COLA FAQ 4 of 6 08-Feb-2003

COLA FAQ 4 of 6 08-Feb-2003

Post by The Studen » Sun, 09 Feb 2003 16:24:57


                           TABLE OF CONTENTS - PART 4

          4.0   Part 4, Advocating Linux

         Linux in Schools
         Linux in Business
         Friends and Family
         General Advocacy
         An Advocacy Outline


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      named in the credits, section

      Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
      under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1
      or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.
      A copy of the license can be viewed at:



4.0  Advocating Linux

  While COLA itself is a place for advocating Linux, there are many
  discussions about how to advocate Linux elsewhere.  In this section, we
  present links to sites that are dedicated to promoting Linux.  Linux in Schools

  There are several organizations promoting the use of Linux in schools,
  some of them are listed here:

  This page also lists other projects:  Linux in the Workplace

    Pointers to business, programmers, customers rationales for Open Source

    Here is an older but timeless article that hits on ideas that may be
    appropriate with coworkers:  Friends and Family

    This link reminds us that even those experienced with computers
    may have trouble with Linux at first  General Advocacy  Resources

    First off, there is the General HOWTO on Linux Advocacy, which
    can be found in two places:

    This next site is no longer being maintained, but comes up as the first
    hit in a Google Search on "advocate+Linux":

    There are also groups that fund linux projects, such as:  An Advocacy Outline

    The outline below is the work of a single contributor who has enjoyed
    success with the program that it details, but this outline also hits
    many of the common ideas you will hear on COLA, so it is included here:

    1. Be Courteous: Before you say anything, mentally double check that
       you are remaining polite. You don't have to be a pushover, but when
       asserting your position remember that the person you are talking to
       is free to feel differently than you do. Above all, don't call the
       other person a name and don't respond to name calling. (There's a
       nice anonymous quote "He who slings mud gets dirtiest"; in plain
       terms that means name calling only reflects upon you and your
       arguments, not the person you call names. This fallacy-- ad hominem--
       lies at the heart of trolling; don't fall for it or make it.) Keep
       your cool, and remember that doing so when being barraged with scorn
       makes a good impression on outside viewers.

    2. Be Honest: Don't try to overinflate Linux into some sort of magical
       computing panacea. It isn't-- even running Linux you can still have
       hardware failures, data loss, malware, or compatability issues; in
       short, all of the problems that are common occurances in Windows.
       Also make sure they understand that there will be a period of adjustment,
       where they stop looking for "Outlook Express" and start heading for
       KMail (or whatnot). If they ask you a question you can't answer, tell
       them "I don't know, but I'll find out for you."-- then get back to
       them as soon as you can. I've bowled people over when I came back with
       an answer, but they forgot they even asked. I can only assume they
       thought their question wasn't amenable to a positive answer.

    3. Fight Small Battles: The way I have converted Windows "experts" so
       far was to wait until they griped about some common annoyance with
       Windows before giving them a sympathetic look and relating it to
       Linux; either with a "That's not ever happened to me" or a "well, when
       I had that problem it was due to $FACTOR; I fixed it with
       <some command> -- did you check that?" Likewise, in a business setting,
       if the boss just isn't listening to your suggestions, ask to set up
       a demo box. Objective lessons can do wonders.

    4. Stay with Them: Alright, you've got Linux installed and they're
       happily reading Slashdot (or COLA but probably just their email).
       Congratulations! You've now moved into the hardest part of advocacy:
       getting them comfortable with the system. Even if you've been
       paistakingly obvious that Linux != Windows, they still want handholding;
       since Linux won't, you have to. Help them with their issues (better yet,
       keep them from occuring); when they want to know how to do something
       *TELL* *THEM*! (An "RTFM", "you can't" or "I don't know" reply will send
       them straight back to Windows; if it is in the manual or HOWTO answer
       the stupid question and give them a pointer to the documentation
       afterward. Believe me, after being shown that all their questions are
       answered already three or four times most people get the hint.
       Contrawise, do the resarch if that's what it takes and then show them
       how.) Handing them a (printed) introductory guide (I prefer OReilley's
       Running Linux but YMMV) can also do wonders for reducing the number of
       questions you get.

    5. Be Persistent: If you can't seem to get someone to switch after one
       discussion (and you probably won't), come to an amicable middle ground
       and then shut the h*ll up; you can always start up again later. You
       don't want them walking away thinking that you're obsessed; on the other
       hand, you don't want them to think they've won the argument, either.
       There is an art to knowing when to shut up (and getting to that point)
       that isn't amenable to phrasing in words; all I know is that after 5 or
       so years experience debating (not just with Linux advocacy, mind you), I
       can get to a common ground easily. One example of this is in how one
       defines "user friendly"; for Windows the term means user hand holding
       and for Linux it means user liberation. Frequently, all you and your
       adversary disagree on is the meaning of one term or other common
       assumtion. Also, the more reasonable your arguments are translates
       directly into goodwill when they finally decide to humor you and try
       Linux; most importantly, they aren't (consciously or subconsiously)
       trying to sabotage the demo to win.

The Student