Spreading the word – The Art of Advocacy

What You Can Do

So, you have your advocacy target in mind, you've thought about what they want, and you've put together your arguments. What's next? Well, you can simply demonstrate your own FOSS workflow. Don't just hand over a USB key or Live CD – show Linux running on your own machine first. Put a guest account on your laptop and let your advocacy target play around with it. Try to use a familiar desktop environment; it doesn't have to look exactly like Windows, but it should be accessible and obvious.

You can also introduce FOSS one app at a time, before encouraging your target to try Linux. Perhaps the best example for this is Firefox: If they're using Internet Explorer, Edge or Chrome, install Firefox and suggest they try browsing with it for a few days. Firefox has its quirks, but it really is better than the competition in many ways and your potential convertee could fall in love with it – especially if you demonstrate some useful extensions. (See the "Another Argument: You're Already Using Linux!" box for other ideas.)

Another Argument: You're Already Using Linux!

Here's another good way to advocate Linux and FOSS. Find out what hardware, software, and services your target is already using on a daily basis, and chances are FOSS is involved somewhere. Just make sure that your potential convertee is happy with that software before you tell them that it's Linux or FOSS, though. You don't want to start a conversation like this:

"Hey, are you using an Android phone?" "Yes, I've had it for six months now." "Oh cool. Did you know Android is based on Linux? You should try Linux on your PC as well." "Err, but I hate this phone. It's slow and buggy, and I want to get rid of it. Why on earth would I want this on my home PC?!"

So put out the feelers first, before making the connection. Similarly, find out what websites or services the person loves. If you discover that those services are built on FOSS, that's one avenue for advocacy as well – "Service X that you love is built using Linux and FOSS. If they trust it, you should give it a try, too!"

Then you could try other software such as LibreOffice and Gimp. This might be a harder sell if your target is already using Microsoft Office and Photoshop, but if they're pinching pennies you may be in luck. Once that person is happily using a bunch of FOSS programs, it's a lot easier to suggest trying a Linux distro, where all of these apps are preinstalled (and often more neatly integrated than under Windows).

Above all, make it clear to your potential convertee that he/she doesn't have to commit to anything. You can try Linux and many FOSS apps and if you don't like them, don't use them! FOSS is awesome because it doesn't require market share or money (although those are nice). FOSS doesn't try to lock up your data, make you pay money, or bombard you with ads – it's there because people love to work on it. Get that message across, and you'll be onto a winner. Good luck – and let us know how your advocacy efforts get on!

Figure 5: Microsoft tells its Office home users to use "community forums" for support – so what are people paying for?

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