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Fighting FUD with Humor 530

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the laughter-the-best-medicine dept.
Technophiliac writes to tell us MadPenguin in running a review of "Fighting FUD With Humor" Marcel Gagné's 2nd edition of "Moving to Linux". From the article: "The biggest obstacle is fear. Modern Linux distributions are easy to install and easy to use. Unfortunately, we are constantly presented with messages telling us that it's too hard and that the average person couldn't possibly grasp the complexity. That's rubbish. People aren't stupid and people who use computers learn new things all the time."
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Fighting FUD with Humor

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  • by ankarbass (882629) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @06:53PM (#13884976)
    People don't want to switch because they think they need office. Simple as that.
    • My mother works for the local school district, and in order to check her e-mail from home, she is told "you must use outlook." I won't even mention how stupid it is for them to be using outlook considering all the security problems. Err, wait. I guess I just did.
      • Why don't you explain to her that she may not have to use Outlook, even if they say that she does? Don't get technical. Maybe even set up Seamonkey or Thunderbird for her, just to show her that it can be done and how much better off it will make her.

        • Oh, of course I have Thunderbird set up for her. But the thing is, I'm not the IT guy for everyone else in the school district. I'm not going to go around door to door installing another e-mail client on everyone's computer. My point is that I shouldn't have to go correct this moron's incorrect assertion. It's simply wrong for people in the positions of a degree of trust regarding computers, like your IT guy at work, and especially one in our educational system, to be feeding this kind of misinformation to
    • by mctk (840035) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @06:58PM (#13885003) Homepage
      Screw office, I need games.
      • Try Cedega ($5/month, minimum $15 dollar purchase) if there is just that one game you can't live without. Also, WINE has increasingly good support for DX9, so you might want to try that as well. I do admit, though, I do keep a seperate windows box just for gaming (but my main system is linux).
        • XP Home is something like $60 (you'll need to excuse me, I'm not American so I'm guessing from a quick online search), and that'd be 12 months of Cedega if it's tied to the subscription like that. I'm still a bit hesitant for things like that, personally.

    • Are you kidding me!

      I don't know what i'd do without wordpad or notepad.

    • by JustADude (895491) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:48PM (#13885408)
      People don't want to switch because they think they need office. Simple as that.

      You're not kidding, I used to work for one of the big-box style electronics places, and just about every average computer shopper was convinced they needed MS Office. Supposedly, I should have pushed them towards buying said fantastically overpriced suite. Generally, I asked them what they'd use it for... 9 out of 10 just wanted to be able to type a letter.


      • My mother does spreadsheet manipulation of survey data. She got a new laptop for the project, but it didn't come with any office suite. So, I told her she could get OpenOffice for free, downloaded it and walked her through the setup, and told her a bit about how to use it. The next time I came home (a month or two later), she told me she got fed up with it after having to re-learn how to do some of the stuff she took for granted with MS Office. So she just dropped the $100 for the academic ed. and went with
    • by seriesrover (867969) <> on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:58PM (#13885479)
      no, people don't switch because they don't perceive the need. To most people Windows does all they need to do and so why go to Linux? Why would they go through "all the agony of having to save\transfer data"? What would they gain? These are the questions Linux has to answer.

      Now compound that with the notion that Linux is something geeks use, and thats why people aren't switching in great numbers.

    • I disagree, to put it simply. I see the following problems with Linux.

      1. It has a need for package management. To me, this is a fundamental flaw with the design of the operating system. There are other techniques and ideas to handle how software is installed.

      2. It requires user input for installing a simple desktop system. It should as simple as boot from CD, click install, walk away cause it will reboot and ask you to create an account when done. This operation should, by default both install and ov
      • 1. Package Management bad? You mean clicking on a file and having an entire app installed for you with no further interaction is bad? Yet you want the OS installed with no interaction. Would you prefer the user makes a mess of their OS by installing apps to wherever they like as windows currently does?
        I believe we're talking primarily about switching to Linux from Windows here. Switching from OSX is a different story altogether since in my opinion the only reason to do that is to save money and have mor
      • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @10:08PM (#13886176) Homepage
        1. Windows tries to manage programs that you install, but does a really terrible job at it, expecting the program to know how to uninstall itself, instead of keeping track of what the program installed so it can actually get rid of it when you want to, and tell you about anything else that depends on this program to work.

        2. Installing windows XP asks you some questions too. Stuff like timezone is very important to set right, otherwise the time server will set your computer to the wrong time. Most people don't know what time zone they are in. Also, once installed, windows does very little, doesn't even have drivers for most of my hardware, and can't connect to the internet to download them, because my NIC doesn't have drivers either.

