[CLUG-chat] Upcoming CLUG Talk: What can CLUG do for you?

Adrianna Pinska adrianna.pinska at gmail.com
Thu Aug 6 17:40:05 SAST 2009

If we want to grow the Linux user base, we need to do more things
aimed at new, prospective and undecided users.  As other people have
commented, there's an initial period of resistance which needs to be
overcome to get people to go off and teach themselves, and I think
that the primary cause of that resistance is lack of trust in the
software.  If something stops working for me after a distro upgrade, I
don't freak out, because I believe that it is fixable and I can fix
it.  I trust that the quality of the software I'm using, and the
nature of the open source development process, means that my problem
is temporary and can be solved.

Someone who is unfamiliar with Linux, and is used to stuff breaking
and essentially being unfixable without a reboot or a reinstall, is
going to freak out over things which seem trivial to us.  They will
believe that they have made a horrible mistake and that switching away
from what they knew was a bad idea.  We can make fun of them and be
annoyed at their ignorance, or we can be a little more patient, help
them sort out their problem, and help them to trust the software and
learn how to fix things themselves.  Some people may never learn, but
not everyone is like that.

I know a couple of people -- non-technical, non-developer people --
who have previously expressed some degree of interest in trying out
Linux, or to whom I have recommended Ubuntu, offering to help them
with it, after hearing their nth horror story about their Windows
installation.  But ultimately they have gone with what was familiar to
them -- probably because it seemed too daunting to try out a
completely new environment which relatively few of their close friends
were using and could help them with.  I think we could reach these
people if we made a conscious effort to do so.

The mailing list and IRC channel could also be used for this, but in
order for that to work, we would have to be prepared to deal politely
and kindly with newbies, newbie problems and newbie unfamiliarity with
the OSS tech support culture -- something we don't always do as well
as we could.  IRC is better than the mailing list because it is
real-time; the mailing list is better than IRC because it allows
longer, more coherent blocks of conversation.  Both can be alienating
and not very useful to people who are slow readers, slow typists or
are not very good at expressing themselves in writing, so I think
face-to-face meetings in which people can ask questions (of the kind
that William has described) would be a valuable addition.

~ Registered Linux User #334504 ~
"If ignorance is bliss, then knock the smile off my face."

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