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I just found two interesting articles by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes on the ZDNET Hardware blog:

The second article is a follow-up of the first one, triggered by the tons of comments from people in the Linux community still going on not understanding.

The author tries to answer the following question:

Why is it that the average computer user still chooses to spend hundreds of dollars on Windows or Mac when there are countless Linux alternatives that they could download, install and make use of completely free of charge?

And based on his experience with a lot of average users in the last 10 years and on his experience with Linux distros he gives the following 8 answers (actually, 5 + 3):

  1. On the whole, users aren’t all that dissatisfied with Windows: the average user uses his PC everyday without many problems
  2. Too many distros: people have problem choosing between Vista Home Basic or Home Premium, how can the average user choose between 36 different flavors of Linux?
    "Choosing a suitable Linux distro is a bit like the uninitiated making a trip to Starbucks and expecting to be able to order a plain simple cup of coffee – you quickly realize that life isn’t that simple and you need to step out of the queue and do a lot of learning before you walk up to the counter again."
  3. People want certainty that hardware and software will work: "Anyone making the leap from Windows to Linux has to start from scratch with regards to applications. ... Having to come up with an alternative for every application you use is a big job."
  4. As far as most people are concerned, the command line has gone the way of the dinosaur: It gives us more power, look at Windows PowerShell, but are you sure the average user needs it? Maybe it's cool for the sys-admin when maintaining a server environment, but the average doesn't even know it exists.
  5. Linux is still too geeky: I think here they are improving, Ubuntu desktop is less geeky than KDE or Gnome a few years ago, and look at the Beryl desktop... is amazing!!! But I'm not an average user, and I don't think that my friend which is a lawyer and has to write contracts or papers will find it useful.
  6. The Mac effect: People that want to think different are getting a Mac, which is based on Unix, but all the complexity is hidden behind the sexy GUI and closed hw Apple built around it.
  7. Who provides the free tech support?: Everybody knows someone “being good with computers” in the Windows world. With Mac, it can be more tricky, but with Linux, I really doubt that the average Jane accountant has in her group of friends someone "good with Linux".
  8. Chill out, it’s just an operating system!: The Linux community is full of Fanboys that takes too seriously this OS thing, and are perceived as aggressive and too much with a RTFM approach to questions. And this turns people off.

I like Linux, I think it's good to have the Beryl desktop, or the power of the command line, or the freedom to choose which application to run, but, as I said before, I'm NOT an average user, as probably 98% of the readers of my blog.

The average users doesn't want to spend nights playing with computers (to get them going).

Three Dead Trolls In A Baggie in a song named Every OS Sucks they say:

...

Now there's lih-nux or lie-nux,
I don't know how you say it,
or how you install it, or use it, or play it,
or where you download it, or what programs run,
but lih-nux, or lie-nux, don't look like much fun.

However you say it, it's getting great press,
though how it survives is anyone's guess,
If you ask me, it's a great big mess,
for elitist, nerdy shmucks
.

"It's free!" they say, if you can get it to run,
the Geeks say, "Hey, that's half the fun!"
Yeah, but I got a girlfriend, and things to get done,
the Linux OS SUCKS.
(I'm sorry to say it, but it does.)

...

PS: no accountants have been harmed in the creation of this post.

Technorati tags: , , , ,
posted on Thursday, May 24, 2007 3:18 PM

Comments on this entry:

# re: 8 things the Linux community doesn't get about the average computer user

Left by Rufus Polson at 5/26/2007 11:13 AM

Meh. I wouldn't mind these sorts of articles if they didn't all seem to be going to enormous effort to ignore the elephant in the living room.

People don't go around downloading Linux to their computers because when you buy a computer there's already an operating system on it. That's monopoly power, and none of the mainstream commentators seem to want to admit it as a factor that exists, much less has any significance.
Imagine a situation where you had to buy computers without an OS, and then you had to decide what OS to download and install on them. Suddenly, Windows market share would, relatively speaking, plummet. It might still be the majority desktop OS, hard to say, but it sure wouldn't be the 95% majority OS. It would be a fundamentally different situation.

But admitting that would be, I don't know, jettisoning faith that the market will always provide a perfect response and therefore any marketshare situation is by definition a result of the attributes of the competing products, not of any structural factors. I find it hard to pay attention to the rest of what a commentator has to say when the foundation of their comments stems from a level of denial that basic.

# re: 8 things the Linux community doesn't get about the average computer user

Left by Eric at 9/10/2007 6:12 PM

Much of the world is not very computer savy. To wonder what life would be like if computers came without operating systems may be nice, but it is unrealistic. Most of the people that own computers have never, and will never install their own operating system. Sure, it isn't "hard", but people don't have the time to learn about computers, they just want something simple, clean, and easy.

Does microsoft have a monopoly? Sure, but that isn't the reason Linux isn't more mainstream. People don't know anything about Linux, and they have no desire to Learn. Because Linux is "free", there are no corporations trying to push their product in your face...and when it comes to the uneducated public this is a problem. When it comes to something as "complicated" as a computer, the public wants someone to tell them what to do, and Microsoft has that covered.

If Linux could run all existing Windows apps, this would be a different story...but to be honest the hefty price of windows is worth it if you want your computer to be compatible with all common software, games, etc.

Get Linux...but get windows too...

# Yet another ALT.net opinion

Left by CodeClimber at 10/11/2007 3:15 PM

Yet another ALT.net opinion

Comments have been closed on this topic.