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Ken Leyba [opinions]

Ten ways to take over the world [editorial] [gnu/linux]

It's a little too late for yet another New Year's resolution list. So here is a list of ten ways to take over the world, GNU/Linux style. Taking small bites and a gradual takeover is a decent goal for Linux in 2007. With the lukewarm reception of Microsoft Vista, GNU/Linux is in a better position than ever to be the migration target. No need to purchase a new system just to run eye candy.

In no particular order here is what you can do.

  1. Use GNU/Linux First and foremost you must set the example by using GNU/Linux. Just like anything else, the more you use GNU/Linux the more you will become familiar with the operating system. Practice what you preach, eat your own dog food, whatever you want to call it, just use GNU/Linux and be productive.
  2. Become an Expert Become an expert in one aspect of GNU/Linux or open source computing. Expertise in OpenOffice, even if on Windows, could lead down the path to full GNU/Linux adoption. Become an expert in a widely used application, especially an application that works better than Windows based alternatives. Is your hobby photography? Become an expert in photo applications.
  3. It's the Applications People use applications, not operating systems. No matter how good your operating system is, if it doesn't run your application it's useless. If there is a particular proprietary application that isn't available and there isn't an alternative the user is locked in. Find another target until an alternative can be found.
  4. Make Toast A GNU/Linux desktop doesn't have to be the first implementation of GNU/Linux. Create or use a GNU/Linux appliance, like an IPCop firewall, SME Server or a commercial Linux appliance. Once the benefits of using GNU/Linux are proven, additional adoption will make transition easier.
  5. Don't Bash the Competition Some people have been using their operating system for years and have become emotionally attached. You will get the same reaction as calling their kids ugly. Showcase the benefits of GNU/Linux not the limitations of others.
  6. Smart Human Tricks Three words, stealth GNU/Linux implementations. Need a file and print server installed at work? Install GNU/Linux, Samba and CUPS. Does your friend need storage and shared Internet? Setup a small server for her.
  7. Research the Hardware No operating system supports every piece of hardware. Make sure you know the hardware will work before formatting the hard drive and finding out that the Windows only printer or RAID controller doesn't work. Nothing is more embarrassing than promising the sky only to come crashing back down to earth because of some weird piece of hardware. You may have to make a purchasing decision, but I'd rather buy a new low cost printer than have to buy a whole new system to upgrade.
  8. Don't Assume Anything Just because you can supply a better solution or prove that you can save money or person hours doesn't mean it will be adopted. There are some bosses that will make irrational decisions, even if it's silly accounting practices. I once had a customer tell me, "We can't afford to save money.", because they had a service contract budget but not a capital equipment budget. Buying new equipment would have been cheaper than paying for their current service contract. Time to find another target, or another job.
  9. Show the Benefits Once you have a basic GNU/Linux desktop installed you are pretty much set to go. You have general office software, accounting software, e-mail and web surfing applications. No need to spend even more money on anti-virus, anti-spyware or disk defragmentation utilities. Secure out of the box, stability and speed are some of the many benefits to boast about.
  10. It's OK to Buy GNU/Linux GNU/Linux is literally free of cost and free as in freedom. However, don't be afraid of purchasing a commercial license if you feel it's necessary. You may need timely telephone or e-mail support. A customer may need a certain proprietary application provided by a distribution. There may be a need for a commercial appliance. Support Debian and Slackware when it's possible, buy a commercial license when it's necessary.


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