        3. I'd much better go with the windows model, of lump everything together and let programs put stuff where ever they wish. Also, let the users put their files whereever they want to. Also, ensure that all the settings for both the operating system and the programs are in one big, easily corruptable file, so that if some program wants to wipe out the registry, then it can.

        4. Nobody knows how to configure a windows computer either. The fact that you have to use a GUI for it means that all the useful settings are hidden in the registry, and the stuff that's in the GUI is just the minimal that it thinks people can understand, 80% of which they can't.

        5. I don't ever recall my linux box treating me like a moron. It always asks lots of questions to make sure its doing what its supposed to be doing. Presenting the user with no options, and just doing a bunch of stuff you assume they want to do is a bad thing.

        6. The user should always know when something goes wrong. To a certain point at least. Assuming the user has no idea what the error means, and therefore not tell them about it is just a bad idea. Sometimes computer errors require the use of computer terms to explain what went wrong. Also, I thought #5 just said linux treats people like morons. Now we are saying it is too complicated, and doesn't use plain english that everyone can understand?

        7. Package management tools are the best way to install applications that require dependancies on other applications. If you want to code your own application, and include all the libraries that the application needs with the application, then you can go ahead and do that. Firefox, OpenOffice and Netbeans all use this method for installing, and they work pretty well. But it shouldn't be the only option available to all application developers, nor should it be pushed on them.

        8. Pretty much all tools 99% of people need have been created. When it looks exactly like the windows counterpart we get bashed for not being innovative enough. When we do something like GIMP, we get bashed because it is too different. GIMP is a great interface. If you start out using it, all the other graphics packages seem weird and confusing to you.

        8. I'm not sure what comes after 8 either. Anyway, reading and writing office documents is still a big problem, even with Openoffice. They are usually legible, but tables usually stick outside the margins, and many other formatting problems exist as well. Everyone I know has office at home, simply because that's what people expect you to use. Most of them don't pay for it, and frankly, I don't think Microsoft cares.
    • I do need Office, sadly. It's not the best, I much prefer writing LaTeX in anything (including vi :) but I do need Word and Powerpoint for compatibility with the rest of the world (if you think OpenOffice will cut it, don't bother responding). I use OS X and get the best of many worlds, shiny toys and MS Office plus all the Unix goodies. I use Linux on one of my workstations and FreeBSD on a couple of servers I maintain. It all boils down to using the best tool for the best job, it's as simple as that.
  • HAHA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by buttwidget (926171) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @06:58PM (#13885006)
    People are smart... Someone doesn't deal with the public...
    • Re:HAHA (Score:5, Funny)

      by Jim Hall (2985) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:05PM (#13885066) Homepage

      People are smart... Someone doesn't deal with the public...

      "A person is smart, but people are dumb, stupid and panicky." ~Agent K, 'MIB'

      "'To start, press any key.' Where's the any key?" ~Homer Simpson, 'The Simpsons'

      • Re:HAHA (Score:5, Interesting)

        by KanSer (558891) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:09PM (#13885558)
        I work at an employment center in a small-ish (10-15,000) logging and fishing community and I can state, as an absolute fact, that people are indeed stupid.

        However, just last week a man who's on disabilities for a brain injury (He has little to no short term memory) came in and asked me if I could get him a free operating system. (He wanted Windows XP. He had bought a refurb p3-500 that came with XP, the hard drive bought the farm, and when the guy who sold it to him fixed it he wiped the OS. He said it was only a "trial version until you got your own system". Full of shit, I know.)

        Anyways, on a whim I did a quick google for linux distros, caught a wikipedia page that seemed to make Ubuntu out to be what I was looking for.

        Now, I've never touched linux, except for playing counter-strike and quake on linux servers. I downloaded an install image, installed it, and voila.

        It was beyond easy and it came with everything I needed. I sent the man with the brain injury home with a disk and he came back the next day with a huge smile on his face.

        It worked. First time, totally out of the box. Recognized all his hardware, and came with everything he could possibly want. He was acting rather cheeky about the presentation he put together with OpenOffice and was pleased as punch.

        So yeah, if the unemployed and brain injured can install and configure and use with great ease a linux distro, I'd say they've finally made that first big step towards main-stream acceptance.

        (And now my other Ubuntu box has become my baby. Too bad it won't run half-life 2. Oh well, worry about an install base first, the developers will follow.)
    • by maotx (765127)
      I kid you not I received this e-mail tonight carbon copied for tech support.

