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Anyone who knows me, knows me to be a bit of a Fanboy, I love using Linux I use it on the Desktop, i’ve migrated may of our servers to it and am a firm advocate for Desktop Linux as an alternative for Windows. Using Linux is an entrance to a whole new world and I don’ just mean with Linux, its the gateway to other OS’s.
My trip into the wonderful world of *nix operating systems started over 20 years ago when working for the BBC a Sun Indigo was plonked onto my desk. I’d been using different OS’s for a while, very early in my career i was using OS/2 instead of Windows 3.1 and this sparked an interested I guess in what was to be come the path for the future.
Having powered up the Indigo it was evidently apparent this was a powerful system, however I had absolutly no clue as to how this OS worked. It wasn’t like anything I’d ever used before. A few months later i’d sussed out the Sun Desktop however a change of role ment i left this device.
The change of role was going to travel round the world, and this was the catalyst for really getting into Linux. It was working in a school in thailand that i was asked to setup a computer system, having run out of money after kitting out the IT labs poorly I needed to created a fileserver and network based system and Windows just wasn’t an option. Several late nights at the keyboard and I got Fedora running Samba setup as an Active Directory server using SAMBA and a LAMPP stack to provide an eLearning system (Moodle if your interested)
This event opened my eyes, the fact i could do all of this using free software amazed me, the power of the command line and the fact that the OS i was running made my PC run faster than when it had Windows loaded on it.
The last breakthrough the PC speed was really something I found out having run a dulal boot Windows/Linux system for ages but not really utilising the Linux Desktop. That changed with a single Ubuntu Desktop CD sent via the Shipit program. The simplicity of the desktop install and the ease of package management using APT really made life easier and from literally that Day till now I’ve never used a Windows desktop at home, over 15 years.
Being a Linux user however, i make the same mistakes that other Linux users make, i initailly tried to convert people to Linux
What usually happens?
Trying to get others to use Linux usually follows the same pattern which goes as follows:
I give the person some over hyped pitch on how linux is the best thing since sliced bread.
The person installs linux
About 3 days later I get told Linux is a pile of crap, it doesn’t run anything
I suggest some apps to replace what the user was running on Windows
A weel later i get told that this is too hard, hardware doesn’t work, software doesn’t install
I get fustrated
A month later the user tells me that it’s amazing they got working without drivers
3 Months later they are using Windows again..
This is a general course of action, and there are very good reasons for this which boil down to my experience. I organically grew into Linux, I went through the same pain as these people, i just came through the other end because I had a need to use the OS. I had a dire old PC which Windows was not running properly and i needed to get a working system, Ubuntu 6.06 filled that gap. While the people I know don’t like Windows, they have no need to move. This is the same reason i swapped between Windows ME and Ubuntu for so long.
How can you assist in the transition?
If you really want to get someone using Linux, many years of experience have taught me something, don’t pitch Linux, pitch the eco system. Get the person using LibreOffice, Firefox, VLC, Pidgin, and other such Open source tools on Windows. Someone who feels comfortable using these Open source tools will see a friendly face when they first boot up Linux. It’s amazing just how much this helps. Also show the person how to Theme, Linux Mint with Gnome is great for this, show them how to theme the Desktop to look Like Windows which also seems to help a lot.
Should you convert them?
There is something you consider I personally belive, no matter how much of an Elitist you may think I am for saying this, i stand firm by it. Linux, no matter what distro you think is suited for a person. Maybe you shouldn’t even suggest Linux.
Why do i say this? Well simply i’ve seen it be the “Year of the Linux Distro” for years and over the years many Windows users have come over to the dark side however they have brought with them a Windows user mentality. So much to the point that its making the Linux desktop far worse than it has ever been. Adding fudging factors to make life better and more like Windows is not the way forward, its the way back. these people all left Windows for reasons yet want the OS they moved to to be like Windows. Its not and Linux as an OS is worth more than that.
What does linux give you?
With all of that being said Linux opens doors and gives you access to a whole world of OS’s, a whole ecosystem of functionality for to cost of a coffee or less. A community of help and advice and once you do cross that line. You NEVER go back.