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Searching for the Linux of Mass Appeal

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As a computer service volunteer and Linux advocate, how can I get the average computer user to adopt Linux?

This has nothing to do with what I happen to like, but what I find actually doing the job. Having to work around minor issues is no sweat for me, but the average refugee from Redmond isn’t gonna like it. Just getting past the inertia of moving away from what comes bundled on the PC from the store means we have to be significantly better. Gamers and hobbyists already know what to do, but most home users have too many other concerns in their lives. We want them; we need that mass appeal to overcome hindrances we have faced since the days Linus first posted his ideas on Usenet. We have to offer a compelling reason to switch.

Simple security is not enough. Everybody knows Linux is better at security, if they even know what Linux is. I remain firmly convinced neither the Russian Mafia nor NSA will find a typical Linux home PC an easy target for cracking over the wire.

As I compare what they see with what I experience in the Land of Linux, here are some observations:

1. GNOME is slightly ahead of the game over KDE and others. More stuff works, more consistently, right out of the box. They include things like the default CD player, screensavers, applets, and frequently font rendering.

2. Hardware detection is everything.

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