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How to Encourage Use of OSS?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the just-a-matter-of-exposure? dept.


Marc Light asks: "I repair computers as a side line cause I want to keep up on what's going on in the world of computer technicians. When someone comes to me with a problem, if I have to reinstall I first try to convince them to install Ubuntu. For now I only have 25% of success, mostly because they usually use an app. or some hardware that would complicate their experience too much. When I install Windows, I also install Firefox, OpenOffice, VLC, Winamp (not open source but if they eventually switch to Linux, XMMS won't scare them), and CDex to drive them off Windows Media Player and DRM. I then take 15 to 30 minutes free of charge to explain to them the basics of their new software. For my part, I mostly got positive response. I'd say 80% of it is positive feedback. My questions to Slashdot readers: Do you think that computer technicians can make a difference in the adoption of OSS? And if they're for OSS, should they try to put some pressure on their users/clients?"

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Converting (3, Insightful)

silverkniveshotmail. (713965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175053)

I really don't like the idea of trying to convert people.

Re:Converting (1)

Exploid (945241) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175099)

In my class we are only 8 and many of them doesn't use opensource and I'm trying to let them know what's opensource but not making them convert to opensource

Re:Converting (3, Interesting)

silverkniveshotmail. (713965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175129)

A great way to just show someone what an Opensource OS is like is to burn them a LiveCD

Re:Converting (1)

Exploid (945241) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175197)

I'm doing stuff like that...gave a ubuntu live cd to a guy and just talking them about vlc and stuff like that

Re:Converting (2, Insightful)

silverkniveshotmail. (713965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175265)

If you're not trying to convert isn't that enough?

Re:Converting (1)

Exploid (945241) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175351)

Well after I talked to them about this or gave them a live cd...it's their choice to try it and then use it if they like it...I don't think informing people about open source is necessary converting them

Re:Converting (4, Insightful)

ThinkingInBinary (899485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175287)

I really don't like the idea of trying to convert people.

Why not? All they're trying to do is share something that they think is useful and good. It's entirely different from trying to convert someone religiously--it's not like we're saying "If you don't use this software instead, you're going to HELL!!!". It's just saying "Hey, in case you're interested, there is software that's free, useful, and developed cooperatively for the fun of it, instead of by companies." There's nothing wrong with it.

I know it can be awkward sometimes, and I'm not really comfortable just shoving it into people's faces, but there's nothing wrong with offering it.

Re:Converting (5, Insightful)

silverkniveshotmail. (713965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175355)

Why not? All they're trying to do is share something that they think is useful and good. It's entirely different from trying to convert someone religiously--it's not like we're saying "If you don't use this software instead, you're going to HELL!!!". It's just saying "Hey, in case you're interested, there is software that's free, useful, and developed cooperatively for the fun of it, instead of by companies." There's nothing wrong with it.

I know it can be awkward sometimes, and I'm not really comfortable just shoving it into people's faces, but there's nothing wrong with offering it.

If this guy is getting 25% of the people he deals with like he says then I have a hard time beliving that there isn't some heavy pressure here. These aren't the average /. users.
These are people who are calling someone else to fix their computer because they can't.

Re:Converting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175481)

"...I have a hard time beliving that there isn't some heavy pressure here."

Why? If your level of computer knowledge is such that you are forced to hire help, then chances are that you will take the advice of said hired help. You're paying for his/her knowledge and he/she tells you of the benefits of going open source. I can easily see all the "grandmas" out there doing exaclty what the Computer Guy suggest, in this case going open source.

I think 25% indicates a rather low level of pressure.

Re:Converting (0, Troll)

alienw (585907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175447)

Why not?

Because Linux is definitely not ready for primetime, and will just give people a really bad impression that will make sure they will be the last ones to ever try it again. Here's an example. They have an older nvidia card that's not supported by the latest drivers (like a Geforce2/TNT2/whatever). You install the legacy driver from the nvidia website. They perform all the updates that Ubuntu suggests. Next time they reboot, nothing will work (Ubuntu patches the kernel like once a week or so, and it totally breaks everything). Not to mention, they are in for a surprise if they ever want to watch DVDs, visit a website with Shockwave, play streaming video, or use their ipod/other music player. Linux is just not a mainstream desktop system like Windows or MacOS.

If someone is mostly happy with Windows, just give them a live CD to try out. If they are really unhappy with Windows, definitely offer to install Linux on a dual-boot partition. Acting like a drug dealer ("here, why don't you try this? it's really good shit") isn't a good way to make a positive impression.

Re:Converting (2, Informative)

kevlarman (983297) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175711)

or you could just sudo apt-get install nvidia-glx-legacy, and not worry when the kernel updates.

Re:Converting (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175613)

it's not like we're saying "If you don't use this software instead, you're going to HELL!!!".

Actually it *is* a lot like the OSS movement is saying that. The overtly ideological/political overtones that emerge from the likes of RMS are putting people off because they are wary of people trying to convert them.

Re:Converting (3, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175633)

Not to be an arse, but how do you know that's how he says it? I've known religious people who argue rationally for their faith, and why people might consider following it, and I've certainly known people who argue for OSS in the same manner as the worst, most zealous evangelical minister you could ever meet.

There certainly is nothing wrong with pointing out to people that alternatives exist that may serve their needs just as well, while being less susceptible to whatever it was that broke things this time. However, I know from experience that that's not how everyone presents it - just read slashdot at a low-ish threshold, and you'll see examples what I'm talking about.

Re:Converting (0, Flamebait)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175311)

My chicki was forced by me to switch because she took over the windows machine upstairs. I told her that in no-uncertain terms, use Firefox. Even if I have to go and tap her fingers to remind her. I for one don't want to be cleaning up all the ie crap that it leaves behind. Now she is flying through. Every once in a while, this is a good thing.

Re:Converting (3, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175339)

I really don't like the idea of trying to convert people.

And yet isn't that exactly what an ad for a product is trying to do? At the very least people need to be informed of their options to even know they have them.

I don't like the use of his word "pressure," but I have no problem with proseltizing things I like, particularly if I am the one being called upon to support them, but don't otherwise have a direct profit motive (which just make the issue "sales," and I've been willing to sell stuff in my life).

"Are you sure you want those brakes? They're junk. Here's why. Here are brakes that are twice as good for half the price. You're welcome."

What's wrong with that, especially given that I am not the one selling and profiting from the brakes? I only try to make 'em work right. Brakes that work right in the first place are easier to make work right.

Ever try to make Windows work right? Isn't one of the biggest impediments to OSS getting someone knowledgable to get it working right for you?

And he must be doing something right. A 25% "closing" percentage is phenomenal.


Re:Converting (1)

silverkniveshotmail. (713965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175421)

"Are you sure you want those brakes? They're junk. Here's why. Here are brakes that are twice as good for half the price. You're welcome."

"twice as good"? "good" is 100% subjective in this situation.

Brakes can likely save your life, if your brakes fail you may harm/kill yourself and/or others. If windows crashes, or you can't figure out how to run something you've just downloaded it's really not a big deal.

so in short: your analogy is shit.

Yes/No/Maybe (5, Interesting)

rbochan (827946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175449)

It's entirely situational.

