More Moving Thoughts: Adding to Rikki Kite's blog entry


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

May 30, 2010 GMT
Jon maddog Hall


Last week my colleague Rikki Kite wrote a good blog entry on how to gracefully introduce a person to Linux. She pointed out that just telling a person to “move to Linux” is not enough, and that most people will “get lost in the move”. She used an analogy of moving a friend to a new house.


I would like to add a few more pointers to her excellent “moving” blog entry:


Tip #0.4 – A new house may not be necessary, just add on a room or two of Free Software


Depending on the situation, it may be that all the person really needs is a new browser, a new music player, or an office system. You may find a gradual introduction to Free Software is better than an “all or nothing” approach. Rikki did mention “a remodel”, but I just wanted to make sure that the agent knows what our friend really needs.


Tip #1.3 – Is this a guest house, a vacation house, or the main residence?


Tell the person that there is the concept of a dual-boot, or using a virtual machine to have both a copy of Linux and a copy of windows on the same machine at the same time.


Tip #1.5 – You probably do not want the same house I have.


You may want a “starter” house...small and compact. I started with that type of house, but then I lived in a rather large dome home, and now I am living in a smaller house again.


Likewise I may use a distribution that is not really that good for someone new to Linux, or (as Rikki's friend) just wants “basic web surfing, photo album and music”.


When I go to a conference, people always ask me what distribution I use, and I patiently tell them that it does not matter. Which distribution is best for them is the real question.


Tip #3.2 – Take your friend to the Automobile Club of America for some maps


Not really, but in trying to keep with Rikki's motif in her blog entry, one road map may not be enough. I would suggest taking the friend's hand and eventually going to a bookstore to find a good beginners book on Linux. A lot of large bookstores these days have coffee shops in them, and you and your friend can get a cup of coffee while looking over the different beginners' books on Linux. You may also find that some of these books have a recent distribution of Linux in the back that your friend can use to get started.


Tip #6.3 – Introduce your friend to the rest of their neighbors


While it is fine to personally help your friend out, there may be a day when they have to take out the trash and you won't be around to show them the way to the town dump. You should show them how to create a few constructive searches on the Internet for things like “backup+linux” and other keywords. Show them where is, and how to use the program for adding software to your disk that is used with their distribution.


You might also introduce them to their local “Linux users group” that may have meetings in their area, so after a while these people can also become “mentors” to the user user.


I did not really want to “build a huge house here”, just add some thoughts to Rikki's blog entry. So I will throw out the same challenge she did, for you to add other thoughts to the bottom of her blog entry.


  • Proper introductions

    Etiquette requires that introductions should be done from lowest status to highest, so the proper form should be, "Linux, this is so-and-so. So-and-so, this is Linux." Just to be clear, Tux holds the high ground.
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