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Editor's Note: Linux Is Easy

May 30, 2009, 00:01 (51 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)

by Carla Schroder
Managing Editor

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.