From my viewpoint

Story: Linux in the Real World - A View from the TrenchesTotal Replies: 8
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Apr 05, 2013
4:25 AM EDT
I've found the Don't know much about computers brigade my best customers. I rarely have problems, and only ever see them when they get messages telling the system wants to up grade to a new version (Ubuntu), and they are too scared to step through the wizard, in case they do something wrong.

Apr 05, 2013
7:04 AM EDT
I completely agree, tracyanne, as that has been my experiences as well. Ken contradicts himself in his post. In the opening paragraphs he states that kids just want a working computer and it's the adults who mess things up. Then he closes by suggesting desktop Linux is ideal for retired ladies because it keeps those mischevious, up-to-no-good grandkids from destroying the system. So which is it?

Quoting:I believe those of us who do introduce Linux to the general computing populace need to pick our targets carefully.
I don't think referring to computer users as "targets" will do a lot to win over converts.
Quoting:If the person you are helping utters, "Be patient with me, I'm computer illiterate...", pass them by.
So just ignore this learning opportunity and dismiss them as an idiot. Gotcha.
Quoting:They have no concept of what an operating system is, or how it works.
Yes, some people don't. How about explaining it to them briefly. And nicely.
Quoting:the underlying system means nothing to them.
I'm sure it means a lot to them when it stops working.
Quoting:a bit of psych profiling can go a long way.
I'm not a psychiatrist, nor do I need to be one to help people use Linux.
Quoting:If they refer to their browser as "foxfire", run like hell.
If I took this advice, there would be no less than two dozen households right now NOT using Linux as their desktop operating system. And they still call it "foxfire." I could care less what they call it. They still use Linux everyday.

Quotes like these reinforce that dismissive, condescending dickishness that I long despised Apple fanatics for having. It doesn't do much to encourage the use of open software on desktops. I applaud Ken for the work he's done by turning kids on to Linux. But it seems he's tossing everybody else out with his mindset.

Let me summarize his post: Linux is for young kids, old geezers and uber-geeks. Forget about everybody else. They're stupid. There. Have I missed anything?

Apr 05, 2013
8:23 AM EDT
Ken, as usual, delivers a message with humor & understanding. But, with respect to Ken, I disagree just a little bit. Sometimes it's the "foxfire" set that can be your greatest converts. You just have to pick carefully among them as well,... You need the ones who will listen to you and not go switching back to Windows when their brother in law contradicts what you've said... For that set,... set up a router for them, and tell 'em to get an iPad...

Apr 05, 2013
9:38 AM EDT
Let me summarize his post: Linux is for young kids, old geezers and uber-geeks. Forget about everybody else. They're stupid. There. Have I missed anything?

Yes, you've missed something. Ken might have exaggerated his narative a bit and he could have been more clear about what he wanted to bring across, but he warns against entrenched Windows users.

In my experience, there are two kinds of those, the ones who are truly willing to give Linux a shot and those who don't give a flying cucumber about computers, but demand to have things their way.

I would estimate, three out of ten adults will give Linux an honest shot and two out of those three will find some -excuse- reason to go back to Windows. --Ken Starks.

In other words, from the people between age 18 and 65, 9 out of 10 are a waste of time.

It rings true to me. Most of my efforts to get people to try Linux have yielded fairly little results over time. Most of my adult "converts" have reverted back to Windows and not because I'm an abrasive BofH. Most told me they know Windows better and they didn't have the time to learn something else. Which is quite plausible. with 40 hour work weeks, kids, a better half, family and friends, there isn't a lot of time left to futz with your computer. Most of these people were very cordially about it and I helped them get back on Windows.

Then I have encountered a few horrid specimens of the "flying cucumber" kind. They don't care what is running on their systems, but they want to do what they want to do. Even if what they want is near impossible to achieve. No amount of explanation of why it's not going to fly will sway their minds. If you happen to be the the unfortunate soul that gave them a Linux install, you are now the one who is pressured to make any and all magic they desire happen. Don't think they will listen to you, when you explain how to do something. If it is more involved than clicking three buttons, they will just zone out, let you do it the first time and simply call you to do it again when they need it done again.

So Ken advocates to go for the low hanging fruit. If we can get the younger generations to prefer Linux, the Windows cohort will die out naturally. Or switch as pensioners, when over the years their remaining time has become more precious to them than being opinionated about what constitutes an acceptable Operating System.

Apr 05, 2013
10:58 AM EDT
> In other words, from the people between age 18 and 65, 9 out of 10 are a waste of time. ... It rings true to me.

I have to agree. That sounds like about the right percentage.

Apr 05, 2013
1:11 PM EDT
In my experience in general, the majority of people aren't that computer savvy or demanding in their computer needs, but they are afraid of Linux even though they would have a very easy time using it with very little training or learning involved.

