Sunday, March 30, 2014

I'm a Linux Evangelist

The idea of converting someone from Windows to Linux turns me on so much that I will practically do the work for free.

Well, not quite. But I charge very little. Someone called me up reporting a malware infection in their Windows computer, and they couldn't find their Windows installation disk. When that happens, rather than suggest that they call Microsoft or pay $75 - $100 for a new disk, I suggest switching over to Linux.

My reasoning is that first and foremost, Linux is safer. It is a secure operating system. Period. It is absolutely ideal for beginners and those who know nothing about technology. By setting someone up with Linux, I know they are much safer from the threat of malware infections, for which they have already demonstrated a vulnerability. To set them up with Windows again would simply be negligent, as though I didn't care what happened to them after collecting my fee. This is exactly what most techs do.

I certainly have an evangelical thread in my personality. I'm a Linux evangelist. I want to grow the Linux community. I want to bring in non-technical people, folks who have strengths in other areas. They should be using Linux. They should not be using Windows unless they really need it for a specific application.

My only concern is whether to suggest Xubuntu or SolydX. My personal preference leans toward SolydX, because Xubuntu 13.10 has seemed just a little bit flaky, and I really don't like the two-panel approach. I've also found that Xubuntu seems slow when it shouldn't feel slow, and reviews I've read have indicted the distro for bloat. Finally, SolydX offers the latest versions of applications, whereas Xubuntu offers applications from Granny's cupboard--a little on the stale side. For my own purposes, I prefer SolydX.

However, my personal preference does not mean that I think SolydX is right for everybody.

Xubuntu sends the user a regular stream of security updates, which I think might be reassuring to a beginner.  About once a week, I install updates on my Xubuntu rigs. Perhaps it is a placebo effect, but people are used to regular Windows updates, and I think the more similarity to Windows, the better. It is reassuring for an end user to think that their computer is getting help from a trusted outside source, that good programmers are looking after their computer and fixing things they may not even be aware need fixing. SolydX on the other hand only sends updates every three months. A new user might reasonably assume that the operating system is not being updated at all and that something is wrong.

I think that SolydX expects a little more technical competence on the part of the end user. Sometimes, when unexpected problems arise, it may be necessary to enter commands in the old-fashioned way. I'm used to that, but not everyone is, nor should I assume they want to learn. Xubuntu is nicely dumbed-down. It is designed with simplicity in mind, from the installation to the Software Manager and the automatic updates. The more conservative approach to application updates might actually be a good thing where beginners are concerned. Living on the cutting edge does, after all, invite the possibility of getting cut. I also love Xubuntu's close relation to Ubuntu. Canonical is a well-funded corporation with marketing muscle and certainly the largest footprint in the entire Linux community. One can't simply dismiss these advantages, because they are tremendous. A curious person could search Google and find tons of articles in the media, dating back many years, about Ubuntu and its cousin, Xubuntu. Such a person can also find a very well-populated user community. All this is very reassuring, particularly to someone new to Linux. For these reasons, with technical neophytes, I choose Xubuntu.

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