Here is what I do

Story: Breaking down barriers to Linux desktop adoptionTotal Replies: 6
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Feb 28, 2006
9:35 AM EDT
The author makes several valid points concerning the absurdity of the reasons that people use in answering the question of why they have not or will not give Linux a try.

I will admit that if someone has already made up their mind not to give something new a try, then there is no sense in wasting your time trying make them re-think there decision.

Among those who give such excuses there are those who are just repeating what they have heard or read and really do not a have any of their own information or experience to draw from. They are easy to pick out once you have heard hundreds of different people say almost the exact same thing like I have. It is not that hard though, all you have to do ask a few questions and you can easily determine if they are just repeating what they have heard or actually have their own reasons for not wanting to give Linux a try.

Here is what I do.

1. Ask them if they use IE, WMP(Windows Media Player), Quicktime, Itunes, Word, Excell, PowerPoint, Access and always ask them how many Anti-Viruses they are using. You have to make sure that you always end with the AntiViruses, trust me, I tell you why in a second.

You will find that roughly 99% of the people you talk to do not even use all of those programs I listed and do not use any outside of it. Almost all of them only use, IE, Word, WMP maybe Quicktime a little and whatever Anti-Virus or Anti-Viruses they have installed.

2. After you ask them how many Anti-Viruses they use, they will ask it back to you

"How many Anti-Viruses do I use?" - "Do you have more than one Anti-Virus on your computer?" Many people do not, but many do use more than one. This is where I tell them,

"When I ran Windows I used, Ad-Aware, AVG, Spybot, Spywareblaster, Spyware-Doctor, Webroot and Registry Mechanic." Which by the way is true, I had all of them on my computer and between them I could keep my system fairly safe, fairly.

3. Ask them if they have ever heard of Firefox. Some will ask,

"What is Firefox?" - "Firefox is a browser." "What is a browser?" - "It is a program that you use to surf the Internet." "You mean like IE?" - "Exactly, only it is a lot safer than IE."

Here is where I go into the features, import of favorites and reasons it is safer than IE like,

"Because it is not a part of the operating system, it is a lot harder for spyware to damage your system when using Firefox." Which is technically true, technically.

Now for those who know of Firefox and/or already use it then you will not have to have the previous conversation.

4. Since almost all of the people who use MS-office only use Word, ask them if they have ever heard of I have only ever had one person say yes to that question, only one.

Say to them, "OpenOffice allows you to view, modify, save and send the changed document in MS format and it does not cost $500, actually it does not cost a thing." I have to tell you, that a lot of people are not happy when they buy a new computer and then are told by the store employee that it does not come with Word or Office and that if they want it, it will cost hundreds of dollars. If you can get people to listen to you long enough to get to the parts about compatibility and price. Many will not leave until they get the web address from you.

If I can get most or all of the way through these steps then I know I can re-visit the Linux question and show them that it just might be something that could work for them. When I explain the Root and User separation built into Linux, how it makes the computer safer and that they will not need multiple Anti-Viruses or have to re-format their Hard Drive every six months because windows does not actually delete anything, they start to actually look at the retail Linux box I have already handed them.

Is this system perfect? No. You may talk about one thing before another or skip over something or do it in reverse, every conversation is unique. I do it this way because I inform them of choices they may not of known of, open them up to new ways of doing something and not make them feel like they were wrong or stupid. If I do it right, they do not even feel their own shift in opinion or preference.

I should expand on this some more and I will. But I thought that giving you the basics of what I do might help others in getting past the FUD without alienating the person you are talking too. Changing someones opinion or stance without making them feel stupid takes practice, and I get a lot of practice. :-)


Feb 28, 2006
11:29 AM EDT
Sharkscott - were you the guy I wanted to clone several weeks back?

If not I am adding you to the list. You are very perceptive individual. Keep it up.

Feb 28, 2006
12:00 PM EDT
Yeah, that was me. :-)

After posting it I have resisted the urge to edit the living daylights out if it and add stuff. But I will wait.

If you have ideas or examples that have helped you, let me know. I'm always open to adding to my arsenal.

Mar 04, 2006
3:10 AM EDT
It's never a good idea to bash MS. I know it's hard, but people don't like hearing that a product they use is trash.

The reason: it makes them feel like you are telling them they are stupid/ignorant for choosing to use it.

Now, some of you will think "Well they are!". And, maybe you're right... but, if you're talking to someone about changing to GNU/Linux, then you must care about them in some way. Or, even if you're doing it for selfish reasons, then it's in your best interests to avoid unintentionally stabbing at this potential convert's ego, by slamming their (perhaps naive, ignorant, or stupid) choice to use MS products.

