1 Why Switch to Linux

2 Linux to the Rescue

3 Create Your Own Linux Computer

4 Set Up Linux Mint

5 Benefits of LibreOffice Writer

6 How to Use LibreOffice

7 Edit Images with Free Linux Tools

8 More Free Linux Tools

9 More Reasons to Switch to Linux

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You would be a fool to use anything but Linux.”
Thomas Bushnell, Google Technical Projects Director, April 29, 2012

Welcome to our comprehensive step by step guide on how to install and use free open source tools (software) such as Linux and LibreOffice. Open source means the software is free and can be shared by anyone with anyone for any purpose. Open source is like a public library...free and open knowledge shared with the community for the common good. Free as in Freedom. No patents, no hassles, no barriers, no limits!

In this course, we first explain the benefits of Linux over MS Windows and Apple. We then explain how to transform a revolutionary new laptop called the Acer C910 into a fully functioning Linux computer. We also explain how to set up a Linux computer and how to use LibreOffice to create and edit documents – including MS Word documents. Finally, we explain how to use Linux to edit images, participate in video conferences and a host of other activities.

This is the first of 8 courses we offer at College in the Clouds on using free Open Source solutions to share knowledge.
While all of our remaining courses are about creating interactive websites using online tools and programs, this course is about what happens before we go online. It is about document preparation. Before we build our website, we have to create and prepare content for our website. For most people, this means typing out text and inserting images into a Microsoft “Word” document on a Windows computer.

Sadly, when you try to transfer these images to a website, the Microsoft coding is so bloated, it can actually crash your website. The images often have huge file sizes and will not load properly. This is because Microsoft programs have not been “optimized” for the Internet. For that matter, neither are Apple Mac document processing programs.

Thankfully, there is another better option that is actually free. It is called Libre Office. The text transfers to websites seamlessly because Libre Writer documents lack the complex coding of Microsoft documents. A free image optimization program is build right into Libre Writer to help you reduce the file size of images before importing them to your website. While you can get Libre Office for Windows and/or Apple, Libre Office comes with and is intended for use with a Linux computer. There are dozens of other free Linux based image producing and editing programs we will be using to prepare our website content during the remaining 7 courses. So, if you really want to create the best possible interactive website, the time to learn Linux and Libre Office is now.
What is Linux?
Linux is a free computer operating system that works on almost any computer.
Linux runs 90% of all super computers – because it is the fastest system in the world.
Linux runs 80% of the world’s stock markets – because it is the safest in existence.
Linux runs 70% of all smart phones - because it is a simple system that is easy to learn.
Linux runs 60% of the world’s Internet servers - because it is very dependable.
Linux runs 50% of all tablets - because it is the most versatile operating system. Linux is so versatile that it can run almost any Microsoft Windows program – including MS Office. Most important, Linux does not allow the NSA to access to the data on your computer. In short, Linux is the foundation for our global economy and the largest shared technology in history. Linux is also a free open source alternative to the Windows 8 & Windows 10!

Why Learn Linux and LibreOffice?
The reason to learn Linux and Libre Office is not merely about creating better documents for our websites. It is about learning the advantages of using free open source community centered tools instead of closed source greed based tools. The reason Linux and Libre Writer are both free – and work so well - is the same reason that Joomla is free and works so well for building and managing websites. It is because both Linux and Joomla are developed by a “community.” The goal isn't to create a profit. The goal is to create a better world, to create a better way to share knowledge.


A free community centered world is difficult for people to understand when they have grown up in a world that constantly tells them that “greed is good.” But where has this greed centered world gotten us? Unchecked greed has led to a world in which billionaires have bought our elections and destroyed our democracy. Billionaires have consolidated the media and prevented people from learning the truth about the world around them. The concentration of wealth and power have lead to a world where millions of young adults are more than one trillion dollars in debt – to the point where they cannot even think about buying a home or settling down and having a family. Instead, over half of all young adults under the age of 25 are either working minimum wage jobs or not working at all.

Billionaires and greed have not only destroyed our democracy, our economy and our education system, but they have also destroyed our environment. Fires, floods, drought and famine are only the early signs of a changing climate. Thanks to billionaire control of our elections and our media, nothing can be done or will be done to improve our economy or our climate until we first end the power of billionaires to control us all.

This is the most important reason to move away from Microsoft and Apple. It is because these are the tools that billionaires use to enslave the rest of us. Controlling and limiting the way we share knowledge is the source of billions and even trillions of dollars of their profit. Every dollar we pay for a Windows based or Apple based computer or program is another dollar taken away from the people and put into the hands of the billionaires. Only by moving to Linux and other free open source community based tools can we break those chains and gain true intellectual freedom.

If you have had enough of Windows 8 viruses, the Blue Screen of Death and Microsoft’s never ending stream of model changes and price increases, we will show you how to switch to a less expensive and more reliable alternative for your home, school and work computers – and then provide you with specific instructions on how to use these free open source tools.

