Linux

What kind of a Linux advocate are you?

Do you consider yourself to be an active Linux advocate or a laissez-faire user? What is your preferred way to grow the Linux community of users?

I just read a post, "Help Spread Linux... Don't Preach It!" about Linux advocacy and what the author thinks is the right and wrong approach to spreading the word. I know Jack has written about successful conversions, starting with his own family. How important is it to you to be a Linux advocate? Do you feel that you've had much success introducing others to open source alternatives?

Take the poll and let us know how you see your role in being a champion of Linux and open source.

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

55 comments
sonicsteve
sonicsteve

Yes my client was perpetually breaking his Windows XP TCP/IP network functionality. That's what I mean by "Windows Destroyer". No matter what I tried I could never restore his Networking unless I re-installed everything. On the third occasion I gave him the option. I explained that this would likely keep happening to him and since I couldn't find out what the cause was it seemed pretty certain that I was right. The deal I made him was simple, try it, it will likely fix you're networking woes. If you don't like it I'll re-install windows at no charge. Understand that making money on the same problem from the same person over and over while being a nice way to make money isn't exactly the best way to make people happy. He's been using Ubuntu now for almost exactly one year. At first there were some growing pains. He kept telling me that his friend thought it was terrible. I kept reminding him of my promise to reinstall windows. He kept refusing to take me up on the offer. Finally I said to him, "It doesn't matter what your friend thinks, it matters what you think. Again I offered up my promise, again he refused. He's about 70 years old, he had been using Windows for about as long as anyone, though he never gained any kind of real proficiency. Linux has never crashed on him, he's happy now. I make less money from him but eventually he would have turned to someone else anyway if I could never have stabilized Windows.

l.stevens1
l.stevens1

I am about to do that with Thomas, so he can't destroy the computer . . About every 3 months something is wrong and its always Major Some Program does not work so he will play with things and then there are lots of things not working ! So I am going to add Ubuntu to his computers so he can't destroy them ( he dislikes putting in passwords ) so he will not be able to erase things any more YES I like that means I got to go fix things less . . Going to add Code Weaver 6.02 and then add his Windows AP Pro Office so he can run his stuff . . and get his e-mail . . I get to piggy back off some UN SECURE systems close by me and run at 540 KBPS nice since its free Means some one is not watching the router light blink ( got a tiny wireless USB port thingie plugged in right now )

as901
as901

I helped several friends switch to Linux. Until then, they had no idea it was possible to get an operating system that does not crash! They are very, very pleased! Mark Heinemann

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

I can call a dozens of people if I have a Microsoft product problem. I can call a handful of people if I have a Mac issue. When the Linux community floods the user base with a helping hand Linux will steamroll WinX. Bottom line all human endeavor is made by people talking to and helping people. That's what makes it happen.

pgit
pgit

I've asked some rather advanced questions in Microsoft forums and never got one answer. In contrast, people who come to the Mandriva forums often comment on how helpful and responsive they are. If you're talking about asking people you bump into for help, sure, 99.999% have never heard of Linux. But when it comes to internet based help, Linux in general has the solid advantage.

chris
chris

but all the advanced stuff is locked in articles. I never get any "real" help either when asking about really crazy issues.

pgit
pgit

There's always linux questions dot org. There's some pretty advanced geeks perusing that place. The kind that won't chime in until the question is deep enough.

darrentrott
darrentrott

I won't use Windows again. Recently moved to Ubuntu 8.10 and cannot look back. No hang-ups, no viruses, no malware, etc. Need I say more?

LarryD4
LarryD4

Been experimenting with Linspire and Ubuntu for a while now. I think I'm happy with Ubuntu.

jackie40d
jackie40d

I presently Use Ubuntu 8.04 on my Laptop and get updates at the Library via WiFi ( first time it up dated it got a ton of them ) And On my Desktop I have WindBlows XP Pro with all 3 SP's added to it as I have to use Pinnacle Studio to make the movies I add to Youtube And as soon as I find a Movie maker and converter for Linux I will drop windblows XP Pro like a hot rock !

