Ramakant Yadav the Internet edition

The Laptop Saga Part-2

18 February 2013

So I did what anybody else would have done: downloaded a Linux distro, burnt it to a CD and installed it on the laptop. Of course, Linux does not run Excel and now my Home and Student copy of MS Office was completely useless. Linux was completely different from the last time I had seen it. It had support for sound and was able to run the display at the highest resolution effortlessly. Of course the last time I had installed Linux was when Windows 98 and 8 MB graphic cards were considered to be state of the art. That last time, I got startx problems and the GUI would not come up. Later I found out that it was because there was no hardware support for the Sis6326 AGP graphics card that I was using. So when the laptop booted effortlessly to the high resolution desktop this time, I was absolutely stunned by the hardware support and ease of use of the new Linux. It even connected to the Internet without any issues. Linux had come a long way.

That setup worked for me until April of that year. That was when Income tax time came around. The Government of India, in its infinite wisdom, decided to automate its antiquated income tax return filing system. To ensure that people could file their Income tax returns electronically[over the internet], they issued Excel files that tax payers could use. These Excel files have macros to ensure that taxes are calculated correctly based upon the values that the users plug in.

This was a problem for me with my "all Linux" setup. I could probably run WINE and Ms-office with it, but this was tax related. I did not want the tax department asking for a resubmission. Income tax rules in India are tough to decipher for ordinary mortals. The Government did the right thing in automating the calculations, but since the macros were all in excel, I was stuck.

Continued from : The case of the failing Acer Power Adapter

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