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Toy Penguins and Male Egos Drove Linux Acceptance 548

An anonymous reader writes "Germany's local and city councils have been pioneering the migration from Windows to Linux. Now, one of the IT staff behind one move has revealed how they persuaded workers to accept the changes. Stuffed toy penguins and Linux t-shirts helped to create an open-source love-in at the council offices, and they got a senior chairwoman to demonstrate the new system to the troops. Male ego stopped anyone claiming that Linux was difficult to use, once they'd seen that the 'weaker sex' could master it :)"
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Toy Penguins and Male Egos Drove Linux Acceptance

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  • Which one? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by netglen ( 253539 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:35PM (#8251850)
    Which distro of linux are they using?
  • by Supp0rtLinux ( 594509 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:38PM (#8251891)
    pic []
  • by Serapth ( 643581 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:44PM (#8251973)
    I cant imagine this being a very successful company, when they have to use bribes and sex to encourage the employees to use a tool you've mandated.

    Hell, this is kinda like McDonalds deciding to use a different type of cash register, then having someone attractive go by and give each McWage Slave a free friggin teddy bear, in order to get them to use the new machine.

    How about this approach... "Use the damned software!". Really, I dont know why people seem to think they should have complete freedom on a computer at work. The company owns the machine, and the company chooses the software... so long as the company involved the proper employees in evaluating which is the best software(s) to use... thats it, end of story. Employees really shouldnt have a choice one way or another.

    So instead, you get this boneheaded company in germany, that is now going to have a number of mail employee's that have no clue how to use the software, and thus loose productivity, because there ego refuses to let them be beat by a girl?!?!

    Besides that point... does male ego really apply that much to intellectual persuits? I mean, do most people think men are better then women at using a computer because of genetics? I doubt the number is high. Now, those hard to open jar lids... yeah, ego still applies there.
  • by gUmbi ( 95629 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:45PM (#8251977)
    If BSD weren't dying it'd be presented by this chick []
  • by melstav ( 174456 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:51PM (#8252070)
    Damnably effective marketing.

    The article spends a fair amount of time talking about how they dealt with their proverbial "sticks in the mud" and talking about a few of the benefits of running linux vs. Windows, and then finishes up with the following paragraph:

    Late on Tuesday, Microsoft issued a patch for a vulnerability in its Windows software that could be used to unleash a virus even more devastating than MyDoom. This patch should be installed by anyone running Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP or Windows Server 2003.
  • Re:booth girls (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SheldonYoung ( 25077 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:52PM (#8252077)
    A former company did a rather large booth a COMDEX a few years ago. They planned it a bit late so the more attractive of the Booth Marketting Persons were already obligated to other companies. One of the women was as much fun as a brick in the desert.

    The other woman had a great personality and eventually she stopped giving out post cards demonstrating a technical application to victi... potential customers. It was amazing how much more attentive the demonstratee was with her. I don't know if it's because she was a woman, evidence of the friendliness of the application or what, but it stuck.

    If you want to convert an entire company to swith to open source in one fell swoop get your secretary to install OpenOffice.
  • Sex Sells (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Slowtreme ( 701746 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:56PM (#8252127) Homepage
    Anyone watch that "The Apprentice" show. Two groups of 8 people, men on one side, women on the other. The first four tasks, the women stumbled around like lost puppies for 3 of them and yet won every time. The catch, they gave out thier phone number, while selling Lemonade for 10 bucks a cup. The guys couldn't sell jack.

    It's not surprizing that having a woman demo Linux, people are interested in learning.
  • Re:I hate male ego (Score:5, Interesting)

    by queen of everything ( 695105 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @03:58PM (#8252151) Homepage

    I do too...

    I don't like that if a girl can do it, any man can...I can do a lot of things with a computer that many men can't do. I work hard to learn all that I can and I don't like that when I am up against a man, everyone automatically listens to what he says over me. I know what I'm talking about, I've been using computers longer than everyone that I know. When I go into a computer store all the clerks swarm to help the poor, defenseless, dumb girl buy expensive things for her computer. It really bugs me. Don't question my intelligence, I know what I'm doing.

    I think its an excellent way to market linux to a bunch of men, but it still bugs me that people think like that.

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:00PM (#8252162) Homepage Journal
    Not that it's a great sales tactic: "You don't need that wimpy ease-of-use"

    Gotta keep the spin "Easy enough for *her*, so you can certainly handle it."

    Yeah, well despite all the lipservice for equality, there's still plenty of cavemen who think only a man can do such-and-such. A remarkable comment on futuristic magazine ads, back in the 50's, projected the lady of the house still doing all the work, just with more high-tech, work-saving tools. Watch day-time TV and the message that men and women have the same roles from back then is still there.

    Good leverage. Works with racism as a motivator, too. "Hey, that (insert ethnicity here) can do pretty good with a (insert tool here), guess I better be able to do as well or my arguments of everyone being inferior to (insert own ethnic group here) falls flat."

    Americans tend to have a lot of levers, thanks to lingering puritanical attitudes (watch the super bowl half time show? ;-) Careful how you try to apply them at work, though. The spin that "she can do it, so anyone should be" could land your butt on the sidewalk.

