What I Need to Have All my Bases Covered

Hi Folks,

So I have come here from the JeffPro Telegram chat. Many thanks to the amazing admins like Shane and Will who helped me to understand that I don’t need a tech background to make digital freedom happen.

I am very excited to start ( last OS I used was Windows 7. It fit my needs but it is no longer supported and I am in no way going to 8 or 10.). I have it on a Dell Optiplex 780.

I don’t use the computer a whole lot but I am running a small farm and will need a way to have a digital backup for my paper records for long-distance customers. I want to know everything I will need start to finish so I have my bases covered before I jump in with both feet.

  1. Basic web browsing and email (also looking for recommendations for email besides Gmail. I’ve hated it since day one before I realized how i\nasty it is under the surface.)
  2. Basic word processing (replacement for Microsoft Word)
  3. Basic Invoice (I don’t know what the Microsoft equivalent for this would be as literally every single one of my invoices are handwritten on paper.)
  4. Replacement for Excel? I don’t currently use Excel but some kind of spreadsheet program would be helpful as I expand and need to track varieties, sales, and yield data.

I’m looking for a list of program names to look into and have in my notebook before I get started. l’m also looking for printer recommendations. I have an HP1512 but I haven’t used it since I graduate high school in 2014 and I’m not sure if it works.

Thank all of you for your help!

Ubuntu and Mint both come with Libre Office. That has the equivalent of Word and Excel (and other programs). I used Open Office on my old laptop when it had Windows 10. All these equivalents worked fine. Document Reader lets you read pdf files. I use Brave and Opera. Looking to switch mail so can’t make any recommendations although at least Ubuntu come with Thunderbird Mail.

Good Luck!

@SunGold: I believe that we’ve conversed on JP’s chat. @Blueghost05 here. Most Linux distros will come with a browser, often Firefox, pre-installed, as well as often an email client, which is often Thunderbird. I’ve used Thunderbird for years, since Outlook Express was dropped. As I understand it, Thunderbird would require your having email stored somewhere else, like at Gmail, Yahoo, etc. If you don’t have email elsewhere, that you could bring into Thunderbird, you could start an account at somewhere like https://protonmail.com or https://hushmail.com, etc. They you’d use a browser to access those sites and create and store your email. If you wished, they could also be brought into Thunderbird, so they’d be on your desktop, but that’s not necessary unless you want it that way.

For basic wordprocessing and spreadsheet work, LibreOffice is often pre-installed on many Linux distros. It’s a full office suite, similar to and compatible with Microsoft Office, and including Write (like Word), Calc (like Excel), Impress (like PowerPoint), Draw (a drawing & charting program), Base (like Access), and Math (for creating math formulae). Review general indicate good compatibility with Office counterparts, except possibly for very advanced functionality that LO might not yet have). Generally Write, Calc, and Impress seem quite compatible.

Invoicing could be done in Calc and/or Write, possibly using the mailmerge function to bring into a Write document data saved in a Calc spreadsheet. You can also check the software center of your distro for accounting, if you want a more accounting-type program.

Consider the distro you might want and check its software center for apps you want. You can try live USB boots of various distros to see which one best suits your preferences.

HP printers generally are quite usable in Linux. Do a search for HP1512 and Linux to see what you can find relative to your printer and Linux.

So, learn how to create a bootable USB with your preferred distro on it, and start Distro Surfing. A good way to experience that is to watch the following video about installing and using Ubuntu, since things there will be somewhat similar to many Linux distros.

Happy surfing.

Regarding the printer, try the one you have first. I have an HP 5850 that is circa 2007 that still works fine even though support and driver updates ended many years ago.
I am using proton mail with their paid service so I can run the proton mail bridge app which supports the thunderbird mail reader app. I tried using evolution mail reader for gmail, but prefer the way the browser handles the gmail features, so I use the chromium browser to access my gmail (to much stuff there to quit it completely right now). Firefox has a login account that maintains preferences accross platforms so I use the Firefox browser for online shopping. Then I use Brave browser for my linux research and class stuff. The Telegram app runs with a background app on the task bar so I don’t meed it open all the time and it gives me a red circle if new messages in unmuted groups. I choose the Debian distro because of the stability and lack of frequent upgrades, solid operation is more important to me than latest features.