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

Could you please reply with a link to one of your Youtube movies? I'm interested in Pinnacle Studio.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Jackie40d's post. Takes you here: http://www.youtube.com/jackie40d :D (slow night in the lab.)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It's far to early after the circus show to either polar end of the political spectrum will behave. I do hope you watched the Penn & Teller show in three parts though. Even if only to question and reaffirm your position on immigration. One's personal opinions need to be self-assessed from time to time.

jackie40d
jackie40d

Some the answers I have read leads me to believe that what Michael Savage says in his book that Liberals are a Mental Disorder ! LMAO Its our fault we let them out of the funny farm and they have multiplied to cover a big area

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Start working on the 'T's when I get home. :D

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

Saw that but didn't make the connection, duh! :)

santeewelding
santeewelding

There is one teeny-weeny problem to that very slick presentation with the charts and the marbles; one that guts it.

jdclyde
jdclyde

If someone is looking for an AV server, of course they don't have a choice but to get a windows server. If they are putting in a web or FTP server, it is a clear choice to go with linux. Desktop? Depends on the job that needs to be done by the user, and if acceptable software is available. Always determine the job, locate software that does that job, Find an OS that runs that software, and then find hardware that runs that software. It is stupid to do it any other way. It is not for everyone, either because they don't have the technical ability to handle what linux has to offer, or because of mental deficiencies that block them from ever looking around to make sure they are using the right tool for the right job.

pbasehore
pbasehore

I don't care what people use, so long as they are able to make an informed decision. Since Microsoft and Apple (as well as the vast majority of vendors and OEMs) essentially ignore Linux in the marketplace, John Q. Public doesn't even know that Linux is an option and that it can do (rather well) most the same things that Windows or Mac OS X can do. So long as people have a choice, what choice they make is up to them.

jlwallen
jlwallen

that's what most call me. i try, every day, to educate a new person on the benefits of Linux and open source. to that end i try to keep a burned copy of Ubuntu or Mandriva with me to hand out if someone shows interest. i have handed out a number of those cds. you just never know when you might win over another Linux newbie!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

some kid was showing off his shiny new dell/ubuntu on the subway so I pulled the mandriva liveCD from my machine and handed to him as I was leaving. He seemed interested enough to try a selection. On the other side, how likely would I be to run a CD someone just handed me on the subway? It may never have been booted again; that's a possible outcome also.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I use GNU-Linux, and openBSD and Solaris and FreeBSD and netBSD ... The open source operating systems, other than the partly open source Darwin core of OSX. when people ask what os that is, I answer. when people ask for help with their open source problems, I'll help if I can.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

I let people use a Linux system, and will copy a cd for them if they seem interested. I doubt that they will move to it completely, however I have been thanked for it in the past.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I wasn't aware using it incurred an obligation to go door to door and hand out pamphlets.

scarville
scarville

The average Windows user probably loses more time to malware alone than it would take to learn Linux. The cost of Microsoft Office alone would purchase a good support contract. Nevertheless it all must be worth it to them. So if someone asks me for my opinion on Linux versus Whatever I give it to them. If they ask for help with Linux, I help them. If they want to run Windows, I let them. Then I drive a pickup trunk with a manual transmission, hold doors for ladies and hunt with a lever action rifle.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

you are SUPPOSED to go door to door when nobody is home, break in and Install it for them on their systems!!! Get it right!

chris
chris

I love it. we need a website and set some kind of date up. We can then see how many machines get converted in one day. maybe even set a record

scarville
scarville

Do that and you might be mistaken for a employee of an Alphabet Agency.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

word would get around that I was a SPOOK and suddenly be afraid of me :D

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Why don't I take their system home with me and install it there? Better yet, I may be able to get Bob's Pawn Shop to do the installation. I'll drop the system off there, and have them give me cash as a hostage so they'll have to return it.

