[ubuntu-uk] Leaflets

TheVeech theveech at gmail.com
Thu May 3 10:41:54 BST 2007

On Wed, 2007-05-02 at 13:09 +0100, Alan Pope wrote: 
> On Wed, May 02, 2007 at 12:50:57PM +0100, TheVeech wrote:
> > > [2] http://hants.lug.org.uk/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?InfoPoints/FlyerMasters
> > > [3] http://gllug.org.uk/index.php?/archives/25-Review-Software-Freedom-Day.html
> > > [4] http://misc.allbsd.de/Flyer
> > 
> > Will take a good look at this perhaps tomorrow.  Before then, I was
> > confronted by a friend of mine on Monday, saying he'd been told by two
> > of his colleagues that they'd tried Linux and thought it was crap.
> > 
> Heh, why is it people feel they can just sweep away thousands of 
> applications and a robust kernel with "it's crap". Ok I'll bite.
> "I think Windows Vista is crap". There, quote me :)

But it's great that Vista's come along.  Now I can tell people I can't
help them with it because I haven't used it enough.  It's also great to
be able to tell people that the upgrade isn't worth it.  And I give it
between six months and a year for the momentum of a new MS release to

The logic of the people who slated Linux was to try to discredit
everything I have said about Linux, with the statement that they 'build
computers', so they know what they're on about.  Oh dear.

My response was that on the basis of their comments these people clearly
didn't know much about Linux, meaning that any failing system they had
was probably down to them.  I added that assembling a computer sounds
impressive to people who don't have a need for much computer knowledge,
but it's usually not cost-effective and is about as difficult as
building an intermediate-level Lego or Meccano model (if anything, maybe
these models are more difficult).

What irritated me isn't that they slated Linux.  It isn't even that they
tried to discredit people they knew nothing about with such flimsy
arguments.  It's that there's people who listen to total jerks like this
and their views start to become part of some sort of folklore that
dissuades some people from giving the OS a good chance.  Add to that the
fact that some of their arguments are traceable to MS's negative
campaigning down the years and you start to appreciate just how bad
public IT knowledge can be.

Another argument was that two people had tried it and had reached the
same conclusion.  Two people that thick in the same time zone?  That's

> > Reading between the lines of what was said, they clearly understood
> > little about Linux because they understood nothing of its social and
> > economic model, a model which means that Linux is a lot more than just
> > an OS on a CD (so is Windows, for that matter).  This suggests that they
> > hadn't done any homework about the system, so any faults were likely on
> > their part.  I think it's crucial that people understand this as much as
> > advocacy about the OS alone, tools and limited cost arguments.
> > 
> This is where I feel leaflets can come in handy. "Here, read this". You 
> don't have to argue with them, it's there in black and white. For some 
> reason people seem more likely to trust a bit of paper than they do your 
> voice. I guess a bit of paper with a logo on looks somehow more official, 
> has an air of authority and truth. 
> The thing to remember is that people don't like being told they made a 
> stupid decision. 

Absolutely right.  But to make a decision people need to know there's a
practical choice and be well informed of that choice.  Most don't and

There's beginners who have a bit of pride and there's idiots who think
they've got their finger on the pulse and cloud the issue for everyone
else.  I'm not that keen on talking IT offline.  It's pretty boring.
But I'm getting a bit disillusioned with having unavoidable
conversations with people who think they're all that for no apparent
reason.  They look around their social circle, see people who barely
know how to operate a system because that's all they really want to do,
think, in this limited context, that they have some great insight and
misinform those who aren't in a position to easily verify what they say.

Most times it's best to avoid upsetting people, especially when they've
got strong, heartfelt beliefs (agreed, winning an argument isn't usually
worth making someone feel stupid), but I disagree with this diplomacy in
this instance.  If I meet up with these people I'm going to go to town
on 'em and remove their ability to influence others because of the harm
they can do.  Screw Linux advocacy - this is about bogus people
misinforming the public and seeking to discredit good work on the basis
of nonsense and folklore.  Besides, what would it take?  5 minutes?
It's worth it because, until people in general are better informed (and
it's not always their fault that they aren't), wiseguys like this
sometimes need a kick up the backside for the bad attitudes and
misinformation they promote.

> There is a guy here at work who has nailed his flag very 
> firmly to the Windows mast. He is a vista fan through and through. Having 
> worked in the past for an outsourced Microsoft official support centre, he 
> knows the products pretty well.

Thing is, I'm confident enough that our OS is better, so I couldn't care
less about such people...so long as their influence is minimal and
people are aware enough not to take them seriously.

> Pointing out that he is making a duff choice 
> putting his faith in that software implies that he is somehow stupid, and 
> that's not the best way to approach these people.

I first try to get people using OSS in Windows, which is in their best
interests in many instances.  Then I point out that the model
underpinning this Open Source software is the same as that for Linux,
which is why Linux like, say, Firefox is so much better than the default
option - i.e. let them gradually learn the difference rather than
throwing everything at them in one go.

> If someone says to me that Linux is crap I take a breath and ask them what 
> they tried and more importantly when. I have had people convert from "linux 
> is rubbish" to "this is great, I installed mythtv at the weekend" - which is 
> no mean feat in itself! It's all about the approach. Slowly slowly catchy 
> monkey. And if you can backup your speil with a bit of paperwork, all the 
> better.

It was pretty obvious that they hadn't given Linux much of a chance.  I
agree with the cautious approach, but I also like the method I adopted a
while back, which is to get people I know (who I think would benefit) to
shift to Linux and guide them gradually (slowly, slowly) through
different aspects of the OS (including the community).  This is another
way of increasing its profile, since people you know who actually use
the OS long-term are more credible than those who try it for a few days,
if that.  They know other people, so at best you can make use of word of
mouth in a ripple effect.

No matter how good our software is, though, there's some people who just
wouldn't benefit.  They're rooted in ways that Linux can't compete with.
Some people get a buzz from buying software and don't get that same
feeling with Linux.  Some get that buzz from pirated software.  These
are the 'got it off a bloke in the pub' people, who've been using that
method for years.  With car parts, etc., maybe it was a good way of
doing things.  But they get that much from doing things this way
(socially, too) that they don't really want to change and I'd be
damaging the fun they get out of these methods if I tried.

More information about the ubuntu-uk mailing list