Linux 1, Ransomeware 0

Yet another example of why Linux is better than Windoze…

So my mother in law is using a ThinkPad T410 that I refurb’d for her a while back. At her request, I wiped out the Windows 10 that was installed on it and threw Mint 19.2 on it. She’s not tech-savvy at all, but I’ve had her using Linux now for many years and she loves it. :wink:

Anyways, so yesterday I get a call while at work and she says she “clicked on a recipe on facebook and it popped up with some message saying ‘Windows is corrupt, your computer has been locked and to contact Microsoft, bla bla bla’ or something like that.”

I asked her if it was just a pop-up that can be closed, perhaps? She said “no, I can’t do anything on the laptop, it’s showing like some DOS screen…”

Well, I was at work and couldn’t do anything (hadn’t installed teamviewer yet, but by the sounds of it, it probably wouldn’t have worked anyways. I told her it sounds like some ransomeware and to just leave it until I get home to take a look. Unusual, I thought, to get an attack like that on Linux.

So I get home and she says “oh the computer is fine by the way. I just did a hard shut down and it works fine again.”

Now, I wasn’t able to see the screen and see what she saw, but if it was in fact a ransomeware attack, but I just have to laugh at the resiliency of Linux against malicious software like this. This is one of the reasons I believe Linux is actually better and safer for non-tech-savvy users who may not know what they’re clicking on while browsing the web.

Just thought I’d share this amusing story. Linux is awesome. :relaxed:


Hi Mike,

One of these days I’m going to start compiling Linux conversion stories like yours.

In the mean time here’s another.

This spring I set up a dear friend of mine with Mint. She and I were in the habit of Skyping several times a year, for many years.

But shortly after the last series of Windows updates–it turns out–she couldn’t get Skype to work. Then Edge and Internet Explorer conked out too. So basically we could only use the phone or her work email account to communicate.

She had taken her computer to her firm’s IT guy and he told her to buy a new laptop. However the thing was–as I later found out–that she had herself a rocket ship: A pair of i7 CPUs and 16 GB of RAM. So, as she was flying over for a visit anyway I convinced her to bring it along so I could take a look.

Since–like most users–all she really wanted was a browser and a word processor, I yanked the HDD replaced it with an SSD and installed the latest Mint Cinnamon. Voila. It booted up in about 8 seconds including the 1 second Bios screen and 1 second Grub screen time outs.

And ever since she’s had clear sailing.

Until a few weeks ago: “Dave, I got an email from Norton. It says my system is unprotected! What should I do? It says I might already have a virus!”

“Only buy it if they offer a Linux version”, I thought sarcastically, but I answered instead, “No, ignore it. It’s one thing you really don’t need to worry about.”

But it all got me to thinking about the anxiety Windows still users go through–what I went through as an XP user. I don’t claim that never in the 10 or more years I’ve exclusively used Linux that there have never been crises. What’s true to me is that Linux has constantly improved over the years. So much so that in the 3 years I’ve been running Mint literally nothing has gone wrong!

Yet meanwhile, an IT professional in Switzerland tells my friend to chuck a masterpiece of a laptop because it won’t run crappy code.

It seems to me that Windows users after all these years are still going through the same kind of BS.

And that I got off the train at the right station!


Awesome story and it’s so true. A poorly-running OS (that is Windows) is often mistaken for a device that is no longer usable. It’s a disservice and very misleading.

I’m running a T410 (similar to my mother-in-law’s), with a 1st gen i5-540M and a Quadro NVS 3100. This thing is OLD by today’s standards (9 years), yet with a simple upgrade to 8GB of ram and an SSD with Mint 19.2, the thing runs circles around new low-end laptops running chunky Windows. Software optimization makes a huge difference, to say the least. And Linux has that in spades.

I laugh (and cry) every time I see a new tech news article about yet another Windows feature that’s been broken in the latest updates (which has been almost every day recently).


