Comment: Sure linux makes sense but

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Sure linux makes sense but

Sure linux makes sense but there will inevitably be things that you'll have to learn.

Here are M$ Excel alternatives. There are windows versions available if you'd like to try it out.

Apache Open Office - Calc
http://www.openoffice.org/product/calc.html

LibreOffice - Calc
http://www.libreoffice.org/features/calc/

Inept? Computers have change since the 90's but the concepts and principals of troubleshooting remain. I'd say go for it. Dual boot the system or install it on a separate machine if you have one. That way you can always just go back to what you know if it turns out to be too much.

Edit: Minimizing what "TPTB" are monitoring wont necessarily be solved by installing Linux. Many times this is a false assumption. Securing the PC is one thing, securing your digital communications is a very different beast.