Mainstreaming the system

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Mainstreaming the system

Postby geomcd1949 on Sat Sep 17, 2011 1:21 pm

I have no doubt that Linux Mint could become a mainstream and competitive operating system if four conditions were met:

1. A clear and concise discussion is presented that outlines the social benefits that flow from the use of free software,

2. A numerically accurate chart is presented that shows the economic benefits to the users of free software,

3. An accurate and informative discussion of the process of switching from Microsoft operating systems is presented, and

4. CLEAR and CONCISE and DETAILED explanations of how to install and configure Linux Mint are given in language that can be understood by the AVERAGE computer user.

I'm willing to invest some money and time in a venture of this nature if other members of the community think it would be worthwhile.

~George
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Re: Mainstreaming the system

Postby xenopeek on Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:39 pm

geomcd1949 wrote:1. A clear and concise discussion is presented that outlines the social benefits that flow from the use of free software,

Isn't this what the FSF and OSI are for? (And by extension EFF and EDRI.)

2. A numerically accurate chart is presented that shows the economic benefits to the users of free software,

How is this interesting to the average computer user? This would be better targeted at businesses. All the average computer needs know about the economic benefits is the L in FLOSS. And again, especially OSI is doing this.

4. CLEAR and CONCISE and DETAILED explanations of how to install and configure Linux Mint are given in language that can be understood by the AVERAGE computer user.

Does the chapter on downloading and installing Linux Mint 11 in the User Guide not suffice?
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Re: Mainstreaming the system

Postby geomcd1949 on Sat Sep 17, 2011 5:37 pm

Dear Vincent,

With high hopes for a reasonable and productive discussion, I reply to your post.

My suggestion is that Linux Mint could be made available for AVERAGE computer users, not just for those whose vocations or avocations are in the computer field. I believe that the class of average computer users consists of about 99% of all users. For purposes of illustration, please consider your responses to my original post.

To my first consideration, you reply: "Isn't this what the FSF and OSI are for? (And by extension EFF and EDRI.)" --- You write in the shorthand method used by expert computer users. In fact, I only know what FSF is because I've had correspondence with it, but have no clue (without looking them up) what OSI, EFF, and EDRI are. My guess is that only 5% of computer users would understand your response (which, coincidentally, is the same as the percentage of those who use GNU/Linux operating systems). In answer to the question itself, the answer is, of course, YES. But the point is that few understand that answer.

To my second, you reply: "How is this interesting to the average computer user? This would be better targeted at businesses. All the average computer needs know about the economic benefits is the L in FLOSS. And again, especially OSI is doing this." --- Again, I (and probably 95% of the rest of computer users) don't know what FLOSS is, or what OSI is. But the point is that it could be made clear (or, better, CLEARER) to the 95% that, instead of paying successively every few years to go from 95 to ME to 98 to 2000 to XP to Vista to 7 to 8, they could get free operating systems and free upgrades.

To my third, you ask: Does the chapter on downloading and installing Linux Mint 11 in the User Guide not suffice? --- The answer is a resounding NO! It is unclear. It fails, as do so many of the instructions on computer stuff, because (1) it does not explain sufficiently to those who don't understand the process, yet (2) does explain it so those who do understand the process can understand it, but who don't need it BECAUSE THEY ALREADY KNOW HOW TO DO IT.

I ask the question, why do 95% of computer users continue to pay a lot of money for operating systems when they could have better, more efficient, better looking, less infected and corrupted systems at no cost? I think the answer is because there is no clear set of instructions (that they can understand) showing how to make the change.

I think Mint is an excellent distribution, and would consider choosing it as the centerpiece of an effort to mainstream the use of Linux. The reason I write is to get some feedback, and to see if members of the Mint community would answer questions I have (which questions are no doubt the same as others would have) about the system, in order to write instructions that would make Mint attractive to and usable by mainstream computer users.

~George
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Re: Mainstreaming the system

Postby xenopeek on Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:26 am

geomcd1949 wrote:I ask the question, why do 95% of computer users continue to pay a lot of money for operating systems when they could have better, more efficient, better looking, less infected and corrupted systems at no cost? I think the answer is because there is no clear set of instructions (that they can understand) showing how to make the change.

