Selling Linux to Windows Users

Gilles Gravier gilles at
Tue Dec 9 13:06:19 UTC 2008


Knapp wrote:
> I just learned of this site. It is really cool and comes in a LOT of languages!
> Best,

There is a risk inherent to that approach. It's an invitation for direct
rebutals of each point. Let me play devils advocate and address some of
the points on the site to show you.

- Forget about viruses. This is plain wrong. While there are A LOT LESS
VIRUSES ON LINUX, there are. They are just harder to write, and since
Linux isn't as widely spread as Windows, the ROI isn't as good. Also, a
lot of viruses today spread in the form of platform independent actions
(cross-site scripting, javascript...). Those are just as bad on Linux as
they are on Windows and MacOS.

- Is your system unstable. *IF* your hardware is properly supported by
the current kernel. Try runnin Linux on a machine with ATI chipsets (not
just graphics, but the rest as well - like a Shuttle ST20G5 machine)...
you'll learn about (lack of) stability of Linux.

- Linux protects your computer. See point on viruses above.

- Don't pay $300 for your OS. Fine. But NetBSD is free also. OpenSolaris
is free also. Most people get their OS with their machine. For them, the
price of the OS is hidden (I didn't say ZERO). They don't see the need
for an alternative from a price point of view.

- Freedom. Of what? If I made the free choice to leave Windows on a
machine... I have just as wide a choice of apps to run on it. Where is
Linux giving me more freedom?

- When the system was installed, why would you still need to install
stuff. Maybe because most Linux versions don't ship with Skype, with
libdvdcss, with Stellarium, with... shall I add more? You STILL need to
install stuff.

- Forget about drivers. Total fud. Try to plug a fancy 3G phone in a
linux machine and do OBEX or use your PC as the phones internet server.
Some features will work. Others won't. Of course, plug the same phone in
Windows and stick in the vendor CD and everything works. Yeah... forget
about drivers. If your hardware doesn't come with Linux drivers, you are
likely out of luck.

- Update all your software with a single click. *IF* it was installed by
the package manager. If you did a manual install, you're dead. For
example, today, 3.0 isn't in the standard repository of
Ubuntu. You have to remove 2.4.x and download and manually install
3.0.0... and updates won't be automatic.

- Why copy software illegally if you can get it for free. Careful there.
There are very valid commercial software on Linux. Don't try to let
people think that if it runs on Linux, it can be used for Free.
AutoPanorama which I use for fancy photo panoramas is commercial... even
on Linux. Crossover office is commercial... even on Linux. Oracle is
commercial... even on Linux. I can add more to this list.

- Need new software? Don't bother searching... unless you are looking
for the apps mentionned in the point above... or ANY application that
isn't in Synaptics.

- Jump into the next generation of desktops. I thought that was MacOS?
:) Seriously... nobody knows what the NEXT generation of desktop will be

- Does your digital life seem fragmented? No... Not on my OpenSolaris
laptop with ZFS filesystem. Oh wait... you were comparing with Windows.
Yeah. But neither NetBSD nor OpenSolaris show fragmentation. Is Linux
better here? Than what?

- Choose what your desktop looks like. Probably the one of the few ONLY
one that are valid (unless you count themers for Windows as alternatives).

- Why does your Windows get slower every day. Because most Windows users
download millions of apps and don't even uninstall them. Of course the
fact that Windows doesn't properly uninstall everything helps... Same as
above. One of the few only ones that are valid.

- Do something for the environment. Right. So don't buy your Linux in
boxes in shops either. Why do Linux distros STILL insist on being sold
in boxes if they want to be green like that? Be coherent before you are

- No back doors... like the very famous backdoor in the ATT C compilers
that inserted specific code in login daemon when you compiled login
daemon's source code and resulted in a system with back doors? Yes...
open source HELPS. HELPS A LOT. But it's not a guaranty. It's MUCH
BETTER. But don't completely rest on your 2 ears...

- Enjoy free and unlimited support. Yeah. How do people at Ubuntu live?
They sell support contracts. For the average user, you can work with
free community support... just as most Windows home users do... for
enterprises, they get Linux support contracts from SuSE,
Canonical/Ubuntu, Red Hat, Mandriva... just as they do with

- Use all IM protocols in one single client. Yes. Pidgin runs on Windows
as well. In fact, Trillian, an alternative to Pidgin, which also
supports all IM protocols only runs on Windows... not Linux.

- Too many windows? Use workspaces. I have 2 screens on my machine.
Easier to move mouse from left screen to right than to use workspaces.

- Tired of rebooting your system? OK. Then avoid kernel updates on Linux.

- Let your old computer have a second life. Yes. Put NetBSD on it. Much
more lightweight than Linux.

- Play hundreds of games for free. Probably the same as on Windows. Oh
wait... Windows has even more.

- Help other countries and your own. Yes. The THIRD one on the list to
be true (though Microsoft and others will debate that point)

- Get a great music player. Strangely enough, most Linux music players
try to reproduce the feature set and comfort of iTunes... which comes
from MacOS and runs on Windows but not on... Linux. If the Linux music
players were so great... why would they try to reproduce iTunes? Why not
design something totally different from the start? Oh... And a lot of
them (Songbird, aTunes) run on Windows. Amarok (the one illustrated on
the web site) is being ported to Windows.

- Keep an eye on the weather. There are actually too many weather
information tools on Windows to keep track of. Most of them free.
Weather-Watcher from Singer's Creations is a good example. Free and on
Windows. Much better, in fact, in terms of information provided, than
what you get on Linux.

So you see, of the points listed... 3 are probably really defendable...
the rest, just about anybody can come with rebutals.

The reasons to use Linux are many... but saying Linux is better is
dangerous (at best).

I use OpenSolaris on my work laptop (with just about everything I need
on it). I use Ubuntu on my EeePC and my home server. I use Windows on my
home desktop because I need Photoshop's RAW processing features and my
astronomy software (Starry Night Pro) and the Nokia synchronisation
suite (firmware update only runs on Windows) and a few more fancy
features like proper support for my Epson R800 printer (ink levels, and
some specific photo rendering features)... My Nokia uses Symbian - I
chose it for that aspect. Oh... and my Wii has an OS which I have no
idea what it is and I don't care - it runs the games I want on it fine.

I like choice. I chose depending on the use. I don't close doors. And I
don't go into comparison attemps doomed for failure.


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