Yes--If they have older hardware and a Win9x system that's no longer supported.
I do 2 or 3 conversions like this a month. Usually it's a 300-450 Mhz box with 64 meg of ram or so. It ran 9x well enough, but it would be godawful running most of the 'Desktop Environment' based distros available today. I have a customized Debian package list with a set of light weight packages and WM. Total install space, with apps, is just under 300 megs. I've successfully installed it on everything from a Cyrix 133/32 meg to a P-II 450/64 meg. Every person I've done that for has been thrilled. They can do everything they were able to before (email, surf, word process, etc.) and not have to have the machine bogged down by anti-virus, anti-spyware, and application-based firewalls running all the time. And to top it off, the OS is updatable and supported.

No--If they're using AOL/some other proprietary connection software.
It's a god damn shame that after all this time, that AOL still hasn't come up with a software package for Linux, considering that their entire backend is *nix based. The 'AOL dialers' available for Linux are just that - dialers, and those used to using AOL aren't getting the same experience that they want. Some ISP dialers (i.e. Earthlink) are nothing more than just a standard DUN connection with some unnecessary eyecandy and other overhead... those can usually be set up pretty easily.
FYI - winmodems are the tools of the devil. ISA sound cards and and serial mice are nothing compared to those damned things.

Maybe--If they're on a highspeed line and have no idea about security measures with Microsoft Windows.
This is a pretty typical case. I've wow'd enough clients with the likes of Knoppix and they've been interested enough to at least dual-boot. More often than not, they tend to stick with the Linux side of the machine because the machine runs so much faster. Unless they're heavy gamers, they pretty rarely boot back into Microsoft Windows.

The key is no-pressure. It's their machine, and they shouldn't be forced into using something they're not comfortable with. I'm not a salesman, and I don't intend to be. I run Linux on a couple of laptops (P-II 233 Mhz/128 meg and a P-III 700/384 meg), and I carry whichever one most closely matches the client's machine, and let them play with it while I'm working on theirs to showcase its usability. They're always aghast when I tell them that all the software is _free_, and then show them the 15,000+ listings available in the repositories. Dual-booting is a damn nice option and allows people to try it out to their hearts' content and not have to commit to anything.

Re:Yes/No/Maybe (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175709)

Is this a delayed post from 1999? You talk of P-II, Cyrix and 64 megs, these things called Mhz and you mentioned Debian, I thought all this died years ago?

Re:Converting (1)

Cracked Pottery (947450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175765)

The sad truth is that most users aren't ready for Linux. Granted Windows is a piece of crap, but it's a standard piece of crap that is familiar to other technicians. There is lots of great open source software for Windows, and I recommend it's use because it good. If a person needs to hire somebody else to straighten out their computer they probably aren't adventurous and just want a box that works. Why unnecessarily complicate their life.

2p! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175063)

Second post!!1!1!1111!111!1!!!!!one!eleven

Ok, how come? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175075)

What's your actual rationale for changing their use experience (Windows to Linux)? I'd be interested in hearing what the 25% who did switch from Windows to Linux actually experienced.

The Problem & the Solution (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175255)

I agree. The person who submitted this story is clearly trying to fix something that's probably not borken.

How to Encourage Use of OSS?
If you really want to champion this movement, you have to recognize the problem before you can start to offer people solutions. You mention installing OSS apps that you seem to enjoy on everyone's machine.

While you may feel that this is doing them a world of good, what problem did you solve? Did they complain to you that they were sick of DRM? Did they complaining that they wish they hadn't bought MS Office and long for a free suite of editing and publishing tools? Was IE failing to fill its role in their lives? ... probably not.

For the average person, there are few problems with their computer experiences. If they have issues with security online or troubles coming up with the cash for MS Office, then you have definite problems that need solutions. And OSS is there for them, that's when it's your duty to step in and offer your services and free 15-30 minutes of time to explain how this new software works. Nobody wants to climb extra learning curves and, let's face it, commercial software products are usually years ahead of their OSS competitors.

A lot of open source applications are developed to satisfy a very specific problem. That is, they don't have a breadth of system requirements, just very very specific ones. They may come out fulfilling these few requirements far and above their competitors but they often lack the bells and whistles. For instance, I love CDex because it's simple and slimmed down with no DRM. Does this mean that my sister should also want to use it? No. She doesn't care or know what DRM is and my explanations bore her. Instead, she wants quick instant American gratification at the click of a button. iTunes gives this to her, CDex is ugly and foreign with no online tutorials or music store built into it.

So before you ask me how to encourage the use of OSS, you first need to tell me the problem that OSS needs to solve. I'm guessing for a lot of these people, there isn't one. Unfortunately, OSS is simply not for everyone.

If someone comes to you in distress with a problem, simply say, "you know, I use this app that ..." or if someone comes to you with obvious little money say, "you know, there are all these free tools out there ..." That's when you'll really do people some good -- not when you force it down their throats and tell them that their trusty expensive apps are the devil.

Take the Force Out of Your Method (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175089)

And if they're for OSS, should they try to put some pressure on their users/clients?
You may feel like you're fighting the good fight and putting up a valiant effort but the last thing I want is people who have bad Linux/OSS experiences out there telling everyone about them. I mean, I can think of several people that would actually be detrimental to your cause if you pressured them into using OSS.

The beautiful thing about OSS is that it's free. And you're not forced to use it (like Dell forces people to use Windows). Let's keep it that way.

Please only install this software on their machines if they give you permission. If their computer stops working soon after or they experience problems that they don't understand (file associations), they may just quietly blame it on those applications and tell that to all their friends and relatives.

Re:Take the Force Out of Your Method (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175247)

I'm very glad to hear another person who repairs computers educates people about the availability of Linux.

Not to say the concerns mentioned aren't valid, but most people who fix Windows machines get tired of simply removing spyware and viruses, and wish they were actually fixing something that broke, not designed in a way that is easy to break! (Except those who are happy to be called back routinely to make lots of short term profit.)

A useful tie-in is to also refer to a LUG, so they can get support in a variety of ways, at a time when they are just learning.

I try to get people to move to cross platform apps on Windows, even before they move, so that the switch to Linux is rather easy, and they've had prior good feelings about FOSS, so don't toss it at the first little problem.

Take the Facts Out of Your Method (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175687)

"And you're not forced to use it (like Dell forces people to use Windows)."*

http://www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/all iances/en/red_hat?c=us&cs=555&l=en&s=biz [dell.com]

Once again slashdot demonstrates that it prefers politics over facts.

*That and the fact that it loves abusing the english language. "Forces" indeed.

Re:Take the Facts Out of Your Method (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175695)

Go fuck yourself. When I tried to buy a Dell computer three years ago, they forced me to buy Windows XP with it.

I just recommend Ubuntu. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175105)

I just recommend Ubuntu [ubuntu.org]. It's the most user-friendly Linux desktop out there today. I know some people will suggest that Linspire is better, but I don't think that's the case. Packages are far easier to find and install on Ubuntu, and Ubuntu uses far more recent versions of the software they do offer (which often include important stability, usability and security fixes).