      "Yes, I noticed the misspelling in the word document. But... for some reason Word will not let me redo the spell check after one review. It just said spell check complete and that's what you have to live with or rewrite it. I wasn't going to rewrite it! Can this be fixed?" -- A major marketing guy responsible for sealing million dollar deals

      Just goes to show how far we still have to come educating the public with computers period.
  • FUD??? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is a sales or marketing strategy of disseminating negative but vague or inaccurate information on a competitor's product. The term originated to describe misinformation tactics in the computer software industry and has since been used more broadly.

    Had to look that one up. Wouldn't it be nice if the editors or perhaps even the article itself defined these strange acronyms?
  • Clearly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fatcatman (800350) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @06:59PM (#13885013)
    People aren't stupid and people who use computers learn new things all the time."

    Clearly, this person has never performed basic tech support. I mean, come on. If you have that much faith in humanity, you've never done time as "The I.T. Guy" in a typical office. Turn in your geek card, sir, and report to AOL for further processing.
    • Right on fatcatman, most people aren't even smart enough to know how to use their car right, let alone understand how to navigate a windows-based graphical interface. How do you think they will react to one that depends more on the command line? You'll end up with people who refuse to use their systems if you try to get them on a Linux distribution, because a text command is scarey.

      Unix-like systems are not for all operating system users and operating systems are not for all people. Hell, do you realis

  • Bzzzzt! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rackhamh (217889) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @06:59PM (#13885014)
    People aren't stupid

    No, but they're easily confused.

    and people who use computers learn new things all the time.

    Hard to believe, given that most non-technical people (and some of the technical ones) in my building haven't even learned not to double-click URLs. When things don't work, it's attributed to gremlins, and when it does work, it's attributed to a higher diety.

    I'm sorry, but the REAL obstacles (hint: fear isn't one of them) to adopting an entirely new operating system don't go away just by putting your fingers in your ears and shouting, "NAH NAH NAH, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!"
    • Re:Bzzzzt! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jack9 (11421)
      People refuse to think outside their training. This is much the same as being stupid, to most geeks. While technically different, the fact we make a distinction is what makes us different! What happens when encountering something strange and new? MOST people IGNORE it. Linux is still too difficult for the average person to install and use. Yes, a LARGE portion of humanity (including these new-fangled-savvy-kids) still double clicks URLs. If you aren't going to accept that kind of mental lock, there can be n
    • Re:Bzzzzt! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by antiMStroll (664213) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:25PM (#13885224)

      "... people (and some of the technical ones) in my building haven't even learned not to double-click URLs."

      contradicts this

      "...the REAL obstacles (hint: fear isn't one of them) to adopting an entirely new operating system..."

      If they don't understand double-click how will the OS make any difference? They aren't configuring hardware or apps anyway.

      I'm the last person to ascribe extraordinary technical prowess to the general public and yet sucessfully converted a staff of 50 to what in effect is PC-based multimedia editing from tape without a hitch. One staff member just celebrated his 50th year in the industry and has never required our help. Step one: make them part of the application selection process. Step two: an orderly rollout with scheduled training. Step three: encouraging self support and establishing staff 'experts' outside of the normal support channels. It's not that hard.

      On the other hand, we're also a distinct division outside of the normal 'MSCE' pool. If there's any group with finger in ears here it's the latter, imposing solutions on users as mandates and forcing them to work around bugs and unresolved system idiosyncracies from memory. 'Lusers' can do a hell of a lot more than most IT support gives them credit.

      • If they don't understand double-click how will the OS make any difference?

        My point is, if users have trouble using their mouse correctly, how can we expect them to *easily* learn a completely new operating environment and application suite? I do think that most people can make the leap *given time*, but that's why I said fear isn't the real obstacle.

        They aren't configuring hardware or apps anyway.

        Most people won't have the benefit of someone like you to hold their hand through the process. If we're talkin
  • I'm smart, most of us here are smart, but I'll admit that sometimes I run into the occasional road block where I can't do something in Linux that I can do in Windows.

    I did spend at least an hour getting Quake III to work in Linux properly. It still doesn't quite work as well as in Windows.

    I also took some time to get my mouse wheel working in Linux. Granted, I use text-only installs of Slackware or Gentoo where I build my own optimized kernels, but still, I had some difficulty.

    Linux isn't easy and it's no
    • by CyricZ (887944)
      Those are the types of issues you should expect when using distributions like Gentoo and Slackware. If you want stuff to just work right away, consider using Debian or a Debian-derived distro, or perhaps even SuSE. But stay away from Fedora. It's been nothing but problems for me, and the alternatives are far superior.