Selena Frye
Selena Frye

If you consider yourself an active cheerleader for Linux, do you have any particular methods of getting others to try it? What are your biggest success stories for converting users?

jackie40d
jackie40d

I show off my DESKTOP computer running Ubuntu 9.04 ( running windblows XP Pro junk under virtual box ) As some makers of software do not YET make it in a Linux version and I do not get BLUE SCREENS or Lockups . . Really piss off some winblows users

alexpaton1969
alexpaton1969

My favourite method of geting people to use linux is to sneak it in the back door. Quite often I am able to fix their computer problems by replacing microsoft office with openoffice, internet explorer with firefox and outlook with thunderbird (why does every email I print from Outlook print off the side of the page?). Once I have done that, I simply show them Linux Mint live and 7 out of 10 can't think of a good reason why they should carry on with Windoze, especially when they see that it loads from CD faster than windoze runs from the hard drive.

45GEEK
45GEEK

It isn't really a push so much these days as the "free" part sells on its own merit. Support can be a push for some, but most of my encounters deal with those who have been burned too many times with MS. They tend to find it easier to locate "fixes" online with just a few directions to the appropriate forum, (e.g. Apache Friends, AMD64 Planet, etc...)the the normal redirect of a redirect of a redirect that is the MS normal. If the correct distro of GNU products are chosen it seems to be the easiest sell. For instance Open Office over MS Office, I mean most companies these days are fighting to survive and when you can show them that by hiring just one or two more personel that have some Linux savvy theire subscription costs start paying dividends almost immediately. I think that the economy will more or less turn some companies towards the Linux path for the simple "bottom line" mantra that is the basis of business. If anything some change over will force MS to realize that its old ways of bait and buy will be replaced by a more robust and stable product. It is always better to have a choice than be force feed something that is broken.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

The same method ALL Linux users use. Visit a Windows Forum and say "WINDOWS SUX - Ubuntu's better" in the title. Maybe that's why the marketing strength of Linux is as weak as a wet Kleenex.

jackie40d
jackie40d

Add Linux to a store Laptop and leave ( use the Live CD versions ) so they can't say you destroyed the computer . .

jackie40d
jackie40d

I just ask question of them and they get Mad at me for asking them questions about MS and its continual patches and fixes and fixes for patches and so many holes a blind person could hack their computer . .I wonder why they get mad !

john3347
john3347

I would like nothing better in my little corner of the computer world than to find something to spring me free of the Microsoft clutches. I have not found a Linux OS that is able to do that yet. Everyone, yes EVERYONE, who claims a Linux OS has freed them from Misrosoft adds that they have Windows, in some form, (dual boot, visualization, etc.) "for the situations where they just have to use windows." Also, the term "configured" gets into the discussion of how they finally got Linux to do ALMOST everything they use their computer for. I am FAR from a computer expert, but I have used computers for well over 20 years now. During my working years I used a computer FOR projects. I did not maintain the computers and was not concerned with what made them do what I needed them to do. I opened customer jobs, wrote and closed repair orders, kept up with customer accounts, kept up with mechanic time on each job assignment and total time, etc. The computer was nothing but a tool for me. (The point of all of this is to make the OS developers aware that this is the typical use for the computers.) Kinda like a new car buyer who just wants their car to "work". They don't want to have to configure the engine, transmission, brakes, etc. before they start to utilize this car. Now, I am retired and have time and inclination to play with computers and use them AS a project and this use does include Linux. I have a spare computer that I have played with 2 to 3 versions each of Fedora, ubuntu, and Mandriva over the last 3 or 4 years. I have the Linux computer on a KVM switch which protects my main computer from "configuration accidents" that I may make. I feel that the above experience qualifies me to make the following statement. Linux is not yet ready for the typical computer user. The Linux development community MUST realize that the typical computer user does not want to need to hear the word "configure". The Linux development community MUST realize that the typical computer user just wants to use their computer for whatever they want to use their computer for. They do not want to treat their computer as a street rod that they pamper and constantly work on. (edited to correct spelling error)

jackie40d
jackie40d

Well My Laptop gets drug around on the back of a Motorcycle so its lucky to be running LMAO ! But in a few months I am going to try loading Pinnacle Studio 9.4.3 to Ubuntu via Code Weavers 6.02 . . I am hoping that the number of Illegal Alien Invaders will have left so I can do things I would like to do like a few days off here and there ! We in Arizona are loosing 1,700 per month now ! Maybe we can increase the numbers a little bit with the economy down turn . .

