Tech Insider					     Technology and Trends

Linux Advocacy at BYU 
mhalcrow 
Fri, 07 Sep 2001 15:53:13 -0700 

At the BYU computer store, I ran into an old ex-roommate of mine from the mission 
field. He had on a Windows XP t-shirt (with those big creases down the front giving 
away the fact that it was brand spanking new). Before I made the decision to cut all 
communication with him, I asked him why he was wearing Microsoft paraphernelia. He 
said that he had to; his boss made him. Apparently, someone in the BYU bookstore 
heirarchy has been given an "incentive" to do this.

Apparently, Office XP is selling to students for $60. And Office XP Professional is 
around $75. There were seminars being held yesterday in the Wilkinson Center (with 
plenty fliers and ads around campus). I have to hand it to Microsoft's marketing 
strategy - they know how to hit the right people in just the right way to ensure their 
market domination in the future, regardless of the quality of their actual product.

In the Linux community, there seem to be two camps: those who think that Linux is 
ready for the desktop NOW (and has been for some time), and those who think that Linux 
will never be ready for the desktop and "mainstreamism" is the worst possible thing 
that could happen to Linux. I personally am in the desktop camp.

The Unix community tends to be very segregationalist; we have the attitude of "every 
question is a stupid question. Read the man page you fool." We see a more noble spirit 
come out in discussion lists such as this one, but you really have to have a thick 
skin to get into some of the other Unix lists out there. That's why I send this out 
here :-)

As long as marketing majors aren't hired to market Linux, then Linux will not get the 
exposure that it deserves. And it's really hard to hire anyone when you're giving away 
your software for free (fees for service don't add up to much ... how many Linux 
distributors are in financial trouble now?)

I just hate to see thousands of students jipped into thinking that Microsoft products 
are the end-all of what goes in their computers. $150 for an operating system and an 
office productivity suite is a lot to ask of students who are struggling to pay rent, 
especially when perfectly viable alternatives are available for free. But because of 
the stunts that Microsoft pulls (it freaks me out that they were able to force school 
employees to wear their t-shirt), they pull the wool over the collective student 
body's eyes and reap their shares from blind mass loyalty.

At this point, is there anything we could do? If so, is there anything we SHOULD do? 
In my eyes, it's becoming less of an issue about money and more of an issure about 
freedom.

If an elephant is tied to a pole with a rope when it's a baby, it will try and try to 
break the rope, and will be unable to do so. That's why, after it's grown up, a small 
rope will still hold an elephant - it simply doesn't know that it can now snap the 
rope with little effort. People's freedom to choose can be effectively taken away by 
keeping the fact from them that they even have a choice.

Should we let the students at BYU know that they have a choice? How about seminars of 
our own for Linux newbies? I would love to teach one of them myself.

Mike
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Re: Linux Advocacy at BYU 
Theron William Stanford 
Fri, 07 Sep 2001 19:03:45 -0700 

Ah, yes, the typical holier-than-thou Linux rant.  Where shall I begin?

> At the BYU computer store, I ran into an old ex-roommate of mine
> from the mission field. He had on a Windows XP t-shirt (with those
> big creases down the front giving away the fact that it was brand
> spanking new). Before I made the decision to cut all communication
> with him

Of course.  That's how we should all live -- avoid all those who disagree with
us.  Don't talk to Windows users, don't talk to Mac users, don't talk to
non-Mormons (unless you're one)....

> Apparently, Office XP is selling to students for $60. And Office XP
> Professional is around $75.

I happen to make $15/hr (perhaps a lot for a grad student, I know).  That means
five hours of work (OK, probably six or seven with taxes and tithing figured in)
will give me a nice working office suite.  Compared to the five or six hours I
spent just to get PostScript fonts to work right in LaTeX and Ghostscript (and
that's only Roman fonts -- I fear the day when I'll attempt Chinese), this is a
steal.

> I have to hand it to Microsoft's marketing strategy - they know how
> to hit the right people in just the right way to ensure their
> market domination in the future, regardless of the quality of their
> actual product.

Oooh, such ominous words.  "Market domination" -- sounds like the Trilateral
Commission.  Of course, Linux advocates like yourself don't want market
domination -- you just want everybody using Linux.

