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9 More Reasons to Switch to Linux

In this chapter, we will review four final steps to freedom.

9.1 Switch to a More Secure Web Browser
9.2 How to Send Secure Emails
9.3 Secure Video Conferences
9.4 Linux for Learners
As flowers beneath May’s footstep waken,

As stars from Night’s loose hair are shaken,
As waves arise when loud winds call,
Thoughts sprung where that step did fall...


A rushing light of clouds and splendor,

A sense awakening and yet tender
Was heard and felt – and at its close,


These words of joy and fear arose...

Rise like Lions after slumber, in unvanquishable number.

Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you.

We are many – they are few... We are many – they are few!


Percy Shelley, 1819, after the slaughter of pro-democracy protesters in Manchester England



Knowledge is Power, Freedom is a Process
There is a strong and historic relationship between freedom of knowledge, freedom to share, freedom to learn and freedom to live in a democracy. This is why Thomas Jefferson was such a strong advocate for public schools and public education. He understood that knowledge is power and informed voters are our best chance for a durable democracy. But democracy like freedom is a process.

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Learning Linux and LibreOffice is only the first step in protecting our freedom to share and our freedom to learn. In this article, we will cover additional steps you can take to continue your progress towards freedom. As I did the research for this book, I often asked myself – how could things have ever gotten this bad? Why have we allowed the Microsoft monopoly go on so long that this Evil Empire is now in control over 90% of the world's two billion computers?

Monopolies versus Communities - Strength in Diversity
A key benefit of Linux is that it consists of diverse communities of users – one of which is the Linux Mint community. A community is the opposite of a monopoly. Instead of one wealthy person controlling the entire world access to knowledge, people themselves build the computer platforms by which knowledge is shared. Yet we can see the increasing trend towards private monopoly not only in our computer systems but also in our news media where news outlets are almost completely controlled by billionaires. The solution here is also to build and use bottom up news organizations.

Use Alternative News Sources instead of the Corporate Nonsense Media
If we have learned anything from the Snowden revelations, it is that we cannot rely on the corporate controlled media to keep us informed about what our government is doing to us. This means that we have to consciously seek out alternate sources of information. One key resource for the Snowden revelations has been Glenn Greenwald and theguardian.com. Other important sources include opednews.com, alternet.com, counterpunch.com, commondreams.org and zerohedge.com. Some of these are regarded as left leaning websites and others are regarded as right leaning websites. But we need to move away from the left versus right distraction and recognize that the current greatest threat to our freedom is not the left or the right, but rather it is corporate fascism – or the corporate control of government and of people. There are also several excellent websites to get information about new developments in the free sharing of knowledge. These include the Linux Mint website and the Libre Office website. Other excellent websites for keeping up on open source technology are techrights.org and techdirt.com.

Tech News Websites and Organizations

https://forums.linuxmint.com/

https://ask.libreoffice.org/en/questions/

https://libreplanet.org/wiki/Main_Page

https://en.libreofficeforum.org/

https://techrights.org/?stories

https://www.techdirt.com/

General Alternative News Sources

https://www.theguardian.com/us

https://www.alternet.org/

https://www.counterpunch.org/

https://www.democracynow.org/

https://www.opednews.com/

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheRealNews

https://www.thomhartmann.com/tv

https://www.truthdig.com/

https://usawatchdog.com/

https://www.washingtonsblog.com/

https://www.zerohedge.com/

Open Source Community Organizing
Another way to become better informed about the evolving story of free open source knowledge sharing tools is to join or start a local open source community. There are open source communities all over the world being organized through a group called Libre Planet. To a search on this term to find a group near you and the time and location of their next meeting.
https://libreplanet.org/wiki/LibrePlanet:Local_Teams/List

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There are also many Linux forums where you can post questions to and read answers to questions posted by other beginners.
https://www.linux.org/forums/

There are also many “linux user groups” - also known as LUGs.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Linux_user_groups
https://dir.yahoo.com/computers_and_internet/software/operating_systems/unix/linux/user_groups/

A Linux User Group (LUG) or GNU/Linux User Group (GLUG) is a non-profit organization that provides support and/or education for Linux users, particularly for inexperienced users. The term commonly refers to local groups that meet in person, but is also used to refer to online support groups that may have members spread over a wide area and which may not have physical meetings.