chris
chris

I think that the netbooks work with linux because they are configured almost as an applicance. Linux works really well when served that way. For me, I love Quanta+ for my dev work, way better than anything on winders (and I have tried a ton (just can't afford to pay for the big boys)) That is an example of using linux for a specific use.

pgit
pgit

Good observation. I will say ubuntu appears to be at least trying to heed your call. But to a fellow like me that does want to upgrade hi brakes, tweak the suspension etc, this makes ubuntu boring, dull and constricted. I prefer Mandriva, which you could describe one way as handing the end user an OS, a knife, a broken bottle and and a loaded gun. Now be careful! I think there's all kinds of pressures on the developers pulling them in disparate directions. Alas probably the only hope of a system that does what it's supposed to and gets out of the way is ubuntu. Lets hope cannonial doesn't get bored and toss the money elsewhere.

steve.lewinsky
steve.lewinsky

I always try to talk up the benefits of LINUX, but then as I am doing the sell, I always have to add in the 'steep learning curve'. I think one of the biggest things that LINUX needs is a good very down to earth basics and implimentation tutorial on the different components of LINUX. Many, to most, of the current documents assume, the user, to already know how to tar, rpm, apt, etc. Sure these documents can be found on the net, but they are scattered and need to be written with the NEWBIE in mind. Or written probably more with the WINDOWS user point of view, migrating to LINUX. There are users that just need to know the steps to make it work. Then once it works, they can tweak it as needed. For example, I am currently trying to get AMANDA backup to work with an HP 35/70 DLT drive. But for the 75th attempt still have yet to figure it out. So many documents out there yet no 2 have the same proceedure, and others are for SUSE where I am using FEDORA. So promoting is great, but letting a new user fail, wont help them to get a grasp of it and they will give up and never look at LINUX again.

chris
chris

I love linux, but am willing to work for/with it even though I am not a command line guru or anything. I just like it (Mandriva/KDE/Gnome/and even enlightenment).

pgit
pgit

I voted "other," but 'look for opportunities an suggest only to SEEKERS' was close. I just don't know what "SEEKERS" means. I've converted a lot of folks to Linux. Mostly Mandriva, but some folks took the initiative to look into others and settled on them. There's two general avenues by which folks will take the plunge. The most frequent is they get burned by Microsoft. I do bring up certain points in general conversation, but it's all fact, can't really call it "bashing." For instance you can't install your one copy of office on 7 machines in your office. A lot of people had done so anyway, but now Microsoft is catching them and shutting off updates, for instance. But usually people come to desire to be done with windows of their own accord. One common event is when they discovered the XP disk they paid for is "OEM" and they can't install it on their new computer without paying again. The other, less common road is they see the cool stuff I can do with my Linux systems, and they want it too. (of course being free is the icing) Kontact is one tool that's caught the eye of quite a few folks. A subgroup here is people who are giving mom, dad, grandma or grandpa a computer and they've never used one before. They're only going to use a web browser and mail client, the OS will be all but invisible to these kind of users. When discussing this with clients they always conclude that you can count on grandma neglecting to keep up with anti virus & etc., and clicking on every "here's a card for you!" email that hits the inbox. Linux is THE answer to that. It can be set up to be near totally 'idiot proof,' Windows will dutifully allow you to screw yourself in a heartbeat. And again "free" helps to seal that deal. (if money is no object insert Mac here) So mostly it's the Microsoft business model and it's consequences that gets people over the hump and into a new learning curve. But regardless, everyone eventually comes to recognize and appreciate the capabilities at their fingertips.

chris
chris

When they go to a website and can't veiw a video or can't install some game or access their banking site, do they call you?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

The Seekers were a folk music group in the '60's: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seekers http://www.amazon.com/Very-Best-Seekers/dp/B0000081ZF Now that I have that out of my system, the term refers to those who seek out Linux on their own, without you having to approach and preach to them. As to installing MS Office on multiple machines, OpenOffice.org is available for Windows, so you don't have to abandon Windows entirely to avoid the licensing fees for MS Office.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

