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.
Personally I find this question difficult to answer because I cannot generalize for the public. What would be the criteria for readiness? In the same manner, what kind of usage are we talking about? It’s that wide in variety that is why I don’t think it will ever be easy to define. Many comments have spawned from this blog entry: Don’t Get Me Wrong, Linux Sucks as Much as Windows. There are arguments that say that Linux is not ready for the desktop yet because of issues concerning hardware and drivers, installation issues, etc. There are also those who point out having to fix their screen resolution and dealing with the command line just sucks, in their opinion.
In any case, using Linux does have its pros and cons. The thing is, I think it boils down to personal choice and preferences. What might be pros and cons for me may not apply to you. If I don’t need Photoshop for my image manipulation tasks, then for me it’s one thing I don’t consider in terms of the usability of Linux. However, some of you might think of it as an essential application. And there might be others who are very familiar with Photoshop that using another application is unthinkable.
Maybe some Windows users don’t see the relevance of Linux because they are already too used to it and the applications that they run on it daily. And maybe some of us who are used to Linux cannot see the perspective other users might have so we could say that it is ready for the desktop — but we don’t really say what kind of desktop usage.
Convincing people is not an easy task. We can argue all we want but for people to really know what Linux is about and if it is indeed something they could already use, they have to experience it and decide for themselves. If they give up easily, it’s their choice. I guess that in my experience the people who decide to stick with using Linux have their reasons. But the most of important thing is that they saw how Linux and free/open source software meet their needs. No amount of arguments could dissuade them from believing in Linux because they have really felt its relevance.
Yes, even Linux geeks must go get some exercise! But of course, we’re not talking about your regular exercises here. Carla Shroeder has suggested several exercises in her blog entry: Practical Exercise Tips For Busy Linux Geeks. I couldn’t help but chuckle upon reading them because the way she wrote it was simply amusing. But she does have valid points.
My favorite suggestion from the list:
Network file transfers are like plastering bacon grease to your arteries. Using the good old-fashioned Sneakernet protocol adds more tens of feet of healthy walking to your day.
My co-workers and I often tell each other just use your USB drive to transfer files. Why bother with trying to set up Samba when transferring using a USB external hard drive or flashdrive is way quicker and it’s exercise. This is especially if you’re talking about sharing files with someone several feet away or in the floor below yours. If you get to take the stairs, then all the more exercise for you.
In addition, I guess that one could give help to someone personally by going to his/her respective area and teach him/her whatever commands is needed. Some users might ping you for some Linux help and you could type the help right away on the IM window. But going to his/her desk and showing the person how to figure out things might help both of you in the long run. Aside from having some face to face conversations, you transfer knowledge and get some exercise.
Got some exercise tips you might want to share? We still have to keep fit, right?
Some people might think it’s so corny to talk about the first time they’ve used Linux. But I find it cute! There’s an article about it on Linux News describing the experience as something comparable to meeting the first girlfriend a man has married!
I even told my boyfriend about it and he seemed interested in writing about it too. He had a smile on his face when I showed him the article. Must be because he was reminiscing along with the people who have shared their first encounter with Linux and how they fell in love.
Linux has a different appeal to each of us. Some people love how they could configure it so much to the point that they would really spend a lot of time doing just that and if they’re really that obssessive, the possibility of them doing more tweaks simply excites them. Haha. But it’s true! Some people could get really enthralled that way. Others would say that they love < name of feature > of Linux. And others like me would probably have had it like this:
First encounter with Linux: Scared out of my wits. Why? Because it was so foreign and strange. Just like the new boy in school, probably. I think it was Linux with the command line interface so I had no idea what to do.
Second encounter with Linux: Another look, another chance. Linux looked better because of the graphical user interface. I think GNOME and KDE were still young at that point but it was enough for me to be more brave and, well, ‘talk’ with Linux. (This was after my encounter with BSD though. So that might have made me more receptive.) Mandrake showed me that I don’t have to be online all the time to get new applications. For someone with no internet access at home, those 4 discs made a huge difference.
Third encounter with Linux: I would think it was like a dating stage of sorts. At home, Linux was installed on our computer but at work, I was using a Windows computer. Every week, there’d be nights dedicated to checking out stuff in Linux — how to do certain tasks, etc. It became really interesting and from then on, I decided to go ’steady’ with Linux. In a manner of speaking that is. Not all my co-workers understand it but it works for me. So that’s perfectly fine.
Now that I’ve written about that, I feel it’s kind of weird using the dating analogy but for everyone who has used a computer and an operating system for quite a while now, it sort of makes sense. How about you? Ever felt the same?
If this is the first time you’re reading this blog, well, let me welcome you to my space here on everyjoe.com and I hope that you find something useful for you. I’ve got some how-to’s and some information about fun and geeky stuff here that you might want to check out.
I am not an expert in terms of sys ad skills and stuff like that but I do love using Linux. I am just like one of you who — I am looking for ways to improve the way my computer works while using Linux. And it’s not always an easy task. Sometimes it could get quite complicated because of the number of steps it would take to fix the problem/s. But that’s fun about using Linux anyway. There are a lot of things to learn along the way. Sometimes we might feel terrible about ourselves while trying to troubleshoot problems. But everything has a solution. Although some of them might not be quite as elegant as we would hope for.
And as new readers and new Linux users, you could share your thoughts too. I hope that you wouldn’t feel too shy or hesitant. :) You might have some great insights that musn’t be kept to yourselves.