I've gratefully sent along $10 to one of the people who made this possible, but I wasn't required to. I was happy to do it because I was blown away by the job he'd done in turning my old nearly-junk computer into a credible editing station, as well as a wirelessly-connected workstation for safe email, web browsing, streaming net radio, writing a good-looking business letter, and putting this blog together. If I bought a headset I could use it as an Internet telephone as well.
I checked this software out without risk to my data or hard disk by setting the computer to boot from CD, and then running the computer entirely from the CD. What sold me finally was that the software recognized and set up my wireless connection. When I decided to install it on the hard disk, reserving a portion of the disk for the few old Windows '98 programs that I needed, the software needed to partition the hard disk was right on the CD. (Always back up your data, okay?). The installation went without a hitch.
It's not that I never needed help, but community help was always there on the web. I never had to pay for it (although a person running a company on this software could contract for support). Having a properly set up (included) firewall, I don't worry about viruses on this computer any more. I don't have to reboot it all the time.
The software is Gnu-Linux free software, the particular distribution package is Simply Mepis. The sound editing (and recording) program is Audacity.
If you've got a high speed Internet connection (and if you're a musician, you must take that step soon if you haven't already), you owe it to yourself to check out this stuff before you buy your next PC, or even your next Mac. You might be able to save the money for a new guitar.