Selling Linux to Windows Users

Mark Haney mhaney at
Tue Dec 9 13:49:26 UTC 2008

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

Let me play a little more devil's advocate here.
> 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.

The 'there are no viruses in linux' talk is exactly what's going to give 
us trouble.  There ARE  viruses in linux.  The problem is a matter of 
popularity, the more widely used an OS (see the recent Mac problem with 
a posting about antivirus software) the more likely writers are going to 
target it.  The security structure of linux (and Mac) is such that 
viruses are more difficult to cause widespread damage, but they still /can/.

> - 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.

I really disagree with this. I run an all ATI chipset on several of my 
systems (in fact I won't waste time with Nvidia chips ever again.) and 
they are rock solid.  Granted the video drivers are flaky, but I use the 
open source driver since I don't need some of the bell and whistles the 
proprietary driver offers, but I've never had trouble out of mine.

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

Uh, no, not exactly, even a poorly configured linux box is just as bad 
as a Windows box.  Granted, out of the box, it's safer, but not /that/ safe.

> - 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?

I'm not sure where you're going with this.  But the point is, you are 
not beholden to one company for patches or timely security updates. 
That's a good thing if you ask me.  There are holes in Windows 7+years 
old that MS still hasn't patched (or just patched as in the SMB exploit).

> - 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.

You're point?  That's very true, but, it's easier to install via apt-get 
or yum than buying the software and installing it, then having to 
re-install and trying to find the media you've put 'in a safe place' 
that you forgot where you put it.

> - 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.

I do not forget about drivers.  This is the core of a decent system. 
Driver stability is paramount.  And the drivers in linux are much better 
than they used to be.  But then, even Windows drivers are crappy too. 
Part of that is due to the vendor not really opening the API completely. 
  It's not always the fault of the OS.

> - 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.

Not always, with a .deb file or an RPM, you still have the option of 
using the package manager to manage it.  How many users now download the 
tarball and compile from source?  Not many.

> - 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
> like.
> - 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?

I'm not getting this either.  Personally, zfs is great, but it's not 
THAT great.  It is not btrfs by any means, but it does have certain 
attractive features.  However, I've managed to blow up a couple zfs 
filesystems recently and it worries me. But then nothing Sun ever did 
didn't do anything but suck.

> - 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
> green.
> - 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...

Amen.  Just because it's open source doesn't mean it's perfect.  And 
there is a certain amount of trust in every software package you install 
and run.  That the devs did a good job and that there are no 
'showstoppers' or such floating around.

> - 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
> Microsoft/Windows.

Yes, this is true, to a point.  The fact is, most desktop users rarely 
need paid support (even for Windows).  It's the corporate world most 
companies like Canonical and Red Hat survive.

> - 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.

Sorry, Kopete supports everything I could ever need in an IM client. 
Pidgin has become something of a laugher to me.  It's become so flaky.

> - 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.

Bad idea.  The kernel exploits are the worst.  Sure, there are fewer of 
them, but still.  Not to mention driver updates.

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

Again, I disagree here.  I like BSD, but I can build a much lighter 
weight linux system than I can BSD.  But then, I do this for a living so 
maybe it's not fair.  Also, the learning curve for BSD is a little steep 
just for that selling point.

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

Touche, my only complaint about linux and the ONLY reason I keep XP at 
home (one copy for 13 systems.) so I can play games.
> - 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.

Yeah, and personally, I HATE anything Apple.  Itunes is crap.

> - 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.

Uh, no.  ForecastFox for Firefox is very detailed.  The weather modules 
in Superkaramba are fantastic.  But then, I also get the NOAA feed to my 
desktop too, since I provide them with the weather data they use.

> 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.
> Gilles.

I like OpenSolaris, but not enough to run it on my laptop.  Anything Sun 
does creeps me out.  Which is why I've begun migrating away from MySQL. 
  Sadly, because I've used MySQL for 10+ years.

Frustra laborant quotquot se calculationibus fatigant pro inventione 
quadraturae circuli

Mark Haney
Sr. Systems Administrator
ERC Broadband
(828) 350-2415

Call (866) ERC-7110 for after hours support

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