    • by i_should_be_working (720372) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:33PM (#13885282)
      I spent 15 minutes yesterday trying to disable autoplay (for all drives, not just the cdrom) in Windows. In the end I had search on the internet to find the solution, download a program and do some very non-intuitive stuff.

      In GNOME I just go to System->Preferences->Removable Drives and Media.

      Everybody has stories of how they have had a hard time with an OS. It's all just anecdotes which don't prove anything. For me, Linux is easy and pretty because it's what I'm used to. When I have to use Windows it's unfamiliar and illogical. And it sure as hell isn't pretty.

      BTW, the reason I had to disable autoplay is because it was going crazy grinding the system to a halt whenever I connected a usb drive. Never happens in Linux. But again, that's just another anecdote. Doesn't prove anything. I just wish folks from the other side could admit the same thing whey they're talking about the problems they've had with Linux.
    • by Coryoth (254751)
      I'm smart, most of us here are smart, but I'll admit that sometimes I run into the occasional road block where I can't do something in Linux that I can do in Windows.

      I did spend at least an hour getting Quake III to work in Linux properly. It still doesn't quite work as well as in Windows.

      It's been a while since I used Windows (probably around 2000 or 2001), but I used to run into roadblocks there too. You say you had trouble getting Quake III working on Linux? It took me quite some time to get a decent wor
  • by mymaxx (924704) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:01PM (#13885031)
    Not for someone from the Windows world, anyway. If you need to configure anything that isn't out of the box, like latest graphics card support or wireless, you're left out in the cold. You'll have to spend hours Googling for people that have gotten it to work or clues as to how it might work. Then more hours editing configuration files, compiling, rebooting...sometimes all spent in vain.

    If there is ONE thing Windows is good at, it is getting stuff configured. It may not be as powerful or flexible, but at least it is easy. Sometimes, you just need to get things done.
    • yes, it is easy, until it fails.

      i had a problem installing windows recently, where it installed the "wrong" IDE controller driver (wtf? why is there even different drivers for that?) and the box would simply crash, before even getting to a gui. mind you it did this without asking, without telling me and without confirmation of anything. worst of all, there is no way to fix it short of a complete reinstall (thankfully, this was already a clean disk, so no lost data)
    • by Tiger4 (840741) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:09PM (#13885557)
      "Sometimes, you just need to get things done

      Not just sometimes. For most people in the tech services area, they like a challenge, more or less. Configuring things and solving problems is what got them into the field in the first place. But the vast majority of computer users just want to get the job done. They don't care how it works, or why, or what options are behind the command line switches. This thing is a tool. An appliance. More complicated than a screwdriver.

      But basically it is a toaster.

      Turn it on, it does something useful, turn it off. Anything that requires understanding what is under the interface is hard. Anything that requires thinking about how the interface works is effectively impossible. Windows lets users get away with that. Macs are great at it. Linux (so far) makes the users learn how it works. Or at least ask for a lot of help.

  • by Fermatprime (883412) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:06PM (#13885076)
    I must not FUD. FUD is the mind-killer. FUD is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face Microsoft's FUD. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye upon its path. Where the FUD has gone there will be nothing. Only Linux will remain.
  • It's true (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Prof. Pi (199260) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:07PM (#13885086)

    I knew someone who hand-coded HTML to make web pages around 1997, before HTML-authoring tools were common. And these were pages with graphics and menus. But she was absolutely convinced that she should use Microsoft products because you'd have to be "a computer genius" to use anything else. I couldn't convince her that writing a file in LaTeX was structurally very similar to hand-editing HTML. She had a complete psychological block, and would even get mad at me for daring to use anything else.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:10PM (#13885107) Homepage
    Modern Linux distributions are easy to install and easy to use.
    I'm a computer geek. There was a period where Linux was too hard for me to install -- I tried and failed a few times. Finally, about four years ago, the installs got easier (and I learned more) so I got a working install. But it's simply not true that Linux is now easy enough for most computer users to install and use. Most computer users are not computer geeks, and in fact, no OS is easy enough for them to install. They'd have trouble installing Windows from scratch too, but they never had to do it because Windows came preinstalled.

    Just last week I installed the latest Ubuntu. There were two problems that it took me some time and hassles to work out: (1) The sound software I was trying to use didn't work in GNOME, because GNOME uses ESD. I had to do a "killall esd" before it would work. This took some detective work, because none of the software gave me an error message that told me this was what the problem was. (2) I couldn't install some libraries (such as libc6-dev) because they were in a munged state at the point where I did my apt-get update.

