2001-10-26 01:00:00 UTC
A few days ago I was trying to give some advice to a friend who wants to buy a new computer. Obviously I advised her to avoid Windows XP, and I thought she might want to consider a Mac. I also thought about recommending Linux.
Sadly, I'm still not sure Linux is quite there for non-technical users. It's not as bad as it's sometimes made out to be though, particularly if you're not expecting it to be Windows, and I think that someday soon I'll be able to recommend it without any worries about its usability. (Or, rather, no more worries than I'd have about Windows.)
But there's a more worrying problem than its inherent usability. As a Linux user, I have to work quite hard to fight against people's assumptions that I'm using Windows. This takes the form of Word documents, websites that only work in Internet Explorer, instructions on websites that offer PDF files to install Adobe Acrobat (thanks, but I'll stick with gv), and so on.
I can cope with this, but with all the crap that university throws at me it's sometimes hard. And I'm a stubborn hacker with a strong belief in the principles of Free Software. If I were a non-technical user, what would I make of this? Would I cave in at some point and just go with the flow?
I fear that this will be a far harder problem to overcome than any usability problems that Linux may have.