[sf-lug] Consumer & admin (was: Possibly interesting data point on jobs postings)

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed May 17 01:04:50 PDT 2006

Quoting David Sterry (david at sterryit.com):

> A couple of reasons why people don't switch to Linux:

Well, it's actually a lot easier than that, isn't it?  Most people would
never _choose_ an OS at all, ever.  _That_ question just wouldn't occur
to them in any serious fashion.  They just run whatever was preloaded on
whatever they bought, until it collapses from malware or registry rot or
hard drive failure, etc., and then either put it in the closet and buy
another one, or take it down to the nice PC shop on the corner that
loads a fresh bootlegged copy of Commodity OS du Jour.

But occasionally we get this series of what I call "Linux-tire-kicking"
questions (addressed at http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/faq/index.php?page=kicking)
that amount to "I see you're an early-adopter type.  I'm _not_ -- but I'm 
curious, so I'm going to appeal to your OS-advocacy instincts and try to
get you to prove to me I should join your side."

I'm sympathetic to these people, but try to let them know gently that I 
honestly don't care what OS they run, am _not_ an OS-advocate, and have
better things to do than convince them of anything in that department.

> * Cost. This isn't a big factor for people since they mostly still think 
> a computer should cost $1200+.

These are typically the guys with the disused PIII in the closet, mind

> * Applications. 

:r! grep Package: /var/lib/apt/lists/*testing*Packages | wc -l


Hey, looks like my branch of Debian currently has a bit over 17 thousand
packages.  Oh, you mean _your_ applications, not mine.  OK.

This is _so_ 1994.  I remember the sort of discussion we used to have,
back then:

User: The problem with Linux is lack of applications.
Me;  What on earth do you mean?  There are thousands!
User:  Well, but there aren't very many... er... office suites.
Me;  <checking records>  I count six full office suites.  How many
     do you need, exactly?  Come to think of it, why do you care
     how _many_ office suites exist?  How many do you use on your
     current OS?
User:  <er...>  One.

Of course, the user wasn't _really_ interested in ascertaining how many
office suites existed.  It was a typical case of coded communication:
What he really meant, but couldn't bring himself to say, was something 
like:  "When I walk through the aisles at Egghead, I see five aisles of 
Windows proprietary application software in shiny, brightly-coloured
shrinkwrapped boxes, and four aisles of Que and Sybex aftermarket books 
to help people who've bootlegged them and don't have manuals.  I see
zero Linux aisles.  Why should I take your thing seriously?"

> I use photoshop and the Gimp doesn't compare. 

Actually, they _do_ have the missing components to make it more than
compare, but the necessary alogirthms for processing colour separations
and other essential pre-press techniques are still heavily encumbered by
Adobe patents.  

> I use Word and Open Office feels skeletal(they really need a better
> text to columns feature).

Ironically, I _stopped_ using MS-Word after 5.1a for MacOS (roughly
equivalent to WinWord 2.0, except without the awful 8.3 filename
limntations) because accelerating featuritis made it ridiculously
bloated and its data format increasingly corruption-prone.  I still
occasionally fire up MacWord 5.1a under ARDI Executor on my Debian Sony
VAIO, to remind me of when Microsoft still remembered how to write

> * The learning curve. The vast majority of people don't learn for fun. 
> They want all those skills they learned from Windows to still work on 
> their distro of Linux.

I personally want world peace.  ;->

Honestly, people who say "Well, I'll consider your OS if you can
guarantee that everything I have will keep working and that I won't have
to encounter anything unfamiliar" are implicitly saying "I'm declaring
my requirements as something as close as possible to what I already
have."  Tell them they're done; they already have exactly what they
believe they want, virus/spyware problem and all.

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