When Windows loads, it stuffs a lot in memory and Office uses some of those libraries along with having part of itself stuffed in memory waiting for the user to open that critical Word document. On Windows, OOo takes a performance hit because it does not get to load pat of itself into memory waiting to be needed or tap all those other .DLL that makeup IE rendering the windows of Word, Excel and the other apps. In reverse, OOo runs very well in it's primary environment. It's the difference between driving in your car or your friend's car; you'll be more efficient on yours probably. Now, being out of it's natural element, Office can be expected to take a performance hit. On top of the OS, Ubuntu, your adding other layers of obstraction that OOo does not have to rely on while Office does. But with all that, I've no idea how one could have an accurate test run of both since there isn't really a third party environment too both. even osX has a native Office and OOo with each having there own new variables due to Apple's engineers focusing on other things.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

It's not the first time a newer office has been incompatible by default with older versions. Sadly; business as usually. There is something to be said for brand recognition though. Microsoft means computers; software and in some cases, hardware in the minds of consumers. Similarily, one does not search the internet or use an internet search engine; everybody "googles" it. Some "yahoo" for stuff on the internet too but less brand strength in that one. OOo would have to do everything Office does including VB interpretation, seamless graphing and the rest of it; plus dishes, laundry and massages with a happy ending. Then, it may be considered openly by all. I like OOo, it's replacing office on my own machines and I've co-workers who ignore Office and use OOo instead but there is a lot of "Office" brand recognition to compete against before functional merits start to be considered.

jackie40d
jackie40d

I compared the two on a LINUX [ Ubuntu 8.04 ] laptop ( the Laptop has CodeWeavers 6.02 and XP office Pro ) and Open Source Office Suite Came free on Ubuntu So I added it and ran both side by side ( in different windows which MS users do not understand yet ?) and the Open Source Office Suite ran better and faster and looked nicer . .

chris
chris

I wish OOOrg could capitalize (marketing-wise) on the fact that MS is now not compatible with itself. NOTE: yes I know you can change the default format so that the system saves as doc

pgit
pgit

I asked for it... =) Anyway, I suggest ooo and some folks go for it, but somewhere around half want MS office, IE etc, they just can't bear not to use MS software apparently. Just had one fellow mess up a clean install with a duplicate office 2007 he threw on it after the fact. Took me weeks to convince him updates had been shut off because they new he was in violation of the EULA. This guy went on a tirade, sending emails to MS demanding they fix what he thought was their broken updates. He told them it was a "licensed copy" and it had run on this machine before... it was also running on another machine in the office. MS politely ignored him. He never did get updates going again. He got angry at ME when I told him A) he couldn't do what he wanted to legally and B) try open office. I don't know what it is with some folks, but I'd bet there's people who believe you can't use firefox because it can't access the internet. Or they'll never be able to collaborate with anyone if they use open office. Ironically, this same guy got burned by MS, when he discovered that for a few months his updated office had been saving everything as .docx. He rifled off a slew of documents to a large organization he'd established and over half the folks couldn't read them. He had to manually save everything as .doc. Well over 100 documents. But can't use open office, no... everything is different, you'd have to learn the whole thing from scratch, including presumably sentence structure and grammar.

Maarek Stele
Maarek Stele

I run both a Virtual Desktop on my computer through VMWare and I have a stand alone Ubuntu Server. The best reason for having the server is for the SSH remote access to my files and web page changes. Any old computer can run the server because there's no GUI loaded. I plan on purchasing a new Laptop to install a stand alone version of the Disto, but for now family Xmas gifts come first.

gandalf
gandalf

linux is doing well, but I feel there is a limit reached in the amount of users who have ditched windows completely like me. My direct friends for example are "aww"ed by compiz and the convenience of a package manager. But how can they run Autocad, (the very overvalued software mainly used in colleges in holland) and don't forget the #1 reason desktop users ain't switching: GAMES. People don't wanto fiddle around with wine and all. And native major games are scarce. (and usually a 1+ year delay)