[conspire] Dapper & Easyubuntu

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Dec 5 17:58:12 PST 2006

Quoting Edmund J. Biow (biow at sbcglobal.net):

> Linux MAY actually be easier to use but many people are terrified by 
> something that hasn't been sanctified by a big corporate household name 
> like Microsoft or Mac, and are afraid to even try Linux.

Quite so.

In my immediate vicinity at home are three Linux computers that ordinary
people use without hesitation:  

o  TiVo Series I
o  TiVo Series II
o  Motorola RAZR V3 cellular telephone

When my Palm V PDA finally dies, the count will probably increment to
four, since new PDAs from Palm Computing are Linux-based.

The "desktop" market remains a shambles for the reason you cite, plus
the nature of preloads (in which category I include both Borg and
mini-Borg aka Apple Computer preloads), plus bright-shiny-object  

I can illustrate the latter two points using the Xubuntu "Edgy Eft" load
on my 800 MHz G3 iBook:

1.  It didn't come as a preload.  Eeek!  Horror!  (You, Daniel, and everyone
    else on this mailing list are _freaks_ for even thinking about putting
    an operating system on a wiped or bare hard drive.  Joe/Jane User would
    basically never dream of doing that, and long ago had any impulse towards
    adventure beat out of him/her.)

2.  If I were to hand it off to Joe/Jane, he or she would whine
    piteously the moment a Macromedia Flash page failed to load.
    ("What, no YouTube?")  Or it would be some damned thing or 
    other: the game du jour, an animated Christmas card, some 
    AV clip or other.  Or a Visioneer PaperPort scanner, or some 
    other piece-of-junk proprietary hardware.

There's a fourth point, about divergent value systems, which I'll get to

So, people demand that we help them with MS-Windows and MacOS.
Personally, I say no.  They end up variously unhappy; I'm fine.  
Eventually, they might notice the pattern.  If not, that's outcome works
for me, too.

> In the last couple of years I've fixed many Windows machines....

Dude, I hope they paid you a LOT.  Remember, outside the open source
community, people tend to value things they get at acquisition cost.
(In the open source community, things acquired, including information,
most often get value at their estimated _usage_ value.  This is an
aspect of what you refer to as the "gift economy".)

> They thought it would be too hard and unfamiliar, even though 
> they'd already been using it for months.  And these were a bunch of 
> socialist lefties who told me they hated Microsoft and liked the 
> "notion" of open source software and a gift economy.

Lip service to the notion of open source and gift economies is very
widespread, but valuing things at their acquisition cost is something
drilled into people from birth, and almost nobody will set it aside
if you approach him/her and offer to provide something really great for
free.  Instead, you will encounter "sales resistance" in its various
forms, both unconscious and not:  Obviously, there must be something in
it for you.  They're doing you a favour if they let you try.  You should
need to _persuade them_.  And like that.

> In July they said they'd like me to give them another machine that kids 
> could use to browse the internet at the library, oh, and by the way, 
> could you make sure it is Windows and take Linux off the first machine.  
> I told them I'd give them the machine (I work with a group that sends 
> donated computers to Latin America), but unless they paid for a Windows 
> license it would come with Linux.  [...] That's the last I heard from them.

And the bootlegging of proprietary software is so deeply engrained into
the MS-Windows and MacOS userbase that, if you decline to participate, 
and commit copyright violation on their behalf and risk prosecution, 
there's obviously something wrong with _you_.

My first network consulting client was a small clothing manufacturer in
SOMA.  The firm had maybe a dozen desktop Win9x machines, and a NetWare
server, the latter along with the related LAN being my main concern.
They noticed I had installation disks for MS Office, and let me know
that they wanted me to use it to reinstall MS Office on the desktop
boxes.  I said, I'd be glad to.  However, I needed for them to arrange
purchase of the matching licences, and told them I could get a quotation
from Central Computer or elsewhere.

I heard nothing back, but suddenly they had a more compliant consultant
for their desktop needs.  And I had my good name and self-respect.

> One friend was slightly more technically proficient, so he'd wait until 
> grub showed up and boot in to Windows EVERY time.  I'd ask what was 
> wrong with Linux and he said he was just scared, that he thought Linux 
> was "too hard."

This is why I'm in general disinclined to help people with MS-Windows
boxes who want to dual-boot Linux:  They're kidding themselves (in the
general case).  Almost all people with such setups spend all their time
in the more-familiar OS.

> I'm hoping that once AIGLX & its kin become more mature jiggly windows 
> may be that extra incentive. 

You're missing something:  They're stuck in a hole, but it's a familiar
hole that seems natural.  You're asking them to climb out, and they're
perceiving that request as your wanting them to do you a favour.

> Linux is going to have to blow people away to get them to even give it
> a chance.

And yet, people will hurt you if you try to take their TiVos away from
them.  It's value systems, marketing, packaging, and management of
expectations.  (Nobody throws away a TiVo because they can't install a
Macromedia Flash interpreter on it.)

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