These groups may meet at a local library, at a community college, at someone's home or even at a local bar. There is so much happening within the open source community that it is difficult for any one person to keep up with it all. Building a group of friends and a local email list for sharing ideas is an important step for learning about the latest changes.

There are several LUG lists on the Web. If you are considering founding a LUG, your first task should be to find any nearby existing LUGs. Your best bet may be to join a LUG already established in your area, rather than founding one.


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A Linux User Group meeting at a community college.


There are Linux User Groups in all 50 US states plus the District of Columbia, all of Canada's ten provinces and three territories, all six of Australia's states plus 76 locations in India, and over 100 other countries, including Russia, China, and most of Western and Eastern Europe. Even if you do not have time to go to a local meeting, you can still sign up for their email list. Many of these groups will even help you install the Linus operating system and other open source tools on your computer.

Get Politically Active
Corporate monopolies, such as Microsoft, and the billionaires who run and own them, have invested millions of dollars buying elections and destroying democracy. The only way we will be able to re-establish a fair and level playing field for small, innovative, new businesses and restore a growing economy is if all of us recognize the importance of becoming more politically active. This means attending local monthly meetings of the political party of your choice. You can either try to help take back the Republican or Democratic parties from the billionaires. Or, if you think the major political parties are beyond help, you can do what Richard Stallman has done and support the Green Party – or any other third party. The reason political activism is so important is that apathy simply leads to a corporate takeover of our democracy. None of us can be truly free until all of us are free – and that will not happen by sitting on the couch watching the corporate TV brainwashing programs.


Get involved with your public schools, public colleges and public libraries
There are many ways that you can help introduce and share Linux with the rest of your community. Talk with teachers and administrators at public schools about the financial and educational benefits of using free open source educational tools in the public schools. Attend school board meetings and let school board members know that you would like more course offerings in open source tools in your school district. You can also visit your local community college and ask instructors and administrators for more course offerings on how to use Linux, Libre Office and other free open source tools. You can also visit your local public library and offer to start a once a month discussion group on how to install and use Linux, Libre Office and other free open source tools.


Linux for Learners
Research firm NPD says Chromebooks represent 20-25% of the $300-or-less computer segment. In education, more than 5,000 schools have deployed Chromebooks for their students, representing more than 20% of school districts in the US. A study of 12 school districts by IDC found that switching from PCs to Chromebooks saved school districts over $1,000 per year per student.

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The study found that Chromebooks reduced the need for additional IT staff to support their deployments, requiring 69% less labor to deploy and 92% less labor to support than desktop PCs or laptop PCs. Chromebooks' high reliability increased actual teaching and educational administration time by reducing the time lost in managing desktop PCs or laptop PCs by 82%. Finally, the Solid State Drives are obviously more durable and user friendly that the older drives. According to this study, Chromebooks are already the number 2 operating system in schools – right behind Windows. The new Acer Chromebook C910 – with an 8 hour battery life and much faster processor and 15 inch high resolution screen - is going to take the school student market by storm. But there is a hidden drawback to Chromebooks that many teachers and parents will strongly object to - namely Data Mining.


Switch to Linux to End Student Data Mining
Sadly, Chromebooks without Linux Mint default to Data Mining. Without replacing the Chrome Operating System with Linux Mint and a bigger Solid State Drive, students who use Chromebooks have little choice but to create their documents with Google Docs and store their documents on Google Drive. Neither of these are as secure as storing documents and data on a true Linux laptop protected by Linux Mint. To bring more attention to the need to protect student data, the Electronic Frontier Federation filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Google for violating the student privacy pledge the company signed the year before. The complaint provides evidence that Google is collecting and data-mining the information of students while students are logged into their Google Education accounts at school. dThe complaint points out that Google’s “Sync” feature for the Chrome browser is enabled by default on Chromebooks sold to schools. This allows Google to track, store on its servers, and data mine for non-advertising purposes, records of every Internet site students visit, every search term they use, the results they click on, videos they look for and watch on YouTube, and their saved passwords.

