- People buy netbooks and then discover that Windows isn't part of the bundle, and they don't like it.
- A teacher found a student handing out Linux CDs and accused him of pirating software.
- A student accidentally bought a Dell laptop with Ubuntu instead of Windows, and complained that she couldn't submit the Word documents required by her college (they say they are happy to accept OpenOffice.org documents) and the installation CD for her broadband service wouldn't install so she couldn't get the Internet (Ubuntu connects to the Internet just fine without it). The local TV station picked up the story as a "consumer rights" case and was amazed to find a virtual lynch mob chasing them for being less than enthusiastic about Ubuntu. They quoted an expert saying that Ubuntu "isn't for everyone" and is more suited to tinkerers than people who just want to get stuff done.
- There are two sorts of computers: Apple Macs, and PCs.
- Apple Macs run Apple software. PCs run Windows software.
- Windows is bundled with PCs. On expensive PCs the bundle might include Office as well.
- If you want extra software, you buy it at a store, take it home and stick the CD in the drive.
Of course those of us who use Linux know different. But for most people, Linux is something they might have heard about once or twice, but they didn't pay any attention and couldn't tell you anything about it. Outside its current user base and their immediate circle of friends and family, Linux has zero mindshare.
This is not another lament about Joe Sixpack being too stupid to understand Linux. The problem is not that Linux is too complicated, its that Linux and Windows do things differently. Imagine someone who was raised on Linux; how would they react to Windows? Software installation would seem complicated and geeky, the single desktop would feel claustrophobic, and as for the idea of paying for software...
So I think we need to sort out a message to broadcast to the world and then focus on it. I suggest the following:
- Linux is an alternative to Windows and Apple. It comes in several flavours.
- Linux isn't easier or harder than Windows, but it is different, and it takes a while to get used to those differences.
- Linux is bundled with a huge range of downloadable free software, including office, graphics and photographic packages.