The one thing I dislike about Ubuntu is that it uses GNOME as the default desktop. Often times I remove it for people, and install KDE instead. Geeks may like GNOME, but many average users find KDE far easier to use, and much more comprehensible. This is especially true if they are coming from Windows or Mac OS 9 (or earlier). I could always use Kubuntu, but I find it's just as easy to stick with Ubuntu instead, and remove GNOME in favor of KDE.

Re:I just recommend Ubuntu. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175469)

You noob, you linked to the wrong ubuntu!

Keep doing what you're doing (1, Insightful)

bit trollent (824666) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175145)

Talk down to everyone that uses Windows.

Use phrases like, "I guess if you are willing to accept that level of insecurity" even if you don't know of any real security flaw in what you are describing.

Assume that every Windows user simply doesn't know better.

Laugh at someone's choice of programming language. Ignore the fact that they make better software than you do. Just harp on the fact that they use IIS while you use Apache.

In short, just be a pompous ass. Don't let the facts or manners get in your way. The converts will come running. Or walk away laughing. Either way: believe you win. The truth is really far too sad.

Re:Keep doing what you're doing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175281)

I know a guy like that. When I took my laptop in to register to the wireless network at school, he asked why I was using Avast Antivirus and why I wasn't using Norton Antivirus. Some of my friends have told me what a dick he can be, so I was prepared for it. I have personal experience with Norton Antivirus... its garbage ... BUT BACK TO THE POINT-

If he wasn't employed by the school, I would have gone to see someone else. Same thing with computer repair. If you still want customers, never pressure people into using Linux. Negative word of mouth travels fast.

hmm, (3, Insightful)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175149)

I'm all for converting as many people as possible, and I think there are some areas where you can make a real difference, like Firefox, because it will do what they want it to and they don't have to think about anything new or different. I've not even been able to get my girlfriend to agree to only have linux PCs in the house. She thinks she only know windows and that's all she wants. It's the same with my mum. I've shown them new things, triend to encourage... all for nought.

Some people just don't want to change - and they are the vast majority of people... These are also the same people who complain the second something doesn't work on linux and yet put up with endless crashes with windows (because windows never causes problems). I'm amazed that you have a 25% rate. Maybe you should be posting to use about how you have such a good level?

Re:hmm, (1)

mutube (981006) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175623)

Some people just don't want to change - and they are the vast majority of people... These are also the same people who complain the second something doesn't work on linux and yet put up with endless crashes with windows (because windows never causes problems).

In my experience people who aren't comfortable with computers learn, in effect, by rote. "When this box comes up, click here. If the screen goes blue, turn off computer". As technically-minded people it's important to realise that this knowledge doesn't travel well at all. We may feel comfortable hopping between IE & Firefox, but for some that's the difference between feeling like a novice, or an idiot.

As the OP said, a lot depends on having the patience to take the first few steps with the user.

I'm amazed that you have a 25% rate. Maybe you should be posting to use about how you have such a good level?

Perhaps it's 25% of 4.

OS as religion and philosophy into schools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175151)

what api's will you rely on? microsofts solely?
and what heppens then?

it's time to teach the kids what is open source all
about, and not only in programing / computer technology
matters but also in music, fashion, art and life's little
secrets each one is carrying.

free and open, as pure as it gets

encouraging use of newclear power (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175161)

it only makes sense.

from previous post: many demand corepirate nazi execrable stop abusing US

we the peepoles?

how is it allowed? just like corn passing through a bird's butt eye gas.

all they (the felonious nazi execrable) want is... everything. at what cost to US?

for many of US, the only way out is up.

don't forget, for each of the creators' innocents harmed (in any way) there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/US as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile will not be available after the big flash occurs.

'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi life0cidal glowbull warmongering execrable.

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the corepirate nazi life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

So you give your time (=money) away ... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175163)

and then you install an OS on their computers that will give you less work in the long term?

Do you want to die a pauper?

How about just doing your job (2, Insightful)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175169)

Why not just do your job and fix their computer like they asked you to. Would you like your waiter to try and convince you to change your order because they don't think it's right to eat lamb?

Re:How about just doing your job (2, Insightful)

Monkofdoom (928921) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175251)

I feel the difference between do and suggest is of great importance in such situations as this. No one can argue that the suggestion of new "free" software is a bad one to any user. Simply implementing your own personal choice on someone elses property is completely wrong though. When I give talks with presentations I always use open source software and it is amazing how often people come up to me afterwards and say "that looked so much better than powerpoint what is it?" or "What browser was that you used?" My personal oppinion is by letting people know it is there anyone who will be a benefit to the community of oss users will eventually catch on.

It could be part of the job! (1)

Noksagt (69097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175343)

It is relatively normal for techs to install anti-spyware/anti-malware software on client PCs. Some offer or require to install commercial programs to make a little extra money by selling a license. Others install freeware as part of their service.

If a web browser was less vulnerable to spyware and malware, than I don't see any difference in installing it.

If I go out for sushi, I would certainly expect the itamae to suggest the fish that is fresher than others.

Re:How about just doing your job (5, Insightful)

div_2n (525075) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175435)

Of course, there is nothing wrong with a waiter recommending something either. In fact, they usually do in a subtle way via "Tonight's special is . . ."

"Fix" is such an ambiguous word sometimes when it comes to computers, isn't it? It isn't like a flat tire because often I hear "Can you fix my computer and make that never happen again?" or something to that effect. If they are sincere about that last part, can you really put Windows back on their computer? I usually reply with "I can't guarantee you something like that won't happen again, but I can offer you something that will come as close as possible to that. I want you to understand that going this path is a bit different from what you are used to, but it shouldn't take long to feel right at home."

If they are interested, I explain further. It is with a tag line like this that you find out how serious they are about "make it never happen again" because as soon as they learn their favorite piece of software probably won't work (it might with Wine, but no guarantee), you find out what is really important.

I would argue that as a technician, your job is not only to "fix" the problem, but to offer them a solution. Reinstalling Windows is a fix. Installing Linux is a solution. Not all solutions in the world offer one to one options. Sometimes, some things must be given up to truly solve a problem.

Re:How about just doing your job (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175455)

Would you like your waiter to try and convince you to change your order because they don't think it's right to eat lamb?

I would expect my waiter to turn me off of the spinach if there was an e-coli outbreak going around. I long ago told my own mother to never ask me another tech support question again if she continued using Windows. I just don't have the time or patience to deal with all the problems inherent to using shit software anymore. She bought a Mac. I still don't answer any tech support questions, because she doesn't have any problems anymore.

If you bring your car to the shop, do you tell them how to fix it? If the shop says it's really time to get a new car, do you tell them "that's not your job, just fix my car?" That would be your perogative; in the same way it's your perogative to smoke, live on potato chips and beer, and sit on your fat lazy ass all day long. But no would would call that healthy living; and you should not throw stones at people who would try to help you out of that situation.

If someone repeatedly insists on going against your recommendations as a professional computer technician, you should stop enabling them, unless you enjoy the sick symbiotic relationship of profitting from someone else's self inflicted misery.

We are helping them. Windows is their ailment. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175457)

But maybe the waiter knows that you shouldn't eat the lamb because the meat had a green fungus covering it. The best thing the waiter can do in such a case is to recommend another dish, one that doesn't suffer from such problems. As much as you like and want lamb, it's probably better for yourself and everyone else if you order something else. After all, nobody else in the restaurant wants to see you puking up your guts after eating the bad meat.

