“Just install Linux on it” is the “just change the engine of your car” of tech.

Not everyone is a mechanic, not everyone wants to be a mechanic, and, if we want a world where freedom is the norm, we must stop expecting everyone to become a mechanic.

Note: this is not because these people are too dumb to be mechanics. It’s because they’re brain surgeons and space-shuttle pilots and they have three kids and they care for a loved one and they don’t have time to also be a mechanic.


@aral However, the brain surgeon could be interested in having Linux installed and go to a mechanic, who does it for them. Or they buy a device, which comes pre-installed with it.

But here is the fact: They are not interested. And this has obviously multiple issues, and they are hardly a problem of Linux itself.

So our actual problem is not the Linux installation. This is just a technical act. It is meaningless. What matters, is to spark interest
in Linux.

@rugk > the brain surgeon could be interested in having Linux installed and go to a mechanic, who does it for them. Or they buy a device, which comes pre-installed with it.

Those two options are worlds apart. Again, no one goes to a mechanic to install an electric engine in their gas guzzler, they buy an electric car.

So the first option is the problem, the second is the solution. We need to stop conflating the problem with the solution. And we need to stop victim blaming. People do care.

@aral Well… yeah, certainly the easier solution. But I guess these are the limits of this metaphor.

Because switching an OS system is relatively easy. Actually people kinda do, when they upgrade from Win7 to Win10. – You could not that easily upgrade the engine of your car.

So the real upgrade path is Win7 -> Linux. And major Linux distros do offer Exe-"Installers" for Windows that you can use to burn a DVD/USB. So while it may be hard for the average user, a "mechanic" can easily do it.


I wouldn't expect a brain surgeon to have an interest in linux. Most people (I think) have very little interest in how computers work, and certainly no interest in tinkering with it themselves. They are trying to use computers like the tools they should be to get work / art / surgery / whatever done. They are a means to an end for most people (I think)


Ok, fair, conversion is not the way forward long term for sure. Vendors like https://puri.sm/ sell these things. I agree that supporting sellers who sell gear-thats-not-spying-on-you is important. (I'm interested to see if their phone takes off (I hope it does))

While we're waiting though, I don't see the harm in doing the occasional conversion for a friend. (also less wasteful of existing hardware)
@aral @rugk
I used to help out at a non-profit that took old computers, stripped useable parts, built new ones, installed lightweight linux distos and re-sold at minimum prices.

That was a wholesome place and I enjoyed it.
@aral @rugk People care more now than they did in the past, after years of scandals and the last couple of years of heavy criticism of silicon valley.

A decade ago it looked as if the battle for the desktop was about to be won. The new netbooks were shipping with GNU/Linux by default, and they were selling in numbers. Often they ran some Ubuntu derivative. Companies like Dell also started shipping with Ubuntu. But the hopes for netbooks didn't last long.

Today there aren't many companies who will sell you a new GNU/Linux laptop. A quick search reveals Dell, System76 and Purism. Dell is probably still the only vaguely mainstream supplier with the others being very niche and typically expensive.

The GNU/Linux desktop battle never really ended. It merely became unfashionable to talk about. Microsoft still mostly has a monopoly and still mostly has horrendous business practices and low quality software. The growth area currently is ChromeOS, which lacks GNU and is arguable worse than Windows in terms of lack of control over personal data. Canonical messed up their convergence strategy and are no longer focused on the desktop or "Linux for humans". Sure, Ubuntu still exists but the desktop isn't their main focus anymore. So it's still quite a bad situation.

@aral @rugk
>Again, no one goes to a mechanic to install an electric engine in their gas guzzler

But people go to a mechanic to install an LPG mod (a.k.a. Autogas), because LPG is cheaper than gasoline.

@rugk Most people care about operating systems just as much as about the company which built the engine in their car. They care about things that work for them. That's our challenge. 😌

@z428 @rugk @aral

This right here. The underlying OS is not the issue, it is the fact that people get locked into ecosystems and once there don't see a path out. You can switch back and forth between Windows and MacOS easily enough because most programs are made for either one. Linux doesn't have that luxury because why would you make a program for a free competitor?

Office applications on Linux won't happen anytime soon, for the same reason Apple won't release iMessages on other platforms.

@jeff @z428 @aral While I agree with the general thought, you can actually use many applications from Windows/Mac on Linux, it just depends on what you use, i.e. Firefox, LibreOffice etc. However, i get your point that you likely talk about commercial applications.

@rugk It depends, and I'd try / suggest another route: Make people sensible for reasons why to use FLOSS software, not necessarily just Linux. And enable them to do so as much as possible. If you're in example supposed to work with CAD or a lot of planning software, Linux is no meaningful option but you still could use a lot of FLOSS on top of your current platform. That already would help in some cases. 😉

@jeff @aral

@z428 @jeff @aral

In any case, I think the end of update support of Windows 7 in 2020 can be a chance to bring people to Linux.
I mean many people still use Windows 7…

Due to the lack of a real cross-distro discussion platform I've written up some ideas here, now:

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