[sf-lug] [LINUX USER QUESTIONAIRE] How did you become a Linux user?

jim jim at well.com
Wed Jul 29 08:50:06 PDT 2009

   your questions are not disruptive in my 
mind. i like that people are interacting 
over your questions--it's interesting to 
see the variety. my take is that it will be 
better to have the questions one at a time 
(in separate emails), so that each discussion 
can be tracked separately. 

On Tue, 2009-07-28 at 18:41 -0700, Edward Janne wrote:
> On Jul 28, 2009, at 5:32 PM, Rick Moen wrote:
> > 1. Edward, how long _is_ your questionnaire?
> I have six further questions. Some one suggested I post them one at a  
> time, but perhaps in the interests of brevity I should simply post  
> them all at once.
> But I should like to wait to see if others feel this research is too  
> disruptive.
> > 2.  As long as you're plowing onward:
> > Quoting Edward Janne (tigakub at mac.com):
> >
> >> Question 2: How did you become a Linux user?
> >
> > As stated, this question lacks context, i.e., we can't tell whether  
> > you
> > are asking _by what method_ each respondent became a Linux user, or  
> > why.
> > The literal-minded interpretation of your question is the former  
> > one, i.e.,
> > that you're asking after the mechanics of initially installing and
> > running Linux -- but that doesn't make a great deal of sense.  Why on
> > earth would you want to know?  What possible use would you (or your
> > professor) have for that information?  Don't you also need to know
> > _when_?  If you do, why don't you say so?
> The aim is to obtain qualitative data which describes cultural  
> characteristics, rather than quantitative data which often become  
> meaningless statistics that tempt the researcher into drawing  
> conclusions where none can really be made. Certainly "when" one first  
> started using Linux could be considered an indicator of how familiar a  
> user is with Linux, but doesn't really account for frequency or depth  
> of use. Asking "how" someone first became a Linux user will reveal to  
> me many things. Was it out of necessity? Was it out of curiosity? It  
> goes a long way to revealing different types of Linux users, although  
> of course not an exhaustive taxonomy.
> And if the questions sound open ended and vague, that is how it should  
> be. I am not supposed to steer the study one way or another, but to  
> leave it up to the respondents to decide how they wish to respond. How  
> you choose to interpret my questions is interesting in its own right.  
> Your responses, for instance, have already answered several of my  
> other questions.
> > And, actually, the question also fails to say what you mean by  
> > "become a
> > Linux user".  Do you mean "used a shell account on a Linux  
> > machine"?  Do
> > you mean "installed a Linux distribution"?  Do you mean "used in any  
> > way
> > a device that runs Linux"?
> You have identified three broad categories. I presume you consider all  
> these to be Linux users in a narrow sense. Are there sub-groups within  
> the Linux community? Do those who can rebuild the kernel regularly  
> gather to guffaw at the antics of less proficient users?
> > Hundreds of millions of people use devices that run Linux, including  
> > all
> > TiVo users, all Palm Pre users, all Google G1 users, all Motorola  
> > RAZRv6
> > users, all users of the Google search engine, users of many and  
> > perhaps
> > most of the world's Web servers, and pretty much anyone who's used
> > software that's done DNS queries.  Among others.
> It certainly never occurred to me that one may be a Linux user without  
> even knowing it. Makes sense though, just as most iPhone users don't  
> know they're using OS X, or even care for that matter. That will be  
> fascinating to discuss in my paper. I'm especially interested to know  
> how incidental or unwitting users are perceived by "true" (and I use  
> this word tentatively) Linux users.
> Questions that come to mind: Do you like or dislike the idea that some  
> users are not even aware that they are using Linux? Is recognition of  
> the platform important? Why?
> > I first became _aware_ of being at that moment running processes on a
> > Linux machine in 1992, when I logged into a shell account on a  
> > friend's
> > experimental machine.  I first constructed (i.e., software-loaded) a
> > Linux machine in 1993, using downloaded copies of H.J. Liu's boot and
> > root floppy images for constructing such systems.
> That is very cool! How did it feel to do that? What do you think of  
> how easy it is to install Linux now?
> -edj
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