Editor's Note: Linux Is Easy
May 30, 2009, 00:01 (51 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)
by Carla Schroder
I had one of those blinding brainflashes, the kind that left me
wondering how could I have been such a blind beetle all these
years, after reading the Freeform Dynamics report, Linux on
the Desktop: Lessons from mainstream business adoption.
It's well worth reading, with a lot of data and real information
packed into 13 pages. Contrast this with any random self-serving
"study" we see on a daily basis, which are typically generalized
and slanted beyond usefulness. It could be argued that this report
is also designed to be self-serving since it was commissioned by
IBM, which has had great success with Linux. But unlike so many
"analyst" reports that hide the paymaster, IBM's sponsorship is
prominently disclosed. And I think it is right on; it jibes nicely
with my own experiences. Which makes sense because they surveyed
actual business users of Linux.
The Blinding Brainflash
The brainflash came at this part:
"Linux desktop roll out is easier than expected for
properly targeted end-user groups."
OK, so you're probably throwing your hands in the air and going
"Well duh!" The concept itself is common-sense, and folks like me
who administer mixed networks have already been doing it. The
revelation is expressing it in a sentence, and then going on to
describe some useful ways to figure out which of your users are
good candidates to migrate to a Linux PC. Many howto-migrate
articles focus on all the wrong things: age, sex, educational
background, and whatever. I wish I could twap every twit who uses
Grandma as the poster child for technical incompetence. I'm old
enough to be a grandmother, my mom is a great-grandmother, and we
make our computers obey. Any questions? All right then.
The report discusses all the usual criteria for evaluating
migration candidates, such as what applications do your users need,
are there any good FOSS alternatives, and how technically
proficient are the users. The report glossed over the last one, but
that factor might be the most important one of all: some people are
naturally more adept at using computers, and don't mind learning
new things. That is the demographic to zero in on after you figure
out which tasks are good candidates for a Linux migration. Age,
sex, race, experience, religion, or any other handy label are
irrelevant; technical aptitude and willingness are the traits to
look for. Zero in on these folks first, and you have a good start
and an ad-hoc support staff.
Some Amusing Thoughts
Linux is easy. The tireless anti-Linux FUD machine is still
cranking out scare stories about compiling code, dependency hell,
too many distributions, no Photoshop, not enough gory games, oh and
what about $obscure_must-have_Windows_application, blah blah blah.
Linux is easy. Point, click, open application, go to work. That
supposed 1% desktop Linux market share must surely be a very large
1% to be causing so much consternation.