And by what standards do you judge "quality"?  Ease of use?  Linux loses big
time.  Ease of installation?  Linux loses bigger time (throwing a CD into my
laptop was not nearly enough).  Software that does what I want?  Linux still
loses (oh, I guess there's always Mahjongg, but I still can't get their
solitaire game to use three-card draw like Microsoft (and, might I add, much of
the United States) does or play as quickly).  The Linux desktop I use
(Enlightenment) is deathly slow compared to Windows 98 -- when it comes up. 
Windows may crash now and again (I find it seldom crashes at all), but I find
that better than Enlightenment *not loading at all*.

No, Microsoft is not perfect.  But as time progresses, I find their products
migrating toward allowing the user to tinker and customize.  I don't see Linux
progressing toward ease of use.

And with practically everything from GNU/FSF ported to Windows anyway, there's
even less incentive to switch.

> We see a more noble spirit come out in discussion lists such as
> this one

Is Windows-bashing such a noble spirit?

> As long as marketing majors aren't hired to market Linux, then
> Linux will not get the exposure that it deserves.

Why don't *you* try your hand at this?  You seem to know why Linux is so
superior -- go out and tell everyone why.

> I just hate to see thousands of students gypped into thinking that
> Microsoft products are the end-all of what goes in their computers.
> $150 for an operating system and an office productivity suite is a
> lot to ask of students who are struggling to pay rent, especially
> when perfectly viable alternatives are available for free.

See my remark above.  Just because something is "free" (and do you mean speech,
beer, or both?) doesn't mean it has no hidden costs.  Using Windows means I can
spend my time struggling to pay the rent instead of struggling to get Linux to
work.

> But because of the stunts that Microsoft pulls

Yes, no one in the Linux world ever pulls stunts.

> they pull the wool over the collective student body's eyes and reap
> their shares from blind mass loyalty.

Isn't that what Linux advocacy is about?  Mass loyalty?  "Lo, here" instead of
"Lo, there"?  That seems to be the only thing holding Linux together -- that and
the anti-Microsoft sentiment.

Perhaps Linux will go the way of Apple -- a hardcore group of users along with a
lot of innovation that only Microsoft is willing to bring to the masses.

> In my eyes, it's becoming less of an issue about money and more of
> an issue about freedom.

Again: do you mean speech, beer, or both?

If I use Windows, I have lots of freedoms.  I can tinker with the system.  I can
customize.  I can program and know that I can give (or sell) my programs to
many, many others who can also use them.  I can use all the ports of my favorite
*nix things (Perl, emacs, LaTeX, gcc, to name a few).  I have the best of all
worlds.

If I use Linux, I am free to play Mahjongg (when Enlightenment loads).  OK, I
like Same Gnome too.

> People's freedom to choose can be effectively taken away by keeping
> the fact from them that they even have a choice.

Ah, neither speech nor beer.  "Choice".

So how do you propose to offer the choice?  "Instead of buying evil Microsoft
products, download holy Linux products.  Oh, don't forget to read the manual --
you're gonna need it."

> Should we let the students at BYU know that they have a choice? How
> about seminars of our own for Linux newbies? I would love to teach
> one of them myself.

Yeah, what do these seminars always cover?  ls.  vi.  That'll bring 'em in.

Theron

Re: Linux Advocacy at BYU 
Ross Werner 
Fri, 07 Sep 2001 20:45:49 -0700 

Whoooaaaa! Slow down there, turbo. This isn't Slashdot!

> Ah, yes, the typical holier-than-thou Linux rant.  Where shall I begin?

Actually, I didn't think it was very typical. However, I agree with most
of the things you said so I'll just point out the things I don't.

> Of course.  That's how we should all live -- avoid all those who disagree with
> us.  Don't talk to Windows users, don't talk to Mac users, don't talk to
> non-Mormons (unless you're one)....

Um, I think our friend here was rather joking. No need to be so sarcastic
about it.

> Oooh, such ominous words.  "Market domination" -- sounds like the Trilateral
> Commission.  Of course, Linux advocates like yourself don't want market
> domination -- you just want everybody using Linux.

I would have no problem with not everybody using Linux.

However, I'd like to see more "open standards", a big buzzword that people
like to throw out. I'd like to be able to open a Microsoft Word document
with another word processor and save it out again without having to worry
about compatibility issues. I'd like to even have a standard
well-documented API so that programs require much less work to port from
one OS to another! I'd like to be able to run an SMB file server from a
Linux or Solaris box without having to worry that the next release of
Windows will break it, or that Microsoft will suddenly add some "patented
feature" to their SMB protocol, thus making it impossible to run a
non-Microsoft SMB file server.

