I have read much recently about the wonders of the Linux operating system. I use a computer for some simple things: word-processing, spreadsheets and presentations, and for access to the Internet. I do not play games, have no great need for fancy multimedia applications and see a computer as a tool to get a job done. I like tools to be as reliable as possible and have been told that Linux is more reliable and stable than Windows. I am considering installing it on a new computer that I intend to buy for study at home. I am not a computer expert but I am not daunted by technology. Would you recommend Linux to me? PETER BURROUGHS Mid-Levels I wish more people shared your attitude towards technology. There would probably be more computer users around if it were so. You don't strike me as being someone with much spare time. While I would be quick to agree that Linux is a stable and strong operating system, I would not advise you to dabble without first reading up on the system and learning about installing it. If you know what you are doing, it is barely harder to install than Windows was in pre-Windows 95 form, thanks to the graphical user interfaces placed above the Linux command line interface by vendors such as Red Hat (www. redhat.com). If not, you should not attempt an installation before reading the manuals and documents. The above Web sites are a good start. Linux, with a worldwide installed base of about 10 million, is growing in popularity as much because of dislike for Microsoft's domination of the desktop as for the operating system's strengths. Domination by Microsoft means there are many more applications for Windows than Linux could possibly have this century, but support for Linux is increasing. On the server side, companies such as Oracle, Sybase, Lotus, IBM and others have committed to supporting Linux with their software. On the desktop side, Corel, for example, has started giving away WordPerfect 8.0 for Linux Personal Edition and promises an Office 2000 version as a free download later this year. If you will not need more out of your computer than Internet access and standard office applications, you will not find anything wrong with Linux once you have it installed. But I reiterate, unless you have time to read about the system first, have your computer vendor perform the installation, install the relevant applications at the same time and learn the system as you go along. Also make sure the peripherals you buy with your computer have Linux drivers. E-mail Larry Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or write c/o Technology Post, 28th floor, Dorset House, Taikoo Place, 979 King's Road, Quarry Bay. Fax 2565 1624.