Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Linux for everyone?

Can Linux really be for everybody? I read not long ago about a family father who wanted to make all his family windows free and use only Linux... whether they wanted it or not.
Should everyone become a Linux-only user, should we, the Linux community talk everyone we know into using Linux instead of windows?
My answer is: NO! Linux is much more than an operating system, and free software is not only a bunch of programs you can download on the Internet for free, both have a strong non-technical or economical context: they show us what an individual without being controled or monitored can achieve and show that not only commercial software works or can get things done.
For these reasons (and many more) i'm simply fascinated about Linux -and i would use it even if it was the world's technically worst operating system.- Which is of course not, but it isn't either a replacement to windows, but an alternative: it does the job in a different way -and many times better- although different. Linux gives the user total control over his system, which is a Pandora's Box effect, in the hands of an unexperienced user this can have catastrophic effects on the health of the operating system, this i think is one of the main reasons that makes the transition to Linux difficult for many people.
Some people even think of Linux as a windows-wannabe with less functionality, integration and much more complex.
So how do you talk these people into trying Linux?
First by waking up their curiosity, by showing them under windows what many free alternatives to commercial software exist: The Gimp, the Mozilla Suite, Open Office, etc.
Explain them what free software is, that is free as in freedom and not free as in beer (sorry couldn't help myself:) )
By showing them what a Linux OS looks like, by explaining how things work and most important by supporting them and answering their questions.
I used these steps to talk a few people into trying Linux, many of them stuck with it, others got back to their safe point-and-click windows enviroment, that's just the way it is, after all, they have the freedom to decide.