[sf-lug] mastering CDs in bulk for Software Freedom Day

Christian Einfeldt einfeldt at gmail.com
Sun Aug 30 20:16:04 PDT 2009


Sameer, thanks for providing us with an excellent overview of the adoption
cycle.  Your email helped me be reminded of the bigger picture of
migration.  The global shift to Free Open Source Software is a complex
phenomenon of vast magnitude, involving billions of people and complex
interwoven markets.  I think your email helped us keep in mind just really
how huge this topic is.

 In fact, if I remember correctly,
> Christian was a Windows user, when one of his friends introduced him
> to FOSS.

Yes, Holden Aust volunteered to build a SuSE Linux computer for me out of
parts that I had purchased on the Internet, for which I am still very
grateful to him.  Holden offered to do that after conversations we had in
early 2000 in which I expressed concern for the growing pace of viruses.  I
had not yet been hit by a virus (at least not to my knowledge), and I asked
Holden what the best anti-virus program was.  He replied "Linux". It took
nearly 9 months for me to get my mind around the fact that it would be
feasible for me to switch my law practice to Linux, and I didn' really
implement the switch fully until about March 2001.  And I never would have
made the switch but for the fact that Holden demonstrated that he would
continue to help me out if I had questions, because I didn't see lots of
commercial support for Linux.

Ultimately, I made the switch for three key reasons:  1) fear of viruses; 2)
my belief in the viability of holden's support to get me to the point where
I could support myself with community resources; 3) my disdain for the
Microsoft's domination of the PC software industry as manifest in the
resulting inconvenience and expense to me in sitting on hold with Microsoft
tech support.  I couldn't stand the farce that was involved with doubling,
trippling, quadrupling of the cost of Microsoft software in paying for lousy

> Many people also do not have the option to install a new OS
> on their work machine, even though they can install apps. Why should
> we exclude them?

I'm not sure, Sameer, that anyone has advocated excluding them.  Speaking
only for myself, I am merely saying that Holden's type of advocacy was most
helpful for me, namely, moving me to an all Linux machine.  So my personal
advocacy work with the schools and the students entails supporting only
those teachers and students who are interested in receiving Linux machines.

> I still have Windows XP in a VM on my laptop

I still have an XP partition on a notebook that I keep at the office, just
in case I need that environment.  It probably won't work for much, because I
am fairly sure that it only has SP 1 or something like that.  It is not very
current.  I have only used it probably for a total of one hour or so over
the entire course of my ownership of the machine since 2004.  I use the
Ubuntu Linux environment instead.

> Helping people with a free OS but not a non-free OS is discriminating
> on the basis of their OS of choice.

True.  We all have to make choices as to where to place our individual
assistance for newbies in areas where we feel we are most effective.  I
acknowledge that FOSS CDs for Windows users can help build bridges to get
them into the Linux world, but it's just not a path that I choose to
follow.  Also, for me, there is the risk that I would personally end up
helping people use Microsoft Windows, and I just have too much personal
disdain for working in a Microsoft Windows environment to really help people
there.  So I just concentrate on giving people Linux machines.  It's a
personal choice.

But I do see that there will be a net gain of Linux users by giving people
FOSS apps CDs.  Out of every, say 100 people to whom one gives FOSS apps
CDs, a certain percentage, say 2 or 3 % (my guess) will eventually move to
Linux.  And of those 2 or 3 people who move to Linux, maybe 25% would not
have moved to Linux at all if they did not receive FOSS apps CDs.  So it is
a net gain to the good.  My personal concern is that the conversion rate and
the pace of conversion is so low as to not pencil out to be worth it to me.

It's too bad that we don't have any empirical data on this issue and the
success rate of FOSS apps CDs moving people to Linux, because with that data
we would have a much more fruitful conversation.  I would want to see how
many of those newbies moved to Linux, and how long it took them to move to
Linux.  Remember, even with Holden's high quality help and a Linux-only
machine, it still took me a good 9 months or more to move my law practice
over to Linux.

> Any Adobe Flash users on this
> list?

Adobe Flash continues to be a thorn in my side.  Newbies simply won't use
Linux unless YouTube works, and we all know that means a Flash-non-Free

> You might be next! Why stop there? How about the BIOS? How many
> list members are guilty of running a proprietary BIOS?

Actually, Sameer, I have not seen anyone on this list make the argument
which you are saying they made.  It is true that some people in the FSF say
that one should simply not use any non-Free software at all.

> not addressing the "unwashed masses" results in
> "preaching to the choir".

This point is one of your strongest, Sameer.  There are hundreds of millions
of people out there voting for Microsoft with their feet and their wallets.
The FOSS apps CDs do help reduce revenue streams for Microsoft, which in
turn reduces Microsoft's ability to spend money on R&D, on buying back
shares to support its sagging stock, on advertising its flee-bitten
products, and on stacking ODF panels etc.  So I am a supporter of what you
are doing in giving out FOSS apps CDs for Microsoft Windows, but I just
don't personally have time to do the same, since I am otherwise busy
supporting teachers, administrators, and students using these Linux


Obviously, it is not always practical to use only Free Software, though,
because I am personally using non-Free software to write this email (gmail)
and to track those Linux machines at the Google Docs page given above.
Sometimes the straightest path leads through dark woods.  Sadly.

c u
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