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I have read through a lot of the older threads here and I think I can find a Linux replacement for all my Windows applications. However, I am a little worried about replacing Frontpage. Most of what I do with it is pretty light duty work. It sounds like Mozilla Composer will do WYSIWYG work fairly well in the Linux version. Am I right in assuming that?
Also on hardware what kind of RAM would you recommend for a desktop use?
About the hardware, I was pretty happy with a Pentium233 and 64M of RAM, I only had to be careful and not using too much resource hoggers at once. Hardware is hardly going to be a problem.
The best free one is Mozilla's Composer, it is a lot better than the composer of the Netscape 4.x days. I get by well with Composer and Gimp. IBM has a wysiwyg, Studio Homepage Builder [www-3.ibm.com] -- I haven't tried it.
I agree that you could get by with a lot less hardware with Linux if you chose too. I use light weight apps as much as possible. I don't use KDE or Gnome, but rather fluxbox [cgi-fun.hypermart.net], but a lot of folks expect a feature rich desktop and I think that is probably a good place for most coming from windows to start.
Of course, if you want efficient and light I got entirely different suggestions.
Stay away from any distro that encourages people to run as root (the boss user), I only know of two distors that do this, Lindows and RedFlag Linux (the main distribution in China). Most of the Linux distributions are very responsible when it comes to security,
Most of the Linux distributions are very responsible when it comes to security
They are, at the very least, much more responsible than M$. However, as far as I know most distributions still have the problem that they install by default far more network listening services than the user is likely to need. In many places, running a local DNS server is still considered standard, and for most users there is no reason to do so. Likewise web servers, MTAs, and networked printing systems like LRPNG or Cups. I've even seen a few installations where an (O)RDBMS had been set up, either because it was a default or because it was only identified as a "database" in the installation system and the user thought it sounded useful.
Mind you, none of those things is horribly dangerous in and of itself. My personal desktop is actually running one of each of the programs listed above, along with a couple other services. The problem with installing all of them is that each additional service is a possible route of attack if it has a vulnerability. Such vulnerabilities are discovered all the time, and usually the Free software community patches them promptly. If you don't know that you have a piece of software installed, though, you don't know that you need to update it, and the security threat grows. The vunerability only becomes better known and tools to exploit it more avaiable and easier to use as time goes on, making it worse and worse to have an un-patched system.
One example of this phenomenon is the recent OpenSSL vunerability, and the Apache.Slapper worm that took advantage of it. If I hadn't known that I was running several services that used OpenSSL, I would hardly have thought to go download and apply the fix.
Most distros are working on this problem, though, and anyone coming from a Windows OS should find the speed of updates pleasantly refreshing. Personally, I find Debian's "apt" package managment system combined with the efforts of their security team very valuable. Just add a line to your sources.list specifying to check security.debian.org for updated packages, and then make a practice of checking for updates evey week or so, and you should be fine. I've actually seen updated packages available to address a problem before CERT issued their report on several occasions. I understand Red Hat has something like this now, but I've never used it myself.