I’ve seen the arguments go back and forth concerning how to deal with potentially new people learning a different OS. Now, first up, is this little tidbit. Now this particular shall we say “gentleman’s” argument is quite simple really. Let’s quote a piece from his blog post and examine it shall we?
Yeah, hello, can I get a word in, everybody? I’m Penguin Pete, and this whole [darn] blog is about building that bridge to those 80%. But guess what? I, unlike many out there, know that lying to people and telling them that hard work doesn’t exist isn’t going to make that 80% move over to our side. I do just the opposite: I tell them “Yes, it’s hard, hard work. Just like anything else worth having, it takes a lot of effort. But it won’t kill you. I’ll help you – that’s some of my work – but even if I do, you will still have to work.”
You wanna switch to Linux? Learn it. You want to be a master programmer? Study it. You want success? Work. WORKWORKWORKWORKWORKWORK Work.
Call us elitist? Go to hell.
Say we’re excluding you? Go to hell.
Want to find an easier way? Waste your time, then. Then, go to hell.
Now here’s the question here: Does this sound helpful at all to you? If you said no, then you wouldn’t be alone. Now let us take a look here:
“Call us elitist?”
So who is this “us?” If there’s a mouse in this guy’s pocket who agrees with everything he says, well then…. that would make sense. Does this person speak for everyone? I would definitely think not.
“Say we’re excluding you? Go to hell.”
Wow. Pipe down there bud. This isn’t the military. Anyone can learn this stuff, but they’ve got to be willing to do it. Perhaps by saying what you’re saying, you’re also saying, “If you don’t do it my way, then go away!” This is a point I believe that Eric S. Raymond himself pointed out as quoted by Cathy Malmrose on the blog of helios.
“If this were primarily a technical problem [between Windows & Linux] the outcome would hardly be in doubt. But it isn’t; it is a problem of ergonomic design and interface psychology, and hackers have historically been poor at these things. That is, while hackers can be very good at designing interfaces for other hackers, they tend to be poor at modeling the thought processes of the other 95 percent of the population well enough to write interfaces that J. Random End-Uer and his Aunt Tillie will pay to buy… We half joke about ‘world domination’, but the only way we will get there is by serving the world. That means J. Random End-User and his Aunt Tillie; and that means learning how to think about what we do in a fundamentally new way, and ruthlessly reducing the user-visible complexity of the default environment to an absolute minimum.” (pgs 222-3)
That is an important point that ESR has brought to many people. People are often stuck in their ways, and unless they can be convinced, they aren’t going to change one bit. That means (*gasp*) marketing to them! What does that require. Oh yes, work! The same type of work that this guy is so proud of. Then again I could be completely wrong about what he’s saying. Oh well. The whole point is that if FOSS advocates around the world wish to bring in a new audience, they need to understand their audience, which requires effort on their part. Take a look at this entry from the blog of helios. I don’t think he’s quite done with it yet, but…. he’s making an effort to ask people what they’re thoughts are on helping people understand the potential of a different OS.
Now take Justin Breithaupt. He’s been in the business of selling and servicing computers in the Pomeroy, Washington area. He specifically uses PCLinuxOS as the distribution of choice, because he found it to be the most stablee ever, hence why he is using it as his base for Ultumix. The idea behind Ultumix is simple: take the best aspects of multiple distributions, and put into one comprehensive OS, hence the name. It’s a “mixture” of sorts. Justin’s attempting to do something to address the issue of a new audience. I’ve got a few ideas of my own, but…. he’s the one who is hard at work and trying to figure out how to make custom bootsplash screens and whatnot. There’s still plenty of work to be done, and he’s stepped on some toes to be certain, but….. he’s still trying, even though the reception has been pretty… shall we say “mixed.” 😉
The whole thing is this. We need to understand where other people are coming from, and what they want in an OS. Microsoft hasn’t really listened as a corporation, but… neither have we. There are those who are doing a good job of course, but we need to start jumping into the fray and drawing in a new audience. ZaReason can’t do it by themselves. There are other OEM companies, but they can’t do it by themselves either. So…. Wait for the next blog post. I’ve got an idea. 😉
Update: Pertaining to the question of the first block-quote in this post, I don’t like mentioning Penguin Pete’s name often. As talented as he is, he is also extremely misguided and extremely possessive in my view of what he views FOSS should be. He went on to attack two other individuals who were trying to spread FOSS to a new audience, and that is something I just couldn’t understand. Yes, effort is needed in anything that has to be done, but the individual must be convinced to do it. Telling them to go to hell is not the way to do it in my opinion. We’re all human beings here. Isn’t it time we started treating each other like one? Isn’t it time we stopped treating people like they are stupid? That’s the whole issue I’m having. When people see a new system for the first time, and they’re computer “illiterate,” they feel stupid, and deep down inside, they hate it. Nobody likes to be equated with idiots, especially by themselves when they can’t figure out a computer system’s OS.