[ubuntu-uk] Teenagers and GNU/Linux WAS: Re: ubuntu-uk Digest, Vol 40, Issue 45

Tim Dobson personalwebsite at army.com
Thu Aug 28 18:29:42 BST 2008

Scrase, Eddie wrote:
> Jai Harrison wrote:
>> What we really need is a multiplatform messaging protocol + client to
>> cut into the Microsoft instant messaging market - the younger
>> generation of Microsoft Windows users.
> Alan cocks wrote:
>> Isn't that what Pidgin is for or have I misunderstood?
> From my experience of teenagers (of both sexes), they tend to be
> surprisingly conservative about software as a group (possibly due to
> peer pressure) and just want to use what all their friends use.  To have
> a chance of getting them to switch from MS Live Messenger, you will need
> to have a clone of Messenger with the following:
> 	1. Talks to MS Messenger clients running on Windows (ie,
> supports MS IM protocol)
> 	2. Has Messenger's look and feel
> 	3. Has full emoticon support
> 	4. Has full wink support
> 	5. Has full webcam support
> While Pidgin is a good IM client, it fails #2 above.  aMSN tries to be
> clone of Messenger, but it still has some way to go.  I use Messenger to
> talk to my two teenagers.  A while ago I tried aMSN, but quickly went
> back to Messenger because it didn't support winks and (in the version I
> tried at least) it looked ugly.  So if I decided not to use aMSN, then
> there is no chance of getting teenagers to switch.

As a "teenager" (that crucial age or so I'm told!) I think it would be 
nice if "adults" (yes you lot ;) ) people consulted the teen gnu/linux 
communities about this stuff. :)

I know both teenlinux.com and teensonlinux.com (woe betide the one who 
confuses them!) have a wide cross section of gnu/linux users - from 
complete novices to people essentially building their own distros, all 
of whom would be really happy to lend their opinions to anything like this:)


I would say that peer pressure, the lack of young people friendly user 
groups and a perception that all teenagers are the same makes it quite 
difficult for young people to get into GNU/Linux.

I have been active within my local free software user group since it's 
inception, and thus a level of respect has built up. A lot of young 
users feel very intimidated by older people making assumptions on their 
abilities and interests based on age (or physical size!).

To some extent I am making an effort to show young techies, who perhaps 
aren't as active within the community as me, that there are people out 
there like them, active, near to where they live.

The first DFEY-NW meeting is this Sunday in Manchester! - 

Another initiative is the up and coming podcast "Freedom Socks" *by* 
young people but *for* all ages of all nationalities.

Check out http://www.freedomsocks.co.uk :)


Now addressing the issues raised about instant messaging. I should 
mention I use pidgin on a day to day basis, mainly cos I have foreign 
friends who primarily use networks like GaduGadu, ICQ etc. To many 
people's annoyance I also use pidgin for irc.

I, personally, have turned off emicons in pidgin as this was apparently 
the only way to stop me seeing MSN's "custom emicons" - possibly the 
most annoying invention since the furbie (flashing gifs that replace 
certain strings of text), though something I recognise is important to 
some young people.

I did a short poll on the ##teenlinux irc channel and asked what people 
used for their instant messaging needs.
Of the people who responded:

2 used irssi + bitlbee
3 used pidgin
1 used finch (pidgin in shell)

While this was just a small group and may not be representative of 
general attitudes prevailing amongst teenagers it does show some strong 
differences between the attitudes of the control group you mentioned.

So anyway, I have put together a list of MSN clients for gnu/linux.

# IRC + bitlbee

# Jabber + MSN transport

# pidgin - pidgin.im

# kopete - kopete.kde.org

# amsn - amsn-project.net

# emesene - emesene.org

# kmess - kmess.org

(Finch is essentially pidgin with a ncurses front end. )

Other clients have been missed out from this list, not because they 
aren't worth looking at, but because I haven't heard of them and didn't 
know what they were :P

amsn, is undoubtedly the most mature, and plugins and skins greatly 
increase it's functionality and looks. Emesene is highly thought of.


It's also worth mentioning that while western Europe's teenagers 
primarily use MSN, this is not the case elsewhere in the world (in my 
experience the US uses AIM/Yahoo, Parts of eastern Europe uses ICQ/GG, 
china uses QQ etc. therefore meaning that MSN clones only have a limited 
appeal geographically.


I wouldn't get so hung up over small issues such as winks, people tend 
to be more tolerant than they are given credit for.
Constantly taking small steps in the right direction will get you there 

Hope this sheds a little insight, :)



If each of us have one object, and we exchange them, then each of us
still has one object.
If each of us have one idea, and we exchange them, then each of us now
has two ideas.   -  George Bernard Shaw

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