Ubuntu for My Boss

The VAR Guy

May 5, 2008

4 Min Read
Ubuntu for My Boss

For as long as I can remember, Linux was “marketed” and pushed towards the younger crowd—the computer-savvy, self-described “geeky” community that had no problem getting Linux to work on their system. But now, even my boss is running Ubuntu. Here’s our story.

This has typically involved a good amount of command-line interaction and tweaking to get your system working. Though this is a simplistic way to describe what is in actuality a complex situation, the above is a lot of the reason why Linux adoption in computer users as a whole has been slow compared to Windows.

But time has changed this once accepted reality. Improvements across the board throughout many distributions, led today by Ubuntu, have led us to a point where users across the spectrum can use it effectively with just a little curiosity and desire to learn something new.

It was that desire and the quality of Ubuntu that led me to recommend Linux to my “boss,” a gentleman mostly retired and about 60 years old. Here’s the story.

A Little History

Of course, my boss did not grow up with computers and did not use them from the age of six like myself and my peers. Instead, it was in his middle age that computers came about and into the home for users to compose documents and send email and reach out to friends a world away. For this user group, the far majority are now solid Windows users.

My boss, lets call him “Tom,” was exactly one of these: comfortable with computers, comfortable using and manipulating Windows, and on the more advanced side, even able to edit the registry when he needed to.

So when he walked into the office and saw me in the lounge with my Eee PC on the table, he immediately asked me what it was. As I explained it all (as I have many times when using my Eee PC in public), I mentioned that its lack of pre-installed Windows helped keep the price low. “But how does it work without Windows?” he asks me. Enter my explanation of Linux, the Open Source movement, what it means, and why it is important.

My Eee PC no longer has the stock Xandros distribution on it. I went through a number of distros (the stock Xandros, Backtrack 3 Beta, eeeDora, etc) before settling on eeeBuntu (xbuntu modified for use on the Eee).

Test Drive

So when he asked to give it a try, I explained the idea behind distributions and what was currently on my machine. His extreme pleasure and amazement with my Eee led to a greater discussion of Ubuntu in general. He was amazed to hear he could get it for free off the Internet and install it on his system…all free of charge.

He was shocked to see me answer his question of “will it work on my computer?”- I simply googled the name of his system and did five minutes worth of research to get him a 90% sure “yes” it will work.

Doing this quick research then led me to a more esoteric discussion about how Linux and Ubuntu are more of a community model when it comes to support versus the traditional vendor and paid tech support model he was more familiar with when using Windows.

I showed him the Ubuntu forums, Linux forums, and other websites that can provide help. I explained how instead of a phone call, he just needed how to learn to compose and use Google searches more effectively to find answers to problems.

And this, my friends, is how I transformed someone’s grandfather into a Ubuntu user. We downloaded and made a 7.10 Live CD which he took home with him, only to report the next day how much he liked it.

He was amazed at OpenOffice and that there is a free alternative to Microsoft Office. He was shocked at the idea of software repositories, and how he had found open-source equivalents for all his much-used Windows software. The next night, I helped him partition his hard drive so he can now dual-boot his machine between XP and Ubuntu 7.10. I figure I won’t dump 8.04 on him until both him and 8.04 are a bit more experienced.

Linux has and will become more popular with further adoption in the business world. It will make people more money, showing them that there is in fact a market for it. At the same time, the continued development of Ubuntu will allow further inroads into the desktop market, allowing all sorts of users to make the switch from Windows and try something new. My ability to convert Tom shows the impact that Ubuntu has had.

I would never had tried to covert him to Fedora or SuSE or any of the other popular distros. It only goes to show, once again, that Ubuntu is at the forefront of innovation in the Linux world.

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