Linux is not good for you…

A friend of mine was telling me how she went to buy a new computer, asked to have Linux on it, and was told “Linux is not good for you at home” and that she shouldn’t worry, they’ll just install her Windows XP and all the things she really needs, “for free”. Yes this happened in China, but it probably already happened elsewhere.

Don’t worry she’ll install Linux all by herself I am sure, the real problem is no longer that consumers are not aware nor ready for Linux, sales persons are not! It’s probably harder for them to get familiar with Linux and make an effort to learn something that’s good for their customers rather than launching Norton Ghost, partitioning the disk into Nx20GiB partitions (that’s how they prepare PCs here…) and copying all the virus, spyware and malware infected bootleg versions of Windows they’ve been distributing for ages.

This friend of mine is no tech person, just uses a computer and I guess, has been hearing about Open Source, Linux and Software Freedom. So it’s nice to see that our efforts are paying off. Now how can we reach those stores in China (and elsewhere) and get them to become familiar with Linux installs, and… why not… even do Linux promotion?

13 thoughts on “Linux is not good for you…

  1. Nice piece of writing. Many of the sales persons indeed have a one track mind, caused by ignorance. Luckily many of them are still young and eager to learn.

    As a full-time student I do part-time work in a shop. We actually sell a boxed version of OpenSuse 11.0 and whenever I sense an interest in OSS in any of my customers, I will offer the alternatives, sometimes at the cost of (direct) revenue. I say ‘direct’ because the customer will remember and appreciate the ability to choose a free and often better alternative. They will remember and come back.

  2. Why try to focus on one country when we can do the whole world?…What am I talking about?

    We focus on improving Linux through technical merit. Not via marketing, deception and other tricks.

    (1) Applications.

    Wine is not a solution. It is a temporary band aid at best. Wine is equivalent to herding cats. If you fix one thing, you’ll break another! (Notice how Wine’s bug list grows but never shrinks?)…Does one honestly think beginners will screw around with Wine?

    One needs to start open source projects that are direct alternatives of today’s popular applications. I’m talking about serious, hard core, professional native Linux apps as well as games that require developers of perseverance and dedication. (No quick fixes!)

    (2) Address the remainder parts of Linux.

    Let’s face it, with every distro, we encounter minor niggles here and there. We need to squash these, if we wish to be taken seriously. Stuff like power saving issues in notebooks, HD playback, out-of-the-box wireless and 3D acceleration support, etc.

    The idea is very simple: We don’t brag about how good the software is, we let the software speak for itself. It saves your breath (and you don’t look like a fanboy to the world). We act like people in the special forces…The quiet professional. There’s nothing more feared and respected at the same time.

    Be aware that this approach does take a long time, but its effects are quite severe on the competition and long lasting. No one wants to pay for software if they can get it for free. Software piracy (via P2P) has proven this simple fact. But what happens when you make it free, legal and encourage sharing? Companies like Microsoft are screwed. (We know this because they have never been able to come up with a proper counter to destroy open source. They have no real answer to us! That’s the real fact.)

  3. Rick,

    You are being kinder than you should. Realistically if you are talking to a salesperson from one of the big box stores here in the US they make commissions off the sale of Microsoft product. A Linux sale gains them nothing.

    Its the profit motive.

  4. Well, if it only was the problem, that sales people would discourage the use of Gnu/Linux.
    Problem is, they would tell you complete bullocks.
    I asked if this MP3-player would connect to my Linux machine and was told, that every MP3 player they sell (quite a range) would exclusivly work with Windows and – if stated explicitly on the package – with OSX.
    I bought a player without any futher “assitance”.
    And that is not the first time, that something like that happened!

    The sales person that denies that Linux would maybe work is on the safer side: if it works anyway, well, good for the customer. If it does not: Told you so.

  5. The problem is one of commission, of profit and nothing more. The store charges for XP, then charges to install it, and finally, the saleman gets his 5% for XP and the installation fee.

    They are told to be dumb, and to downplay linux (because linux does not yield profit or commissions).

    I bet this occurred in a big box store, one that promotes overpriced TVs, and overpriced accessories.

  6. @Rick: totally agree with you. At the end customers remember where they got valuable information. It’s not a one time job, but a long term relationship business should establish.
    @Aussiebear: nobody ever got adoption on product quality, but on marketing. promotion and education about Linux & OSS is at least as important as making a good product. And it doesn’t have to be deception. Now how do we get salespeople aware and confident in recommending OSS?
    @JohnMc and Leslie: this happened in China where whether Linux or Windows is installed no one gets money out of it: those are pirated Windows versions that are installed. In other countries I can eventually understand the need to make 5 today while losing out on the long term because the customer finds better value elsewhere (assuming Linux is better than Windows – your mileage may vary). I do wonder however how could we reach those people and open a dialog?

  7. knowing damn well my local best buy will not sell a machine without windows,
    I sometimes like to go in and act interested in laptops, just so that I can rant to them
    about how I do not want a machine that has been soiled with microsoft products:)
    they always get flustered and say something about how you would be crazy not to keep windows.

  8. Here in the UK most of the sale people I have spoken to have not heard of Linux or any other o/s other than windoz. They only get commission for moving boxes, it does not matter what o/s is installed on it. The big problem is the schools are locked into M$ so most only teach M$. Its the same with government retraining schemes, they have only herd of M$.

  9. lol free winnie installation…that has to be a pirated one then.

    But again, these sales person either fear or bribed regarding linux suggestions.

  10. I must clarify the re-installation of Windows XP is 100% non-copyright version which the sales told me. I think the key problem is that most of the entertaiment software nowadays cannot fouction under Linux. Once this problem is solved, I don’t think the sales will recommend re-install the Windows. Coz what they want is to sell out the computer to get commission.

  11. Actually, what does “100% non-copyright version” mean? Is there a copylefted version of Windows XP in China? Or was it truly a bootlegged version?

    Considering Audio/Video I think *nix can compete with Win32/64. Considering games, not. Loki ( tried it, but failed and shut down in 2002. Wine is no option. Right. But with money being sparse, people will look at cost/performance ratio. And the latter is getting better and better!

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