    These were time-consuming, frustrating annoyances for me, but for someone who's not a computer geek, they'd be total showstoppers. The average person simply is not going to go looking for help on usenet or IRC (and my experience with posting on the Ubuntu forums has been that I don't get any useful replies, either). The average person will give up.

    And BTW, Gagne might want to update the subtitle of his book, "Kiss the blue screen of death goodbye." I have to use Windows a lot at work. I haven't seen a BSOD in years.

    • The average person simply is not going to go looking for help on usenet or IRC (and my experience with posting on the Ubuntu forums has been that I don't get any useful replies, either).

      And how many times on IRC did you get responses along the lines of "sort it out for yourself, n00b, the rest of us googled our way through..."

      My biggest complaint about linux is the community. I've got a happy fedora install at home that does everything i need it to, but when it comes to the nitty gritty of the trackpa

      • Re:amen to that (Score:3, Insightful)

        by merreborn (853723)
        how many times on IRC did you get responses along the lines of "sort it out for yourself, n00b, the rest of us googled our way through..."

        Personally, I offer a lot of tech support on message boards. When someone comes to the board once in a blue moon with a really difficult tech issue, I'm more than happy to help. But there's a certain class of user who will continually post questions that can be answered with 30 seconds of googling. Questions like "Can I use this 1MB SIMM in my P4 box?".

        It's rath
        • Re:amen to that (Score:4, Insightful)

          by conJunk (779958) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:49PM (#13885419)
          no, you are absolutely correct... it's true... but, the one really unhelpful person is the one you remember... there are a lot of *really* helpful people kicking it on IRC waiting for questions from people doing their first install, but they don't stick in one's memory quite the same way
        • Re:amen to that (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bcrowell (177657)
          Personally, I offer a lot of tech support on message boards. When someone comes to the board once in a blue moon with a really difficult tech issue, I'm more than happy to help.
          It's very nice of you to help people out like that on message boards, and of course if you don't feel like answering a certain question, you can just not answer it.

          But there's a certain class of user who will continually post questions that can be answered with 30 seconds of googling. Questions like "Can I use this 1MB SIMM in my

      • Re:amen to that (Score:4, Interesting)

        by nine-times (778537) <> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @10:06AM (#13888624) Homepage
        I once saw about the most frustrating post I could possibly imagine along these lines. I had been working on setting up a web server (and I'll admit, I'm no huge expert, but I can set up Apache), and I wanted to find a way that I could let people log in remotely for file transfers, with encrypted passwords, but not have access to the whole file system. FTP would have been fine, but I didn't want plain-text passwords. SFTP would be fine, but I didn't want them browsing my /etc.

        After searching the internet for a while, I came across a post that was posted on some OpenBSD focussed site, and I was in luck. Someone had posted almost the exact question I was looking for. The exchange went something like this:

        Guy1: How can you jail someone in ssh?

        Guy2 (who was apparently a recognized OpenBSD developer): You can't.

        Guy1: What do you mean? Can't I chroot someone?

        Guy2: No.

        Guy1: Well, I just want a way to keep people from browsing my file system. Is there a way to do that?

        Guy2: No. You should be using FTP.

        Guy1: Ok, but I don't want plain-text passwords. What do you recommend? SSL?

        Guy2: No. That's too hard to set up. Don't bother trying.

        Guy1: Well, what do you recommend then?

        Guy2: Look, you obviously don't understand security.

        And it pretty much ended there. Now, maybe there is some security theory that I'm ignorant of here, but the whole thing just seemed... absurd. The site seemed to be set up for the sake of discussions on OpenBSD and such, the guy asking the questions was polite, and the guy answering was supposed to be an expert. I'm not an uber-geek, but I'm not exactly computer-illiterate either, and it seemed like, even if it's a dumb question, it's not so dumb that it doesn't warrant addressing.

        Ok, so I guess I'm not adding anything to the discussion, except to say that I know what you mean. There are lots of good, helpful folk out there. Gentoo forums come to mind as a place where I've looked for problems, even on a non-Gentoo machine, and just thought, "god, this is a lifesaver". But sometimes, it's just hard to find answers, even when you know the answers are out there. I've secure shelled into servers that've jailed me before, and yet I've never gotten an answer to this question that actually made sense and worked.

    • "And BTW, Gagne might want to update the subtitle of his book, "Kiss the blue screen of death goodbye." I have to use Windows a lot at work. I haven't seen a BSOD in years."

      Me neither. That's the author's way of trying to spread a little FUD himself. Maybe it's an attempt at irony.

      • I'm amazed at the number of non-Windows people that seem to think BSODs are still a normal occurance. They honestly believe Windows boxes crash all the time and that's just how it is, nothing you can do. I attribute it to 3 main things:

        1) The last time they used Windows was a long time ago, when they converted. They haven't touched it since 95 and thus haven't seen any of the improvements.

