[CoLoCo] A Serious Issue Not Taken Seriously.

Kevin Fries kfries at cctus.com
Thu Sep 25 19:19:55 BST 2008


You know I love ya, but your focus on this is a little askew.

> It's only harder when the hardware won't cooperate and
> that isn't an Ubuntu problem, that is a vendor problem.
> Consumers who have problems running Ubuntu need to
> complain to the computer manufacturers. They need to
> declline their windows EULA and fight for a refund forcing
> vendors to offer Ubuntu or Linux as an option which will
> force them to use Linux friendly hardware or force their
> vendors to develop Linux drivers (or open them). That is
> the response I would give to people saying they can't use
> Ubuntu. They are barking up the wrong tree.

I get the same attitude from several in the Linux community because I agree with Michael (the op).  I take a much more pragmatic approach to Linux and have even been asked by several clueless individuals (names withheld to protect the guilty) why I am even in the Linux community.  The answer is simple, and I rarely justify these morons with a response to that question, but I will to you.  I am in the Linux community because I believe, while flawed (and what software isn't), Linux make sense from a practicality standpoint.  But many don't look past FOSS.

Linux to me is about freedom.  But far too often Linux has become about limitations.  As a very skilled user (lets face it, I invent  the machines that are geared to run Linux), I work around many of Linux's limitations with ease.  I set my mother up on Linux, and she has been loving the virus free, crash free life for 5 months now.  Her biggest question is how to lock it down more so my sister and her kids stay out of her stuff (checkbook, webmail, letters, etc).  When I go back to Arizona for the holidays, it will take me 10 minutes to show her how to do it.  AWESOME!

But most novice users don't want to be dealing with new problems.  When simple stuff does not work, such as video, people will blame Linux.  Has Vista taught us nothing?  Most of Vista's problems where with 3rd party drivers, and Microsoft changing the underlying system.  Now Microsoft has a huge image problem in their hands.  No mater how many people run around and yell about how Vista is stable now, or how many ad campaigns Microsoft does, or how many good comedians they fire, the damage was done.  Do we want to duplicate this in Linux... I think not.

Always remember, perception is reality.  It matters not what is real, it is a mater of what people perceive to be real.  It is that perception that will drive other peoples actions.  This is why, despite how much easier Linux is to use, Microsoft and Apple have been touting its difficult to use nature.  It is not enough to show people that these two commercial entities are wrong, you must allow them to clear their preconceptions, then allow them to make their own perceptions.  I did this with my mom, and now she is totally happy with Linux.  But it was only once I convinced her that Window's issues (viruses and crashes and such) were enough of a problem to give Linux a fair chance.  Not until that perception changed was she willing to give Linux a chance.  Once that perception changed, I set her system up right (overrode several of Ubuntu's stupidities such as a single partition install) so that her perception did not change.  But what do you suppose would have been the reaction if she tried it on her own, finally willing to give Linux a chance, and the video did not work.  I'll tell you what the result would be: Microsoft was right, this is too difficult to use.  She would never have blamed the video vendor.  She would have blamed Linux.  And there would have been a perfect opportunity lost.

I usually get into this argument over things like Flash and Acrobat.  In my opinion, gnash and evince are not only a waste of time, they are counter productive to Linux's well being.  Effort is waisted when cooperation is the key.  I don't care if it is not open source.  What I care about is that when we get the chance to make our sales pitch on the benefits of Linux, we don't blow it.  Why is it that Linux is supposed to be about choice, and I am crucified for choosing a stable commercial product over an half-assed FOSS one.  People are used to Acrobat and Flash from their Windows and Mac machines.  They want to know that Linux can do the same.  Evince and Gnash are not the same.  Every minute working on them is a waste of time.  If that effort could be put towards extending the olive branch to Adobe (as Google did), we could have these tools people rely upon in Linux.  All I ever hear from the community is that it should be open source or nothing.  And nothing is what we are getting.  The Linux community is not growing as fast as the computing community as a whole, and we have the most stable, easiest to use OS.  Again, perception is reality.

Molly Wood the other day made a comment about whistles and bells in a product (in this case she was on a rant over the lack of a headphone jack on the new G1/Google/Android Phone).  She said about how certain baseline functionality is just expected.  She said (and I am paraphrasing) I don't care how much a chair costs, or what other features it has, but no mater what, there has to be a place for my butt.  This is exactly what she was talking about.  Certain features are expected.  So much so, they are rarely mentioned.  Whether it is the basic software to do one's job, or the video, certain functionality must be present.  and when it does not work or is not present, people will not use Linux.


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