Anti-Linux Perspectives and How You Could Deal with Them

June 12, 2009 by Clair Ching  
Filed under The Free World., advocacy

Whether you are Linux newbie or a veteran, you have a perception of Linux and why you find it easy or difficult to use it, right? Trying to advocate Linux to others would take some knowledge about Linux, the free and open source software world and the philosophies involved, as well as understanding what the users’ needs are. This is especially true for those who want to advocate it to their work place. You can’t just force everyone to migrate to Linux one day just because. It takes quite a lot of work and research!

Perspectives could be as anti-Linux as the following:

  • Nothing I use will work on Linux.
  • There’s nothing on Linux. It’s boring.
  • It’s all command-line and you expect me to use that?
  • Using Linux is like going into a new religion or cult.

With the first one, it could be true for someone who uses highly-specialized software. If all the software he/she needs is all on Windows or Mac and he/she is fine with paying for the software, etc. then trying to convince this person to switch to Linux will be quite difficult because of the productivity issues he/she will encounter. However, there could be free and open source software counterparts of the specialized software needed by this user. But you have to take a look at the counterparts well if all the needs are met. If so, maybe you could give your friend or colleague some help in trying out the software you found.

If the person tells you that there’s nothing on Linux and that it’s boring, maybe the person only encountered it briefly and did not give it a try. Also, it could be that the desktop environment or window manager and package manager on the distro he/she tried seemed to restrict him/her from exploring the software available. Some window managers might not feel as intuitive as using Windows, Mac OSX, or another distro with KDE, GNOME or XFCE. Why? In most desktop managers, there’s a menu for the user to select an application. It also has the menu where in the user could check out the package manager. These things may not be as obvious to users who are encountering a Linux distro with Openbox for the first time. In most desktop environments I’ve encountered, a package manager could be seen in the menu as “Add/remove software” or something with a similar wording. Even if you don’t know what a package manager is, at least you still know what you’re going to do and that’s something new users would probably be looking for.

For the command line argument, yes, you could still encounter Linux in a totally command-line kind of environment but a lot of distros give you the option to choose anyway. Most distros have a window manager or a desktop environment that could help users navigate throughout the system. You could counter this by showing your Linux setup and letting your friend use it. There’s nothing like an actual demonstration of what it’s like to use Linux. At least you could answer your friend’s questions by showing actual applications and tools to use. It would be educational and it could convince your friend more. On the spot you could look for the kinds of apps your friend needs/is looking for.

For the last one: Being a Linux user is not like getting into a religion or cult. It might feel like it to some who hear so many talks about the philosophy of Linux and free and open source software. Maybe it’s time to balance it out by showing how the community interacts. If you’re active in the Linux community maybe you could introduce your friend/colleague to other Linux users locally just so your friend knows who else are using Linux and what they think about it personally. It’s not just all about the intellectual stuff, after all.

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One Response to “Anti-Linux Perspectives and How You Could Deal with Them”
  1. Bogdan Bivolaru says:

    IMO The content is quite on spot, the format is not quite as good. Could you please place subtitles where they belong in the article? Or mark text sections somehow, with bold or italics? I couldn’t finish reading such a big blob of unmarked text, now it’s discouraging for me to read it.
    Please don’t take it personally, I’m just making a suggestion

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