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I am now running my annual July fund-raising campaign to celebrate the twelfth anniversary of the establishment of Behind the Black. For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. These companies practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.


Thus, I must have your direct support to keep this webpage alive. Not only does the money pay the bills, it gives me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.


Please consider donating by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

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If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
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You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage or shown in the menu above. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

Why I use Linux, part 3

5 Unintended Consequences of Windows 10 Upgradegate

The bottom line: Microsoft’s culture has always been that of an immoral bully who has no ethics, even when they created good software (which was not often). Why anyone would continue to rely on them baffles me completely.

Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • James Stephens

    Though I’m a die hard Linux user I am required to support Windows. With all the Windows drama I can honestly say Linux is far easer to deal with, epically in enterprise deployments. But for the life of me I do not understand those who have been burned time after time but refuse to use anything other then windows. I think it’s fear.

  • James Stephens: Fear is part of it. An unwillingness to invest a lot of time switching over is another. For example, when I made my switch 10 years ago it took about four months of work. First I purchased the new computer and had Linux installed on it. Then installed the machine on my desk, next to my Windows machine, and bought a KVM unit so that I could switch between the two machines using a single mouse, keyboard and monitor. I then spent the next few months each night playing with the Linux box, making sure I could get it set up to run the software I needed, either Linux software or Windows software using emulators. I also had to spend time figuring out how to get it to operate all my hardware. After four months, I had everything working, and made the switch, which went smoothly only because I had done all that preliminary work.

    Today things are much easier. Almost all hardware will work out of the box on Linux, and the most important software that people use (browsers, email, word processing) are almost all designed to work on all operating systems. For example, if you use Thunderbird and Firefox for email and browsing, then you will simply use them in Linux.

    Nonetheless, there is still work involved making this switch. It is absolutely worth it, but this one obstacle appears to be the biggest reason people who want to switch don’t.

  • Mitch S.

    And when Microsoft converts enough 7 and 8 machines to 10 will it drop the other shoe – tell people they don’t own their Win10, they are just getting to use it with Microsoft’s permission.
    Then comes the subscription fee program…

    Frankly I don’t mind paying for good software. But I like to know what I’m going to be charged before I make a commitment.
    Steve Ballmer may have retired but his style is still imprinted on Microsoft.

  • m d mill

    Can you recommend a Linux OS that has the “drag and drop, copy and paste” desktop “feel” most like Windows XP ? thanks

  • James Stephens


    Yes, things are much easer these days. I have brought many over to “the dark side.” And with a just little coaching most people take to it like a duck to water. Instillation is super easy and Linux takes care of itself. And other then some gaming their’s nothing I can’t do with Linux. And as many popular games are now becoming available for Linux that to is changing. The push to W-10 and other issues makes sticking with Windows seem difficult by comparison. I see more people more frustrated and confused by Windows then I’ve seen with Linux. In fact I rarely hear from the folks I’ve moved to Linux other then to say everything is working just fine. And oh, would you install it on my new computer. One last point, a lot of software for Linux is free of charge, but but not all. Some games and enterprise software must be purchased and that is as it should be.

  • I am probably not the best to ask, because I don’t play with numerous Linux flavors. I started with Debian KDE because in 2006 it allowed me to create a theme that looked and acted almost exactly like Win98, and have basically stuck with it, though it no longer does that exactly.

    My present system is the KDE flavor of Ubuntu, Kubuntu, though I am not using the most recent version, as the people maintaining it decided to get fancy and thus made things harder to do. Instead, I use Kubuntu 14.04.

    The advantage of Linux is you can install multiple flavors on your machine, and switch between them. If you are thinking of switching, grab an older computer that’s lying around the house, stick Linux on it plus some flavors (Ubunutu, Mint, Kubuntu, etc) and try them out.

  • m d mill

    Also …could Microsoft be continually moving people to new versions so their copyright is continually renewed?
    W98se is probably nearly out of copyright by now and i was still using that until a year ago when all providers kicked me of their websites!). This is simply another version of Microsoft planned obsolescence…When my XP is no longer acceptable, I will move to a multi-boot Linux (or an android notebook?) and boot to my old (still installable) XP OS for old fast essential windows programs.

  • ken anthony

    My win 8.1 install is on my terabyte drive… No disc. On occasion I’ve had to reinstall which includes crapware I have to spend a few hours getting rid of each time (I use Revo.)

    I tried installing Linux Mint a few years back and it bricked my laptop. Before I’d had no problem with it on a desktop machine which died on me a few years ago.

    My developer tools have become obsolete (or is that me?) I can’t find anything that performs as well as an ADO recordset on a SQL db (against Access, SQL Server, MySQL, etc.)

    I used to manage over a million lines of code by myself. Now I can’t even write a simple utility because all the tools I’ve tried are crap.

    I know what I want, but it doesn’t exist. I’m just not up to writing a whole development environment myself. I really used to enjoy coding.

  • Willi

    Still running XP on my one remaining functioning desktop PC. Also, still getting monthly updates from Micro$oft as well as occasional updates from Mozilla (browser), Adobe (PDF reader) and Avira (anti-virus). Hope to get another dead PC running so as to access the XP on its hard drive.

  • James Stephens

    m d mill….

    For those new to Linux I would recommend LinuxMint 17.3 Cinnamon or MATE editions. Both would be familiar to an XP user. Both can be themed to look and feel almost exactly like XP if you want. Cinnamon is very tight and almost bulletproof but requires hardware acceleration. MATE is solid and stable and requires no hardware acceleration making it suitable for older computers. Installation of ether one is simple. I love the KDE edition but it might overwhelm a new user.

    FYI – LinuxMint is derived from Ubuntu which in turn is derived from Debian. So as you can see the development of Linux has been evolutionary making it predictable and stable.

  • A great way to enjoy Windows 10 is with a refurbished Windows 7 or 8 device and doing the free upgrade. It’s like getting a full PC or tablet for the traditional price of the operating system. I hated Windows 7 and find 10 to be a refreshing return to basics, since it abandons the awkward and indirect feature of libraries in favor of plain folders. It has been very stable since installation 11 months ago. I love it on a tablet since it has the full desktop version of Firefox, unlike Android. It’s impressive that it runs well on a 1 GB platform thanks to memory compression, which gives me hope for a netbook revival.

    Linux can coexist with Windows. I love Ubuntu MATE 16.04 32 bit. It handles photo editing and audio projects. It calmly awaits user commands instead of being busy with mysterious hard drive activity for minutes on end. The classic, time tested desktop interface is a pleasure compared to trendy smart phone or tablet style interfaces. The only area Linux falls short is in video editing. Windows 10 can run Windows Movie Maker and deliver excellent HD results.

  • m d mill

    To Ken Anthony:
    It does seem planned obsolescence is the name of the game now. In order to make money on a product that isn’t really any better you obsolete the old version. And as a series of know nothing “managers” try to justify their jobs by making “improvements”, the degradation of once great applications becomes almost certain.
    I don’t see applications or websites getting easier or better…there are more and more hoops one must jump and dross to put up with. It reminds me of NASA putting men on the moon in 1969 with supposedly rudimentary technology, but we have not really done anything as spectacular since.

  • m d mill

    To daniel oines:
    If you say W10 is going back to a more classic windows design (like xp or w98), then maybe i should give it a look
    (for free). But others have said it is very confusing, with another learning curve.

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