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Why the world isn't ready for Linux

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Just talk

this isn't one of those Linux Bashing posts, i'm converted, and happily use Linux both at work and home, this is a post which is explaining why i feel the world isn't ready for linux..

In order to buy a car, you have to take a test to learn how to drive it.. Why is this? Because, put quite simply, if you sit behind the wheel of a car, without taking a test, there is a high probability, you are going to kill someone, or yourself.

However, if you buy a fridge, you don't have to take a test to use one, because although the probability of killing someone is still there, its nowhere near as high as if you were in a car.

The point i'm trying to convey here, is both are consumer items, however with the item which is more technically involved, you need to learn how to use it before you're allowed to own one.

Personally i'd put a PC, up at the same level as a car. A PC, is a technical item, which, for some strange reason people feel is a consumer item much like a fridge. and as such don't have a clue how to use one..

Think about this.. no really, think about it..

Spam - People complain about spam, however it still exists today, because there are people out there who will willingly see how much it costs to extend thier manhood, or belive the Nigerian (I cite this example,2933,453125,00.html?sPage=fnc/scitech/cybersecurity)

the reason why spammers persist in sending out this stuff to our mail boxes, is because there are enough people out there, who actually justify doing this. Its simple business really, if there is money to be made, then the business continues, if there is not, then the business goes belly up. if no one replied to any spam mail for the next 12 months, i guarantee it would stop. why bother doing something there is no money involved in? Spam is just the electronic equivalent of those people who hand out flyers in the mall, you take one, and drop it on the floor 100 meters later, the flyers have been all handed out at the end of the day, so it must be a good form of advertising?

Then there is how people react to spam, I used to manage an ISP Support Desk, and we filtered out a HUGE quantity of spam, before it got to people mail boxes, however we missed the odd few. the number of people who made official complaints because they got over 3 spam messages in their inbox a day was amazing. One such customer threatened to take us to court over this. on the grounds that we calaimed to filter 99% of spam for him. he said he never signed up for anything online, so there was no way he was getting any spam into his mail box. So i turned off his spam filtering for 24hrs.

He got over 32,000 spam mails in 24hrs.. why? because he was signing up for mail accounts, porn accounts, newsletters, websites every day, and pointing them to this mail account..

His reaction, oh, i didn't realise this would generate spam....


In many jobs over the years i've seen first hand the dameage a well placed virus can do, and yet today, i am still amazed that people are under the impression a virus will never get them. or have Norton or McAfee installed, but never updated it.. and its set to minimum settings... despite being told daily, by a popup, please update your antivirus

their reaction, oh, i didn't realise i needed to do this...


My current company involves working with hard disk encryption, and on a daily basis, we are contacted by people who use our software, these are not just "end users" these are IT Consultants, people being paid a very large amount of money to maintain the IT system of thier employer, many of which are happy to put their accreditations on thier email.. you know, MCSE, CCNA just to let you know they are special.. and have the paperwork to show they can read a book, yet would consider doing a sector level encryption of their CEOs laptop without taking a backup, manage to lock themselves out of the newly encrypted device because they didn't note down the password, or because the 3 year old Pc, is so fragmented, the disk encryption can't complete, and has rendered the disk useless due to the 20% bad sectors, and conflicting partially installed alternative, spyware covered freebie encryption they got from a trade show. Yet it shocks them to consider making a backup.

Rule 1, installing new software, make a backup, if you ask a room of 100 computer users Do you make a backup?

their reaction, oh, i didn't realise i needed to do this...

(this happened last week)

Support Desks

The average user, as we have seen sofar, is a bit baffled by this technology, despite it being around for the last 25+ years in out homes, and despite it being an integral part of our day to day lives, of over 25% of a century, people still claim, to not know, and not realise, these are the same people, who we find ringing up support help desks, with statements like..

"I've just installed Microsoft and..."

"I've downloaded the Internet and..."

"I can't download the Internet and..."

"I've just bought this Microsoft computer and..."

