[ubuntu-uk] More interest is noticed (From Infopoint)

alan c aeclist at candt.waitrose.com
Wed Jul 11 10:04:23 BST 2007

I am a member of the Infopoint project and list (begun by Jono Bacon a
while ago) and it is under that banner that I regularly display at my
local computer fairs, and clubs etc. A recent posting of mine on that
list has prompted me to think it is relevant to copy it here.

Infopoint is not distro specific it is for Open Source information and
Linux, but in practice my displays have the K/Ubuntu brand as a strong
centre feature.

Subject: [Infopoint] more Interest gathering - a change
Date: 11-7-07

[DG] wrote:
>> alan c wrote:
>>>> I mostly display monthly at my very local computer fair,
 >>>> and over more than a year, interest has gathered a
 >>>> little momentum.
>>>> However,  just recently there has been a quickening of
>>>> interest from
>>>> otherwise non techie computer users.
>> Do you have any ideas why this might be the case? Is it 
>> because you've
>> become a regular fixture at computer fairs?
>>>> At today's event someone came up and said how delighted he
>>>> was that the
>>>> (last event's CD) worked so well (Kubuntu I think). A couple
>>>> of others
>>>> said they had seen media coverage. One spent a long time
>>>> asking and watching about what was an operating system and
>>>> what the interest was about - this was someone who used
 >>>> a PC but never touched it technically,
>>>> a friend did that. A grey haired man took a CD because of
 >>>> interest,  and also his 16 year old nephew (?) said he would
 >>>> rather be dead than use ms.....
>> We used to come across people who'd say similar things 
 >> ('stuff microsoft etc') - but then never heard again from them :-/

I think there are a number of factors converging and if I see things
correctly it would be good to use the window of opportunity well.

1) Linux distros have become more user friendly in the last two or
three years - including newbie friendly. Ubuntu focusses on a good
human, simple user experience; It Just Works, Linux for Human beings.
PCLOS asserts 'Radically Simple'. Both are high on distrowatch for

2) The Ubuntu phenomenon has given the beginnings of a consumer
'brand' to Linux (specifically Ubuntu). The ability to focus on a
brand is something that both the media and consumers are well tuned
towards in our brand driven retail society. BTW the Infopoint 'Brand'
has been most important in helping to establish acceptance of my
displays with the organisers - British Computer Fairs  (thanks to Jono

3) Microsoft has repeatedly missed opportunities to improve its
reputation - windows genuine advantage, late Vista, bad decisions
about Vista convenience, need for major hardware upgrades, etc.

4) For about a year there has been more mention of Linux in popular
computer magazines. Perhaps because of some of the other points here.
There was a flurry of big articles at Ubuntu 6.06 (June 2006). These
magazines are still circulating. I saw one yesterday at my dentists
surgery (note1).

5) It takes a couple of years for someone to get around to a change
such as Linux. It certainly took me that long.

6) There has been BBC coverage about open source (April, radio4) and
TV (Click, recently, ubuntu). One gets coverage because there is news,
or something has changed, or is good, or bad.

7) Continuing presence - yes I believe my continuing attendance at
that computer fair has had a significant effect, but the newcomers
have not been 'aware' of me, but I think they have been activated by
media coverage or other discussion - maybe family or friends.

8) Dell and Ubuntu - and the Ubuntu pragmatic use of WiFi prorietary
drivers where essential.

All these are converging. I believe there is a window of about a year
now when people will be unusually receptive to thoughts about Linux, I
hope we can make good use of the time. After this, new hardware will
have been bought anyway, with vista. Vista will have more drivers
supplied. People will have forgotten the pain of vista. Microsoft will
have had more opportunity to use its own well resourced marketing
muscle to its advantage.

You mention that people used to say 'stuff microsoft (etc)'. They were
complaining about ms, they were *not* singing the praises of Linux!
(note2) These are different things. They had nowhere to go, they were
stuck. Linux was not good (easy) enough for joe street user. It *is*
now! They *do* now have somewher to go. However, they are not very
well informed about their options and choices. Some do not even know
Open Source or Linux, exists (note3). They will also need to get basic
support of the type they get for windows from family or friends (FOF)
or work colleagues (note4).

Note 1: I took some leaflets to the dentists surgery since I was to be
there anyway and asked if I could leave them. I also noticed a
Computer magazine  with a 'linux is easy' article. While the
receptionist was pondering her response I said 'it is what this
article is talking about'.  She took a leaflet to ask the dentist. He
emerged a couple of minutes later and said  'This looks interesting I
might try it myself. 'Yes ok for the leaflets'. And he put them up
very visibly next to the toothbrushes! This dental surgery is totally
non computerised in any way. He is a non techie home user. The
receptionist had by then read the leaflet herself (!) and asked 'why
doesnt it get viruses?'  :-)

Note 2: This *is* happening *now*. Last week at the computer fair a
person who had previously taken a CD (Kubuntu) returned and with a
broad joyful grin and went on about how it worked so easily, how
wonderful it all was and wasn't it good? He was joe street user, not a
techie, techies come and discuss esoteric points!

Note 3: I asked a Dixons employee why a PCLine house brand pcmcia card
was only marked for windows when I knew well it would also work with
Linux? 'What is Linux? he replied, quite innocently and in good
humour. I did a genuine double take and said in mock stern tone that I
would 'have to see him later'. I later took in a couple of sets of
information with live CDs and gave them to the manger  for passing on.
He was genuinely appreciative and it looked like he would have a look too.
I had also asked at PCWorld about me displaying on special occasions
(Infopoint). A pleasent and polite discussion, but he soon said 'If we
cannot sell it I am not interested'. No information.

Note 4: My continuing presence at most of the computer fairs there
has become a defacto mini LUG! Not a lug you would recognise though. A
sort of comfort point for the souls who are not (yet) committed or
confident enough to get  to a LUG. At this stage I try to encourage
them to use the forums and mailing lists, not sure they do yet though.

I am aware that PC users all have a FOF who helps with their PC. They
may not have a fof with Linux. People that do have are the earliest
ones to try it. One person took a CD because his young nephew of 16
would not use windows (but linux).


alan cocks
Kubuntu user#10391

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