How to Persuade the People You Love to Use Linux
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You love Linux, but how can you ensure the people around you can make the switch safely, and without resistance? Persuasion without force is the answer. Here’s how I did it.

Spreading the Passion of Linux

persuade others to use linux
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You’ve switched to Linux and are almost angry you spent so many years using commercial software. You could have been using this great free and open operating system the whole time. You’re excited, you’re passionate, and you really want to “do your loved ones a favor” by switching them to Linux too.

Pump your brakes.

I’ve been there, and if you don’t proceed with caution, you may introduce a fair amount of heartache and strife into your relationship.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t tell people about Linux. I’m writing this right now precisely because I never got over the urge to share this great discovery with others. But, as a general rule of thumb, people don’t like change. They especially don’t like it when it’s forced. So how do we proceed with love and kindness instead?

Be Patient

Don’t be in a rush. While you may think backing up a computer and replacing its operating system would be a great way to spend this coming weekend, your partner may not. If his face didn’t light up when you mentioned Linux, you might want to back off. You don’t want to come off as either a salesperson or a nag.

Enjoy using Linux. If he sees that you’re not experiencing any of the frustrations he is, or you aren’t having to spend money on software, his interest may pique on its own 7 Warning Signs That You're Meant to Switch to Linux 7 Warning Signs That You're Meant to Switch to Linux I was a Windows user for years, but was doing things that have taught me I'm a Linux user at heart. Wondering if you're a secret Linux user? Here are the warning signs. Read More .

Listen to Their Needs

We all use computers for different reasons. I primarily need a PC for writing, checking email, and interacting with the web. Linux is great for all of this.

My wife, on the other hand, regularly makes video calls. She also uses her computer to make brochures and other printouts.

So while I can use Linux without caring about the quality of Skype and other VoIP clients Is Skype for Linux Finally Good Enough for Windows Switchers? Is Skype for Linux Finally Good Enough for Windows Switchers? Skype for Linux is now available for download, but is it as full featured as its Windows and Mac cousins? Let's take a closer look. Read More , that’s not the case for her. And if she doesn’t take a liking to Scribus, then my favorite open source desktop may not leave her with the same warm and fuzzy feeling.

Address Their Concerns

You know what your partner’s concerns are, so do something about it! Have a list of solutions. Know which alternative app may be the best for her The Best Linux Software The Best Linux Software Awesome apps are available for Linux. Whether you're new to the operating system or you're a seasoned user, you'll always find new and useful Linux software to love. These are our favorites. Read More . If the program is cross-platform, she can try it out before making the switch. If she reaches a point where she can swap out the OS without having to change her entire workflow, switching to Linux will be easier.

Making the transition can take time. Mozilla Thunderbird may do everything she needs, but it doesn’t do it the same way Microsoft Outlook does. GIMP and LibreOffice are powerful tools, but they neither look nor feel like Photoshop and Office 365. Show her what apps can do what she needs and then take a step back so that she can adjust at her own pace.

You might even demonstrate that Microsoft Office can run on Linux with Wine.

Back Up Everything

persuade others to use linux
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One of your family member’s biggest fears may be losing data or ending up with a dead PC. Don’t let that happen.

Back up all of the files. Whether you prefer an external drive or a cloud storage service, that’s your call (though I know what I would recommend). Just make sure the data is safe.

Have system restore tools prepared to go. Make sure you have a recent system image so that you can rewind the computer back to exactly how it was beforehand, in case your partner doesn’t fall in love with Linux the way you did.

Be Honest

One surefire way to make the experience painful is to lie. If you know your spouse is a heavy gamer, don’t built up Linux’s gaming landscape as more than it is 4 Ways Open Source Software Is Not Good Enough 4 Ways Open Source Software Is Not Good Enough There remain corners the Linux ecosystem that aren't fully open source. Perhaps it's a hardware driver -- for some, a proprietary software application may be required. Here's where Linux is still playing catch-up. Read More . Yes, there are plenty of quality open source, indie, or AAA titles to hold someone’s interest for years. But at the same time, the library of titles does not compare to what’s available for Windows.

Likewise, there is a vast amount of software available for the Linux desktop. But many of these options aren’t desktop apps. There’s a command line tool for seemingly any task, but your Linux app store may not have many desktop programs to do the same job. In some areas, there are only two or three apps to pick from (such as word processing or presentation software), while others have dozens (music players and to-do list managers).

Don’t Try to Force Anything

persuade others to use linux
Image Credit: Tim Gouw/Unsplash

If your brother feels like he has to switch to Linux, he’s not going to want to. One way to ruin a good time is to make any aspect of it mandatory. So give your loved one time to make this decision on his own, and on his own terms.

Let him borrow your computer from time to time to get a feel for things. If there’s a shared family desktop lying around, consider switching that to Linux Getting Started With Linux and Ubuntu Getting Started With Linux and Ubuntu You're interested in switching to Linux... but where do you start? Is your PC compatible? Will your favorite apps work? Here's everything you need to know to get started with Linux. Read More rather than his PC. This way he can get familiar with the OS at his own pace and decide for himself if it’s something he’s interested in without you looking over his shoulder.

It’s Not All or Nothing

When I switched to Linux, I dove all in. This was partly because my computer had crashed and I had nothing to lose. You may have approached Linux with more caution. Your partner may want to do the same.