"I would have mailed you byt couldn't find your email address, however have rung the number on your internet contact page"

(Sorry i've just had a customer say this 2 seconds ago.. out email address is 1 line about our phone number, in larger, bolder text.. and under our phone number on our contact page is a Contact form)

yes, these are your consumer support desk callers, people who can read a Jamie Oliver cook book and produce a whole Christmas spread from following the instructions, but not the manual for installing Microsoft Office, and would like the person on the end of the phone to read them the manual, because its too complicated.

I'm not sure if any of you have ever done this, I have, several times, and the process is a case of reading the manual for the customer, who always ends the call with a "Oh, it wasn't that hard, always better to be sure..." Well thanks for that, i've just spent 20 minutes reading on your behalf, because you couldn't be bothered...

Or there is another favourite, where you advise a customer he needs to get a 3rd party product to solve his issue, something we don't support.. in this example, its BartPE.. and I always get asked "where do i find out about that?" i would so like to be un PC and reply, "I'm not sure sir? Google maybe? Just a guess..."

Is all this getting to a point?

Well it is, I'm not just bashing the average user for the sake of it, these are extreme cases, and i'm aware, that documentation (for those users who are able to use Google and can read) isn't great, and GUI's are not Perfect, however i feel that there is a more underlying reason why people don't use Linux in Droves.. Its because the comfort zone isn't there for them, the kid next door who knows about these things.. its all just a little too complex for them..

I'm a firm believer, that in order to own a PC, you should have to take lessons, and a test, to get a licence, there seem to be plenty of people willing to do this to drive to work, if you don't, then your PC experience, should be limited, as it would do if your driving a car, to a 50cc Moped of an experience. And i think i'm not the only one, as this is what the "Cloud computing" experience is serving up.. limit the places it can go wrong on the users hardware, and you reduce the numphtys,.

On every forum i read, there are more and more Ex Windows users, trying to make the experience richer in Linux, by making it just like the OS they ditched, telling Linux users how much easier it is on XP or Vista.. how this stuff just works better..

Well i ask you one simple question...

If Windows is so much easier to use, why does every company who uses it need a support desk? (read cost center)

Rant over..

(Last call, "Excuse me sir,I'm calling as the IT Manager for (Read large 10,000+ user company), how do i find out who your Partners are, i'm looking on your webpage, and there don't seem to be any links" my answer "Try clicking on the link at the top labelled PARTNER sir.."

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Sadly I am starting to agree...

My tech job runs the gamut from network installations, to server setups and deployments, to help desk calls, and a lot more. I get some pretty boneheaded questions at times, and I keep a blog to write some HowTos and the occasional rant.

Recently I posted this entry
and a few days later I was at my parents' place running a JkDefrag on one of their Windows systems. My dad said it looked like he should do that on his other computer and also at his office, so I wrote down the blog address for him.

He was utterly confused and said he couldn't follow it. Then he said that he didn't see the picture which aims to clarify it. Then he said he saw the picture but didn't click to make it readable. Eventually he said he didn't read the post at all, but watched as I opened the command prompt and said he would have been lost. Lost following four steps of instructions.

I don't want to do other people's computer work for them. I want them to learn what I am doing, experiment* some, and learn on their own. Take some computing responsibility. He said, "If you have a ____ question, ask your mom. If you have a ___ question, ask me. So, I ask you about computing questions." No, you are asking me to DO your computing.

I agree, lets force some certification as a requirement to owning or using a computer. The security issues involved should demand as much from our population.

*experimentation, unfortunately, often just makes life worse on a Windows machines, and therefor scares people away from trying at all.


Sadly, I don't thing either one of you is joking.

At best, you're unbelievably naive, at worst, you're elitist snobs.

Computers are tools - they WORK FOR US - we don't work for them.

Don't blame the users - blame the software makers for creating tools that DON'T WORK. Linux (when compared to Windows or Mac) easily wins the race to the bottom of the barrel.

UI, usability, consistency, etc just plan sucks - it's what happens when you design/program by committee with NO oversight, no management (or inept management) and no leadership (or vision).

Instead of asking users what they need/want - they TELL users what they're going to get (and they should be happy with it dammit - or feel free to code your own).