I mean, imagine you just bought a nice shiny new car. Then one of your friends starts telling you about how bad that make/model is. You get embarassed, your friend has some good points, but by now you've already stopped listening. You don't want to hear it. You dig your heels in and start defending your car... your decision... yourself

Basically, it pays to be kind. And you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Tell the person things like:

* It's understandable that you currently use MS products because they have a very good marketing strategy and have taken advantage of business opportunities in the past that have put them on top. MS Windows comes preinstalled on most machines. However, this doesn't mean that MS make the best products. You can try Ubuntu (don't hate me, Ubuntu is probably the best place to start really new users off). It has everything you need from an operating system: it's easy to install; comes with heaps of software preinstalled; you can use it alongside Windows; you can't get viruses... etc.

(These next ones may be painful, but they will work better than what seems to be a common approach, which is "MS sux...and Linux rulz")

* IE is a good browser (ouch), but... FF offers added functionality and greater security.

* MS Office is a very good suite of products, but most people don't use them all and it is quite expensive. You can probably do everything you need to do with OpenOffice, including working on your MS Office files, and it's free.

You get the picture... basically, the hard sell method went out in the '80s.

Once a user starts to use free software, they will start to feel like part of the community and will be proud when they realise they've made the right choice. When someone tells them about the latest virus or worm affecting PC's, they'll think "Not mine!", and they'll get a warm glow inside. Before too long they'll chuck away Windows altogether... I know I have.

Well that's my two cents.


Mar 04, 2006
5:17 AM EDT
Great post and you are right that it is best not to bash M$. I do make a conscience effort not too.

I try to stay focused on features, if I can do that, OSS sells itself. I do not "hate" M$, but I do prefer OSS. I can't help that! :-)

Because you gotta admit the "price" sure is right when compared to M$, $500 for MS-Office vs. $0 for


Mar 04, 2006
3:15 PM EDT
fsmdave: Hey! I tend to agree with your post, also. I just tell peole two wrongs don't make a right: MSWindows and Office. ;-)

Mar 04, 2006
7:03 PM EDT
Great post. Personally, I DO hate Microsoft. However, my hate is not purely philosophical. Maintaining a Microsoft installation is like maintaining a Fiat. I've learned to bite my tongue when talking to clients and end users. However, I know a LOT of "Sys Admin" types that are just too lazy to learn anything about linux. At one company, a long-time friend and colleague that meets the forgoing description actually came into my junior programmer's office asking for help with some linux firewall rules...more like demanding help. His excuse, in his own words: "I don't want to have to resort to reading the documentation". His title was I.T. Manager. Guess who was first to be let go when the layoffs came? Most MS folks just click and guess their way through life...they don't even master the technology that they make a living with. Automate Windows tasks with shell scripts? No way....they might just have to resort to typing...or, God forbid, reading some documentation.

I do introduce Firefox and OpenOffice as much as I can. When I meet new clients I usually try to sell them on web-based apps based on OSS. I explain OSS as best I can. Almost everyone out there has heard of Linux. I don't try to sell Linux, I try to sell Open Source. I explain Apache...and how even many of Microsoft's web sites are hosted on Apache. How our government's sites are hosted on Apache. How they can scale their business apps, add new servers, have unlimited users at unlimited locations with ZERO licensing costs. The bottom line is that the operating costs for MS vs Open Source are not that different. You can pay me good money to develop, implement and maintain OSS apps for you, OR you can pay MS and Closed Source Vendors HUGE money for licenses (annually) AND pay out the ass for customization and/or training AND pay good money for a MS guy to try to implement and maintain it for you. Do the math. Just check out the cost difference between SugarCRM and MS CRM or Goldmine, and good luck customizing the latter two. Open source apps are inherently more intuitive and customizable. Sure, MySQL might not be right DB for the Fortune 500's apps, but for the majority of small-business MS-SQL Server installations it would rock.

Oh, forgot to mention, security is a big selling point. Every MS user/business out there has been burned by MS's security weaknesses.

I am really grateful for the efforts of all the people out there creating and refining the Live CD's. I can't tell you how many MS types I have turned onto Linux with Live CD's. Getting introduced to Linux for the first time is an amazing personal breakthrough. I've seen their jaws drop when the Desktop loads, the NTFS partitions are mounted and they are live on the internet without lifting a finger. Nothing in the MS world even comes close. Carry a bunch of Live CD's with you...give them away liberally and Linux will sell itself.


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