        2) They dislike Windows and so remember bad experiences more than good ones. No matter what the OS, you will inevatibly
    • The Blue Screen of Death in Windows XP or 2000 is either a hardware error, or a faulty driver. Since the user got warned about installing unapproved drivers when they installed it, I think we have to chalk up Blue Screen as a solved problem.

      Anyway, I agree with you completely. Trying to set up my Hauppauge PVR 250 video capture card in Ubuntu has been torture. After spending 10 hours following *WRONG* tutorials and how-tos, I finally went to the Ubuntu chat room (which was friendly) which directed me to
    • I saw a BSOD today.

      At this very moment I am typing with my monitor on it's side. Why? Because my mp3 player crashed windows hard. Never does that in Linux. When trying to perform the 3-key salute to do a hard reset I accidentally pressed some combination that put the whole screen on it's side. Upon reboot (which included a lengthy disk check) the screen is still sideways. So now, my mp3 player doesn't work (with Windows) and my screen is sideways. Great. I sure am glad Windows is easy to use.

      One more th
  • But... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:10PM (#13885117)
    How do we fight the FUD of the FUD fighters?

    Can we be honest with ourselves for just one second?

    Claiming that Linux is "easy" to configure is a prima facia falsehood.

    Install is still only about 80-85% not the 99.9% that it needs to be.

    Maintenence of a 6+ month old distro, any distro, is a nightmare as about that time updating no longer works because dependancies on updated dependancies reach an unmanageable threshold. And no, ignoring maintenence is not an option.

    It doesn't anyone any good to spout platitudes about how "easy" Linux is when there are still huge gaping holes in it's ease of use.

    The only way to fight FUD is with truth, not more FUD!
  • by SuperAbe (264159) * <microtolo@g m a i l .com> on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:12PM (#13885129)
    People aren't stupid and people who use computers learn new things all the time.

    Obligatory Men in Black [] reference:

    Agent J: Why the big secret? People are smart, they can handle it.
    Agent K: A *person* is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.

  • long as they spell your name right." -- Mark Twain

    The author's name is Marcel Gagné. He writes an excellent column in Linux Journal, as well.

  • Marvel Gagne? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:13PM (#13885139) Journal
    Presumably this is actually Marcel Gagne, best known for his excruciating French chef-themed columns? Consulting him on humor is like consulting the Slashdot editors on spelling.

    Incidentally, writing introductory books like "Kiss the Blue Screen of Death Goodbye!" seems to me to be a dead end. Seething haters of Microsoft (and even they haven't seen a BSOD in five years) don't make up a significant share of Windows users, and pandering to that mentality seems counterproductive.

  • by oahazmatt (868057) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:17PM (#13885170) Journal
    If Gagne's so sure the average user is more than willing to learn new things, then he can be the one to walk my mother through downloading ISOs for the latest Mandrake build, helping her pick which items to install, explaining why she needs a "gui" (and what it is) and then helping her pick between KDE, Gnome...
    • Get her to use Ubuntu, rather than Mandrake. They'll most likely ship her CDs free of charge.

      I've even seen my grandson install it, and he's 9. Yes, it really is that easy.

  • I guess I'm pretty dumb. I tried to install the latest Ubuntu distribution on my (admittedly somewhat dated) PIII-600 Compaq laptop. It hung halfway through while installing the packages. I restarted it and it hung in the same place. Undaunted I switched to Redhat (FC4). It threw an error about a quarter of the way through and then quit (offering to send a bug report - shades of Microsoft). Frustrated I stuck in my Windows 2000 CD and 45 minutes later I was up and running.

    On the flipside, I put Ubuntu in
  • This attitude prevents the general public from using Linux. The general user doesn't want to think about swap files, network configs and boot preferences. Ideally, they want to click "Install" and at the end come up with a system that has their applications ready to go. Command line?! Come on, anyone not interested in computers in general does not want to learn any commands - they want to double-click their application of choice and get on with their day.

    I'm smarter than the average bear and I sometimes jus
  • People aren't stupid ....

    No but they sure can be lazy. I've migrated a lot of systems from Windows to Linux and the main problem I've had is that Windows admins often can't be bothered to read the docs. Many of them have learnt most of what they know by hunting and pecking through a myriad of menus and sub menus to find the right icon to click on. When presented with a man page they throw up their arms in dispair and complain about how complicated Linux is.
  • by kuzb (724081)

    People aren't stupid and people who use computers learn new things all the time.

