QI use AOL 6.0, and the spam is driving me crazy. Even the commercial anti-spam product I tried didn't seem to work.

AAOL 8.0, which the company has been aggressively encouraging its users to install, can hide spam from your inbox by displaying mail only from known senders (people who are in your address book, which in AOL 8 includes anybody to whom you send mail).

But 8.0 won't make spam disappear. When junk mail does arrive, remember not to open it. Instead, click on the "Report Spam" button, which will send the e-mail to AOL and add the return address to your spam-blocking filters.

Spammers, however, change return addresses all the time, so that is no permanent cure. Internet users will have to be patient until a better solution is found or they change e-mail addresses.

I would like to set up my computer to dual-boot Windows 98 SE and Linux, and I want to work on Microsoft Office files, edit images and manage my MP3 collection under Linux. What are the pitfalls in doing this?

Most Linux distributions can split a Win 98 SE computer's hard drive into partitions for Windows and Linux, and should also be able to get most of your hardware working (modems are the usual exception).

But you'll have to learn some different programs for the tasks you mentioned. For example, OpenOffice will read Microsoft Office documents without trouble; it's a free download at www.openoffice.org if it's not included in your distribution. Many graphics and MP3 programs are available for Linux.

Your best source on which are best would be your local Linux users group; see www.tux.org for a directory.

-- John Gilroy

John Gilroy of Item Inc. is heard on WAMU's "The Computer Guys" at 1 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month. Send your questions to him in care of The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or via e-mail to jgilroy@iteminc.com.