The other side of the evangelism coin

The other day I wrote an article about the right and wrong ways to bring a user to the Linux world. I stand by my position there, namely that as an IT professional, even if someone’s not ready to embrace Linux as their desktop OS of choice, I still will recommend it down the road… but not until someone is truly ready to take that plunge.

It takes a lot of thought, a lot of work, and the right kind of attitude to embrace a new way of doing things, and for any long term Windows user, Linux is definitely a new way of doing things.

Over at Dedoimedo.com today there is an article aimed at the users, not the Linux evangelists to whom I was addressing the other day.

Dedoimedo’s article makes a really great companion to what I was talking about. It’s one thing to push someone toward Linux for the right reasons, but if you’re a user thinking about moving over to Linux, you need to be thinking about the right reasons as well, and asking yourself some questions about “why?” in particular.

Myself, I had several reasons to be fed up with Windows, most of which having to do with stability, but some of it was also design philosophy. I, as a tinkerer and a very “under the hood” and technically-minded individual, simply desired a lot more control over my own systems than any version of Windows will ever offer me, and I knew that at the time (2001-ish), Linux was able to deliver that, if I were willing to take the plunge.

I also saw Linux as something that wasn’t going away any time soon, and I determined that it was likely something that would benefit me professionally in which to gain expertise.

So to echo Dedoimedo, examine your own situation before taking that plunge. If you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, it’s almost sure to be a frustrating failure — it can be pretty frustrating even if you’re doing it for the right reasons — because at the end of the day, you have to want it. Like my Aunt Jean, you have to be willing to embrace a very big change in how you do many things, and change is hard.

But regardless of your reasons, remember this. There are plenty of folks out there like Dedoimedo and myself who will be more than happy to help you out, and part of that includes helping you assess if Linux is the right choice for you. So ask yourself some of those questions before taking the plunge, but don’t be afraid of asking the experts as well. You won’t be sorry!

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5 thoughts on “The other side of the evangelism coin

  1. Pingback: Zero Path (zeropath) 's status on Sunday, 20-Sep-09 13:32:40 UTC - Identi.ca
  2. The reason I use GNU/Linux is the for the same reasons I use Mozilla’s Firefox. If you go checkout the Mozilla foundation website, you will see a statement there that says “We believe
    that the internet should be public, open and accessible.” To me, that means everything.

    Windows may have the vastly larger marketshare, but GNU/Linux is the Operating System of the planet (and beyond). And when GNU/Linux reaches its rightful place as the market leader, we will all benefit from it… the same way that we do with Firefox.

    GNU/Linux is a very fast mover… so if there are things that you may not like now… those things can easily be fixed within the next release cycle (as little as 6 months for some distros).

    Make GNU/Linux bigger and you will make technology bigger, and you will advance the capabilities of computers, for everyone, to beyond your wildest dreams.

    Another way that GNU/Linux is better is that anyone can contribute to it and get credit for it. This means that you can help out the GNU/Linux cause for science and technology, and then you can show your grandkids your name in the “credits” of the system that you helped make better.

    GNU/Linux is for everyone, care to climb aboard?

    • The reason I use GNU/Linux is the for the same reasons I use Mozilla’s Firefox. If you go checkout the Mozilla foundation website, you will see a statement there that says “We believe
      that the internet should be public, open and accessible.” To me, that means everything.

      While I agree philosophically, in my opinion that isn’t enough to justify switching to something that doesn’t necessarily suit your needs. I didn’t switch fully over to a Linux-only solution on my desktop computer until around 2002, despite the fact that I have believed in the principles of free and open source software from the beginning of my involvement in technology (pretty much since I read Steven Levy’s “Hackers: Heroes Of The Computer Revolution” back in the mid-1980s).

      Regardless of philosophical bent, “The Right Tool For The Right Job” still has to be there. Without it, the best philosophy in the world won’t go anywhere, because it takes more than philosophy and principle to drive this forward.

      It takes need. Need makes technical people build on that philosophy and make practical solutions based in freedom. Yes, there is still openness, and there is still freedom, but without those practical solutions (leading ultimately to products — free products! — that suit peoples’ needs), that system of beliefs will never be realized.

      So philosophy? Absolutely great! I agree 100%. But that’s only half of the equation.

  3. MY approach to linux evangelism is extremely controversial, in fact, everybody else thinks I’m incredibly wrong headed, and anyone who reads this will probably think the same thing. It goes like this:

    “You probably don’t need the command line to run Linux, but if you’re dead set against ever using the command line, I think you should probably ask yourself what you hope to accomplish by migrating. If it’s a philosophical or political goal, that’s fine, but if you expected a better computing experience, that’s doubtful, unless you’re a very limited surf-and-email type user. You can run Linux as if it were windows, and it’s okay, but by defintion, it’s not going to be much better than Windows, and changing over all your programs and learning a new desktop is a lot of effort. You should want the maximum compensation for that.

    “Compared to giving up the desktop programs you know and getting new ones, learning how to use the command line is easy. People think you need to study the command line like it’s the multiplications tables, but you don’t. You just use it. Instead of memorization, it takes practice. You look the commands up, you execute the commands, you take notes. If a command is important enough to use more than two or three times, you’re not going to have to look it up a third or fourth time. The beauty part, of course, is that learning by using means you only have to learn what you need to use.

    “You learn slowly, and it keeps opening up for you. It keeps getting better. It stays new. It cuts through the most tedious jobs, and introduces an element of creativity that makes solving problems fun. I don’t know anyone who’s crazy for Linux who doesn’t use the command line occasionally, and I don’t know anyone who uses the command line occasionally who isn’t crazy for Linux. And so, anecdotally, I have to believe the command line a good predictor for success.

    “I’m telling you this because I care more about you being a successful Linux user than I care about you becoming a Linux User.”

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