That makes dual-booting a great way to test the waters 7 Reasons Why You Should (and Shouldn't) Dual Boot Linux 7 Reasons Why You Should (and Shouldn't) Dual Boot Linux Often, making the choice of installing Linux over Windows can be tricky to justify. But why not opt for both? Here are five reasons to dual boot and two reasons you shouldn't. Read More . Rather than replace the entire OS, install Linux next to her existing copy of Windows or macOS. If you’re working with a Chromebook, you don’t even have to go that far How to Install Linux on a Chromebook How to Install Linux on a Chromebook Do you need Skype on your Chromebook? Do you miss not having access to games through Steam? Are you pining to use VLC Media Player? Then start using Linux on your Chromebook. Read More . Either way, her old OS is safe and available whenever she needs it. She doesn’t have to say goodbye until she actually wants to.

It’s All About Love

Remember, you’re doing this out of love for someone you care about and love for Linux. It doesn’t do him or her any favors to make this an experience they loathe and regret. Likewise, it doesn’t help Linux to leave someone with a negative experience. And, as frustrating as it may be, Linux might not be a good match.

But for most people, Linux can be a great option. By spreading the word, you’re saving people money, helping them extend the life of their current computer, and introducing them to an OS they’re free to do with what they wish. This goes far beyond rooting for one platform’s success over another. This is about giving someone you love a new way to think about computing 8 Ways Linux Can Improve Your New Year 8 Ways Linux Can Improve Your New Year A new year is a time of change and reflection. An opportunity to change how we do things. That's why it's great to be a Linux user as we go into 2018. Read More .

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  1. NotAPreacher
    April 19, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    I've used Linux for close to eight years now and I'm quite happy with it, but I'm not going to try to get anyone to switch. If someone comes to me and wants help switching to Linux, I will help them, but I'm not going to go around preaching "I use Linux and you should too" sermons.

  2. isse
    April 19, 2018 at 2:41 pm

    I am interested in switching to Linux because I'm not interested in Windows 10 and support/patches for Windows 7 will be coming to an end. I need informational material that will guide me through (in baby-baby steps) how to choose a version and proceed. I saw that there is a "Linux for Dummies," but was wondering if there are any other recommendations that might be even simpler.

  3. isse
    April 19, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    I am interested in switching to Linux, given the coming end to support for Windows 7 and I have no desire for Windows 10. But I need to figure out which version is best for me and figure what I'm going to do in baby-baby steps. Can anyone recommend a good guide for doing so? I see that there's a "Linux for Dummies" but was wondering if there are better (simpler) resources out there.

  4. Tux Creative
    March 23, 2018 at 3:37 am

    Last year I ditched all things Microsoft, Adobe and switched to Fedora Linux. For me, everything works fine. Unleash your creativity with Open Source Apps and Linux, fellow designers 8)

  5. JAFD
    March 22, 2018 at 7:50 am

    I would really _like_ to switch to Linux.

    But, since 1996, I've had ClipMate (from thornsoft.com) installed on my Windows systems. Therefore, when I want to keep a piece of information or a graphic for further use, I've only needed to hit ctrl-C (or shft-PrntScrn for graphics) and I knew that it was in my system's memory nunc et semper et in saecula saeculorum, that I could move it into seperate collections of clips, search and find it within the clips, and immediately paste it wherever desired. On the laptop I'm using now, there are about 50K items stored in my ClipMate files, ready for use.

    Am waiting for the day when there's a Linux clipboard extender & information manager as good as what Windows had twenty years ago.

    • Col. Panek
      April 19, 2018 at 2:54 pm

      I seldom use clipboards, but the KDE one looks pretty good. I've used Tomboy sometimes.

  6. Jim
    March 18, 2018 at 10:54 am

    I have found with computers, like with most things in life, most people would rather suffer with the familiar than face the unknown. Until FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) disappears from our lives, things usually remain the same. Takes a brave soul to embrace change.

  7. dragonmouth
    March 16, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    One big obstacle to installing Linux for somebody is the constant drumbeat of "Windows, Windows, Windows" from tech writers, pundits and shills. When I suggest Linux to somebody, I get asked "If Linux is so great, why is Windows installed on most of the PCs in the world" or "If Linux is so great, why don't they sell Linux PCs at xxxxx stores?"

    • rann xeroxx
      March 16, 2018 at 11:00 pm

      When ever they try selling Linux on PCs at retail stores, the sales are abysmal. There are plenty who will claim how unstable or bad at updating, etc. Windows is but for billion+ it just works and it works fine every day.

      I use all the major OSs, Linux included. There are things I like about Linux just like there are things I like about Mac OS or ChromeOS. But frankly most of my own PCs and my family's PCs run Windows. Set them as Standard Users with Team Viewer if they need support. Frankly I don't even run 3rd party AVs anymore as Defender on a locked down PC is good enough.

    • rann xeroxx
      March 16, 2018 at 11:06 pm

      First off, there is no reason not to be running Windows without at least having Defender installed and running. Only exception would be an air gapped PCs but true air gapping is rare.

      Second, Microsoft has now changed this as of the March 2018 cumulative updates. Automatic Updates never stopped working, all MS did before was stopped the cumulatives on machines that lacked the registry key confirming their AV was good. With cumulatives, you only need to install the latest, they are not dependant on other collectives. So automatic updates will run, pulled down the new update, and will install.