It's much the case with Windows. We know it suffers from some very inherent flaws. Things have gotten better as of late, but that is only because of the pressure that Linux, BSD, Solaris and Mac OS X put on Microsoft to improve the security of Windows. As computer professionals, it's our duty to recommend alternate products that are safer for the user to use. They might really enjoy Windows, but it's better for everyone if they switch to a better operating system. After all, when their machines becomes compromised, it's their data that may get stolen. It's our mail servers that will have to handle all of the spam their systems send out. We might as well just help them out in the first place by recommending a better system, and save everyone a lot of trouble later on.

Re:How about just doing your job (1)

digidave (259925) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175485)

When people get their computer fixed they probably want it to remain working for as long as possible. Nobody likes having their computer fixed any more than they like having their car fixed. If my auto mechanic suggested non-OEM brakes because they last much longer and work better I'd be ok with him using those brakes. Just like why I have non-OEM tires on my car.

With computers many people don't realize why they need to be repaired when it's not a hardware problem. If you say to someone that you can make their computer like it was before it was broken, but that within a year it will be broken again, then suggest an alternative that will help it stay working, I don't see any problem with that.

Re:How about just doing your job (1)

easyEmu (977903) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175507)

I feel the same way. Why do you not use that 30 minutes you spend with each customer and devote it to trying to get my Linksys WMP54G wireless card to work with Ubuntu? The latest Ubuntu came with support for the rt2500 chipset, but my chipset is rt61. I tried forever to make the switch, but could not, because my hardware is not supported. Before you go trying to get people to switch, you need to make sure that Linux has the wide ranging support for hardware that Windows does. Kind of a daunting task I know, since the majority of hardware out there has software devoted particularly to Windows. I picked up the wireless card, because it was recommended in the Ubuntu forums, but the post never mentioned anything about two different chipsets.

Re:How about just doing your job (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175657)

Why dont you try to get Linksys to release the specs for your hardware so that a linux developer has a chance to make it work?

People that gripe about linux not supporting hardware dont seem to realize that if it was up to the linux devs, every piece of hardware in existance *would* be supported. But its not. The HW vendors like to keep their 'trade secrets', and like to give the specs to MS only (under NDA which MS happily agrees to, but developers of OSS would cant because otherwise they cant release the code).

Re:How about just doing your job (3, Insightful)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175543)

Would you like your waiter to try and convince you to change your order because they don't think it's right to eat lamb?

No, this would be more like the chef telling you a certain food combination won't work well, and recommending another.

(1. Waiters aren't experts. Chefs are. So are computer technicians. 2. Telling you not to eat lamb is a political action. Recommending a different complement of dishes for dinner isn't political, the chef probably knows what he's doing. Likewise, computer technicians know that certain open-source software packages are good to use because they have tangible benefits.)

Re:How about just doing your job (1)

waveclaw (43274) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175555)

Why not just do your job and fix their computer like they asked you to. Would you like your waiter to try and convince you to change your order because they don't think it's right to eat lamb?

A waitress last night spent 5 minutes trying to convince me that I needed to buy pie. It was a more relaxed atmosphere than 'my PC is broke, fix it.' However, upsell is an important fact of life. You can order everything on the McDonadls Menu and get ask if you want more with that. That's part of why McDonalds sells to billions of people (who are steadily getting fatter.)

If you are not willing to upsell OSS to clients, don't be in the OSS game at all. I and others are will to risk 'file assocation issues' and people given bad word of mouth. For every friend that had a problem with firefox, etc there should be a dozen replaying 'funny, it works for great for me.'

Your question is funny: he didn't metion specifically what people asked him to do. If he had offered all this free software to people I doubt someone would turn him down. Do you think people pay their computer savy 'friends' to fix their PC never get tons of pirated software on it for free? People sometimes rate the support they get from guys like this based on the amount of free pirated software he is willing to install. Every small time PC repair man I know has a library of copyright neutered install disks ready to go and improve you Windows experience.

What this guy is doing is not only legal but also how everyone else sells stuff for a living. Why should FOSS, becuase it's free, be any different?

Re:How about just doing your job (2, Interesting)

jopsen (885607) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175583)

Yes, I would like the waiter to warn me if the lamb is bad! That's what we call service, you job isn't to make money, but to give you client the best service. If you think that you client would be better of without windows, then help your client...

That is your job. (-1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175659)

Why not just do your job and fix their computer like they asked you to.

You forgot the question mark there, but it's clear you were making a statement rather than asking a question anyway. You might as well have said that it's everyone's job to do just what Bill Gates wants them to.

What the user wants is a browser, email, text editor and spreadsheet that work. Free software does that, non free software does not and that's why they had to call someone to fix their computer in the first place. Fixing the problem is exactly what you are there to do.

Would you like your waiter to try and convince you to change your order because they don't think it's right to eat lamb?

Wow, what a crappy analogy. First, the waiter would not work there because, thankfully, one company has not forced us all to eat their brand of food and restaurants enjoy a free market. The software market more resembles a nightmare world where McDonald's took over the entire food supply with government help. Second, I'd be more than happy if my waiter told me something like, "We got some beautiful fish today, you really should try it." Most of us like a helpful waiter.

Automobiles provide a better analogy in this case. How would you feel, if your mechanic "fixed" your car with a factory replacement fully knowing the part was defective by design? How would you feel if the mechanic also knew of and use a community developed replacement engine that cost nothing, worked better and lasted forever? I'll bet you would think that the mechanic let you down, perhaps to protect his own business.

Re:How about just doing your job (1)

wondafucka (621502) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175703)

Would you like your waiter to try and convince you to change your order because they don't think it's right to eat lamb?

I damn well DO wish that my waiter would let me know if they think an item is gross and that there is a better item on the menu. I usally ask the waiter if it's any good first. To continue the analogy even further, the waiter DOES promote the daily specials.

Re:How about just doing your job (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175717)

Would you like your waiter to try and convince you to change your order because they don't think it's right to eat lamb?
Actually yes, somewhat. When going to a restaurant (meaning something better than a fast food joint), it's always good to listen to the suggestions of the waiter. You get to discover new tastes this way.

Re:How about just doing your job (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175733)

Waiters don't "convince" people to change their order based on their personal preferences. They "recommend" or "suggest" and are polite about it, they need not say anything else.

Besides, who says he isn't fixing their computer by suggesting a different OS?

Re:How about just doing your job (1)

ax_42 (470562) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175753)

Why not just do your job and fix their computer like they asked you to. Would you like your waiter to try and convince you to change your order because they don't think it's right to eat lamb?

Insightful, my a$$. Your job is to leave them with a computer which does what they want it to do (read emails, surf, whatever) long term. If you think that Linux/OSX or whatever is better, suggest it and see what the client says. More like the waiter saying "You ordered the fish sticks -- if you would like a fish dish today, may I suggest the fillet of sole?"

