[nSLUG] On topic of favorite distros, and Linux on the Desktop

George N. White III aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca
Tue Mar 2 10:25:03 AST 2004


On Tue, 2 Mar 2004, Donald Teed wrote:

> On Mon, 1 Mar 2004, Jamie Fifield wrote:
>
> > You are assuming that everyone is interested in Linux advocacy.  I am
> > the only Linux user in the world that I have time to care about.
> >
> > I'm not discouraging you from feeling however you want to, I'm just
> > raising an alternate point of view.
>
> I feel the same way when it comes to many causes.  I don't
> have the time to support everything, and I have to evaluate
> whether marching in a demonstration or signing a petition
> actually achieves anything (I don't think it does).

As an organizer of anti-war demonstrations in Massachusetts during the
Vietnam era, I certainly agree that the majority of "political actions"
don't accomplish much.  Now I know that some of the most idiotic "actions"
(e.g., demonstrations targeting universities) in the Vietnam era were
actually promoted by the gov't.  What was highly successful (so much so
that it brought the feds down with a raft of bogus charges) was
informational leaflets we handed out to workers queuing up to enter
defense plants. The most popular one showed an accounting of the cost --
at that time the Vietnam war had cost US taxpayers enough to purchase a
color TV for every man woman and child in N. and S. Vietnam (at a time
when few of those workers could have afforded a color TV).

> Likewise I'm not into Linux advocacy in the political sense.
> Nor Open Source nor GNU, etc.  I don't believe in grassroots
> movements, letter writing campaigns and the like.

You have to make politicians aware that there are people who
disagree with the views expressed by industry/vested interests.
The most effective way is through professional organizations
rather than as individuals.

> However I do believe money talks, and when organizations
> are looking at the Linux alternative, they evaluate many
> factors including the cost and quality of support and
> the available tools to solve their problems.

Increasingly, "risk management" is a factor (if we screw up because of a
software bug, who can we go after and how much could recover get from
them?) and "best practices" (if we screw up, can we say "everybody was
doing the same thing").  Advertising plays on these attitudes (only big
succesful companies can afford to advertise on Superbowl TV, so managers
feel safer buying from those companies).  There is also the "we can't hire
an individual to implement a new system because we would be screwed if she
gets pregnant next year" rather than "we can't buy closed source because
we would be screwed if licensing fees increase next year".

> The momentum is already there.  Advocacy is no longer
> the issue, now it is advice and the quality and forms
> of deployment.

Yes.  I hate those articles that just make 1-1 comparisions
between linux and win32 for a few desktop apps.  Organizations
that use technology effectively use computers as more than just
glorified typewriters.  When you look at real tasks that organizations
need to perform, proprietary systems are usually at a big disadvantage
(open source gives you greater room for experimentation, scales more
easily, and can't be "taken away" by factors outside your control)
and are often selected for bogus reasons (FUD, advertising hype, etc.),
which indicate fundamental problems with management.  Open source
will win in part because well-run organizations see the benefits and
will do better over the long run than badly-run organizations.

--
George N. White III  <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
  Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada



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