The three most common video conferencing options for Linux computers are Skype, Google Hangouts and Jitsi. Of these, the least secure option is Skype. If you use Skype, you should just assume that the video conference is being monitored and recorded by someone you do not know. Google Hangouts is only slightly better than Skype. So if you are an attorney, or doctor or reporter or political activist and you want a secure video conference system, your only real option is Jitsi. Jitsi is a video conferencing tool which is like Skype and which supports Windows Linux and Mac. However, unlike Skype, the video conference can be encrypted. The encryption does not affect voice quality. The video conference can be password protected with encrypted passwords.

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In this article, we will explain how to set up and use Jitsi. But first, a few words about setting up Skype and/or Google Hangouts. Setting up Skype is very easy because there is a version of Skype made for the Linux operating system. To download it, go to the Mint Software Manager and type in Skype into the Search Box. Then click on Skype and click Install.

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Skype will then appear with the rest of your programs in the Mint Menu programs area. Just click on it to open Skype. It works just like the Windows Skype program. You enter your user name and then start or join a Skype Video conference. For anything more than two people, you need to have a paid account.

Google Hangouts is not only more secure than Skype, it also allows you to invite and talk to more people at the same time. You can have as many as 10 people in the video conference without needing a paid account. You do need a high speed Internet connection for Google Hangouts to work. But you also need a high speed Internet connection for Skype or Jitsi to work. To set up a Google Hangouts video conference, simply get a Google Gmail address. Then click on the small square icons in your Google Gmail page to reach your Google Plus account. In the left side menu, just click on Google Hangouts to start a new video conference. If it is your first Google Hangouts video conference, you will need to download a small app. But this only takes a second and then the video conference screen will appear. Google Hangouts is vastly superior to Skype. But it is not secure. For a private, secure video conference, the only option available right now is Jitsi.

Before we get started, it is important to note that Jitsi is not appropriate for older computers with limited speed and limited RAM – but then neither is Skype or Google Hangouts! Also, there are versions of Jitsi for Windows Mac and Android in addition to Linux. So you and your friends do not need a Linux computer to use Jitsi. But if you want a secure computer for secure video conferencing, then the most secure computers are Linux computers. The first step in setting up a Jitsi Video Conference is getting a jit.si XMPP account for you and others you want to have a conference with.

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Create an XMPP account
Jitsi works with several types of accounts. But the most secure is called an XMPP account. With an XMPP account, you can do encrypted audio calls, video calls, desktop streaming, video conferencing, call recording, and file transfers. XMPP stands for Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol. The service is free and open source. Because XMPP is decentralized, it is the most secure system. We will therefore set up free XMPP accounts for each of our conference participants. Go to the Jitsi.org Home page and click on Jitsi in the top menu. Then click on XMPP Services

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Then fill in this form

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If you want, you can also enter your Name and email address. But you really only need a user name and password. Choose a long password you do not use for anything else. Be sure to write down your user name and password. It will say new account successfully created.

"We're past the point where citizens are entirely dependent on governments to defend our privacy, we don't have to ask for our privacy, we can take it back" Edward Snowden, Reset the Net.

"All intelligence services... all of them, are afraid of easy to use, secure communications tools." - Jacob Appelbaum.


Security and privacy are fundamental human rights which should be guaranteed for all.” ProtonMail Statement


Most people probably do not need a secure email service. But there are some people who do. This includes attorneys exchanging confidential information with their clients, doctors and nurses exchanging information with their patients, businesses exchanging important information with their staff and customers, journalists exchanging confidential information with whistelblowers and political groups who may want to organize without the constant surveillance of the government. In this article, we will explain why a relatively new email service called ProtonMail is the best solution for these special groups.We will then explain how to set up your own free ProtonMail account.

We begin with a discussion about the corrupting influence of money. As you may know, Google makes money by scanning our Gmail emails and feeding us ads off of what we write about. This need to make money makes Gmail inherently insecure. In 2013, after Edward Snowden released information confirming NSA mass spying on emails, a group of scientists in Switzerland met to discuss how they could create a more secure email service. They decided to build their own system on their own Linux open source servers. In the summer of 2014, they held an online fund raiser and received $550,377 from 10,576 donors. Their business plan is rather simple. They do not use any advertising. Instead, they offer free accounts for most users and then charge only for additional storage space on their servers for those who need a lot of storage space for sending and receiving secure emails. Unlike other secure email services, ProtonMail is very easy to set up and use. The response to ProtonMail has been amazing. In just two years, more than 500,000 people have signed up for their email service. ProtonMail is now the world's largest private email service. Here is a link to their website where you can learn more about them:
https://protonmail.com/

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ProtonMail has three versions, an app for Andriod or Apple and a web version. We will review setting up the web version. Web Version 2.1 was released in September 2015.

