How to Make People Love Linux

There are two kinds of Linux people in the world, those that will help people fix their Windows spyware problems, and those that will not. I land squarely in the former camp, and I think that it's important for us all to consider doing the same.

First, I have to clarify what I mean by, "Linux Person" -- because there is a difference between a Linux user, and what I coin as a Linux Person. Most people I consider "Linux People" are very well versed in technology. They can usually fix any computer problem they're presented, regardless of operating system, and have an inherent ability to logically solve computer problems in general. We're geeks. We're also knowledgeable enough to realize that Linux is a good thing on many levels. We want Linux to be the operating system of choice, because it makes the most sense. We understand the idea of Free software, and we also understand the advantages of free software (beer vs speech thing). As a group, however, we tend to stink the place up when it comes to evangelism.

How We Make People Hate Linux

  • By telling people how much their Windows computer sucks.
  • Instead of helping a Windows user fix their computer, brag about how Linux doesn't have those problems.
  • By being smug. Admit it. You've been smug.
  • By bragging about how awesome Linux is, and then when someone tries it, and has problems, accuse them of being dumb.
  • By pretending Linux has no shortcomings, and claiming other OSs are worthless.

Here's the deal: Everyone knows Windows has problems. Rubbing it in to Windows users won't make the like you (or your OS) any better. The end result should be that people want to use Linux, not that they're forced to use it because Windows breaks and no one will help them.

How to Make People Want Linux

  • Fix their spyware problem. Share with them that spyware is one of the reasons you don't use Windows.
  • Admit that using Linux has a learning curve, but it's one that you think is worthwhile.
  • Show them Compiz. Microsoft marketed an entire operating system on worthless visual thrills. Compiz is free, and cooler.
  • Give them a LiveCD. Offer to help them. Follow through on the offer.
  • Remember Wubi, it's an easy way to try Linux.

That's it! As with anything new, people will be resistant to change. Make them curious, not offended. Make them excited, not defensive. In the end, Linux is all about choice. I'm a computer user that can use Windows, OSX, Linux, Unix, etc, etc -- and I choose to use Linux as often as possible. If we really want people to love Linux, we must give them the choice to use something else as well.

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

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