NOTE: The best way to learn how to use open source tools is NOT by merely reading this book – but rather by following the instructions and using the screen shots to add open source tools to your computer as you read each chapter in this book! In other words, first read the chapter, then watch the video, then go back and follow the directions before proceeding to the next chapter.

Why Have Windows Computers Have Become So Unreliable?
You may be aware that Microsoft users suffered so many crashes with their Windows 8 operating system that it was eventually replaced with the Windows 10 operating system – which is also suffering from massive failure problems and security breaches. We will begin by considering several important questions.

First, why has Microsoft been allowed to continue their monopoly of computer operating systems even after two federal judges found Microsoft guilty of repeatedly violating the Sherman Antitrust Act?The Microsoft Monopoly exemption occurred at the exact same time Microsoft gave the NSA access to all Windows computers. In fact, the Microsoft Monopoly exemption was granted by the same judge who later became the FISA court NSA judge! Could it be that our government secretly agreed to allow the Microsoft monopoly to continue in exchange for Microsoft giving the NSA access to all Windows computers?
Second, why would Microsoft risk their company and offend their users by moving away from a popular operating system like Windows 7 to an extremely unstable and complex operating system like Windows 8?
There were many strange things about Windows 8 that did not make sense. For example, why is the Windows 8 operating system actually two different operating systems with two different control panels and two different versions of the Internet Explorer web browser and two different sets of user interfaces? An operating system this complex has never existed before. Neither Windows XP nor Windows 7 had more than one control panel or more than one web browser. Also, why are our user names and passwords for Windows 8 now stored on a database at Microsoft rather than inside of our own computers as was the case with Windows 7? Such an invasion of privacy has never occurred before.

Third, why was Microsoft forcing all computer manufacturers to move away from a simple stable computer startup program called BIOS to a new complex and unstable startup program called UEFI? Why should Microsoft even care what program computer manufacturers use to startup our computers? Why was the development of UEFI done in secret? Where did UEFI come from? Who created it? When was it created and what is its purpose? And why is UEFI ten times the size of BIOS if its only function is to tun on the computer and then hand the process over to the operating system?

Fourth, why does the UEFI startup program include a controversial feature called “Secure Boot”? Since its inception, Secure Boot has raised alarm bells among computer users because it gives Microsoft almost total control over our computers by preventing us from loading any program which is not approved by Microsoft. Members of the open source community have called this strange process “Restricted Boot” (see cartoon below). Where did secure boot come from? Who created it and what is its purpose?

Fifth, does Secure Boot included a “Windows Kill Switch” which Microsoft (or the NSA) could use to kill your computer? Not only did the answer turn out to be yes, but the kill switch appears to be the main purpose of Windows 8!

Sixth, how does the Windows open back door work?it has been clear to many computer users that since 1998 Microsoft has used an “open back door” to make “updates” to our computers. This back door was created when Microsoft introduced Internet Explorer 4 and embedded this web browser into the Windows 98 operating system. I wanted to know how this back door worked, whether it could be turned off (it can’t) and what kind of changes it could make in your computer – even without your permission. What was the connection between the open back door andthe increasing number of Windows Updates containing malicious code which crash Windows computers?

Seventh, what was the Flame virus and how is the Flame virus related to Windows Update problems? In June 2012, Microsoft admitted that a super virus named Flame was using the open back door to remotely attack Windows computers. This led me to research several more questions: What is the Flame virus? Who created it? When was it created? What is its purpose and how does it work?

Why have Microsoft’s monthly updates gone crazy during the past few years?
Why are there so many reports of these updates crashing computers?

By June, 2013, I had uncovered some very disturbing answers to all of the above questions. Even before the Snowden revelations, I came to the conclusion that the real purpose of Windows 8, UEFI, Secure Boot and the open back door to the Windows operating system has little to do with what we have been told and more to do with Microsoft and the NSA taking over total control of our computers.

Then on June 6, 2013, the incredible Edward Snowden articles exposing the relationship between Microsoft and the NSA started to appear.
We now know, thanks to the Snowden revelations in June 2013 that Big Brother is downloading not only all of our phone calls and emails – but every document in every Windows computer. One slide in particular indicated that in 2007 Microsoft helped the NSA jump start a secret mass surveillance program called PRISM.

I was already aware that in 2007, shortly after joining the Prism program, Microsoft launched a parallel program to provide the NSA with a “kill switch” on all Windows 8 computers via a new secret startup program called UEFI with an ominous feature called Secure Boot. After the Snowden revelations, I realized that the most important aspect of this book was to warn people about the dangers of Windows 8, UEFI and Secure Boot and provide computer users with a way to regain control over their computers by helping them switch to the Linux operating system.The goal of this book is two fold: first to help you become more aware of the problems of using the Microsoft operating system – and especially the problems associated with Windows 8, UEFI and Secure Boot – and to provide you with step by step instructions on how to add and use the Linux operating system and the Libre Office word processing program.