    You've obviously never worked in tech support anywhere, have you?

  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @07:46PM (#13885400)
    Yes there is FUD, but some of this FUD is true...

    There are severe exaggerations in Linux usability for example; but we can't be morons and miss the 'truth' in this.

    On the computers at my Grandmother's house - True story(200mhz P, to a new 3.4ghz system now.) - My Grandparents have been able to drop an XP install CD in all their computers, type in the code and their computer works faster and better than when they first purchased it. No install problems, driver problems.

    And that is a solid arument, sure most of US are smart enough to wrestle any distribution to install and run well on any piece of hardware, but for the people that surf the web, write email, write letters and video conference with their grandkids - Linux and FreeBSD is NOT YET THAT MATURE on the desktop.

    We can argue it is, and it truly isn't. We know this inside somewhere, but hate to admit it.

    There is NO distribution yet that has the driver support, or hardward support, or 99% success rate of install that WindowsXP does...

    That is where we are failing, and until we admit things like this to ourselves, this will NEVER get better.
  • Windows has all my audio/video apps that are mature, stable and provide me with tons of options. It has all the entertainment software I want as well as productivity apps. I don't have to mess around with text file configurations or use software with behind the curve UIs. Other than the usual argument of price I still have no reason to switch. I'd rather spend my time actually working or playing than trying to get my system so that I can work or play.
  • Whatever! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shumacher (199043) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:31PM (#13885702) Homepage
    Linux could be easy. My mother, who had expressed pride in never having used a computer, recently discovered, quite by accident, just how much stuff was available on eBay. I had a surplus IBM 300GL sitting about, so I loaded it up with Mandriva 2005. There were the little problems: hiding toolbars accidently, moving the mouse while clicking (accidental drags), not recognizing interface modality. The vanilla hardware on the P3 based desktop installed easily for me, and after setting auto-login for her, setting up her email accounts and bookmarks, Gnome was easy for her. She found a few challenges, so I tried giving her a Macintosh. We went back to the Linux machine quickly.

    That having been said, I've used linux before, I've used Windows. If you want to install something not included in the distro, you're in for some work. I tried installing FreeNX on Mandriva over a SSH terminal. I never did get it working. Apropos hadn't been set up by default, and install was failing on a file whose package I couldn't find.

    So, here's what I want in Linux:

    Be better than Windows. Where windows wants to tell you every five minutes that your wireless connection is down even though you're working on a wired connection and your laptop's wifi switch is off, be smarter. Tell the user once, if you must, then leave them alone.

    Install all the docs by default. Never assume that your user doesn't need man pages.

    Label each program with a name that describes what it does. Look at Windows accessories. Most of the program names are much less abstract. Backup, Address Book, Notepad, Command Prompt, Backup, Security Center, Disk Defragmenter, Disk Cleanup. So, what's easier, drakxconf or Control Panel? Let's also map some commands to likely alternatives. man is good, but what if help worked too? Maybe if help pointed to an overview of man, apropos, lynx and some docs?

    Usabilty testing by non programmers. I like vi about as much as the average person. That is, not very. compared to the MS-DOS edit.exe, vi is pretty weak. Or rather, it's very strong, but it makes what should be a 100% intuitive task for anyone familiar with a computer into a series of random button-pushing and man-reading sessions.

    Build a roadmap.So, this distro wants the config file here, and that distro wants it there. Super! Fine! But if you want to put this sort of thing all over, how about building a map? I'd love to be able to download a single installer, run it (in the gui!) let it figure out where everything is, what needs to be downloaded, what dependencies need satisfying. Fix it all, and exit. I hate installing software that didn't come with the distro currently. Windows does this well, Mac does this well, why is this so hard for Linux?

    Welcome your users. Sure, you may never click through the overly-animated Welcome to Windows intro. Some people will. Just a quick tour of the nifty little features of your OS, some quick pointers to the help, the configuration, the browser, the email, and most people will be fine. Add a world-class tutorial. Back in the days of the classic Mac OS, there were tutorials that included clicking, double clicking, dragging, hovering, typing, text entry fields, dialog boxes (modal and non-modal) menus, powering off. The basics that most of us nerds don't remember learning have to be taught to some people! Linux should teach them, by default.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @09:33PM (#13886004)
      There is just a different mindset between geeks and non-geeks for many things. Take GREP for example. What you have is a geek's idea of the ideal search tool. You specify queries in a powerful grammar so you get just what you want. You can do very complex searches with it to get refined results.

