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28 January 2010
I try to be an advocate for Linux through my blog and tweets etc. Occassionally I will mention linux to friends and family, but I don't normally go around "preaching" Linux to others. Recently I was purchasing a Linux Magazine (and a web design magazine) from my local Tesco's store and I ended up in a conversation with the checkout operator. Here is an abridged version of that conversation.
After scanning computer magazines through the till:
[Checkout Operator]Are you a computer expert then?
[PenguinTutor] Pretty much [trying to be modest]
[Checkout Operator] Do you know if it's easy to upgrade from Windows Vista to Windows 7.
[PenguinTutor] I've not used Windows 7 [Since then I've used and configured a Windows 7 laptop for a family member, but I still don't use Windows 7 much]
[Checkout Operator] You are not that much of an expert then.
[PenguinTutor] Just a different field in computers. I use Linux mainly.
I showed the front page and the title of the Linux magazine
Blank look ...
[PenguinTutor] It's a free alternative to Windows
[Checkout Operator] How does that work?
[PenguinTutor] It's a replacement operating system that you can use for free
[Checkout Operator] Is it legal?
[PenguinTutor] Absolutely it's community developed using volunteers and corporations that provide it for everyone to use
[Checkout Operator] Will it work to replace Windows 98 as I have a Windows 98 machine that won't run Windows 7?
[PenguinTutor] Yes in fact there are versions that have lower requirements that are ideal to replace Windows 98.
There was then a bit of a discussion about problems with the Ethernet connection on Windows 98 - which was fixed by a hardware replacement, but she didn't really know the details.
I finished by writing out the name of Ubuntu and XUbuntu suggesting that XUbuntu would be a better replacement for Windows 98 as it has lower hardware requirements. I have no idea of whether she tried Linux or how well it went.
It went okay and maybe got someone thinking about Linux, but what else could I have done to help sell it more in only 5 minutes?
I didn't think that talking about the freedom aspect would be something I could do justice in such as short period of time. Also I don't know whether I was better just pointing towards a distro, or whether I should have directed her to a beginner friendly page such as my Open Source and Free Software page on WatkissOnline (although I hadn't published the page at the time - it was still work in progress).
Our conversation progressed from talk of a modern laptop to talking about Linux on old hardware. Is it better to promote Linux as a replacement for Windows 98 as a step in the right direction, or should I have tried to convince her that Windows Vista to Linux is better than going to Windows 7 (which it is in my opinion)?
Should I have talked more about the security benefits (ie. less viruses) or the reduction in ongoing cost as well (no renewal to pay on anti-virus software).
There is just so many benefits to Linux and so little time to sell it in.
What would you say if you had just 5 minutes to sell Linux?