Re:How about just doing your job (1)

IceCat (449925) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175759)

To me, part of the job is letting people know alternatives exist. It is up to them if they choose to use the alternatives, but I would certainly offer it to them and outline some of its benefits. Of course some of this will depend on the customer, it is the tech's job to make sure the alternative solution will let them function with all the functionality they had before. If some aspect of what the customer does prevents this, then the solution should not be forced on them.

I also think mentioning open alternatives that run on the Windows OS is a great step as well. Some people just don't want a lot of change at once. Change their browser and let them see how pleasant FireFox is. Later on, maybe they will be more open to changing Office around. As they become confident with the changes and recommendations you are making they might be more welling to consider a switch to Linux (again, if it is appropriate for them).

Careful (4, Insightful)

Tinfoil (109794) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175179)

You should suggest it, but don't try to convince them unless they ask for more information. Put together a sheet comparing the two operating systems and give them a live CD, but I would leave it at that. Besides, if they come back afterwards and say, I like this live CD, can you put it on the drive, you get more cashish.

Technicians can play a role in getting the word out on FOSS and you seem to be doing a good job with FF and OO. Just remember that you don't know how they use their computer and perhaps Linux just is not right for that user.

Install it (3, Insightful)

penguinbrat (711309) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175193)

If your installing all this other software for them, install something that is OSS and would do the same as VMWare and an image of Linux. Set it up so they can delete it VERY easy, doesn't take up TO much space and takes a simple double click to get a taste of this mystical creature.

consequences (5, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175207)

Anyone who's helped a computer-challenged friend or colleague is tempted to prescribe sweeping changes. The problem is, that no matter how much better the methods, applications or even OS you recommend, you are responsible in their mind for every problem they encounter from then on.

Long ago I helped a guy rationalise his laptop; upgraded DOS, and Wordperfect (shows how long ago this was...). Then weeks later I get a call "I can't save my file! You've messed up my computer! It worked before!!! etc...". Turns out he was trying to use an illegal filename. So a problem he created that had nothing to do with what I had done, had become my problem. And this continued for months. It only takes a few people like that to sour you on the whole idea, and you revert to "Reformat and reinstall; call MS if it doesn't work". Beware those who nod and agree when you make suggestions, often they have no idea what is going on and will come back to you time and time again to ask the same question and drive you insane. Unless you're either a BOFH or Mahatma Gandhi, don't be a suggester.

So basically (1)

Bandit0013 (738137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175211)

If me or a family member takes my computer to you to be serviced, you're going to act like AOL or Real Player and try to install a bunch of crap I didn't ask for and hijack the applications that I'm accustomed to using. I don't know about others, but I certainly wouldn't go to this sort of technician. I think the pompus ass comment above would pretty much cover my feelings if someone came to me and showed me this was done.

Also you have to think about liability. If you go installing crap that _you_ think is better without the customer understanding or knowing and then god forbid a huge bug is found in firefox and their computer is breached, guess what? You're probably liable.

Re:So basically (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175319)

Conversely, and more likely: Would he be held liable if he installed IE and it contained a leak?

Who loves living in a country where blaming others rarely goes with sueing them
Who also believes that it would be more appropriate if the person who breached would be sued

Re:So basically (1)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175415)

Installed IE? Its a part of the OS. You can't install Windows XP without installing IE.

Re:So basically (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175621)

That doesnt change the hypothesis. You are suggesting that if the tech installed software with security holes he might be liable. If thats the case, installing Windows itself is far more dangerous than any non-MS software.

Re:So basically (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175737)

No, they suggested that if they installed software the customer did not ask for and without their approval and that ended up being a security problem for the customer then the tech may be, and possibly should be, liable. It is a little different situation then the customer paying you to do something specific and you doing that specific thing.

Half way there (0)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175221)

You didn't mention the mail client. I hope you're putting Thunderbird on also. Giving them a good browser and then leaving them at the mercy of Outhouse Express hardly seems fair.

Secondly, each new user created is going to get the default file associations, so it's back to IE and friends. (Yeah, the odds of anybody actually using multiple logins on a Windows machine are nil.) Does anybody know how to change the default associations? I've never bothered to look.

Linux isn't for everyone... (1)

freakified (957821) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175233)

While I think offering the option to install Linux makes sense, trying to spin it as a far superior alternative to Windows and convince users to switch simply doesn't. While the average Linux desktop (I'll use Ubuntu as an example, since that's what was mentioned in the article.) is certainly usable, it lacks things that many (though, of course, not all) users need, such as MS Office, (As a college student, most people I know would need this functionality.) compatibility with hardware, and various other Windows only drivers and programs.

And then, of course, there's the issue of compatibility with peripherals. Until the Linux kernel offers a stable binary driver API, (Which, as we've all been assured, will never happen.) hardware manufacturers won't be able to include drivers for devices such as scanners and printers in the package, thus discouraging them from ever creating such drivers in the first place.

Re:Linux isn't for everyone... (1)

GotenXiao (863190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175701)

As a college student, I still steadfastly refuse to use Windows and MS Office. If there are any projects that require me to use them, I will either complain to the lecturer responsible for that piece of work, or just use the machines at college.

Until the Linux kernel offers a stable binary driver API, (Which, as we've all been assured, will never happen.) hardware manufacturers won't be able to include drivers for devices such as scanners and printers in the package, thus discouraging them from ever creating such drivers in the first place.

Oh? There's a simple solution.

Don't use binary drivers.

If you give them a "loaner" while their's is fixed (2, Interesting)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175245)

You could always keep a stock of older (PIII 700Mhz) computers around that have Linux or BSD installed with just Firefox so that when you take their computer to get fixed, they can still "surf the IntarWeb tubes" but they will get a OSS experience.
But this only works for some people... Other people will just refuse to do anything with something that is different. So even if you set up the Linux desktop to look close to a standard default XP install, the tiny changes will be too much for some people.

Re:If you give them a "loaner" while their's is fi (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175567)

And they are going to complain about a *FREE* loaner that doesnt happen to have the exact same system as their machine on it? OFW. I think they will either take it or leave it. And perhaps the same 30% (or more) will decide they like the OS on the loaner, and may ask if/how they can get the same on their own machine.

Why would you want them? (0)

mdemonic (988470) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175273)

The way I see it, Windows got two major problem. The insanely greedy company developing it, and the incredibly stupid user base. Spare the community and dont tell your customers about foss. Ok, that was only one of my many, and incompatible, points of view.

Age Groups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175277)

I think it depends vastly on the age of the person you are trying to convince. I have found that younger people (less than 40) are willing to try new things and are able to realize that ABC is not the same as XYZ and that it will take time to learn the new system. Older people on the other hand HATE change! People over 40 and in paticular I am speaking of my parents even hated switching from 98 to XP. There are exceptions both ways of course, but I have found the most common reason among the older crowds resistence to open source is that 1.) It's different. 2.) It's free.

Now it is time for an "oh so famous" car anology!!! Older people see a computer like a car. Why shouldn't they? They want to get from point A to point B and do it as easily as possible. Most older people have worked only with Windows. They see everyone else using Windows and that is the standard for them. Giving them Linux is like replacing the steering wheel and pedals with a joystick and levers. They are going to hate it and are less likely to give it a fair chance.