So leave the users (i.e. the CLIENTS) out of the equation - if computers suck - it's definately NOT their fault.

vonskippy, re read the post,

vonskippy, re read the post, then, think about what you have written. At no point in my post have i said windows/mac or Linux are the best. the point i am making is, you can spend millions on user interface, usability, and documentation, its not the computers which are at issue here.

Lets use your anaology, a computer is a tool... I agree, i use 5 different OS's to complete different tasks..

So is a hammer..

If a man hits his finger with the hammer, is that because the instructions are bad? Thousands of people use hammers and don't hit there fingers... OK, he made a mistake, a week later he does it again.. OK, this must mean that the user interface for the hammer has been designed wrong, or maybe the instructions are incorrect? or maybe, just maybe, the person hasn't actually read the hammer instructions, and just picked it up, uses it, and keeps hitting his fingers.. So following your analogy, of the interface and tool being poorly implemented, we should look at redesigning the hammer, putting in safeguards, stopping the user from banging the hammer for the potential that one user may hurt themselves, maybe we should look at removing, or at least covering the hard part of the hammer in soft foam, so it doesn't hurt anyone elses thumb, who chose to pick up the original hammer, and not learn how to use it properly.

But what happens then? in an effort to make the hammer so safe, and easy to use, we have actually rendered the hammer unusuable, because someone piped up in a meeting "its the interface, not tue users.. its a tool.."

Spin this round to Windows, XP, a fairly solid platform, many users, using it fine, but a few people were having problems, so the Redmond think tank, redesigned the interface, for the few, and low and behold, what do we have.. Vista.. "Are you sure you want to do that?" Now, you'll state, "you can turn this feature off", that may be so, but in order to "Turn off the improvement" i have to read the manual, surely, by your analogy, thats poor interface design? So Microsoft, have created an OS, which has been globally panned, and not just by Fanboys of other Operating systems.. you may quote me the figures of installed copies of Vista. Well automatically loading an OS onto a PC, before it sells, does not constitute choice. It demonstrates a monopoly. and misused power.

So, lets try and redesign a tool, which has been used successfully for quarter of a centry, by many people, all over the globe, successfully, because consumer users, cannot be bothered to use google to search for the answer to the problem, or RTFM.

People are naive to say, that the problem with computers is interface design, and perhaps misguided to state that "the interface design is wrong" in todays society, its unfortunately the user who is at fault.

You see, i don't say computer suck, i read the manual, and can use the tool for that reason.

You call me an elitist? That maybe so, however, as as active forum member, and a person who has spent over 20 years helping people with computer issues, i see patterns, i provide assistance, i guide users to the right location, for a job, so i'm allowed to make these observations, as i'm best placed to do so. I myself am not without fault, as a recent Mac convert, i had the mis fortune of not knowing my IP Address. I could not find the location for displaying this. amazingly, by typing "OSX show IP address" into google, i was able to find where to find this. much in the same way i would type "find pictures of cute cats dressed up in clothes" to find this on a daily basis was i so required to. I didn't need to phone Apples helpline.. As i'm able to read and follow instructions.

At Christmas, i cooked a roast Ham, i've never cooked in my life, i hate cooking, it turned out ok, because i followed the instructions, i didn't need to ring Gorden Ramsey for help.

Don't get me wrong, this is not only an IT issue, having taught in schools for a few years, i honestly belive common sense, is no longer that common, and the dumbed down education system, setup, to ensure as many students pass a test, rather than education, has a lot to do with this. We are more worried about teaching children how to pass an exam, than the virtues of common sense, following instructions, and general values of society. and then wonder why the youth of today are so incapable. I've hired graduates who are very well qualified, far more than me, in IT, who are in capable of doing the basiscs with a computer.

As i'm picking holes in your post, you talk aout linux interface inconsistencies, and state that its interface is less "superior" to the Mac OSX and Windows interface?

Interesting, as Windows and OSX come with 1 interface each, and linux, provides a user with a choice.. one choice is apparently so good, that Microsoft themselves have actually visually emulated it..

as we are still here, i'm going to go back to my car analogy, i used in the post..

For a long time after the car was introduced into onto roads, you didn't need a licence to drive one. It wasn't until people were taught to use them correctly, that this number was reduced...

Please, wake up and smell the coffee, its over here in the real world, with real users..

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