Even if you pirate Microsoft programs, you are still working for its domination in its marketing department and you should be paid for it.
The world is changing and is going anywhere, so we have to try to follow it. Our customers got updated too. The biggest problems for us, were in Excel files written in Unicode cyrilic letters. They were not readable in our Win3.11, Excel viewers could read and print them in Windows 9x, but we could not do anything more without any at least Excel 97 around. In general, there have been too many question marks to solve...
The only answer was, that we had to leave our good, well known virus-proof reservate in Windows 3.11 and get updated. Decision was made in the begin of 2003: we have to update now.
Questions to discuss were:
1. new Windows XP + Office XP + new computer + (perhaps?) yearly 'upgrade' payments + threat of getting (shame of spreading?) viruses + not much time and effort to learn new things
2. any Linux + new disk + new RAM + lot of work at the begining for installation and learning + less cash expences.
We have decided to try the second option, even if none of us had data education. We have seen some Linuxes alive, but we have not seen any of them at any office work simmilar to ours. We have tried some distributions and final choice was hard, it means Debian. Installation process at that time (2002) was (in)famous, but it was easy to get Unicode working. There exist many other reasonable solutions now, but at that time we had no choice.
We have tried distributions from Polish computer magazines: Mandrake - no Unicode in basic installation, Knoppix, Juicy Linux - bad recognition of our old graphic card, Polish(ed) Linux Distribution - almost Debian, but different. Debian Woody distribution, which was published in Poland in 2002 contained 8CDs, so at least, there was the most complete distribution, which I had.
I knew Debian's (in)famous installation hardships from observation of Norwegian
Skolelinux project since 2001. Lucky for next people,
who will try alternatives to mainstream, it is much easier now.
Unicode is widely supported and istallation procedures even in Debian are much easier to overcome.
Regret, it is still not true, that
OpenOffice.org can read all files from MS Word, except extremely complicated
Then, it does not read well our MS Word 2.0 files, then, it does not see scanned and pasted into MS Word document images without any later text. MS Excel spreadsheets pasted into MS Word documents are seen by OpenOffice as graphics.
I have installed Windows viewers: for MS Word 97 and MS Excel 97 and Keyview 6.0 via emulator Wine, so at least part of problems is solved in this way.
After one month of experiments and configuration we have got experimental box, possible to use for future learning at daily tasks: reading files, editing majority of files, printing files, scanning pictures and connecting to internet via modem and later broadband, including contacts with our bank.
Is it not too high price paid in labour?
In fact I do not know. I general, savings on new licences are approximately same as my monthly salary. Perhaps, the experience will be profitable in future.
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