As much as the Slashdot crowd hates it, most older folks hear the name Microsoft and think a high class respectible business with knowledgable programmers creating the worlds most popular computer operating system. When they hear Linux, they think... "wtf is Linux?". Why should they make such a radical change over to a platform that they have probebly never heard of before? Software is an issue as well. Some people will not give up programs like Microsoft Office or the "point-n-click" software that came with there printer/digital camera/etc products.

If you're shopping for a new car, do you want to buy a brand name you have heard before that works as soon as you get it? Or would you rather get the car (OS) that the dealer (technition) recommends? Oh and the dealer has to take the car to shop before you can buy it in order to prepare it. The car doesn't have a radio (mp3 support) out of the box and needs to be installed. And if the dealer tells you that you can change the engine (recompile kernel) on the car, do you really give a shit? Oh and one more thing... the car is free!!! If someone offers you a free car, you are going to instantly think that something is wrong with it or that it is very cheaply built. Behold! The 2007 Linux Sadan!

firefox is doing well in this regard (1)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175299)

i had a girl in my office actually request firefox installed on her machine because she had heard about it. she told me she had never heard of it before and i was able to tell her "well, you remember netscape, right? firefox is what netscape became after microsoft demolished them."

i think firefox is her main browser now.

I concur (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175303)

I do the same, mostly just for friends or family, though. I don't believe in forcing a person, or even putting pressure on them. A lot of people are scared of change, and you must respect that. If you carry a laptop, and have linux installed, give them a taste of what they could be using. If they see some features they like, they may concider the change. Do not put pressure on them, it will just scare them off.

So far I've managed to get my girlfriend hooked on all the fancy XGL/Compiz goodness. My younger brother is starting to come around. If we can get Flash 9 [Not the player, the authoring application] to install under WINE, then he'll be sold. If not, I can set him up with VMware and an XP install. At the moment, my girlfriends parents are looking to purchase a new computer. They've consulted with me on where or what to buy, and obviously I have pursuaded them to purchase through me [and in turn I do my hardware shopping online :-)]. They are concidering the use of OSS as they mostly just use it for the internet and music, and that extra $150+ MS tax is just too much.

Problems/Advantages of OSS (1)

kickers_is_me (1005043) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175317)

I fully support OSS, but you cannot simply force the client into using only OSS. However, what you can do is meet with them and go over the basic advantages and disadvantages of OSS. Explain to them that while OSS is free, sometimes support for it just sort of...craps out to put is simply. Also give them demonstrations of OSS and have them actually sit down and use it so they can decide if they prefer it over whatever Software or O/S they are using. I admire your passion for trying to pass along OSS, but just don't force it onto the client/customer

Re:Problems/Advantages of OSS (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175741)

support for OSS craps out? Have you ever even used closed source progrmas? I'm not sure if you mean support as in updates and things, or support as in tech support...but the best experience I've had with either of them is with OSS. I can't remember the last time I got working tech support from the company for something. Hell, I can't remember the last time I called or emailed the company for something without them saying 'it's gotta be a virus'...or just not replying. EA and Dell have got to be the absolute worst.

Set it up for them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175323)

I've had a few relatives ask me to help them with computer problems. Most of them have been due to malware infecting their systems beyond repair. For those cases, I've calmly explained the problem to them, trying my best to get them to understand how the problems are inherent with Windows. But then I tell them I have a solution, and it will cost them nothing. At this point, they're usually quite eager to at least try it out.

So we back up their data, and I install OpenBSD on their systems. We set up the firewall, install X11 and KDE, set up KMail for their email, configure Konqueror for their web browsing, configure Kopete for all their instant messanging needs (they really love it all being in one program), make sure their media files are playable, install OpenOffice.org, set up their printer and scanner, and make sure any other hardware they have works. Wine is mature enough these days that it runs many Windows programs without problem.

At this point, they're usually quite pleased. Their system is reliable, it often runs faster because they don't need to use any anti-virus software, and they're able to perform all the tasks they need to get done. Another benefit is that I can ssh into their system, to perform updates or otherwise maintain their system remotely. This works very well for installing software, for instance. Before I had to drive out to their place to help them get stuff installed, while now I can do it from home.

People are willing to switch over if you make it easier for them, and get it all set up for them. I think it's well worth it, as I'm confident they won't run into problems, and thus I won't have to come over and fix them. And in the rare case something does break, I can easily diagnose and remedy the problem from my home computer.

Converting doesn't become you. (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175329)

The general computer users are either
1. forced to use Windows by company or government job
2. Don't want to switch because their software will no longer function.

If you've got kids in the house - they want to play games and use programs available freely on the net. It's an unfortunate fact of life that most of these programs are developed soley (soulessly?) for windows only.

I'm converting though... my daughter's PC will stay windows for a while until I can get educational / entertainment software working - but the rest are running some sort of *nix distro. I'll admit it was easier than I remembered it a few years ago. With Ubuntu or Kubuntu making installation of software as easy as seach, click, install.

My laptop provided by my company is next... I'll run Outlook in citrix.

Re:Converting doesn't become you. (1)

yg5565 (992144) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175713)

Funny that you mention your daughter, I became so fed up with troubleshooting my daughters xp box that I gave her the option of Linux or nothing. She has been happily using Xandros OCE every since. (9 years old)

My wife on the other hand chose the xp route and while I was travelling crashed her computer. I get the phone call while on the road and simply told her I am not a window washer anymore. She ended up using the daughters computer and has now converted to linux too.

It's like GMC selling bycicles (1)

bazorg (911295) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175345)

Do you think that computer technicians can make a difference in the adoption of OSS?
Well, yes, however I don't see why would a person living off of repairing broken Windows would suggest that people would use something that doesn't break as often...

Not nice (1)

althalus1969 (680826) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175385)

this is kinda stupid, you know.
You should not try and enforce software of any kind on people. Anything goes wrong, they will be blaming the technician and therefore you get a very bad rep by word-of-mouth. And XMMS is no in way comparable to the pice of work Winamp is, there isn't even a media library. If you really want to show of, show them Amarok. Otherwise, if you constantly disinfect other peoples desktops, show them Firefox and ask, whether they'd like to use it. Install a few extensions (Adblock, Flashblock etc...) just to show them how quiet the web can be. Explain about the Auto Update function Microsoft and why it is valuable to them. Try to educate them a little at a time, but don`t shove software down their throats.

Learn to create dual booting systems. (3, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175393)

having the ability to boot linux or windows can be a plus. You can explain to them that should their windows system again get corrupted for any number of reasons, least of which is not online garbage, they can still use linux.

I once created a triple booting system with windows98, windowx XP and Knoppix. I had to disallow either windows partition from seeing each others but had a common partition for anything that any of teh systems needed to access like user files. Of course Knoppix had full acces to the whole system as that didn't cause potential conflicts. I didn't create this system for myself but for a friend who had been running Window ME and letting all his friends and kids access the internet. It took over 15 minutes for it to boot, had over 600 items of spyware on it, and a few viruses. In trying to fix it I watched it deteriorate to the point of non-functional.

Choice is a wonderful thing, but removing windows altogether can be a plus to, as it forces the user to get use to linux.

Personally I prefer Linux, Ubuntu as of current, for general computing and even programming with python.