No, I don't want everybody using Linux. I just dream of a world where I
can have a shop running Linux, BeOS, Windows, Macintosh (and others!),
each for their various strengths, without having to worry about one of
them purposefully doing something that'll break compatibility with the
other ones.

> And by what standards do you judge "quality"?  Ease of use?

What's that quote, "When Linux has a choice between functionality and ease
of use, it takes functionality ever time"?

> Software that does what I want?

No--software that does what _I_ want. And for me and my purposes, Linux
delivers again and again. Perhaps your purposes differ--that's great! Use
a different product. I'd prefer that it's not a product produced by a
company that I consider engages in unethical tactics to squash
competition, but again, it's your choice.

> the United States) does or play as quickly).  The Linux desktop I use
> (Enlightenment) is deathly slow compared to Windows 98

Really? I use Enlightenment as well, and I find it much faster, more
featureful, and easier to use than the Windows GUI. I set my little sister
up with it and she has had no problems at all with the GUI. (We'll not
mention the other problems she's had, heh heh.)

> No, Microsoft is not perfect.  But as time progresses, I find their products
> migrating toward allowing the user to tinker and customize.  I don't see Linux
> progressing toward ease of use.

You don't? Whoa. You must be on some different planet.

I installed Redhat 5.something, Redhat 6.something, Mandrake 6.something,
Mandrake 7 and Mandrake 8 and Redhat 7.1 ... and each time, they've made
it easier and easier. Is the installation process as easy as Windows?
Actually, at the basic level, I'd say it's there. (After the stuff is
installed and you boot into [whatever], that's the most difficult part of
Linux IMHO. The time between the end of the install and when you're
actually functional is the lousy part, and the most time-consuming, even
if you're a Linux guru.)

> And with practically everything from GNU/FSF ported to Windows anyway, there's
> even less incentive to switch.

Right--"The applications of Linux and the stability of Windows."

But seriously, one of the _main_ reasons I use Linux is because of the
GUI. Yeah, I suppose I could play with Windows, get cygwin installed, use
the gtk port and maybe even get my gnome-terminal to launch at a keypress
instead of a double-click ... but why? There aren't any Windows programs
that I find terribly useful that can't be WINEd or recreated.

However, you may have some critical apps that require Windows. That's
fine! That's great. Maybe one day if they're ported over to Linux you can
try it out again. But it's your choice.

> Is Windows-bashing such a noble spirit?

Is Linux-bashing such a noble spirit?
I don't think he was Windows-bashing--I think he was just questioning
whether BYU should so blatantly serve as a walking talking commercial for
Microsoft.

> > But because of the stunts that Microsoft pulls
> 
> Yes, no one in the Linux world ever pulls stunts.

Ad hominems out the wazoo today! You'd think you took rhetoric classes
from Ubertroll.

Besides, I'm not even _aware_ of a "Linux world 'stunt'". Perhaps I'm
missing out--could you enlighten me?

> > In my eyes, it's becoming less of an issue about money and more of
> > an issue about freedom.
> 
> Again: do you mean speech, beer, or both?

I think you're rather silly. He says "for free", which is the normal way
of saying "gratis", and then he says "freedom" which the normal way of
saying "libre"--he's taking great pains to avoid the question of whether
he means "free as in speech/beer" ... and yet you still question him?

If this were anywhere else, I would have no doubts that this is a
troll--but the BYU UUG list doesn't have trolls, does it? So I give you
the benefit of the doubt. Forgive me if I'm wrong and blathered right into
your trap.

> If I use Linux, I am free to play Mahjongg (when Enlightenment loads).  OK, I
> like Same Gnome too.

Har har har. With Linux you've got all of the freedoms you listed above.
Certainly Windows has more functionality in certain areas--you could have
at least listed those!

> So how do you propose to offer the choice?  "Instead of buying evil Microsoft
> products, download holy Linux products.  Oh, don't forget to read the manual --
> you're gonna need it."

No; by saying, "Hey, there's another operating system out there that can
write up your reports and stuff and it's free! It's a pain to get
configured and if you're coming from a Windows background it can get some
getting used to, but if you're interested in trying something new, I can
sure help you out."

> Yeah, what do these seminars always cover?  ls.  vi.  That'll bring 'em in.

Well, thanks for your suggestions on how to do better. I'll be sure to
take them under advisement.

        Ross

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