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Ok, so you've made a major decision as to what operating system you're going to run in the future and are hopefully already there and enjoying it. If you've chosen Linux, we wish you all the best - this article series will not have much more to offer you at this present impasse; if you are still stuck in the world of Wintel, with either Windows NT or a relatively sensible variant of Windows 9x, then read on.
The first thing to understand is that your box will never feel healthier than when it is brand new and the OS is just installed. There might be a few minor odds and ends to take care of, e.g. you might need to get a good disk defragger and have a go at what the OS install left behind, you might need to tweak some settings and some menus, remove some unnecessary add-ons the OS gave you for free without even asking you; but in general your system is purring about as well as can ever be expected. The purring falters and the growling begins first when you start adding on ISV (independent software vendor, i.e. 3rd party) products.
ISV products can be both good and bad (obviously), and there is a lot of confusion out there as to which is which. So herewith a few general rules which hopefully will enlighten you a bit.
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