Once in a while I think how to bring Linux closer to the “normal users”. Also I think that there are still two or more important bugs which should be closed before I start to convert all my friends (like X on laptops with external monitors/beamers which is a real stopper for me, or printing at all) I at least try to talk about the topic and convince some of my more technic-based friends to have a look at it if they do not already use it.
But there is one situation which is really special: I got someone to use Linux because she had no other choice. Ok, so far so good, that can happen due to different reasons, but I think the reason is special: it is because of games!
What is the background?
Well, first this person showed me a game which was complettly unknown to me till this day: Sudoku. This game was pretty fascinating, I quickly got addicted to it. While she played it on some game website in a flash environment I first used a gnome-sudoku which was already installed on my laptop (I’m used to have all these games installed although I do not use them so often).
But I didn’t like the interface so I searched a little bit around and found ksudoku which had a much better interface and even came along in a installable rpm.
At the same time my friend got pretty annoyed by several disadvantages of her flash version and asked me if there is something similar for Windows – I searched around for any free (as in beer or in speech) Sudoku, but I failed. Although we found several different games none of them really fitted to her needs – or came close to ksudoku. I dugg deeper into the net, checked freshmeat and tucows, and we tried several versions – but nothing was really good.
And then I took all my courage together and offered her the installation of a virtual machine – and she agreed. I installed her a Suse 10.0 together with KDE 3.5, installed all the games which were available, installed ksudoku – and she uses it.
Actually pretty much cause she also loves the other games which come along with the usual gnome-games and kde-games packages which is in a way surprising and confusing cause it is the first time that I really convinced someone to use Linux due to the availability of cool games. Keep in mind that a virtual machine takes a minute or two to boot up and slows down your system significant!
But she still uses it, and I think she will use it for quite a long time now.
Sure, this is no long-term converting, but it shows me in an interesting way that Linux has some nice extra points which you normally would never think of. And it is just good to see that this person now has her first touches with Linux without beeing scared of since she really wants to use it. And it cannot screw up the Windows-system since it is installed in the virtual machine and does not interact with it at all (on userbase).
And, sure, the long term converting of this person’s computer, if ever, will take quite a lot of time because she is one of the most Windows-tied I know: the heavy Office 2003 use (Outlook, Word, Excel, Access) is a breaker in this case, and she is pretty tied to the file formats. Additionally her first impressions with OpenOffice weren’t so good (which I can totally understand, I do not like OOo as well and prefer koffice much, much more!) and that will not change very soon (try to explain to a very word-used person why it should take several steps until you have added page numbers – it is a one-click in Word; I would like to know who have invented the complicate procedure for OOo…).
Btw., the other user is a computer science student who uses Windows only and never touched Linux at all (probably except for a Linux box in their department). When he switches to Linux (or something else which uses Open Standards) for the most os his work I now that Linux is able to convince normal users that it is quite useful.
But, nevertheless, if you search for small little, but very nice apps next time which only exist for Linux in a useful version – think about a vm. Sure, it is a power-consuming step, and you will have to set it up at least a little bit, but it could be worth it🙂