Katherine Noyes raises not only an interesting question in her recent posting to Linux Advocates....
She poses one that needs to be answered with a majority of us agreeing....soon.
What is our goal here?
"But, but Ken....I don't think that can happen, the whole agreeing thing."
Honestly? Neither do I, but as with life in general, a full understanding of the problem is 50% of the solution.
Even among our ranks within Linux Advocate, there are "lively" debates on what our goals should be. But I will argue, given the current state of the Linuxphere.....
That's not going to happen either. Our biggest strength is also our greatest weakness. Fragmentation.
Let's break it down.
First off, and not to get lost in semantics, I consider myself a Linux Mentor as well as an Advocate. Advocating is all well and good but without follow through, we're not getting the job done.
Everyone who enters the Linux Advocate fold does so with their own motivation and expectations. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. That's just a fact of life. I can't expect a natural introvert to do what I do any more than (s)he can demand I code to their level of proficiency.
What I've Experienced - A Report to Linux Advocates.
In my efforts with Reglue, I have introduced Desktop Linux to over 1500 children and adults. And while I don't consider myself as an "expert" on the matter, I do have some meaningful insight as to how we might come closer to deciding on what some of our goals might include.
It's The Kids Stupid.....
As to what makes their computer work? They don't care. They have yet to be
tainted or infected with zealotry. They haven't taken part in the bloody forum and IRC battles, claiming flags and mountain tops by "winning" a debate on the OS wars.
They just want a computer to work.
Sure, many of them have had initial tech exposure to Windows, or sometimes Apple products, but the fact remains, they have malleable minds. They have not yet become mentally lazy or adverse to seeing things from a different angle.
They are simply happy to get a working, connected computer.
As to once the computer is placed into the home, the biggest challenge has been the parent(s) or guardians.
While the computer was placed in the home for our Reglue kids, it often becomes a family computer, since most of our clients don't have the financial resources to place another one in the house.
I really wish I had kept better track of this, but I would venture a guess, out of the 1500+ computers we've placed...
200 or so have called us, complaining that "someone" tried to put windows on the computer and now they can't find "the Internet" like it used to be.
Clearly put, they either tried themselves or a friend came over and wiped the Linux install and replaced it with a cracked copy of Windows.
They don't understand why the programs and apps they previously had are now gone. That cool game or application little Timmy was using has mysteriously disappeared. They think they now have a "virus". They thought that installing Windows would somehow let them keep the initial Linux install.
They have no concept of what an operating system is, or how it works.
But while we achieve close to a 100% success rate with the kids, finding adults who are ready to embrace Linux on their desktops...well, the numbers aren't even close.
I would estimate, three out of ten adults will give Linux an honest shot and two out of those three will find some -excuse- reason to go back to Windows.
So what is our agreed-upon goal?
I believe those of us who do introduce Linux to the general computing populace need to pick our targets carefully. If the person you are helping utters, "Be patient with me, I'm computer illiterate..."
Pass them by.
Unless you have immediate proximity to your apprentice or you have large amounts of Prozac, your efforts will be wasted. It's the people that have reached The Pain Threshold of Microsoft Windows. I installed Linux on a computer two days ago for a retired lady. Her reasons?
30 minutes with a bit of hand-holding and she was on her way. She is like the majority of home users. They use their browser to do most everything and the underlying system means nothing to them.
So...I've probably increased my reputation for saying in 1000 words what I could have said in 100...
The goal of Linux Mentors here on Linux Advocates should be to pick our targets carefully...a bit of psych profiling can go a long way. But if you are not educated in that matter, just do this.
If they refer to their browser as "foxfire".....
Run like hell.