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software availability--newbie

    Its come around to that time again, when my computer is such a clunker that its time to upgrade.  I can continue to use my Pentiun 90 and Micro$oft Win95, but I have developed this aversion to Billy "Pieman" Gates and His empire, and would like to try out something new.  I'm about to bite the bullet and buy a DEC Alpha machine (XL300 or so), but I am concerned about the amount of software available for it under Linux.

    How much of a constraint is this? I'm mainly interested in doing software development (undergrad CS student) and web page creation, but I'd like to take care of all the other daily tasks on this machine, too. By daily tasks I mean word processing (and I don't mean vi), email, photoshop and pagemaker-type stuff, and occasional spreadsheet use. Games are not a priority, but might be fun.

    I understand that if I have the source code, I can just recompile it for Alpha (right?). But, what percentage of good programs out there give you the source code?

Thanks for your consideration.

                               Robb Romans
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"Computers let you make more mistakes faster than any other invention in
    human history, with the possible exception of handguns and tequila."
    (Mitch Radcliffe)
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