tell them my computer runs Linux and they are shocked. “Oh, god! Not that!” To this day so much fear surrounds Linux and H.R. has a real hatred of it. I don’t get it. Well, I think H.R. just wants to sell expensive never ending Microsoft training.

  • mdmill

    RZ: What is your current favorite flavor of linux?

  • mdmill: I use Kubuntu. I picked it because I could set it up to run almost entirely from the keyboard.

    I also am not the one to ask, as I tend to not make changes once I am happy. There might be far better and more frequently update flavors as well as versions of Kubuntu available.

  • Fred

    Any such thing as a Linux phone? If so, any recommendations?

  • James Stephens

    Fred – Most phones run on a Linux kernel however the shell and GI may stink like Android. I installed Ubuntu on one of my phones and it works well but finding a U.S. carrier has been a problem. They are all married to Google. Linux phones are more widely used in Europe. I may try a Pine Phone by Manjaro if I can find a carrier here in the land of the free.

  • Joe

    pzatchok, I have been running either Raspian or Ubuntu ion my Raspberry Pis. Both work without issue. The Raspian software loader has a pretty good selection of Linux flavors to choose from.

    I’ve been a Mac based life form for decades, so I have a few Mac computers and an iPad computer conversion. But everything else runs Linux of one flavor or another. I have one Windows laptop for the spaceflight software that I absolutely have to run. The days I use that thing are completely draining.

  • Htos1av

    Since linux kernel 1.2 for me! On the 16 core workstation today, I like OpenSuse Tumbleweed.

  • sock_rat_eez

    I am running a PinePhone (braveheart) with Mobian (Debian for mobile) – pretty functional these days, but still a little bit of a work-in-progress, too. There is a multi-boot image for SD card at

    which would let you try out all of the current OS candidates.

    all the remarks above re Linux on old hardware are heartily seconded ! We are mostly Linux Mint here.

  • Alex Andrite

    Good stuff here !
    Attempting to convert a (32bit) IBM ThinkPad, AMDcpu, 768ram.
    >>Version 20.3 “Una” Release Date: January 7, 2022 Release Notes
    Linux Mint is now 64 bit only. Available with your choice of the following desktops. Cinnamon Desktop, Mate Desktop, and Xfce Desktop.
    Any recommends for Disc source for same ?


  • Alex Andrite: I use Kubuntu on both 32 and 64 bit machines, so I know it was available for both. However, newer versions might not be. You need to research this.

    Hopefully someone else might chime in with suggestions.

  • Alex Andrite

    Thanks Mr.Z.
    I have defaulted to amazon and ordered both a disc and usb for 32/64 machines. Both include Mint, Cinnamon, usb / w Cinnamon MATE Xfc.
    Thanks again for the nudge to get me off of “you know what”.
    Three laptops await my attention. Will begin with oldest – XP 32b.

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No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


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Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

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