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Proton uses end to end encryption – including attachments. The only thing not encrypted is the subject line. Here is how it works.

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Here is an explanation of how their end to end encryption works:

We encrypt the data on the browser before it comes to the server. By the time the data comes to the server it’s already encrypted, so if someone comes to us and says we’d like to read the emails of this person, all we can say is we have the encrypted data but we’re sorry we don’t have the encryption key and we can’t give you the encryption key. We’ve basically separated the message that’s encrypted apart from the key – all the encryption takes place on your computer instead of our servers, so there’s no way for us to see the original message.”

One of the key things we want to do is control our servers and make sure all the servers are in Switzerland which will increase privacy because Switzerland doesn’t do things like seize servers or tape conversations.”

ProtonMail also supports messages that self-destruct after a set time period. ProtonMail must be doing something right. Recently, from November 3 to 7 2015, ProtonMail was under an attack by a “technically advanced group with abilities similar to a state-sponsored group” that made the service largely unavailable to users. They have since installed additional programs to help them fight off future Denial of Service attacks.

Here is a statement from the ProtonMail blog about the attack: “In just three days, the ProtonMail Defense Fund has gathered $50,000 in donations, giving us the resources to resist further attacks against email privacy. By attacking the world’s largest free private email service, the attackers sent a message that they did not want online privacy to succeed. However, we have now sent them back an even stronger message, that online privacy is here to stay. The attackers hoped to destroy our community, but this attack has only served to bring us all together, united by a common cause and vision for the future. The road ahead will surely contain more difficulties, but together, we shall overcome.”

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Currently, email storage space is limited to 500 MB (half a gigabyte) with attachments limited to 10 MB. Sent messages are capped at 1000 per month. So this account cannot be used for mass marketing. They plan to eventually have paid plans with more storage space. Their paid accounts will be $5/month and will provide 1GB of storage.

To get a ProtonMail account, you must submit an invite request. During signup (separate from the invite request), a second email address is required but this address can be changed or removed after the account is created. ProtonMail doesn't have any policy against inactive accounts; one is only deactivated and deleted when the account owner asks it to be. Where ProtonMail suffers is the waiting list. Wait times are currently about one week to get an account. Also, there are two kinds of accounts. The common account is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. A slightly more secure account is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. You sign up at ProtonMail.com to get either account and can choose your account type after receiving your confirmation email.

Here is how to sign up for a ProtonMail account. Go to ProtonMail.com. Scroll down the page to “Get your secure email account.”

In this article, we will first explain why you should switch your default Search Engine to Start Page dot com and then explain how to make this switch. You can think of Start Page as like doing a Google Search only without all of the tracking of your data.

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Have you ever noticed that after you do a Google or Bing Search on a particular product or topic, ads related to that exact product start appearing in the side bar of completely unrelated websites such as news websites? I recently was doing research on a particular type of Solid State Drive called an M.2 SATA drive. Ever since then, when I visit various news websites, there have been ads from Amazon and others urging me to purchase an M.2 SATA drive from them! It is not merely corporations who are spying on us in order to increase corporate profits, it is government agencies. A friend of mine got put on the “no-fly” list apparently because they had done some research and visited a “bad” website. What is particularly bad is how corporations spy on small children in order to sell them products and manipulate them. Our kids are viewed as just another chance to make a buck by wealthy corporations.

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By now, most people have probably figured out that Google, Amazon and Microsoft are spying on them and on their kids by monitoring our web searches. Many have even taken the step to switch to a more secure web browser and a more secure search engine as a first step towards protecting themselves and their kids. What fewer people know is that any web browser or search engine located in the United States is inherently insecure due to out of control spy agencies that think they have a right to spy on innocent Americans in the name of “national security.” Sadly, this includes so-called “secure” search engines such as Duck Duck Go.