How do you sell Linux in a Windows world? Beyond dealing with the technological aspects of using Linux within a Windows environment, how do you deal with your fellow workers’ doubt, criticism, and rebuffs?

Have you ever stopped to think about the psychology behind the different types of computer users? Let’s take a close look at a tangible example of these intrinsic differences.

It’s all about attitude
Go to the Microsoft Web site. What do you see? Redmond’s home page is clean, without too much extraneous information. You’ll see headline news, product links, Web services, and events and training information. The site is fairly innocuous, with a typical Spartan, business look. Personality is not the focus, nor is humor or attitude. The primary driving force behind the page is clearly the point.

Take a look at the Red Hat home page and you see a wholly different picture. Yes, the page is primarily a selling point for a product (as is Redmond’s site), but with this page you’ll see a bit more tongue-in-cheek attitude. The Red Hat site contains much more news than the Microsoft site, as well as a larger variety of news. In addition, Red Hat opts to locate its own news underneath its wide-open news (which concerns the Linux community in general). Not only that, the site also contains positive news about other products. The location of Red Hat’s own news is very indicative of the Linux community in general. As opposed to being brand-centric, the Linux community is more community-centric. Where Microsoft displays, almost exclusively, Microsoft-only news, the Linux equivalent focuses on the broader spectrum: the users as a whole.

What does this say, if anything, about the psychology of the Linux vs. the Windows users? A great deal. Whereas the Microsoft mindset is that of marketshare and reputation, the Linux community is focused, primarily, on the whole of the community, be it Red Hat, Corel, Caldera, Stormix, Slackware, BSD, Debian, KDE, GNOME, WindowMaker, AfterStep, Enlightenment, vi, emacs, StarOffice, Applixware … you name it.

This Linux ideology of competition is in complete accord with that of the open source model. I put my product out in the wild for my peers to review, criticize, and make better, and in return you bring me back a better product. We open ourselves up, so you can see what we are made of, and we give you the chance to make us better. Obviously, Microsoft doesn’t take that opportunity.

Linux and Windows are similar
Linux and Windows share the same goal: to be the best OS they can be. Unfortunately, the temptation exists to forget about the users and how best to serve them.

So how do we all get along? When you’re standing at the water cooler taking the jibs from the Microsoft crowd surrounding you, what do you do? Well, quite frankly, you do what the open source community has done for years now. When they’re telling you, “Linux can’t do this” and “Linux can’t do that,” don’t remind them about the outages your enterprise suffered from the ILOVEYOU virus. Instead, look them square in the eye and say, “Then I’ll make it.”

The time has come to use Linux not as a soapbox, but as an enterprise solution. Start by demonstrating how Linux can be used to solve problems.

Need some help? Then check out these popular TechRepublic articles that position Linux as a solution, rather than an alternative, an also-ran, or some ideal.

“Plan your enterprise Linux installation properly”
So you’ve convinced the powers that be to let you run a pilot Linux installation. Make the most of the opportunity by planning it carefully. Here’s how.

Read it here.

“Execute Linux applications with ease”
Trying to get a handle on how to execute your Linux applications? Take a seat in Jack Wallen’s virtual classroom. Linux 101 is now in session.

Read it here.

“Using Linux? Secure Shell can protect against data interception”
Interceptions are bad not only in football, but in enterprise networking, too. In this TPG feature, Vincent Danen explains how you can install and use Secure Shell (SSH) to guard against vulnerability and protect your network data.

Read it here.

“Access remote Linux hosts with NFS”
NFS offers many useful benefits, including centralized data housing. Jack Wallen, Jr., takes a look in this Get Jack’d installment.

Read it here.

“How Samba unites UNIX and NT systems”
Samba can be your Statue of Liberty in the virtual melting pot of cyberspace. Dave Mays discusses Samba’s history and explains how it has overcome the language gap in a foreign land.

Read it here.

“Configure Samba to integrate Windows and Linux, with help from Jack”
Samba can help you bridge the gap between Linux and Windows. Jack Wallen, Jr., shows you how.

Read it here.

Jack Wallen, Jr., is pleased to have joined the TechRepublic staff as editor in chief of Linux content. Prior to his headfirst dive into the computer industry, he was a professional actor with film, TV, and Broadway credits. Now Jack is content with his new position of Linux evangelist.

If you’d like to share your opinion, please post a comment below or send the editor an e-mail.