Edward Snowden, speaking from Moscow correctly noted, “America cannot succeed as a country where individuals like Mr. Levison have to relocate their businesses abroad to be successful.” The next day, another US email encryption provider, Silent Circle, shut down. Another US “secure” email service, Hushmail, caved and handed over their database to the NSA. Once people realize that their data is not safe with Hushmail, they too will go out of business. The lesson here is that the only safety for your data is by moving your cloud data and email service to servers which are located outside of the United States.

"If you run a business, and the FBI or NSA want to turn it into a mass surveillance tool, they believe they can do so, solely on their own initiative. They can force you to modify your system. They can do it all in secret and then force your business to keep that secret. Once they do that, you no longer control that part of your business. In a very real sense, it is not your business anymore. It is an arm of the vast US surveillance apparatus, and if your interest conflicts with theirs then they win. Your business has been commandeered."

Security Expert Bruce Schneier August 30 2013

Economic Suicide
The problem with NSA surveillance is that our entire economy depends upon email privacy for efficient communications. For the past 20 years, the one bright spot of the US economy has been our lead in technology and cloud computing. However, businesses and individuals do not want their data handed over to their competitors. They have seen how the NSA handed over Airbus data to Boeing. Businesses will increasingly migrate their data to places they view are safer. The systematic takeover or closure of companies such as Lavabit, Silent Circle, Hushmail, Microsoft, Google, Apple, AOL and all other “partners” of the NSA mean that all of these companies will eventually be driven out of business – because their business model cannot succeed when their potential customers know they are being run by and for the NSA. All of their employees will lose their jobs. Some economists have estimated that American technology businesses could lose over $100billion in cloud computing contracts worldwide over the next three years as businesses move their data overseas to avoid the NSA. However, cloud contracts are just the tip of the iceberg. As people around the world realize that companies such as Microsoft and Apple cannot be trusted to protect their data or their privacy, the total economic loss to the US will be in the trillions of dollars and millions of US technology workers will likely lose their jobs – all thanks to the cyber monster called the NSA.

 ”The U.S. government, in its rush to spy on everybody, may end up killing our most productive industry. Lavabit may just be the canary in the coal mine.” Jennifer Granick Stanford Center for Internet and Society

Hopefully, having read our book this far, you now have a better understanding of why we should all make the move to the Linux free open source operating system.

The Search for a Better Alternative Begins
After learning that Microsoft was going to pull the rug out from under hundreds of millions of Windows XP users, I began a quest in search of other better options. One option would be to spend $1,000 or more on an Apple computer. The problem here is that many people cannot afford to spend an extra thousand dollars. That is why they were still using Windows XP instead of Windows 7. In addition, Apple is a monopoly linked to the NSA just like Microsoft. I soon realized that free open source programs are our only real option. I was aware that the best selling laptops at Amazon.com are Google Chromebooks, used the Linux operating system (which Google calls Chrome OS). These Chromebooks are inexpensive, lightweight and a feature reliable and fast Solid State Drives – with additional capacity provided by USB flash drives. When asked why Google chose to use the Linux operating system on their internal computers and on their Chrome OS, the Google Technical Projects Director Thomas Bushnell said it was about security. He said that Google was a target for hackers and that the Linux operating system was the safest operating system in existence. But Chromebooks are pretty limiting. Google Chrome is limited to using Google Docs. What I was looking for was a solution which would work on any computer and run any program. Since the Google Chrome operating system was based on the Linux Ubuntu operating system, Linux Ubuntu was my next stop. I tried four versions of Ubuntu. But they all had serious problems with their filing system. Ubuntu looks like the Apple interface and the Google Chrome interface because the Apple operating system and the Google Chrome operating system are close cousins of the Ubuntu operating system. But all of these operating systems have filing systems which are more difficult to use than the Windows filing system. I really wanted something that was as close as possible to Windows so that my students would not have to face a steep learning curve.

Linux Mint... A free open source version of Windows XP and Windows 7
Then I tried a free open source program called Linux Mint Mate. I was stunned. The Start Menu and filing system not only worked almost exactly like Windows XP and Windows 7, in many ways it was better! Linux Mint comes with a free open source word processor called Libre Office. Libre Office is better than Microsoft Office and can work with all of my Word and Excel and Power Point documents. It even works with PDF and HTML documents. Libre Office comes pre-installed on Linux Mint Mate – along with hundreds of other free open source programs! Are you ready to learn the power and freedom of Linux and Libre Office? Let’s get started!

If you have any questions, feel free to post them on our website forum!

David Spring, M.Ed. 
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