Friday, November 16, 2007

An open letter to the Linux Community

An open letter to the Linux Community

Hello out there.  This is a plead to the Linux world out there.

For a long time now, I have been testing Linux and the wild variations of it.  Listen, I am pulling for you.  I want you to succeed; but to succeed, you have to put Linux on the desktops of my mom who is 75, and have her be able to use it.  If you can do that, you will be able to put Linux on the desktops of anybody.

In other words, you have to make Linux be like "Windows" - yes you do.  If you make Linux like Windows, minus the annoying performance hits you take with Windows as each new version is released, and keep it "free of charge", and get Dell, Lenovo, and other OEMs to preload it, then you will succeed in my opinion.  Now there have been great inroads.  I like the Ubunto product because I can install it and use it pretty much out of the box, or should I say, "out of the ISO".

Here are some of the things that need to be taken for granted:

1.  Networking, and more even so "Wireless Networking".  It just needs to happen without having to do one little geeky thing because my mom does not even know what a geek is even though her son is one.

2. Printing.  Samba, Rumba, Dumba, Daemons, Demons, LPTs, IPs, LPs, and whatever mean nothing to my mom, other than I think she might mistake them for variations of Rummy or Canasta or old vinyl Records.  Printing has to be like - duh!

3. Multimedia - again, what does most people, and most older Americans want?  They want to see pictures and share pictures of their grandchildren.  Along with Videos and to be able to burn them to DVDs, share them, etc.

4. Internet, email, IM, etc,.  Well here I see no problem as long as we can convince them that the Internet is not a big blue "E".  And you can get AIM, MSM and Yahoo pagers to work like they do in Windows.

5. Learn from Bill: Wizards!  Yeah I know, Linux help sites have traditionally stated, "If you have not read the "man pages" (documentation or help files), don't post a "help request".  Here I say get off your high horse!  Normal people don't want to read any manuals, paper, digital or otherwise.  If it isn't easy to do, they will not do it and let it go in frustration.  Listen that is why I have a job in "IT" - It is because most people don't want to deal with the hassles of setting up PCs or Software or trying to Decipher error codes, messages and install patches, fixes or upgrades!  Please listen!

6.  Here is the most important thing.  Get together out there.  Make a pact or something and reduce the insanely amount of distros you have.  Outside of the Geek community I don't hear anybody say the words "Slackware", "Mandrake", "Red Hat", "Ubunto", "Suse", or whatever other distro name exist out there.  But, I certainly hear people say Windows, XP, Vista, and Mac.  You need to become "one", or at least "two" or "three", not a "Legion of possibilities".

7.  Here is the Killer:  USB.  Every USB device out there should work with Linux.  This includes all the new widgets that do U3 or Portable Apps.  Every camera, printer, or whatever needs to be able to plug in just like we do it in Windows.

8.  Well, I thought number seven was a killer, but no, here might the one that puts you over the top:  Get Microsoft to develop their bloated Microsoft Office for Linux!  Hee hee, you would win with this one I think.

OK, that is my letter.  Please don't get me wrong.  I love Linux, I just would not give it to my Mother.  I think Ubunto has come the closest to what I want to see in Linux.  Please, please work on this because there is an opportunity out there.  I see a small window opening, but I think is going to close rather quickly if you don't succeed.  I think Linux will always be there for the Geek, the person who likes to install and try to get it to work, but for the person who is like my mom - which is most people, forget it!



kozmcrae said...

There is a glaring incongruity in your post. Is your mother in the habit of setting up wireless networks, configuring samba, installing printers and complaining endlessly about the profusion of Linux distros? If she's like most 75 year old mothers I know, she gets one of her children to setup her computer for her. Then she goes about her computing way with nary a thought to what it took to get there.

Linux is there for people like your Mom and it has been for some time. It just needs to be set up like any other computer. Show me a 75 year old Mom who brings home a PC from Staples and plugs it in by her self, and I'll show you PC Zombie.

You could have left out the part about Linux being ready for your Mom. Then your post would have had at least some integrity, but not much.

Delco said...

To the last commenter, you obviously missed the tongue in cheek gist of my comment, in that while I did set up the computer for my mom, if the goal would be to make is so easy my mom can do it, then Linux would make huge inroads. So yes if you take the blog post totally literal you are correct, but it was not meant to be totally literal. Anyway thanks for your comment I appreciate it.


Eddie Colon said...

Hello, Rafael

I just read your letter, some things I agree with, some things I don't , but I just wanted to say two things. First, the whole linux world is maturing and getting better 10 times faster than Windows ever did. I think that Windows first came out in 1887, it was a disaster, not until Win 3.0 around 1990, did it begin to be OK. By comparison, Linus Torvalds started this thing back in 1991, and because he offered it to the world, this linux thing has grown tremendously in just 16 short yrs. I see big improvements with every new version of Fedora, and Suse, and Ubuntu.

Anyway, the second thing I wanted to tell you is : That thing you said #8, About getting a MS Office equivalent for linux, well I use OpenOffice, and I think it is excellent. It is free, it is getting better with each new version, and they started just about 4 yrs ago.

That was just my 2-cents. :)

Delco said...


Yes I agree with all of you. I just wanted to make the point that most non-computer people even know what Linux is, but all non-Computer people have at least heard of Windows.

I know it is not apples to apples, but I just want to see it on the Machines coming out of the OEMs.

Thanks again for your comments.