Gar Lipow writes:
But the fact is, I doubt you can live in the U.S. without buying something created by sweatshop labor. And you certainly cannot live in a capitalist country and live exclusively on goods made without exploitation. --------------------
Well, I try as much as possible.
But this reminds me to put in a plug for using a non-Microsoft operating system, if you have an Intel based PC. The operating system I've been using since mid-spring is FreeBSD which is UnixBSD4.4 for i86 processors (368i, 486i, and Pentium). Of course the physical box and everything in it is all made with Chinese prison labor, no doubt. At any rate, if anyone is interested in changing operating systems (thereby defeating the evil Bill hegemony) and has the time and interest, check:
or if you want a 4CD set and manual (1200pgs) for $39.95 see:
FreeBSD is free as a download/install/maintain/upgrade through the FreeBSD site. The CD set has something in the neighborhood of 2.5 gigabytes of compressed software applications, including the source code--this is more than any one user can ever exhaust. For those familiar with Unix, it has all the Unix code/manuals/tools/shells/network/client/X-terminal system administration software to run a full scale large LAN (mixed PC/Mac) with Apache, including, e-mail server/client system, web page server, telnet, ftp, uucp, nnt site, and general NFS--in other words the whole works. For those that don't know, FreeBSD is one of the more popular operating systems run by ISP's (Internet Service Providers).
Yahoo for example runs FreeBSD (2 million plus hits a day). Included in the OS are several e-mail server/client systems (sendmail, pine, elm, mutt, pico, etc) along with several versions of iv, Emacs, TeX, LaTeX, C, Perl, Lisp, SGI, and other appls, programming language compilers, and on and on. The complete X-window system (GNU/MIT versions) with emulators for Sun System V, SGI, SCO, Linex, and several flavors of the X-window system GUI file and desktop managers (tvwm, fvwm, etc). I use the plane-jane Xterm desktop tvwm (looks like the standard Sun X-windows system).
There are two weak points. The first is that this a 'real' network OS so it is hard to configure and you have to really know the specs on your hardware and network. The other soft point is standard office applications like word processors, spreadsheets, database, drawing, photo, layout, and graphics programs. There are two basic giant applications that run on Unix. There is Corel WordPerfect office suite that runs as a Linex application (FreeBSD loads Linex as an emulation module) and is a straight commercial application (expensive $250-450). See:
The other alternative is a German office suite called StarOffice 4.0 (wordprocessor, database, spreadsheet, html web page design, graph, presentation, web browser, ftp, news client, etc) system that also runs as a Linex application. SO4 is free for individual use and is available as a download at:
Choose, the StarOffice 4.0 for OpenLinex ServicePack 3 option. This is a 43Mb compressed file (75-123Mb uncompressed) that contains the complete system. It takes about three hours to download using a 56k modem. Installation is a little tricky (download as 'root') since there are a lot of files and libraries that require the correct permissions for reading, writing, and executing. If you get frustrated, just remember you are supposed to be a full fledged Unix system administrator and are supposed to know what you are doing :).
Once you get SO4 up and running you have a free office suite server/client system that is faster and easier to use than anything Microsuck or Corel makes. And you didn't blow a couple of thousand dollars with all the add-ons, and individual client/station licenses. If you want a commercial single user version of StarOffice you can get that at Caldera:
I think the individual license and CD are $7.95. What is going on with StarOffice is a little vague since they also have agreements with Sun Systems GmbH to offer a true workstation version in Germany. According to SO's press release Byte magazine awarded them the best software application for 1998 at some computer show in Europe in March. Who knows. It is hot to use and you can not beat the price.
For graphics, Photoshop-like image processing, modification, layers, blah, blah, try 'Gimp' which comes with FreeBSD along with a full postscript beiszer (?) curve drawing program called X-figure (works like Adobe Illustrator but doesn't look as slick.)
Sorry for the pure sales pitch, but remember most of this is free and at least FreeBSD, GNU, and X-windows were all created by collectives and cooperatives whose primary aim is to make high quality software available for free use and development.
If you just want to see what can go wrong in the standard installation and get some idea of the issues and scope follow the FreeBSD site noted above to links under "support". There are e-mail lists and newsgroups that run constant Q&A on everything from serious network and security issues to single user problems getting modems to dial and off-beat hardware to work.
One last point. If you are interested in running a mail list, e-zine, or political organization on the web, then this system is worth the effort. I started using it because I realized while I was busy discussing left and pomo issues, in fact I was practicing the worse of capitalism's many sins--being a stupid consumer of Microsuck and a hapless pawn in the Evil Billwitch Empire.
MS-free for three months. Friends don't let friends use Windoze.