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Re: Fear of Change is a Linux Peril; But Vista Will Change This

  • Subject: Re: Fear of Change is a Linux Peril; But Vista Will Change This
  • From: "Rex Ballard" <rex.ballard@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: 4 Aug 2006 08:49:30 -0700
  • Complaints-to: groups-abuse@google.com
  • In-reply-to: <9191323.IYNinRvG5b@schestowitz.com>
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  • Xref: news.mcc.ac.uk comp.os.linux.advocacy:1136725
Roy Schestowitz wrote:
> ,----[ Quote ]
> | I have the problem that I am trying to move from windows to Linux
> | (Ubuntu), but I am simply too scared to do it. It's always the "what if
> | this goes wrong?".

You start with the premise, "do I want to change?".
If so "Why do I want to change?"

The very nature of change is:
   letting go of the old and familiar.
   venturing into the unknown.
   Becoming lost in the uncertainty.
   Reaching the point of no return.
   Committedly grasping the new possibilities associated with the

Despite the statements of some advocates (including myself), Windows is
not hell, produced by satan, to torment end users.  There are many
things Windows does well enough to make it "comfortable" enough to not
need to switch immediately.  Much of this is based on ignorance.  Look
at how many people who have compared a Mac and Windows side-by-side and
decided to spend more money for a lower powered machine simply because
the UNIX Operating System on OS/X was so much better than Windows.  It
is still not possible for most people in the world to walk into their
local department store or computer store and "test drive" a running
Linux system that has been properly configured on Linux Friendly
hardware.  About the closest you can get is to install a Knoppix CD
into the display machine and reboot it.  But even then, you have to
know enough about Linux to be able to download Knoppix and create a
bootable CD from the image file.

If you notice, nearly all of the trolling, especially over the last 10
years, has been around how difficult Linux is to set up.  You will see
thousands of articles in everything from usenet newsgroups to major
Ziff Davis publications, all describing the horrors of a grizzly
installation on software that wasn't designed to run Linux in the first
place, with absolutely no discussion of the actual experience of USING

Ironically, when Linux compatible hardware has been used in the first
place, Linux has had the advantage over Windows - in their final
configured form - since about 1994, when Linux introduced
"plug-and-play" to configure itself.  Even before that, early versions
of slackware had fully implemented features of $30,000 workstations,
including full internet access, preemptive multitasking, fully
functional window management, virtual desktops, multitiered security of
a "digital fortress", and server capabilities.  In 1993, Linux was
doing everything that XP does now except HDTV Video (you could play
MPEG-1 CDs).

By 1998, Linux also had support for Firewire, USB, and 1 gbit ethernet.
 It also supported ATM cards and other WAN cards.  Microsoft has
introduced some new technologies, such as USB-2, but Linux usually
adapts and has full support within 3-6 months.

The point is that the User experience of even Slackware, once the
system was properly configured and installed, was very similar to that
of Windows XP users today.

>| And I guess the same can be used for the IT departments.

The funny thing is that IT departments are often split into at least 2

There is often an army of Windows "box booters" who maintain Windows
systems, including desktop and servers.  They can reimage hard drives,
reboot boxes, and install or reinstall applications very quickly
because they are masters of the mouse.  Typically, you have 1
administrator for every 10 servers, and one support person for every 30

Then there is a much smaller organization, the Unix support team.
There might be 10 guys supporting 100 servers, including both Linux and
UNIX (AIX, Solaris, HP_UX) servers, who spend most of their time just
watching the status screens and reports.  About once a week, they will
tell a user that they need authorization to order and install another
hard drive, or another few blades, based on demand and consumption.
They don't even need to bring the system down, and when they cut-in the
new drives, the user doesn't even notice.  It's usually done with
scripts that can make the transition in about 1/10th of a second.

Upper Management looks at these two teams and wishes that the desktop
support could be more like the Unix/Linux support.  They see that they
can save as much as 80% by switching from Windows to Linux on servers
(because they already have experienced UNIX administrators), but there
is a bit more uncertainty about whether they could realize that much
savings in the desktop market.

Applications like OpenOffices, Firefox, and Thunderbird are helping
these IT managers become far more comfortable with the concept of open
source (even though their UNIX servers and most of their networking
software has been using it for decades).  And the leap of faith is
getting smaller and smaller.

Perhaps the biggest problem for some IT managers is that they see all
of the hundreds of free applications for Linux, but they rarely even
look to investigate all of the commercially supported solutions.  There
are commercially supported solutions ranging from MySQL databases and
accounting systems to SEIBEL, SAP, and JDEdwards.  There are toolkits
from IBM, Computer Associates, Sun Microsystems, and nearly every other
major software vendor.

Very often, the argument against switching from Windows to Linux
involves inability to switch brand-name software to Windows.  For
example, they will say "Linux won't run Microsoft Office, Quickbooks,
or Microsoft Project".  They are so focused on the vendor, and the
product, that it's obvious that they don't understand the underlying
standards and functions.

In reality, the Linux market is more competitive, partly because there
is such a rapidly growing population of Linux users.  As a result,
vendors are more willing to customize solutions.  You can create your
own databases, or you can get "kits" to interface your bank's QIF or
CDF files to MySQL, Postgres, or Oracle.  You can also buy "canned"
solutions like Moneydance.  But too often, the answer comes back "use
gnucash", which is an OSS solution which doesn't even try to be a full
blown quicken implementation.