The ones that are computer savvy and have more demanding needs generally fall into two categories: those who insist on everything working just the way it always has until/unless they are forced to change (not likely to consider trying Linux), and those who find the technology interesting and will be willing to run Linux on a computer (usually a second computer at least at first). Some of the latter ones get taken up with Linux and end up like me, with hardly any use for Windows away from work. Others like Linux and use it on older machines or for specific purposes. Some eventually lose interest in Linux, with just a few disliking it strongly.

With kids it seems entirely different. They will use Linux without a second thought and only care about getting Windows if there is something specific they really want it for (generally games are the biggest thing). I have handed out Linux laptops to a few of my nephews and they end up being used to some degree by everyone in their house. My one nephew is a bit disappointed at this point because the Nvidia experimental drivers for Linux don't seem to work with the chipset on his laptop and he needs them for Steam for Linux. I'm hoping the next official release of the Nvidia drivers will recognize his chipset (it is still fully supported on the stable driver), but if not I may drum up another machine for him from somewhere. Apparently his brother and his sisters all use his laptop for YouTube and Flash games online and like it more than he does.

Apr 05, 2013
7:47 PM EDT
He overstates the case -- but then, he's been on the receiving end often enough (and we know this, because he's blogged some of his experiences along these lines).

- - -

But I would argue that the real problem is that we live in a consumer culture, and in consumer culture, "Linux" is just a "no-name brand", which people tend to judge by how closely this "generic product" resembles the "brand leader(s)".

Before you dismiss this as "too much of a stretch, let's recall the great days of the Cola Wars.

Pepsi Cola just could not shake the public perception that Pepsi was a second-rate product, a cheap(er) "cola" -- merely an imitation of Coca-Cola, Coke, "the Real Thing". For decades, market research continued to confirm this hierarchy; people might generally buy Pepsi "to save money" -- but they made sure to bring out the "the real thing" when they were serving guests.

It took a decades-long, intensive and very expensive marketing campaign to break this frame, which didn't really succeed until Pepsi finally enlisted the likes of Michael Jackson and Michael J Fox to represent their cause in quite spectacular campaigns -- and Pepsi could finally be accepted as a product equal to Coke, that people chose simply because they liked it better than the alternative.

The rise of the Japanese automotive industry is also interesting in this regard, and perhaps more pertinent, as people may feel that choosing a computer (or, in our perspective, an operating system) is a bigger decision than buying a carbonated beverage. But even here, it took a long time, established quality, and heavy marketing, etc. And unlike the desktop OS market, there was no one, dominant player in a position to abuse an effective monopoly to tilt the competitive playing field and bar competition.

(I may not much care for Canonical or Ubuntu, but I believe Mark Shuttleworth is very conscious of such concerns.)

Desktop Linux has been doing well -- amazingly well -- to survive and even grow in such an adverse environment. Now at last, even the bastion of computer gaming is beginning to recognize the merits of Linux -- Valve's Steam game client could well be desktop Linux's Michael J Fox. And in the meantime, if today three out of ten are willing to try Linux, and one of those stays with Linux, well then, we're still gaining ground.

Apr 05, 2013
8:31 PM EDT
I've actually recetly done 3 machines (3 people) 1 opted for Cinnamon the other 2 are quite happy with unity, and 1 Wants me to replace Windows on a new 2nd hand machine she is getting

they are all the I don't know Much about computers brigade Who are happy So long as they Can access email, Facebook and Play Solitaire and maybe use Google Safely.

Apr 08, 2013
9:03 AM EDT
I don't know that this means anything, but in my family we always drank Pepsi because we liked it better than Coke. That's from long before the Michael Jackson and Michael J. Fox ad campaigns. I don't really remember a time when Pepsi was significantly cheaper than Coke. When we couldn't get Pepsi, RC (Royal Crown) Cola was our second choice (which was often cheaper). My parents preferred Pepsi at least as far back as the early 1960's.

Of course this is only an anecdote, and may have little significance. I do also remember, though, a fairly famous scene from All in the Family where Mike (Rob Reiner) was asked to defend his preference for RC by proving that he could tell the difference between Coke, Pepsi, and RC, the three leading brands of Cola at the time.

One interesting side note is that my father claims that the best kind of cola he ever had was Howdy Cola, which used to be made by the 7 Up company. It's difficult to find any accurate information about this cola on the Internet now other than pictures of old Howdy Cola bottles. I'm not sure what year they stopped making it, and my brief attempt to find out just told what year the Howdy company changed its name to 7 Up, which I believe was before they even started making Howdy Cola (7 Up was their first successful product, but they used the old Howdy name when they decided to produce a cola).

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