Dear Frustrated Linux Guy:

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Linux and Unix - Sunday, July 11th, 2010

You see these kinds of threads from time to time: “How go I get my [family / company] to adopt Linux?” Yes, it can be a tough row to hoe. Let this post be a kind of catch-all answer.

First off, you’re grinding against momentum. It really isn’t any more difficult to get someone to change their operating system than it is to get them to switch to a different genre of music, change their eating habits, buy a different brand of car, drop their current mate in order to date someone new, or start or stop smoking. You’re been successful many times getting people to change in all these other ways, right? Then you should have no problem.

Second, information is your key weapon. There simply aren’t enough tech pundits in the blog world writing articles about the keen benefits of Linux, so strive to find every possible resource to launch at their inbox. Search Google daily for new “Top Ten Myths About Linux” posts and other advocacy articles, and then shower your target with them. Print them out and nail them to the door. Leave some lying around in the bathroom. Carry them with you and read aloud from them whenever you happen to be in the elevator together.

Especially in the case where you’re trying to get your relatives to adopt Linux, you can use your position as a technology-superior knowledge worker to your advantage. Since you’re always the one who gets called to remove that virus or reinstall Photoshop, you have a position of power where you can simply refuse to solve problems anymore until they start using your system of choice. You’re most likely the only person they can turn to, so stand firm. Remember the Stockholm effect here; your hostage will later think of you as their guardian.

You might consider taking it to the next level from advocacy to evangelism. Print out actual GNU manuals and bind them together into your holy book, put on penguin-themed robes, and just show up at their door like any other missionary. You’re doing it for their own good, after all, and if membership in some goody-two-shoes afterlife club is worth going door-to-door, then working to free them from the fetters of proprietary enslavement ought to at least be worth a little doorknocking.

Whatever you do, remember that you’re right. That’s really all you need! When you’re the one who’s right, the rest of the world always comes around to seeing it your way eventually.


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