    PHB's OTOH could probably care less. Hit them with the true TCO and they're half in the pocket. Problem I've run into is most have this dinosaur attitude that Microsoft makes everything easier. If only...

  • by Titusdot Groan ( 468949 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:01PM (#8252171) Journal
    I always help -- I guess I "get" the concept that I can lift more than almost any woman -- something about testosterone and being a lumberjack in my youth.

    But if you can't lift more than they can, by all means send them along to somebody that can.

    Oh, and just because they are using a trick on you doesn't mean they don't need your help. Just smile and say "Sure, but next time just ask instead of playing the mind games." Being a jerk doesn't allow you to change behaviour -- or get dates for that matter.

  • by Teckla ( 630646 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:01PM (#8252176)

    For a long time, I've been a huge proponent of ease-of-use. While I respected Linux from a technical perspective, I've long been dissapointed in it from an ease-of-use perspective.

    That all changed the last time I tried Linux. Knoppix, to be exact. It was jaw-droppingly impressive to me: the hardware recognition; the ease-of-use; the clean interface (KDE, in this case, though I suspect GNOME is just as nice); everything was polished and smooth.

    And then it hit me, there are only two things stopping Linux from making deep inroads into the desktop market these days:

    1. Drivers, drivers, drivers. Not enough hardware makers are bothering with drivers for Linux. Kudos to all the Linux folks writing drivers, but Linux is always at least a step or two behind. However, this problem may be solved if the project that allows Windows drivers to work under Linux is successful.

    2. Inertia. Everyone uses Windows, therefore...everyone keeps using Windows.

    My hope is that the low cost of Linux will keep driving people into its loving arms. does this post apply to the topic at hand? Simple: anyone who has given modern distributions of Linux a chance already knows what I know: Linux is just as easy to use as Windows these days (or close enough that it doesn't matter), and the only thing holding Linux back now are the two items I listed above. Anyone who claims modern distributions of Linux are too hard to use probably shouldn't be using computers at all.


  • by Snad ( 719864 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:11PM (#8252287)

    Deciphering all the typos in that post was an interesting experience...

    Regardless, the main point - that a corporation is a dictatorship - is factually correct. However, if you treat your employees as if they have no valuable opinions on the tools they will be using to do their jobs, then you will lose buy in, and have a revolt.

    The employees aren't exactly going to be turning up at their manager's door with pitch-forks and flaming torches, but they are going to be grumbling, moaning, bitching, whining, and likely looking for another job. Successful companies retain staff by ensuring they feel valued.

    Basically, treating your employees like shit gets you nothing but shit employees. Acting in a dictatorial manner simply because you can simply creates more problems than it solves. It is vital in large scale change projects to ensure that people at least feel like they've been consulted, even if you end up ignoring everything they've said.

    The productivity lost in replacing numbers of employees would be far more costly than simply throwing some toy penguins and a blonde bimbo into the equation.

    I am, of course, assuming that once the buy in was created by the "weaker sex" and toy penguin strategy there is sufficient training and backup in place - without which the entire project is doomed to failure anyway.

  • by blorg ( 726186 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:20PM (#8252377)
    What, you haven't seen the "She thinks Tux is cute" ads, etc. Ok, maybe you're a subscriber. Offtopic, but I never told ./ my gender, yet the ads *always* feature women. You don't have to put 4 together to be a bit suspicious of the gender balance there...
  • by Ian_Bailey ( 469273 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:21PM (#8252397) Homepage Journal
    The only reason companies don't release driver's for Linux is because "no one uses Linux". "Everyone uses Windows", they think, "so we can capture most of our market by just working on Windows."

    Of course, this isn't true anymore, and slowly, as more people are using Linux, more companies are realizing that Linux is worth supporting.

    This doesn't apply just to drivers, it applies to specialized software as well.
  • by dacarr ( 562277 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:28PM (#8252498) Homepage Journal
    My wife mastered it after a year away from OS/2. I have a half-blind neighbor who is getting there, coming from being a 12:00 flasher on Windoze. Many people in the group I hang out with is involved with this, and many of *them* aren't that technically inclined.

    So... how hard is it, really?

  • by Revek ( 133289 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:29PM (#8252511) Homepage
    The problem with migration from windows to linux is really a question of what you are used to. People gripped a lot when microsoft made its migration from windows 3.11 to windows 95. They could not find their programs, screensaveers, etc.etc. The gnome or kde desktops with koffice work just fine. They may not contain all the bells and whistles of microsoft products but they are fully functional. They may have trouble with printers or external devices but I have to show one lady how to print to a different printer on her machine on a weekly basis. Users will get used to anything. After all they got used to haveing to restart twice a day. Personally for me a move to linux would reduce the number of virus ladden emails I can't convince them not to open. It would also reduce the spyware I have to clean off weekly.

