Open Source

The most obvious user for Linux isn't who you think

Jack Wallen proclaims the best user for the Linux platform isn't who you'd think it is.

Average user

I want to make a rather bold statement here (though that isn't unusual). This morning, I was reading some of my usual tech news sites, which included reports of malware, Windows woes, and the usual litany of issues plaguing various platforms.

And then it dawned on me ... just who the ideal candidate for Linux should be. It's not the developer (though they probably get more benefit out of the platform than any user type), it's not the gamer, it's not the geek, and it's not the administrator. The ideal candidate is the average user.

Humor me for a moment.

If you've ever done any consulting or PC support, the one thing that can get in the way of real work (more so than, say, printing issues) are clients that constantly return with the same issues over and over and over and over.

  • Malware
  • Viruses
  • Blue screens

It doesn't matter what you do to protect them or educate these clients, you know they'll be back. Why? They are of a particular user base who runs rampant through virus and malware infected fields without a grasp on the consequences. They download anything that looks fun, install apps that will most likely compromise their systems, and use software (such as Internet Explorer) that is known for its lack of security.

All because it's what they know.

These are the users who are the perfect candidate for Linux. It's time that IT, as a whole, understand that simple fact.

Considering the world has become browser-centric, the platform is slowly disappearing. Because of that, the time is now for the best candidates for Linux to start using it. And the sell is easy. "Would you like to use a computer that you won't have to bring in once a month for viruses and malware removal?"

Easy. Peasy.

The average user is ideal for Linux, because this user:

  • Doesn't want to upgrade to the latest-greatest
  • Doesn't game
  • Spends the majority of their time within a browser
  • Is prone to installing toolbars, screensavers, and apps to "speed up their PCs"
  • Complains every time they have to "spend money to remove junk"

These users no longer depend on a platform, but on Software as Service (SaaS). This is an arena in which Linux has been superior since inception — working with and on the internet.

The idea that Linux is perfect for the average user should be a no brainer for anyone who has anything to do with IT. And yes, I understand that legacy software still exists, and there are situations where Linux simply doesn't fit. But more often, that is becoming outside the norm — and the browser will soon become the only platform of importance. So, why not start the migration of the clients that best fit this need now? Take a brief moment to educate them on Linux and send them on their way.

"Teach a man to fish" aptly applies here.

I understand there are some IT pros out there whose bread and butter are these very users. The constant flow of machines coming in for malware and virus removal keeps the lights on. But there are two things you must now consider that you haven't had to consider in previous years:

  • Microsoft has failed the desktop
  • The mass migration to mobile is in full force

At some point, those very users are going to join the masses, and a mobile platform will be their only platform. A constant frustration on the desktop will only help to drive them to tablets and smartphones as their platform of choice. When that happens, you'll be at a complete loss (mobile platforms rarely fail).

And let's not forget that the Chromebook has exemplified this very thing. The average user needs little more than a browser to function at home or at work. The ideal platform for that? Linux. Safe, stable, and ready to serve.

If you've either grown tired of dealing with the constant disruptions caused by the average user, or you want to truly help your clients to a platform that will end their frustrations... consider adopting Linux as the platform for the average user.

What is your take on the average user? Would they be best served by the Linux platform, or should they remain with what they've used for the past two decades — regardless of cost and frustration? Let us know if you think it's time for a change in the discussion thread below.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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