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2005 Jul 06 15:07

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Re: [vox] Survey: What do YOU use Linux for?
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Re: [vox] Survey: What do YOU use Linux for?

On Wed, Jul 06, 2005 at 12:17:23PM -0700, Bill Kendrick wrote:
> There's a demo this Sunday at the Davis Food Co-Op, and I thought it'd be
> neat to have a list of "things LUGOD members use Linux for" available
> for when people ask.

FWIW, I believe that such a list would be counterproductive for those of
us (this possibly may not include some people reading this message) who
would like to promote Linux as a general-purpose OS.  Such a list would
imply (even with a disclaimer to the contrary) that Linux is only useful
for special-purpose apps.

To give an example of the mentality we're fighting:  I am often asked to
address groups of high school seniors and their parents concerning our
CS program here at UCD.  I always mention that UCD and most other
PhD-granting universities use Unix (these days, typically Linux) as
their main platform.  The way I introduce that point is to have a
sequence of slide overlays in my presentation that says, "Guess
what...This isn't Powerpoint...We use Linux."  That remark is always
well-received, and a surprising number of the high school kids actually
turn out to know about Linux.  They know about the different distros,
etc.  One of them recently reacted to the slide by saying, "Ah, if it's
not Powerpoint, it must be OpenOffice."  (It's actually Prosper, a
slide-making package for LaTeX.  See my mini-tutorial at

But often they just don't get it.  One parent once said, "Is it true
that there is software that allows you to use Windows apps under Linux,
so that you can run Linux but still use those Windows apps?" I had to
patiently explain, "Yes, but I'm not interested in using Windows apps.
I do ALL of my computer work--word processing, e-mail, programming, Web
work, etc.--using open source tools on Linux."  I then explain what I
consider to be the advantages of open source tools:

  * they free

  * they often have better documentation

  * there is a friendlier user community to which one can turn for help

  * even though they are typically not as flashy as commercial Windows
    apps in terms of GUIs, they are often more powerful

  * they are generally not subject to the coerced-update situation that
    Microsoft puts people in


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