  • B29 Strategy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @04:53PM (#8252776)
    A similar strategy was used in WW2 to get pilots to accept the B29 bomber, which was considered difficult to fly.
    The male pilots decided that it was flyable when a crew of female pilots were trained to fly it.
  • by netsharc ( 195805 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @05:15PM (#8253041)
    Fascinating to hear. Does installing Mandrake require knowledge of partition tables? I think so, so she does understand how that bit of logic works? Smart kid.
  • Hmm.... part 2 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MachDelta ( 704883 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @05:32PM (#8253242)
    Yeah, you're right - that was the easy way out.

    After all, i'd much rather prompt the girls to play with my tarballs and give my extension a header first (as long as they don't byte). Then they can finger eachother and play with their nodes while I cool off, before we all compile. I won't dev into the core details, but it would involve loading a large driver and lots of fscking and !banging.

    (And remember kids: No networking without a firewall!)

    Better? ;)
  • Re:booth girls (Score:3, Interesting)

    by urbazewski ( 554143 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @05:44PM (#8253383) Homepage Journal
    get your secretary to install OpenOffice.

    When Art Fry, the inventor of Post-It notes, first attempted to pitch the innovation at 3-M he received a lukewarm response. He then distributed samples to some 3-M secretaries who quickly found new uses for them . It's now one of the 5 top-selling office products.

    the history of the post-it note []

  • Email IBM (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Dog135 ( 700389 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @05:51PM (#8253466)
    If I were you, I'd email IBM. I bet they'd love to use her for a commercial or two.
  • by XO ( 250276 ) <{blade.eric} {at} {}> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @06:54PM (#8254060) Homepage Journal
    Dependency Hell is NOT negated by APT and Yum.

    Example (not cut and pasted, just typed in by memory.. this is what happened to my system a few weeks ago):

    apt-get update; apt-get upgrade ...
    package-A requires package-B-2.20
    downgrading package-B-2.30 to package-B-2.20
    package-C requiers package-B >= 2.30
    uninstalling package-C..
    uninstalling everything that depends on package-C..

    I ended up with over fifty things that I had to reinstall, to get my computer back in order after THAT fuckup.

  • by butane_bob2003 ( 632007 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @08:13PM (#8254650) Homepage
    Is responsible for the adoptation of Linux. Bear with me here. The idea of women being the 'weaker sex' is a product of the 1000+ year old war on pagan goddess worship waged by the Catholic Church. Women in ancient times were revered as sacred vessels of fertility. Constantine, later rulers and the Catholic Popes did their best to destroy the idea of goddess worship and make the women a secondary being, which was a major factor in shaping our society today.

    So when men are amazed at women's ability to use Linux, their amazement can be attributed to the work of the early Roman Catholic Church, which continues today.

    IFO was sold on Linux not by a woman, but by a penguin. I don't know how where the Church comes in there. The nuns in the catholic school I went to as a kid looked a lot like penguins. But I was never attracted to them. Really.
  • by TKinias ( 455818 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @08:27PM (#8254785)

    scripsit XO:

    Dependency Hell is NOT negated by APT and Yum. [...] I ended up with over fifty things that I had to reinstall, to get my computer back in order after THAT fuckup.

    Um, you've got a seriously FUBAR apt configuration if that's happening to you. I would suggest unfscking your /etc/apt/preferences for a start...

    Seriously, the only time this sort of thing happens is when you're running Unstable or, especially, mixing Unstable packages into a Stable or Testing system -- and then you're intentionally putting yourself on the bleeding edge. The one exception I can recall is the recent and well-documented problem with the switch to GTK2-based Galeon; that only affected Testing, too, not Stable. And it was resolved in a few days; we just used Firebird in the interim.

  • by Joe Tie. ( 567096 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @09:40PM (#8255314)
    While in a large sense I do agree, I nonetheless think it's going to be a help to desktop adoption. Just getting name recognition from TV in a lot of ways might act as a validator. Putting a whole new system on one's most expensive applience is a pretty daunting experience for a lot of people, and I think many of them would be reassured that their TV has told them that this Linux thing isn't just a toy used by geeks, but rather a real professional IBM thing. They might not yet know to ask for it, but if someone suggests it as a solution and explains what it is, it might give them the extra bit of confidence to try.

    Though in any case, even word of mouth seems to be doing pretty well. I'm finding it more common for people to mention thinking about using Linux - OK, not huge common, but the fact that it's turning up at all in conversation with non computer geeks is amazing to me.
  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @09:50PM (#8255377) Homepage Journal
    There's plenty of thing men can do that women do more poorly, and plenty of things that women can do that men do more poorly.

    Ladies and gentlemen, the voice of reason.

  • by autocracy ( 192714 ) <> on Wednesday February 11, 2004 @10:33PM (#8255603) Homepage
    Would you believe? All the "view" links involve closed codecs. Thank guys. Go IBM!
  • by rjamestaylor ( 117847 ) <> on Thursday February 12, 2004 @12:35PM (#8258824) Journal
    Are the Germany councilmen (yes, men) closet homosexuals? Stuffed animals to wins their hearts but they can't afford to be seen in public being weaker than a woman? Call the Drudgereport! Sound the alarm! "German Councilmen Outed by Linux!"

    Kidding aside, this shows that everything is politics, salesmanship and psychology; even something as simple as choosing the best software platform.


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