[Wolves] Promoting Linux

Matthew Revell wolves at mailman.lug.org.uk
Fri May 9 10:50:02 2003

Hello everyone,

Okay, here are my thoughts on promoting Linux within Wolverhampton.

First, I think it's important to get straight why we should promote
Linux. If our hobby was stamp collecting, would be hoping to promote it?
Not really. Linux, tho', as we all know, is more than a hobby. The
dominance of one provider in any market is harmful. Usually, the state
gets involved and helps to even things out. Of course, tho', the federal
US government hasn't evened things out in the operating system market
and it looks like the EU will, eventually, bow to similar (i.e.
financial) pressure. If you're interested in US governments taken bungs
from corporations, read Michael Moore's Stupid White Men.

So, my view is that Microsoft must be stopped. No, I'm not a raving Bill
Gates hater, who is on a one man mission to rid the world of Windows
etc. I am, tho', someone who believes firmly in innovation and
competition. I also know that Microsoft's stranglehold on the PC desktop
is at best an anachronism and, at worst, the beginning of a quasi-Big
Brother situation (see Palladium etc).

Apart from hoping to open people to a Microsoft alternative, is Linux
worth promoting in itself? We're not going to get very far if we promote
Linux just 'cause we like it. I'm sure at one stage or another, you've
each argued with a fundamentalist of some kind; remember the school
playground Spectrum v C64 or, later on, ST v Amiga, debates? We're not
going to help Linux if we take on the aura of a Mormon of Jehovah's
Witness who's on your doorstep and trying to explain: a) just why it was
only Joseph Smith who could read those special tablets from God or b)
how all those predictions of Christ's second coming were, well, wrong.

To me, Linux is worth promoting - aside from being a MS alternative -

1) It's open
2) It's largely free
3) It's a version of the proven Unix architecture
3b) It's stable

If we're going to promote Linux, then we need to build on that list and
give a good explanation of each benefit. We also need to understand the
disadvantages of the average Linux system:

1) Plug and play, what's that?
2) Why is that programme called XCrupleFFT77.9.-1XC and not just Funky
3) GNOME, KDE, eh? I just wanna look at naked ladies.
4) Hmm, so where's the uninstall option?
5) Er, I just installed something, where did it go? Oh,
/usr/bin/opt/xwz/, yes, that makes sense now that I've read The Unix
File System Paradigm by Anthony Geek.

These are minor problems and with a little help, most people could get
used to them and Linux is getting easier to use month by month. However,
they're something we need to be aware of when promoting Linux and we
need to ask: is Linux right to be promoted to the average user? We might
like it but is it right for everyone? I reckon the answer is a qualified

I'll leave it there for now. I'd be really interested to hear your
thoughts on all of this. Personally, I think Linux is a good alternative
for the desktop. It'll do what the average person needs but I think that
the myriad of options that Linux presents could be a problem. Also, I
feel that the second anything goes wrong, the average user will be
stuck. (Perhaps we could set up the Wolves LUG Linux Line and charge
people for support :) )