I think Mint is an excellent distribution, and would consider choosing it as the centerpiece of an effort to mainstream the use of Linux. The reason I write is to get some feedback, and to see if members of the Mint community would answer questions I have (which questions are no doubt the same as others would have) about the system, in order to write instructions that would make Mint attractive to and usable by mainstream computer users.

I think the core here is that Windows or OSX comes pre-installed if you buy a desktop or laptop (or netbook) computer. So 95% of the computer users don't know they are paying for their OS, and they would have no clue on how to install it either. That Linux Mint has installation steps or requires some domain knowledge shouldn't hinder anyway who is willing to learn something new. I'm considering, however, that 95% of the computer users are unwilling to learn (such as, read a user guide and ask about or Google anything you don't understand). To 95% of the computer users the computer is a tool that they need to do something else; it shouldn't get in their way to do that something else. Having to install an OS gets in the way of doing that something else.

Ubuntu is making some headway, where from time to time they have deals with major manufacturers or resellers to have Ubuntu pre-installed on new hardware. For Linux Mint there are some thoughts to do this also: http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=163&t=77009. Going forward and targeting those 95% of the computer users, this would be the way. Have the same hardware, for the same or lower price, pre-installed with a Linux distro instead of Windows or OSX--then educating people / marketing makes sense. I don't think those 95% of the computer users will switch to Linux in any other way, just as much as Windows and OSX would fail with those computer users if it didn't come pre-installed on their computer :wink:

The other way people won't pay for their OS is if they buy a bare-bones computer, or build their own. So they can then independently of the reseller select their own OS to install. Again, those 95% of the computer users are not seeing this as something they want to do. Compare this to 95% of the the car owners don't know how to repair their own car, and have to pay Triple A for this (or whatever not-for-profit member service organization is in your country). To 95% of the car owners the car is a tool, that they need to do something else. It is the select few that care to know what goes on under the hood, let alone learn how to take care of it.
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Re: Mainstreaming the system

Postby Aging Technogeek on Sun Sep 18, 2011 10:21 am

I am pretty much in agreement with Vincent Vermeulen on this question. This has been discussed several times in this forum in the 2.5 years I have been a member and the consensus has always been that actively recruiting new users is not a viable method of expanding the Linux user base.

Most of the "average computer users" you speak of could not care less about the benefits of Linux over Windows. They buy a computer as a tool to do a job and, If the OEM Operating System (usually Windows) works, they use it. They could no more install a copy of Windows than they could a copy of Mint and they do not care enough to learn how to install either. If their OS crashes, they take the computer to a service center and have them reinstall the OS and get the computer back on line.

People who approach computing with this attitude will seldom, if ever, be interested in changing their OS simply because that would involve learning something new and they are not, and will never be, motivated to do this as long as they can do what they need with Windows.

You also will find that many long time Windows users look at the hours and the hundreds or thousands of dollars they have invested in Windows to get the programs they need and the skills to use the system properly, and do not want to "throw away" all of that time and money by switching to a new OS and starting at the bottom of the learning curve all over again.

I have been using Linux Mint since January of 2009. I have converted several people to Mint in that time. I have found that actively trying to get people to switch is a losing battle. The ones you convince to try Linux will, for the most part, not be happy with Linux and will switch back to Windows because that is where they are comfortable.

People who will switch to Linux and stay with it are generally those who are dissatisfied with Windows for some reason and are looking for something better. Those that I have started in Linux who stayed with it are of this type. I did not actively seek any of them out. They knew I was using Linux and, when they were ready, they came to me.

To sum up this rather long and involved discussion, most Windows users use Windows because it was installed on their computer when they purchased it, it does the jobs they need it to do, they are familiar and comfortable with Windows, and they have no motivation to change.

Those who switch to Linux usually have some problem with Windows that has persisted for long enough to frustrate them to the extent that they want a change, or they have not used Windows long enough to have any emotional or financial ties to it and, when they learn of Linux, they are adventurous enough to try it and like it.

I am in the latter group. I owned my first computer for less than six months before switching to Linux. I did not have a Windows bias built up over years of use so I saw the advantages of Linux immediately and invested the relatively small amount of time needed to learn the basics gladly.

Your attempts at educating the "average computer user" on the benefits of Linux is most likely doomed to failure simply because the "average computer user" does not want to (or is too lazy to) invest the time and effort required to learn a new way of doing what he is comfortable doing in Windows.
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