So #Heresthething : In my opinion, Linux has become a system which any person can use and trust. Perhaps there are some apps for Windows which Linux can’t match, but the same is true for Windows which is why some people buy Macs. In my opinion, they are all about equal. What is Linux missing? In a word: Marketing.
A good marketing department would identify what people use Windows for and would explain how to use Linux to potential users in terms they would understand, and show them how the differences in Linux make it BETTER.
We need a tutorial, manual, or users guide which tells a Windows or Mac user how the system works at the Desktop level. Linux is great, and is an effective replacement for a Mac or Windows machine IF YOU COULD EXPLAIN HOW TO USE IT to someone who already knows how to use Mac or Windows.
All the tutorials on Linux start out with the equivalent of saying you have to learn DOS before you can make this machine work.
I had a brief Twitter conversation with Chris Fisher at #JupiterBroadcasting about this, and he largely agreed with me but did not commit. I even volunteered to be in the show — if there ever was a Linux user who knew less about the inner workings than me but still loved using the system, I don’t know who.
Of course the question is, which distro and which desktop to use? Most people moving from Windows to Linux are doing so just to use the Internet. I would start with LinuxMint or Ubuntu, as they are the most designed for a simple user experience.
(Digression: There are some terms used in Windows which you had to learn and now seem second-nature. The same can be said for Mac. For Linux, the first term you need to learn is “distro”, which is short for “distribution”. Linux is not a single company’s system but is developed independently by dozens of companies and groups of people. How they put their package together is what makes their distro unique. This can mean the screen looks different, or they use a different way to install the system and software, or many other things.)
The two hardest things to explain to Windows or Mac users are: Desktops, and Downloads.
With Windows, you have one Desktop. Windows calls it Windows Explorer, but I know tons of Windows users who don’t know this term. It’s just the Desktop, or the Screen. Mac is just Mac. But Linux is developed by a lot of different people who like tweaking their desktop their way, and the result is a dozen different desktops as well as a dozen or so sets of tools to customize your desktop. Some of them are resource-heavy, some are very light, and depending on your machine that can make a difference in how fast you machine appears to run. Popular desktops are named MATE, Cinnamon, Gnome, KDE, Unity, etc..
With Windows, you go look for software on the software maker’s site, and many times find yourself downloading things you didn’t want, whether it’s just another program they want you to have or a virus you didn’t want. With Linux, the distribution you choose (Ubuntu, LinuxMint, Debian, Arch, Slack, etc.) keeps its own store-room (termed “repository”) of software already checked and verified to run, and you go to that store — on your desktop, or in your menu. You don’t need to have your browser open, but you do need to be connected to the Internet. You open one of two (or more) software centers (one for the casual user, the other for more experienced users), and just look up the program you want or the function you want. You are often presented with several options, not just one program.
For the internet, the only thing you are “losing” from Windows is the Internet Explorer browser, which most Windows users don’t even use. Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and several other browsers are available in all or most distros. But most just pick one and don’t even know they call it a “browser”. Signing into Chrome in Linux brings in all your bookmarks and passwords the same as you were using in Windows, as they are stored in the Google Cloud; for Firefox, if you have Sync set up, the same is true.
And #Heresthething: It’s all free, or at least 99% of it is, and the operating system (Linux distro) is also free. It’s also virus-free. You download software from the repository and it installs, you use it, you’re safe. 99% of viruses will not run in Linux, even if you download them. The main reason for even HAVING virus checkers is to protect Windows-using friends you may be passing files to.
And there is a COMMUNITY. You go to the forum for that distro or other help forums, ask a question, and you usually have the answer in an hour or two (if you go back to the forum and check). People use Linux because they love helping others use Linux. You don’t pay for support, you just ask for it.
So. I would like to see, or make, a podcast of a few episodes, showing a new Linux user just trying things out from Windows, just how simple it is to use and how to do so. We could do 4 or 5 or more version of it using different Linux distributions.
Is anyone else feeling the need for this?