This is the first entry written in English in my blog. I will allocate some ideas about Linux, Community and, more than anything, about Fedora.
I want to thank the Fedora Community to let me be part of this great project.
Now, the article.
We, the old linux users are used to our environment, and we should understand what can be done and what can’t be done on Linux, limitations, advantages and everything related to our OS. With the pass of time we become power users and we forgot how is to be a new user.
When users come from Microsoft Windows, they have expectations, and they have things that normal users want to do in their OS, and more important: “THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT FREEDOM”.
The Ambassadors Project
Fedora project members had an idea to bring new contributors to the project. The Ambassadors are the representative of the project and they are the one who supose to attract new contributors to the cause, they are the face of Fedora. If we think a little on this, maybe we should supose that we (the ambassadors) should be the ones who understand the Final User, but this isn’t always true. In my opinion this is because of the issue I describe above: we forgot about the feeling of coming from another OS.
For me, the best example is the Desktop. When a user comes from Windows 10, and before it has Windows 7, they ask about the Graphics Effects. They normally come to Linux with low expectations, because “Linux is Ugly“. But they don’t know that we have “Peek” since at least 7 years, or the “Task View” since 5 or 6 years, the same is with “Action Center” or “Multiple Desktops”, and a lot of the New Features of Windows.
With this, the problem with Linux is the multiple choices. But how is this a problem? Well, we, as old linux users, tend to take defensive positions all the time, and this is not the exception. A normal discussion about the Desktop Environment can last 2 or 3 hours, just saying why a DE is better than other: XFCE is light, Gnome is more productive, KDE/Plasma is better looking, LXDE is light and modern, Unity is for Ubuntu users, Shell Desktops are the future, and a long list continue. Then the issue became present: We forgot the user.
Almost all multimedia files can’t be played without restrictions in Linux, at least no with only free software. This is because codecs are usually released with restrictions, just “free to use”. Almost all distributions have a workaround for this, in the form of a non-free repository, or a 3rd party repository, but I don’t remember a Linux distribution that have non-free codecs enabled out-the-box. This usually means that extra steps needs to be taked to make things work. Then the usual answer of old time linux users became present: “It’s not free”. Again the issue: We forgot the user.
This is a hard point to bring to the table. Why? Because hardware support doesn’t depends on the community, it depends on the manufacturers. But this became a problem when a new user come to an install fest and receive the answer: Your hardware is not compatible and THIS IS YOUR FAULT. Sometimes I think: Really? I remember the first time I had a computer of my own and I want to install Linux, I didn’t ask about the BIOS, or the graphic card, or the most painful, the wireless card; I was just so happy to install Linux in MY computer. I’ve passed through a lot of forums receiving “google it”, RTFM and a lot of this kind of answers. That is where the issue become present: We forgot the user.
This is one of the big “missings” of Linux. Even when there is a lot of good games for Linux, like alien arena, 0 a.d. and so on; it’s not a lie that none of the most popular games came for linux. and won’t come soon. Steam and sites like GOG or itch.io have opened a door for Linux users, and now it’s a little better to be a gamer on Linux, but still we miss some of the titles that are released on Game Conferences. But looking again to the community, some of the more common answers are: “It’s not free” or “Gaming isn’t a need”, one of the answers that make sense is “dual-boot” but then the linux users look at you like a demon or an alien and you became an outcast. Again: We forgot the user.
This is my last example. It’s no a secret that MS Office is one of the most powerful tools that is created by Microsoft. With more than 20 years in the market and with a lot of users, it’s one of the biggest reasons for people to keep MS Windows in their machines. I know that OpenOffice (now owned by Apache Foundation) and LibreOffice (by The Document Foundation) are doing great efforts to bring a suite that can replace MS Office in the people machines and both have great features, but still the race is hard against MS Office. For me, having more than 10 years using Linux, it’s still hard to replace MS Office, even with Google Docs, because some things simply aren’t mature enough or the way to work with it it’s harder or take too much time.
It’s not FLOSS
All members of any linux community, or working for any FLOSS project need to remember how is to be a new user, and to understand what are the needs of the computer’s users. We shouldn’t let the pass of time to became us indolents, and forget how is to migrate from a privative OS.
Someone that want to listen the music that he convert in mp3 from his CD, or a teen gamer that want to play the latest Diablo, or just a mom or a dad that want to read some news, some emails, maybe check the facebook to have a connection with their family, a student that put all his effort to buy a new laptop and only can afford the economic serie of any brand. That final user need to be listened, and the answer for them is not freedom. You can educate them to freedom, but you shouldn’t close the door of something they want or need just because “It’s not FLOSS”.