> | I can imagine the person in the IT department considering moving 100
> | people to Linux.

There are ways to do it intelligently.  You can give them Linux but
then give them Windows Emulation such as Crossover, Win4Lin, or WINE
(which depends on their specific needs).

You can establish standards such as the publication of documents in ODF
formats as well as Office 97 formats.  Microsoft would love to have us
upgrade to a newer version of office that will be incompatible with
previous versions as well as being incompatible with OpenOffice and
StarOffice, but that doesn't mean that you have to spend the $$$ to be
painted into the corner while Microsoft cleans out the cash register.

> | The fear of something going terribly wrong is there.

Fear of the unknown.  Our natural instinct when confronted with the
unknown, a "blank canvas" is fear.  When we were children and the
lights were turned out, there was just a blank darkness.  But in that
darkness, we could create terrible monsters, often inches away from us.
 Even the dirty laundry would transform into something horrible and
hideous and destructive.

We need to think of it as more like moving into a new house.  We can
get rid of some of the old junk that we really don't need and haven't
been using.  We can use some of the furniture in different ways, we can
arrange the furniture the way we want it.  And maybe we can even buy
some new furniture to make better use of the space or make us more

Linux is much like that.  When we "move in", there are lots of things
we can bring with us.  But there are also lots of new things we can
use.  New programs to replace old ones.  New user interfaces that are
only slightly different from the old ones (because there is more
functionality available).  We can use the new fixtures, but we don't
necessarily have to use everything that has been included.  If the
washing machine isn't working so well, we can replace it (replace
GNUCash with Moneydance).

> | And it's probably an unreasonable fear.

The fundamental difference between fear and excitement, is our
interpretation of the events.  Two people are on a roller coaster.  One
is certain that the safety equipment will fail, they will fall out, or
the car will just jump off the track and drop them thousands of feet.
The other person knows that the ride is safe, trusts the safety
equipment, and is looking forward to a wonderful experience.

Almost from the moment the coaster reaches the top of the hill, the
first person is in abject terror.  The adrenaline is pumping, and they
are experiencing sensations of weightlessness and they are nausiated
and ready to vomit.  The second person is getting the same adrenaline,
the same sensations of weightlessness, and they are letting their hands
float as they crest the hill, screaming with joy as they reach the
valleys, and they are enjoying every minute.

Linux is an identical type of experience.  There are those who would
see the green lizard on the SUSE bootup screen, and say "I hate this".
Everything that is different, they will hate.  But they would hate
Vista just as much.  They hated XP when they switched from NT 4.0 to
XP.  And they hated Windows 95 when they switched from Windows 3.1 to
Windows 95.  I knew a man who only switched from Windows 3.1 to Windows
98 about 3 months ago because he couldn't get ribbon for his dot matrix
printer any more, and he couldn't find a printer that would run on
Windows 3.1.

Conversely, there are those who love things that are "new and
different".  They will love Linux, because it's new and different.  If
you tell them this is "better than Windows ever was" they will relate
to it that way.  If you let them show off what they have learned, and
let them help the reluctant adopters, they will take the effort to
learn even more.

The simplest approach is to let them self-select initially.  Tell them
you have this new and wonderful upgrade that they can put on their PCs.
 They need to ask for the software, and they need to have someone
support them in their initial installation - better yet, give them a
new computer that is fully configured with the new software.  If the
old computer is "Linux friendly" as well, you can pass that on to the
"reluctant ones" after it's been converted.

Give the early adopters a few months to work out the solutions and
resolve all of the problems specific to your organization.

Then you can transition the next round, the ambivalent ones, who don't
care too much one way or another, as long as it's not too much extra

By the time you get to the real change phobics, they will want Linux
just to "fit in", because they know that everything is now "safe".

> | [...]
> |
> | But there is a fair chance of change with vista. I for one do not want
> | to change to vista, I'd rather look for alternatives ..... Ubuntu ?
> `----
I like Ubuntu, but I'd lean toward a commercially supported
distribution that is based on LSB standards, like SUSE, Linspire, or
Red Hat.

Red Hat has great server support, but isn't as strong on desktop

Linspire is more like a traditional Windows mind-set, where users
install a "core" system and then download all of the applications they
want, usually after reading "sales pitches" for each one.  I've always
said that if someone put out a "Madison Avenue style catalogue",
complete with pictures, screen shots, and sales pitches for each of the
Linux packages and/or programs, people would be frantic to try Linux
and all of these new and wonderful programs.  Linspire is based on this
model and it seems to be working very very well.

SUSE has lots of experience doing both servers and corporate desktops.
Back when they were in Germany, they sold desktop licenses to numerous
banks, financial firms, government agencies, and larger corporations.

The big problem with a Debian release is that the "All OSS" model tends
to limit the ability to provide commercial support, including
binaries-only drivers, commercial software, and proprietary format
objects.  I know that Ubuntu is now being supported by a corporation,
but I haven't really seen a lot of momentum building there (yet).

The reason I say LSB-3 is because, even though there might be minor
differences in terms of "veneers", we need to maintain a common "core"
infrastructure.  LSB-3 is working to establish and maintain that core.

>                                         http://wolfb.com/?q=linux-fear

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