My use of windows at home has been reduce a great deal and only use it when I need to use an application only available in windows.
But I'm finding more that is not available in a windows environment. Linuxcnc machine controller, even just for simulation, uses the real time kernel and is not available on windows.

OS I look to for the no to distant future include AROS, DragonFlyBSD and look over at the HURD and Minix3. Something has to give!!! As even Linux is not as user empowering as computing should be. And Windows is probably becomming the worst in terms of user empowering (The shell is a good indicator)

you damn skippy you can make a difference! (1)

belal1 (981326) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175413)

alot of the people who actually bring their computer to a shop are clueless about software because many of their problems relate to software. If you put something that's free, open source and of high quality than they'll have a more stable system. Take for instance you installing Firefox. Firefox is probably the defacto in f/oss. Not only is it a cross platform browser, but it's very high in quality. Puting a app like this will actually help the user instead of hindering his/her usage. like the other person said, the last thing you want is someone be ungrateful for what you've done and call you back saying it's your fault that someone isn't working and it was working fine. well for that, make sure you are getting their permission and once you do get the OK sign, make sure you install all plugins and what not, so that they dont' have future problems. however don't go on a shove-oss-down-people's-throat spree. the last thing you want to do is put in so much f/oss that the user will get lost on what to use. and remember, not all f/oss is really high in quality. alot are unstable, crash often and have defaults which are so crude that people may think this is a whole different app instead of a "replacement". you can put OOo (i recommend the premium edition since it has templates which people normally use). you can put thunderbird, heck you could even put opera even though it's not really oss but simply because it's cross platform. the main idea is to give them the crucial apps (things they use regularly) which in case they ever switched to linux, would find them compatible there aswell.

been there, tried that (1)

doktorstop (725614) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175417)

Tried this too, only replacing Kubuntu with OpenSUSE (ok, skip the distro war now, please). Success rate was also around 30%, but the most interesting thing is what happens when the customer brings the machine home. Connection to the Internet is usually not a problem, but then the worst happens... kid want to install their favorite games. And that's not applications, where you can get some flexibility. If they play CS or SecondLife, THAT is what they want to have... and that's where the fater/mother/whoever reaches for the Windows CD and the family happily reerts back to Windows. I have experienced thaton numerous occasions.

I think you have the right idea... (1)

mattkime (8466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175423)

I think the poster has the right idea about promoting OSS.

Also, I think it would help if he were female and had great tits.

A few ideas... (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175451)

You need some marketing, something that eludes most coders, unfortunately.

A logo for OSS with a catchy saying is needed, like OSS-Read The Code, or No Smoke and Mirrors: OSS, or OSS- Tastes Good, Too! etc.

Use a color code to denote whether the code runs on Linux, BSD, MacOS, Windows, etc.

Use the logo on every OSS site, including the freaking owners of this one! Put the OSS logo on every home page run by OSS code. Stickers, bumper stickers, window stickers, whatever stickers. Promote because no one will search you out and love your code because it's just too cool. Really. You don't have to boast, or not be humble. You have to get the idea across that OSS transparency works, costs less not only in capital costs but also in ongoing service costs, and drive the point with humility-- but DRIVE THE POINT.

Otherwise, only one in a hundred people know the difference between OSS and a live hand grenade. Sad, but I'm sure it's true.

Some easy-to-implement suggestions! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175453)

Stop acting like closed source software is some sort of contaigion. And referring to DRM'ed files as "infected" is really off-putting, not to mention incomprehensible to most people, who REALLY don't give a fuck.

Agree on a Linux distro for once, at least in public. Stop all the in-fighting if you want people to take you seriously. It seems lately there are more versions of linux than there are stars in the sky. And yet you stuck up assholes slag Microsoft for having SEVEN different versions of Windows!

Stop referring to Microsoft as "M$", "Micro$oft", "Microshaft", "Microsuck", "Microshit", etc. And their product is WinDOWS, not blows, okay? I realise your smug, self-serving denunciations of all things Microsoft is your primary source of self esteem, but if you're really serious about being taken seriously, the juvenalia must stop.

We really don't care about your politics. Give us the technical specs, explain the differences, answer our questions, and then SHUT THE FUCK UP. Chances are excellent we won't understand at all and will care even less than we understand. Explain how Software X is superior to Software Y in technical terms. And be prepared to help with tech support.

And speaking of tech support, if you're going to force a distro on your relatives, be prepared to provide tech support. And be prepared to explain why some stuff doesn't work. And no matter what you say, making things work is not easy. Don't just dump your poor mother or grandmother in Ubuntu and expect her to be able to figure things out without calling you a half million times. Don't get angry: you pushed this on her, so you get to hold her hand. A Mac or a Windows box would have been more sensible, but you just had to push Linux on her, so take it like a man.

Depends (1)

Faraday's Sloth (720456) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175465)

> Do you think that computer technicians can make a difference in the adoption of OSS? And if they're for OSS, should they try to put some pressure on their users/clients? If price of a software product is not the problem, I'd say that the responsibility of a computer technician, as an engineer, would be to suggest, if he was questioned, to find the most cost effective solution to a particular task. Including the number of hours it would take work time for the new user to learn to use the software. Really, your main concern should be the productivity of the software and the maintainability. The cost of the software to an organization usually is neglible compared to the labor costs. Sometimes free options are just fine and dandy, or even better than anything else. And sometimes you just don't have anything that compares to a commercial product (say, like Adobe's CS suite , some engineering FEM modeling software like Ansys). Learn the need, then find the best tool for the job. It's all process instructions to the computer, and the value to the end user is in the final product (a publication, report, memo, whatever), not the tool he used.

It's their computer, let the choice be theirs (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175501)

It's not your decision to make. Imagine someone fixes your computer and, being a MS certified tech, he decides that with MS soft you're much "safer" and thus removes all your non-MS replacements for MS software and installs the newest (and most DRM-ridden) MS replacements instead. Would you be happy?

What you can (and IMO should) do is to suggest it. Offer them to install the other soft, point out the increased security and usability (and the fact that that soft doesn't give a damn about DRM), and of course mention that it's free of charge and, very important, that they can switch back to their tried ways without any hassle, and they will take the offer. Hey, they get "more" for free, why should they turn it down?

But you leave the decision to them, that's important. If you force people to use something, they will likely react with hostility and resistance, not because they don't know it but because they didn't make that decision themselves and thus it's invariably your fault and the bad software when they run into any problems, and they will switch back to their old soft and blame you.

Tools in a toolbox, not political platforms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175557)

I'm kind of growing tired of the conceit that OSS is always better all the time. These things are tools in a toolbox. The more you know about all of them, the better off you are. Sure, you can use OSS for a lot, but that doesn't mean it's always better to do so. Get over yourselves. Linux's desktop OS interface is still pretty primitive compared to it's commercial alternatives. I know no one here wanted to hear that, but that' doesn't make it any less true.

Learn something about human factors and design (hint: design is not about making things prettier, it's about making them better) and then start improving the desktop interface using the lessons gained. Then you will start to see people convert to Linux of their own free will, no coercion necessary.

I try to let it speak for itself (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175559)

For my applications, I try to let the software speak for itself.