      Wonderful, however if you write a regular expression for a non-geek, they will look at you as if you are speaking a foriegn language, which youa re in a manner of speaking. It is toally incomprehensable to them and NOT something they want to learn. To them the ideal search engine is one where you type out, in English (or whatever their native language is) what they want and the computer disambiguates it and finds things.

      In other words, geeks have learned to think like computers, and so want tools that are like htat for maximum control. Normal users want computers to learn to think like them, so they have the lowest learning curve possible.
  • stupid (Score:3, Funny)

    by Cyno (85911) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:34PM (#13885716) Journal
    People aren't stupid

    Either people are stupid or all the Gods they believe in would exist here in reality.

    It all comes down to authority. If you believe that there are forms of authority you should always obey, you might be stupid.
  • by Schwarzgerat (915840) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:37PM (#13885734)
    Most people don't know what they are doing in windows, even kids with good marks at school and college continually do and say really really stupid things. people are stupid.
  • Yeah .. Easy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by All Names Have Been (629775) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @11:33PM (#13886588)
    I love Linux and have run it for years. Official Slashdot disclaimer over.

    Linux will be easy for the average user when I don't have to download a source package, compile it and install it, extract Windows drivers for ndiswrapper using another tool I had to compile from source, and then fiddle around with rc files to make sure my SSID got set on boot all so I could get on the local network.

    Yeah, sing me the song of vendors not releasing drivers. I hear and understand, brother ... But the average user doesn't give a shit. All they know is it doesn't work, and the learning curve is so steep it's more a learning cliff.

    Give a user a pre-configured Linux box with everything working, fine - for most uses people will get along fine. Anyone trying to tell me that an average user can install Linux on their home box and walk away happy most of the time is living in a dream world.
  • by Hosiah (849792) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @01:07AM (#13887007)
    "people aren't stupid", well, what about the people who scream, "I REFUSE TO LEARN ANYTHING!!!!!" ? You *can* be stupid if you absolutely devote every fibre of your being to completely attaining that state.
  • by mnemotronic (586021) <mnemotronic.netscape@net> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @10:03AM (#13888601) Homepage Journal
    My experience with humor in the workplace is a tale of cultures, political correctness, and caution.

    I began using humor in my work many years ago. I worked for a high-tech company doing software tools, which requires (on my part) some level of user support in the form of documentation, web pages, and email - the end-user in this case being the other engineers employed there. Technical documentation is such a droll, dry medium, and I wanted to make it more interesting, and help hold the reader's attention. There is nothing funny about the X3T9 or 1394 specs. I also felt the need to extend my personal creativity beyond the realm of interesting code comments.

    Things went ok, even fine, for a few years. I received lots of positive feedback from users, indicating how they always looked forward to my next group broadcast email, or how funny a web site was. But such feedback encouraged me to "push the envelope" in terms of content. Our company is multi-culture, multi-ethnic, and multi-national. What might be funny or innocuous in American English can be mis-interpreted by people in Thailand or Singapore. Eventually I crossed an invisible line, and the Political Correction department, sometimes ironically referred to as "Human Resources", came down on me like a ton of diarhea. With my future at stake, I retracted my email and publically apologized. My job had been saved, but my manager's reputation had been compromised. He was in trouble for not "keeping the reins tight enough", as if any manager can effectively herd cats. Of course, while my actions caused problems for my boss, they caused greater problems for me. My future with that company had suddenly grown much more circumscribed, a fact I was not to learn for some time, when raises and promotions sailed past me like leaves in a nor-easter.

    After several years, that incident was forgotten. I glided under the radar during subsequent management shake-ups and re-orgs, and ended up working for another manager. Our company policy forbids managers and HR personel from officially discussing individual employee records, so I felt that my past was behind me - safely locked away in the depths of HR. I could relax and drop my guard, which I did but, as you can probably guess, this led to another lapse in judgement, which resulted in the "final warning" from HR. My manager at that time issued an edict demanding "no more humor, no more creativity" in all my work. At the time, it felt like a knife through the heart, but it actually inspired me to redirect my energies and intellect for my own gain, not the company's. The company would survive.

    Or course, I accept responsibility for what I said. I could have kept my keyboard locked, toed the company line, and been a happy drone. That company is ancient history, so all I can do now is reflect, and use my talents elsewhere.

    Bottom line? The HR department is no longer the "personel" department. It's geared toward protecting the company, not representing the individual worker unit. HR's primary task is protecting the company from harrasement and defamation lawsuits brought by current and former employees. This is extremely difficult in America, with it's current "Politically Correct" atmosphere - an attitude that people are not responsible for their own feelings, thoughts, and interpretations, combined with a "get rich quick" lotto mentality.

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith