In the Depths of the Cloud, Open Source and Proprietary Leviathans Fight to the Death
Jono Bacon Asked Google Home ‘Who Founded Linux?’ You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!
Red Hat's Women in Open Source Award Winners, 2017
Imagine an Android Phone Without Linux Inside
Linus Torvalds Talks to Debian Users
Mozilla Relents, Thunderbird Can Stay
Heed the Prophet Stallman, oh Software Sinners!
February 2nd, 2015

Welcome the New Breed of Linux Users

Without having a basic knowledge of the inner workings of the internal combustion engine, people drive cars to work every day. Some, in fact, are excellent drivers. Likewise, people watch television and successfully listen to the radio without having a clear understanding of the science behind “over the air” broadcasting. To benefit from wearing corrective lenses it’s not necessary to be an optometrist. It doesn’t take a master electrician to change a light bulb.

But nobody should use a computer without being a master programmer, which is the gospel-according-to-many, especially those who post on Linux forums.

New Linux users

Computer users in a marketplace in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Some people don’t like any changes made to Linux user space which makes the operating system easier to use or configure for casual users. They would rather the user be befuddled and helpless, because according to them, people who don’t know how to open a terminal and edit a configuration file in Emacs have no business sitting at a computer keyboard for any purpose.

These people moan about Linux being taken over by everyday computer users who know little or nothing about FOSS and who mainly want a computer to get work done, exchange emails, watch videos and visit with friends on social sites. OMG, we’re talking ordinary folks who figure they don’t need to know how sausage is made in order to have some for breakfast, and they’re now using Linux without a clue as to how it’s made either.

As Paul McCartney said, “What’s wrong with that? I want to know.”

The notion that this new breed is dumbing down Linux is an empty complaint, of course. Nothing is lost by making Linux easier for everybody to use. Proud and fearless geeks are still free to go through a terminal or directly through an old fashioned runlevel 3 to fine tune an install to make a system run as if it were a 1968 GTO burning leaded gas, which was a car designed with tinkerers in mind but which didn’t require any mechanical knowledge to make it fly — only a driver.

Just like Linux.

Anyone who’s mastered point and click can sit at practically any vanilla, out-of-the-box Linux install and get work done. For the most part, going under the hood to the command line has been made unnecessary, but it’s still there for those who know how and want to use it. And yes, that is a good skill to have. The command line offers more exacting control of a machine, and will for the foreseeable future.

Android has opened up the desktop market for Linux in ways we’re only starting to see. Right now, Android users are coming to the Linux desktop primarily by way of Google’s other operating system, Chrome OS, which accounted for the three top selling laptops on Amazon over the holidays — not Windows. And now that the door has been opened for Chrome, GNU/Linux distros are certain to soon find a place at the table, bringing even more new users to Linux space.

But even without the mainstream distros having a toehold in the preinstalled market, new users are coming to Linux in record numbers from myriad directions. Some are coming because they’ve been exposed to Linux at a local library. Phil Shapiro has told us about Linux use at the Takoma Park Maryland Library. There, patrons sit at Linux boxes without being told they’re not using Windows. Most don’t even notice, as Firefox is still Firefox and Gmail is still Gmail. This is not unique to Takoma Park, but is also happening at many other libraries across the country.

There are other avenues as well.

In October, Charlie Reisinger told a FOSS audience in Raleigh about efforts in Pennsylvania by the Penn Manor School District to get laptops loaded with Linux in the hands of students. Or how about Buenos Aires, where the city’s CTO, Daniel Abadie, is working to bring openness to the city’s tech presence, in part by utilizing Linux and open standards, as well as by giving away code.

Practically none of Linux’s new users are arriving with Bash skills, nor do they want or necessarily need them. Often however, they do come as proficient computer users, with most already familiar with LibreOffice, Firefox and other FOSS applications. The only thing they’re really going to have to figure out on Linux is how to use a package manager. That, and wondering why the antivirus on their new Linux machines never seems to update.

For the most part, they won’t know a whit about the philosophies behind free software, nor will they care at first. In time, some will bother to educate themselves and a smaller number will eventually become outspoken FOSS advocates. For better or worse, many of FOSS’s future movers and shakers will come from the ranks of this new kind of Linux users, who are moving free software away from being the exclusive domain of geeks to include the ranks of what used to be called the working class.

These new users should be made welcome. If they need help learning how to do stuff the “easy way” through the GUI, help should be forthcoming. If they want to get their knuckles dirty doing stuff the “hard way,” on the command line, help should also be available. And if they want to mix free and proprietary software on their machines, let them. It’s their right and it’s nobody’s business if they do. Sure, educate them about FOSS, but let them make up their own minds about what to do with that knowledge.

And to all of those who think these new users are a blight on the Linux landscape: get over it. They’re our future.

The following two tabs change content below.
Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Latest posts by Christine Hall (see all)

34 comments to Welcome the New Breed of Linux Users

  • Andrew McGlashan

    The trouble with the article is that too many people are clueless about computer security and Linux systems can still be quite vulnerable even though traditionally it has been less of an issue than M$ world — this may not be the case now, nor for long if it is actually still true.

    The latest libc issues are very serious, shellshock and other vulnerabilities just keep on keeping on. If you want a safer newbie “Linux like” OS, then it might be best to choose PC-BSD.

    Cheers

  • simon

    This article is trash. Who says Linux users have to be pro’s to use it?

    Using a car as a metaphor, how many free cars do you see on the road? If you get an exceedingly cheap car or a kit car, you’ll have issues unless you are a mechanic Making it work.

    Linux may have what appears to be a higher entry curve not because it’s hard, it’s because most people were brought up on Windows believing that’s how computers work and Linux is just different.

    Almost everyone I know in the Linux community helpso when someone asks a question, it’s only when they ask a question which is on the very first page of the manual for the 100th time people get annoyed.

    Even with that all said, people strive to make Linux easier to use everyday, it’s evolution not the revolution you so crave. You should apologise for this article, people give up their free time to make Linux what it is and your whine does not help.

  • Mike

    Advanced users need not be confined to the command line. You can build a really efficient GUI for advanced users, but this can be wholly undone when trying to cater to newbies and “I don’t want to know” non-technical types. They often need to be protected from themselves where advanced users do not.

    The truth is: There’s nothing wrong with non-technical users wanting to use Linux and there are distros that pursue that demographic, but doing so should not be a defining goal for Linux as a whole.

    There is a difference between making tasks easy and dumbing an interface down. While I think everyone thinks the former is laudable, the latter is not welcomed by advanced users and there are plenty of examples where precisely that has happened and generated backlash that often catches developers by surprise.

    Software development rules to live by:
    Make everything possible and configurable.
    Do not dictate policy in software.
    Do not assume you know how the software will be used and under what circumstances.
    If you feel the need to make things ‘simpler’ then allow those features to be disabled to allow power users the freedom they need.

  • Mike

    I’d like to add the command line isn’t necessarily immune to the sort of dumbing down I refer to, it’s just easier to work around by using different commands. A good example is the disk management tool parted. I dislike it because it conflates partition and filesystem operations in an effort to make things ‘simpler’ and restricts the options available – especially regarding partition type codes and flags. More flexibility can be obtained using fdisk/gdisk and various filesystem tools. If parted were the only disk management tool available, advanced users would find their lives more difficult because someone decided to make less technical users’ lives easier.

  • Uncle Ed

    Sacrilege! Blasphemy! Operate a ’68 Goat without being able to adjust the valves? Don’t know which Allen wrench you use to set the points? (Extra credit if you can get it running well enough to get to the burger stand without a dwell meter.) What kind of person are you to suggest that’s even possible? Would you at least agree that a Goat with an automatic transition isn’t really a Goat?

    We Linux geeks are losing our exclusivity. My wife doesn’t care about operating systems. If she can look for recipes or use the spreadsheet template I made to keep up with her school records AND play Shisen-Sho, it’s a computer. Big deal.

    A friend who retired from the university sent me a note bewailing her husband’s problems with a laptop. It was going down for the third time, buried in bloat and crud. I mailed them a USB thumb drive with Mint on it. I told her to have him call me and I’d guide him through it, if he wanted to try it. I was thinking he’d get his feet wet running it from the USB drive.

    No mention of it for a week or two, so I repeated my offer of help. “Oh, he went ahead and installed it. He really likes it.” He’s a carpenter, for cryin’ out loud. He did a beautiful job on a doorway in my house. He’s never installed an operating system. He’s not a nerd.

    They’ll let anybody run Linux.

    I actually used the command line a little while back. It was to satisfy a curiosity about a something I saw online, but I really do remember how to use it. A LONG time ago I compiled MySQL because this was before a binary was available for whatever I was using. Loverock Davidson would be so proud. I got email help from Marten Mickos. Them wuz the days.

    Did you know LibreOffice 4.4 has The Ribbon? I NEVER liked the ribbon. You can call me, “Dr. Ludd.” Even when I was using it and teaching it daily, it seemed like every time I used it, stopping and looking for something wasted my time.

    And now LibreOffice has it. But look what they did: (1) They put it vertically, on the side, so it’s in the (usually) wasted extra width of a wide-screen monitor. (2) It stays collapsed into a narrow band, unless you expand it. (3) Last, and most important to me, the menus across the top are right where I left them when I used the previous version.

    BTW–that pretty wide-screen monitor with the wasted extra width and fewer lines of text on the screen? The manufacturers changed to that format because ALL of us use our computer monitors for watching movies ALL the time and it’s better for us. They were thinking ONLY of us and our needs, right? They certainly didn’t even consider that a 21″ wide-screen has 22% less area (fewer pixels) than an old, antiquated, ugly, obsolete 4:3 squarish 21″ monitor. They’re selling us 22% less monitor for the same or more cash, but don’t think about that.

    More words to eat: didn’t think I’d never say, “Follow the money.”

  • Eli Cummings

    After reading the comments, I wonder did anybody read the article and even get the main point.
    Why is the article trash as some commenter wrote and then goes on to point out what the article itself was already saying.
    Another person brings us security as if that is something the average person is going to really worry about. Security from what ? NSA snooping ? Have one’s PC made part of a botnet ? Having one’s credit card info and whatever else taken in a huge tranche of data from a corporations servers or point of sale terminals ?

    Most people who use Windows don’t go to tech sites about Windows or any other kind of tech site. I’m sure the same will be the case with Linux users who really don’t care about tech. People who like tech forget that most people just don’t care. Tech to most people is just a consumer appliance that does something cool or easier.

    Ultimately it doesn’t matter. Linux will expand not because of any attitudes on the part of the people of any community. It will expand because it will simply be a practical choice.

  • Andrew McGlashan

    A computer that is not maintained is a risk to other users of the Internet just as much as it is to the people whom use the unmaintained computer; ordinary people can cause serious problems with their lack of basic knowledge.

    The real problem is that those people that “don’t care”, pose a great risk to others, even if the risk to themselves isn’t a concern to them.

  • Colonel Panik

    Once again I feel like I brought a laptop to a gun fight.

    Our long dreamed of army of New Users is past due. The
    uber geeks who rule the command line will just have to
    move to the subbasement. I will be able to use a GUI and
    still hold my head up and say FOSS. (don’t tell RMS)

    Imagine, slashdot being all rainbows and unicorns and LXer
    a sister site to Miss Manners.
    And what of IRC you ask? Don’t ask, some things are not
    polite to talk about.

    The future is ahead of us, lets go there.

  • Abdel

    Now I know why Linux isn’t widespread the way other systems are. It’s not because the OEM manufacturers and vendors refuse to sell it preinstalled on their merchandise. It’s not because of the dishonest competition from monopolizing companies. It’s not the various reasons and excuses we hear day after day. Linux greatest calamity are its own people. People who are so selfish that they want Linux to remain uniquely a servant to them and to them alone.
    Excellent article. Thank you so much.

  • Sid Boyce

    I don’t know where those unhelpful guys hang out.

    I see the brilliant efforts of guys like Ken Starks encouraging Linux use and also donating refurbished boxes with Linux installed as well as supporting and training youngsters.

    I have installed Linux for a 66 year old cousin, a retired bus driver who had no computer knowledge and also for a 84 year old relative, retired welder, who had never used a keyboard. When I mentioned the backspace key he asked what it was and what it did then pointed to the space bar and asked what it was and what it did.
    Those 2 guys use Linux, discovering most things on their own, installing printers and webcams, Skype, Instant Messaging, email, burning CD’s and DVD’s, using Digital cameras and organizing their photos amongst other things.

    A retired sheet metal worker bought a Mac and wanted to install Linux along with OSX. Apple support were no help nor could I as I’ve never touched a Mac. He eventually figured it out himself and passed the information on to Apple support.

    On a daily basis many others and I give support, sometimes using teamviewer to sort out problems on their PC’s.

    I have never come across anyone who has tried to rubbish the efforts of new users.

  • Uncle Ed

    Sid, the bad news is that the unhelpful and/or abusive guys (never seen anybody with a female login) do exist and they’re well known some places. If you have Usenet access, lurk for about a week on alt.os.linux.mint. There are three or four users whose messages are in my automatic delete list.

    One pattern is to post a message saying he’s trying to help his brother’s great uncle’s cousin and needs to do something on a Linux installation–add an application, resize a partition, add a printer, etc. May throw in how long he’s been helping others use Linux and how smart he is but this doesn’t work. It will be something fairly ordinary that anyone who has used Linux for 2-3 years is comfortable with. But it won’t work on this computer.

    Someone who doesn’t know the originator will try to help. The help won’t work. Maybe the message that’s supposed to pop up doesn’t pop up, maybe it crashes or freezes and requires a reboot, or something else that isn’t right. Someone tries to help again, same person or someone different. The next suggestion doesn’t work, either, and it’s all your fault and now I lost some important files because you [person of low moral character] gave me such bad advice.

    Lots of back and forth for a week or two. Finally the person with the alleged problem says it always works in Windows and ought to be as easy as Windows, etc. Then it turns personal and why do you [not-smart people] put up with this [stuff] because it makes you look like [not smart]. But lots more words in the assault.

    When a genuine newbie comes in with a serious question and has trouble getting help–except the trolls are glad to assist. Sometimes two trolls get in and give contradictory directions, both claiming the destruction of the system or software or whatever if you don’t do what I said.

    Maybe one of the serious users will jump in early and direct the discussion. If not, it’ll end up about the same place, that if you were smarter and had smarter parents you’d use Windows and not fool around putting up with this [stuff] that never works and wastes your time and…

    These clowns aren’t serious advocates for Windows. They’re just stirring up [stuff].

  • Simon, let’s you and me talk…just the two of us for a minute or so.

    I was pretty much ok with everything you said. I don’t agree with it but it seems you are impassioned about your opinion and that’s good. It’s good to see people who have beliefs and ideas that are rendered outward, as from the spirit.

    But here’s where you screwed up pal. You crossed the line when you personally attacked the author. Attacked? You bet your a$$:

    Go to any of the dictionary websites and look up the word “whine”. It denotes a crying, weak person. Christine Hall is the farthest thing from a crying weak person that I know.

    I value your opinion, even if I do think it’s based in personal preferences and not in fact. But you lost all credibility and substance when you barbed your comment with an attack on the author. Kinda turns the accusation of whining around 180 degrees doesn’t it.

    Seems to me

  • I’ve been using the command line since 1995 and I’m not a master programmer. Calling the command line “the hard way” and the GUI “the easy way” only speaks to the initial ease of use not what you can do with both once mastered. To me, the CLI is a feature and not a flaw… and power user friendly. GUIs? Not so much… although I do use many GUIs.

    Ok, let’s say that tens or hundreds of millions of new Linux users happen over the next few years… users that have no interest in learning about FOSS. While I’m not necessarily against new users who will remain non-contributing… I don’t think there is much in the way of benefits to the community… although it might help to improve the economics of free software… although that remains to be seen.

  • simon

    Your definition of whine may be a lot more literal than mine. In my mind and heart I did nothing to directly attack the author, but then all people interpret communication in their own way.

    I don’t even know the author so have zero reason or basis to even try attacking them. I do however have a major issue with this article, it straight off the bat tries to paint the Linux crowd as a bunch of elitists who mock newbies.

    I’m not apologising for attacking that assumption, most people sweat blood trying to help and educate. If looking for political correctness in the comments, try setting the tone in the article itself.

    This article could so easily have been about ways to find help when starting on your path to Linux and then things people can do to improve, instead it starts off with “if I buy a car i can drive it straight away, when you get the (linux) car you can’t and OMG people call you stupid”

  • @simon

    “if I buy a car i can drive it straight away, when you get the (linux) car you can’t and OMG people call you stupid”

    Actually, that’s not what I said at all, Simon. I said just the opposite, that using modern Linux is so easy that anyone can do it, as easily as driving a car or changing a light bulb. I make that same point several times in the article. Perhaps you should reread the article, with the understanding that I meant to say what I did say, not what you imagined I was saying. That’s a common error, Simon. People do it all the time — but you’re smarter than that.

  • These new users should be made welcome. If they need help learning how to do stuff the “easy way” through the GUI, help should be forthcoming. If they want to get their knuckles dirty doing stuff the “hard way,” on the command line, help should also be available. And if they want to mix free and proprietary software on their machines, let them. ”

    Agreed, and they can start by finding and trying to use diffrent distribution on distrodb.com. Greate place for start 🙂

  • Jim Anderson

    Linux desktops offers hands-down, the best user experience than either Windows or OS X. Even so it maintains the power of the command line for those who want to delve deeply into Linux’s intricacies. Linux is secure and the desktops are logically laid out, as opposed to Windows, yet tweak-able, as opposed to a very locked-down OS X. There will always be things a user can do to enhance their security or user experience with Linux, but the Linux community has made its out-of-box experience superior to either of the commercial offerings. We, as Linux users, should welcome these new users to a better world. If they don’t develop the depth of knowledge that others have acquired that’s OK because it is a testament to the work of the GNU/Linux and desktop communities that these new users can enjoy the benefits of desktop Linux without having to be gurus. Disparaging the abilities of the majority of computer users only denigrates the great work of FOSS developers to make the Linux desktop one that can be used so easily by them. When I show average users a modern Linux distro they are shocked at how superior the experience is over their normal Windows experience.

  • Tracyanne

    With regard to Packagr managers, I explain to people that a Package Manager (or Software Centre as it’s called on som distros) is no different from the App Store on their Smartphone, and that the fact is the App Store is nothing more than a rebranded Package Manager, because App Store sounds more sexy.

    I explain to them that recommended and best way to install software on a Linux OS is to use the App Store. For most people, in my experience, I deal mostly with older people, none of this matters, they don’t install extra software, on their smart phone or their computer, anyway.

  • Colonel Panik

    Hey hey hey!

    Welcome back Ken.

  • Simon

    @Christine

    I am not one to harbour any kind of bad feelings so, I reread the article and still reflect some of my aforementioned feelings:

    “nobody should use a computer without being a master programmer, which is the gospel-according-to-many, especially those who post on Linux forums.”

    “These people moan about Linux being taken over by everyday computer users”

    “To all of those who think these new users are a blight on the Linux landscape: get over it.”

    To me, and I could be wrong (sincere apologies if so), you are clearly targeting a particular audience and delivering a message with this article. To err is human and I have no problem with that.

    Linux/GNU (as a whole ecosystem) has spawned a way of thinking unheard of in the digital arena. Using xda-developers (a site for phone hacking) as an example of tolerance, yes there is the occasional problem but these aren’t the people who actually contribute. These people just want to feel smart in their own insecurity or are the actual contributors in the following situation. The new-people (to the phone hacking world) will normally ask straight off the bat “How do I root my phone?” even though in the first post, it will guide them through the process and provide links to other posts.

    The problem is that people just expect things to work…when your article got in to that, I started agreeing with you. A person doesn’t read the manual or even do an internet search but goes straight to asking a question because they can…Unlike a couple of other operating systems I won’t name who just direct you to their FAQ or scripted support desk, people involved in Linux actually answer on a personal level because they are involved. That is the problem, not Linux being overtaken by everyday users.

    Don’t you find it ironic one of the greatest sources of help in the Linux world is actually the Arch Linux wiki? These are the kind of assets that help people, not answering the same question for the 100th time. People who don’t even try to help themselves won’t go far in any field, not just Linux. A tiny amount of effort goes a long way as history (and a lot of these comments demonstrate), what we don’t need is to encourage a creche/kindergarten environment, it’s got nothing to do with being welcome or not because we already know they are welcome, you are smarter than that.

  • […] * Welcome the New Breed of Linux Users […]

  • Abdel

    Welcome back, Ken. I’m so pleased you’re here again.

  • Eddie G.

    The premise that average computer users should NOT use Linux due to their lack of knowledge speaks volumes about the imbeciles who make that claim. They are forgetting: Once…a long time ago?….they themselves knew nothing of Linux, and had it not been for someone pointing them in the right direction when they were befuddled with questions, they might not have gotten as far as they did. I know for a fact, the people who helped me out the most? were the patient and kind souls who answered my “stoopid” questions when I first started out with Fedora Version 13 (Goddard). I knew NOTHING of Linux or packages or anything else, but I had gotten a CD and was determined to figure it out, since Windows XP had let me down for the last time with a B.S.O.D. To the ones who are harping on this topic, and causing all kinds of division in what should be a “Brotherhood” of users you have two choices: deal with it, or not. If you choose to accept the fact that other people who don’t give a flying fig about Command Lines or Terminals are joining the ranks of F.O.S.S. users then you can progress to the future, where Linux and the Everyday User are headed. Or you can stick your head in the sand, continue to want Linux and all it’s greatness to be exclusive to just you and a few others, and end up grumpy, old, and alone. Stuck typing on an x86 system, refusing to purchase any new machine or work with any Linux OS because they’ve all gone “commercial” and have GUI’s for the everage person who’s not a command line geek. This kind of thinking is on a just-entering-high-school mentality….thank goodness the REAL Linux Gurus and Developers have more sense than this! Great article!!!

  • lucius.cornelius

    Terrible article. A series of personal opinions, misguided assumptions and misleading reactions served up as journalism.
    Dumbing Linux down so Joe Soap can use it absolutely has had an effect on the OS as a whole and it’s not all good. Linux was developed to give people power and control, not convenience at their expense.
    If you want a product that has no learning curve, that says to its users “it’s OK to remain dumb and ignorant” then this is the way to go about it. But you won’t have achieved anything by doing so, other than by contributing to the destruction of what was a fine set of tools. But I guess it’s more important we let the horde trample years of work than it is to stay true to the vision.
    Sometimes Ms Hall, you writing is very subversive and dishonest. This is one of those times.

  • One of the key principles of my company is drawing a clear line between using a computer and doing system administration. More often than not, my users are relatively computer-illiterate. I install the system for them, I set it up, they get some basic training, and then they can be productive. Believe it or not, they’re all working on Slackware (http://www.microlinux.fr/mled.php). Some of them don’t even know that this is “Linux” under the hood.

  • Uncle Ed

    Christine, you’re a success at drawing a crowd. Brings to mind the restatement of Poe’s Law by Alan Morgan.

  • john

    Thank you, Eli Cummings. You beat me to the punch. Some of the funniest comments I’ve read in a long time – almost to the point of being completely off-topic! My reaction was “Wait… Wat??!”

    Defensive Linux users get defensive. Blind rage… unable to focus… words in article blurry… lashing out blindly with keyboard… lmao.

    Great article delivers stereotypical, bot-like responses.

  • phred14

    I’m perfectly happy to see new users come to Linux. I’ve maintained systems for “computer ignorant” users, and continue to do so. However to bring back the car analogy mentioned earlier, go ahead and get an automatic transmission and dealer-only maintenance. Just let me keep my stick shift and don’t weld my hood shut.

  • A Lurker

    For most users, the computer is an appliance and they want to only know how to use it effectively for their needs. I find many will happily use an OS if stays out of their way. Many are frustrated with Windows and MS and are looking for an alternative that allows to use their computer. Generic user oriented distros are great introduction to the world of Linux and FOSS. Many will never move on to another distro or learn how to use the terminal. Some will be more curious about Linux and possibly other distros and follow their curiosity. They will probably learn some about the terminal and and use it some.

    One of the greatest strengths of Linux is that are numerous distros with differing target audiences. I respect many even if I will not use them such as Slackware, which may be my loss.

  • Eddie G.

    I think the best parts of Linux are the variety of distros out there. Some say this is a bad thing, a hindrance to the adoption of Linux by many…but I think its perfect to have more than one version of an OS that is easy to use,…and when people meet Linux for the first time, and find out they can make it ther own, and customize it to what they want it to be…or even if they’re happy with it out-of-the-box, then its worth the frustration of dealing with their complaints (at the beginning of course!) I see no reason why Linux should remain an operating system for only the “elite”. Its that kind of thinking that got us into the Apple-mess!…LoL! But As long as a person is happy wth what they’re using, then I feel that the goal has been accomplished. I have introduced people to Linux steadily since my introduction to it, and when I first sit them down and describe it, show it to them, and eventualy install it for them? its not th terminal they’re looking for, it’s not the command line way of doing something, they just want to be able to go on Facebook, check their email, and maybe have a video-chat with their granddaughter. Mind you not everyone is like this, I have people who email me or call me asking how to install this-or-that from the terminal, or how to change their SELinux to “setenforce” mode, and these are the newbies from a month or two ago. See in the world of open source? it takes ALL kinds, and that’s our “power” the fact that we are “legion” in a way….various, talented, skilled and MANY!…LoL!

  • phred14

    Again, I have no problem making Linux usable and available for tne non-elite. In the process, just leave options there for the elite, as you say, the variety of distributions. Every now and then there is a “too many distributions, it’s confusing,” push, and even now there is a strong push to unify certain parts of all distributions. Pick an easy-to-use distribution, focus on it, and enjoy using it. Let me make my choice, and we can both be happy.

  • Firstly I’d like to thank Christine for creating a post which generated the kind of discussion which I’d never heard articulated with such passion from diverse sides of the debate. I enjoyed reading it and following discussion very much.

    My own opinion as someone who works at the intersection of general user (at home with family) and advanced user (at work we all use Linux) is that the strength here is the diversity of the distros as others have already mentioned. We use Ubuntu because it suits that intersection just fine. Perhaps that’s not the most flexible or robust distro but my kids enjoy it and they just want to watch YouTube, play minecraft and create games in Scratch. We’re not knee deep in code most of the time. At work its a different story. Security is beginning to trouble me more due to the holes that were mentioned previously – the fear creeps in. I’m concerned and interested to know how this can be addressed.

    The image on the article suggests a greater adoption of Linux for users in countries where alternatives are expensive and licensing problematic. It would appear to be of humanitarian interest therefore to support a collective effort by those who are inclined to push in that direction. If this push limits the ways of working, developing and communicating that more serious Linux users enjoy, then perhaps that needs to be addressed by the FOSS community at large too because it appears to me to be valuable and worth protecting.

  • […] Welcome the New Breed of Linux Users by Christine Hall. Published February 2, 2015. Linux use is no longer the exclusive domain of geeks […]