Asterisk is a perfect example. You can either drop some serious cash on a system which isn't as featureful or flexible, or you can get asterisk which is a fraction of the cost and works better ( in most cases ).

You don't need to really push this option. You just give them the options and they choose the one they want.

even better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175563)

Double their harddisks, delete windows. Install Linux.
Then tell them to download a Vista Live CD if they want to. :)

Techs can make a huge difference (1)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175589)

Consider that you are doing a public service. Most people are simply not aware there are better products out there. Most of what people know comes from biased sources.

Salesmen are known to misrepresent. Would one expect a salesman to tell a potential customer to try Open Office for instance when there is a copy of Word sitting for sale on the shelf? Would the salesman's manager be honest enough to tell their sales staff to do their best for the customer?

Since much of what people think they know tends to come from what marketing people want people to know, would you think we are dealing with a level playing feild?

The profit motive is a very powerful one, and one problem with FOSS is the "F". Licenses do allow for profit to be made. Unfortunately many people who work with FOSS seem to think it is unethical to ask for money for something that is free. This idea does not seem to exist in the business community.

When they don't own the software (5, Interesting)

mjh2901 (570983) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175625)

I don't look at it as trying to convert them I look at it as making them legal. I refuse to install pirated applications. Most of the time when I re build for a home customer they have duplicated install cd's from a friend, child and so fourth. They dont have an MS office license or a photoshop license.

I tell them that I wont help them break the law and then tell them I have free alternatives they can try legally if it doesnt work I will be more than happy to assist them in purchasing and installing the software they want legaly. Normally with the cost of MS office everyone is willing to give it a try.

My load is
Open Office
foxit reader

I know its not all OSS but it the load I find gives the most people what they want. Very rarely do I get called back to install MS office, and I have never come back to find an illegal copy of MS office after I load the OSS alternatives.

I have a question for you (1)

hodet (620484) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175635)

How do you deal with the increased amount of support calls for all these people you are converting? It's unlikely that they know anyone else who knows anything about Linux so you are now the "go to guy". How do you maintain your patience when you're watching a movie at 11pm and old Martha calls asking why she can't connect to the Net or that she can't install that software from work? I mean, as you convert more people how do you deal with being front line support for everyone because you can't just stick them on Linux and then say RTFM. Just curious because that is the main reason I don't install Linux unless someone comes begging to me to want to learn. Honest questions here because I can see converting just a dozen people being a real pain in the ass. I love Linux but the things I love about it are not the things that the average user really wants out of their system. thanks

Be less anal with licenses (Java as example) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16175647)

Do you think that computer technicians can make a difference in the adoption of OSS? And if they're for OSS, should they try to put some pressure on their users/clients?

I don't think technicians can make a difference but the OSS community itself can. There are many cases where the OSS software simply doesn't cut it but using the original software is blocked because "its closed source" (or something similiar) and so people will have to cope with the OSS variants. Naturally you can overcome this, but by this time most people will have already gotten a first impression.

Example? I'm a Java developer and enthousiast. When it comes to Linux users who are interested in Java but run into weird problems the first question to solve this is: "Are you using the gcj compiler by any chance? Yes? Then ditch that P.O.S., goto http://java.sun.com/ [sun.com] and get the Sun JDK for Linux". I've explained numerous of times that gcj isn't Java but an OSS variant and simply doesn't work as the authors claim. And the fact that this is the defacto standard on new Linux environments can (and is) a turn off for many Java interested Linux users. There are a lot of people who became less enthousiast with OSS after this experience and as such approach it with a little reluctance.

How hard would it have been for the "OSS community" (I know; generalizing) to simply accept Java the way it is and instead of distributing a broken product just refer to Sun ? Ofcourse this is all seen from my Java-liking perspective, but I still think that people should be less anal about some things.

Softly softly catchee monkey (1)

thewils (463314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175655)

Firefox is a great ambassador for OSS - it gives people a good experience and makes them open to trying other offerings, so start with Firefox and then if you get a good response, suggest maybe OpenOffice or Thunderbird next. Eventually, you can say "well you know that all these programs run under Linux too, so if you want, you can get rid of Windows altogether and then you don't really need Spybot, Ad-Aware or that subscription to Anti-virus either".

Once people focus on using OSS applications and not on the underlying OS then they will be much more receptive to a change.

I'm of two minds (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175669)

On one hand everyone we switch over to OSS is one less spambot on the internet. Just that much less background noise in an already noisy ecosystem.

On the other hand, why do I care? If users aren't smart enough to ask for OSS or spend 15 minutes learning about it, why is that my problem to solve? I can sit back and laugh at the Windows threats making the rounds, make appropriately sympathetic noises when my friends claim their computer is getting more sluggish every time they boot up. I make a lot of money fixing MSFT crapware, so I'm not doing myself any favors converting the Great Unwashed.

The only thing I might change is requiring PC manufacturers to offer a competitive choice of operating systems on new PC's. They don't have to support them, just offer the choice with the price difference plainly visible. Or, at a minimum, offer the same machine with no operating system minus their OEM Windows price. It's quite likely most consumers would choose Windows anyway and that's fine. Right now there is no choice and that's wrong.

The best tool for the job (1)

d_jedi (773213) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175691)

When I install software on a client's machine, I offer them options and give my personal recommendation based on what I perceive to be their needs. Sometimes that's OSS software, other times it's proprietary.

At the end of the day, I think you should be promoting what will work best for the user. Pushing products without consideration for the user's needs is a disservice.

Good for him (1)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175727)

It seems that it is not just the articles that my fellow Slashdotters don't read. Many comments have chimed in with "if they are happy, leave them alone", but he said that he was there to do a re-install. I am thinking that his very nice conversion rate of 25% has to do with the customer NOT being happy about needing a re-install. It seems to me that this guy is trying to fix their problems such that they will be less likely to need another re-install.

My only recommendation to him would be to ask before installing Firefox and the like on the machines which are to remain as Windows boxes. An argument for Firefox and Thunderbird as solutions to some of their Windows problems would probably be easiest to make. If they go for that, then the additional suggestion of Open Office and the rest can be made to audience more open to new things.

Use it at work (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#16175751)

Use it at work, and (without becoming the Free Software bore) let people know what it is. I'm lucky, in that I have enough freedom at work to be trusted with root on my own machine; I've installed and configured everything myself. Occasionally, I'll be in a meeting with project managers, directors or veeps, and I'll let them get a glimpse of my desktop, or Nautilus (better eye-candy than Konq. IMO :) before opening up a web page or "a Powerpoint" in OpenOffice. So far I seem to be getting away with it, and I think it gradually sinks in to people that Linux actually exists. (Non-tech people, and indeed lots of Windows and web developer types, too, might hear about Linux, but they never see it - it's a word in a box on a network diagram. Showing them that nice big icons, anti-aliased fonts, multiple desktops etc *and* that websites look just the same as they do on Windows, and that you can read/write Office docs without problems is worth more than any amount of well-intentioned button-holing, earnest explanations and possibly even giving out CDRs (I've never actually tried that, tho' I think I will try to have a few Live CDs hanging around that I can hand to those people who say "Hey, I like those big icons, what is that?"
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