Charles Basenga Kiyanda

How linux (well, really foss) is going to rule the world: the 2-step program

Linux on the desktop and so FOSS, Free (as in free speech) and Open Source Software, have been making headway lately. Linux is still not accepted as an operating system. It’s still viewed as a geekie thing that’s not ready to be used by the masses. So I was wondering lately how this could be changed and I came up with the following 2 step program

  1. Take up windows on it’s own turf and target it’s own weakness: A FOSS antivirus software for windows. Antivirus software is just the most annoying thing to get. Every body gets it for free with their laptop nowadays. It lasts a year and then it expires. It just bugs you with reminder notices, they want to charge a lot for the software and definition updates. An open-source antivirus software/framework would be a huge plus. Just give that away. Hopefully, companies would come up and try to sell you just the virus definition. Maybe with different pricing schemes. For 10$/month, you get daily updates, for 2$/month, you get monthly updates… Maybe maintain a minimal, yet useful and free, virus definition file, so the program isn’t useless if you don’t pay. An antivirus software would be installed by loads of people. A great way to push some FOSS advocacy.
  2. A “how do computers and the internet work” website: I’m really tired of explaining to my father how his voip box has to connect to the router or, really, just what a router does all together. My mother still has a hard sometimes understanding the difference between a file and a website. I know I’ve explained these things to them, time and time again, yet it just doesn’t stick. Believe me, if there was a website where I could be and write down exactly what it does, I would even fire up inkscape (my favourite vector drawing program) and make pretty pictures for the explanations. Seriously, I would. I’m just really tired of getting phone calls like “I don’t understand, I click on this file and the website doesn’t come up.” How does that help FOSS? Such a website would be a great way to do some foss advocacy. When explaining what an operating system, the answer isn’t just “It’s microsoft windows”, the answer is “microsoft windows may be the most familiar operating system you are familiar with. it does x, y and z. There are other alternatives, like MacOS (you may have heard the words MacOS X). Linux is another operating system you could use. It differentiates itself by a, b and c. Here’s a ubuntu linux, microsoft windows and MacOS X screenshot. Linux is free and just as useful as windows.” Yes, this is an explanation that’s pushing a particular taste onto people. It’s trying to influence users. Absolutely. But it’s not lying. It’s telling the truth, it’s being usefull and it’s emphasizing a particular set of software. Yes it’s following an agenda. Yes, it kind of reminds you of what companies like, well… microsoft, would do. How does one do this honestly? It should be hosted on a website like Just be honest. “This information is brought to you by the linux outreach program.” Then give useful information to computer illeterate people and upsh your agenda. At some point, we have to be proactive.

None of these two steps actually benefit current linux users. Linux users, right now, have absolutely no need for antivirus software, although it pays to be proactive. If Linux does gain a lot of popularity on the desktop, at some point, we’ll see viruses. Current linux users don’t need to be told what a router is, or what the difference between a directory and a file is. Current linux users are geek. But if we want FOSS to gain acceptance, we need to be proactive and reach out. We need the linux outreach program.

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