Can’t tell you the number of times I heard similar over the years. The fact however remains that we all need to be vigilant about things and never take anything for granted, just because it has not happened doesn’t mean it can’t or wont happen.


My brother now keeps 6 partitions and 3 boot sectors on his laptop. 5 are various Win 7 builds and 1 is for Win 10. He does this so he always has at least one Win 7 partition that works. (I don’t know why he keeps one for Win 10.)

And Since he’s adept at creating imaging restoring and manipulating partitions, he was able restore an un-up-dated version of 10 after Window worked their anti-magic on his laptop and about half their customers. But this experience has convinced him to never actually use it.

He thinks he might be able to survive using some version of Win 7. There is talk–he says–that large sections of 7’s source code have been effectively either decrypted or reverse engineered. And it seems there is a community who wish to keep & alive. And good on them. But if I were them I’d make sure Microsoft doesn’t find out!

He visited recently and I got him to check out Mint on a thumb drive. He loved it. But he’s afraid that if he installs it he might have trouble booting into 7 again. Since he keeps so many partitions because he’s afraid of loosing Win 7, but by keeping so many partitions he’s stretched Windows Boot Manager well past it’s limits and it’s no longer absolutely certain if any given one of them will boot! Only that one of them will.

My brother isn’t crazy, he’s a human being. He invested good money to get the best version of the only Windows OS that he actually liked using. They can pry it from his cold dead hands. No one who needs a computer for their livelihood wants things to get worse! So it’s made him hyper-vigilant.

I know he’ll switch eventually. He seems to want to try Mint 19.2 on it’s own drive. And I know when he does he’ll love it and learn to laugh at how busy (and maybe even a little paranoid) Windows keeps its customers.

I know I did.


Hey Ellan,

You’re perfectly right. Running Linux doesn’t guarantee security. (But nor–we may also note–does wearing a helmet guarantee cyclist safety.)

And all of us here do bear a responsibility to new users; to give them the most accurate information possible; to make sure all have a safe landing and have not leapt from one hot frying pan into another.

However, the point I was trying to make was that–and this I will absolutely defend–for security conscious Windows users the web can be a very scary place. And that these worries are hard contain even after they’ve moved to a much safer place.

The second is that no version of Norton Anti-Virus will run natively in Linux. In fact just a few short years ago I tried to work up a Wine implementation of Norton and failed–it wouldn’t update it’s virus data base.

Likewise, a Linux user who wanted to infect their own machine with a Windows virus would first need a custom Wine build to run it on.

In other words—and this applies to all new users who might be reading this–Anti-virus applications designed to protect Windows systems are useless in Linux. And buying them for that purpose is a total waste of money.

You’re bang on in pointing out that just because we’re safe for now, it doesn’t mean we’ll always be safe. Driving an Outback won’t save you if you choose to drive it off a ski jump.

Finally, Widows viruses are but one kind of a growing list of malware.


PS: Hey Ellan I just now realized I sent you a comment I meant for Mike. And thanks for reminding me of the trials of newer users!


Nothing to worry about Dave, every reply adds to the conversation and to the knowledge base that we all share and like to grow on here. The more the merrier.


Thanks! I think you bring up some very legitimate concerns and I can see how my comments could be misunderstood.


That deserves a laugh and a beer!

Exact !!!Si eu am aceeasi parere…ar trebui sa se publice,un dictionar,cu toate aplicatiile de pe W,si cu toate corespondentele lor pe Linux.In felul acesta am sti exact cum sa contracaram abundenta windosului !!!

Will you please post this in English so that the community can understand it. Thank you


I’ve had similar e-mails and such for a few years and either forward to ‘report phishing’ or just ignore them.
Does anyone else play the ‘game’ of keeping ’ This is Microsoft, your computer system is corrupt’ callers on the phone until you get bored with them and tell them you use LINUX based distro? I get bored easy so have only managed about 20 minutes although I’ve read of people keeping scammers talking for over an hour :rofl: