Top 5 ways not to be a Linux evangelist

by Walter V. Koenning, for the Reality Mixed with Humor section -

As I ate dinner at a recent LUG meeting, I found myself pleasantly surrounded by a group of people with the same intense passion. We all shared a thorough love for the beneficial and effective Linux operating system.

Yet, as I spoke with two in particular, it became evident to me that perhaps some of the ways in which we in the community evangelize could use some honing. As WJ talked to me about his plan to encourage (his word was “make”) leadership in his organization use more Linux and OSS, I got to thinking that it may be time for another community article.

From my conversations and my own personal perspective I include a list of the top five ways not to evangelize Linux, or perhaps restated, how not to screw up a good thing:

Number 5

Do not show up at the mall wearing a F@#$ BILL t-shirt and seat yourself in a conspicuous place hoping someone will ask you what it means. No matter how much you love Linux and hate Windows, this isn’t a very helpful strategy. Wearing Linux promotional shirts is one way to get conversations started. But, it should not be integral to your evangelism strategy.

Number 4

Although Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is both a highly popular past time as well as being a really persuasive form of interaction, it is rarely useful when convincing people of the need to switch to Linux. Instead of using a choke hold or getting into a nasty round of ground fighting with someone who is recalcitrant about the merits of Linux, there may be a more peaceable alternative. Try first to invite someone out to lunch or just buy someone a cup of coffee while sharing with them how Linux has helped you in your own situation. You’ll find it less taxing on your time and energy and more influential when dealing with a negative attitude.

Number 3

Try to only place Linux flavor stickers over the Designed for Microsoft stickers on systems that belong to you. Avoid joining the fellow walking up and down the isles at the local computer store placing Ubuntu stickers across the face of everything that has a Microsoft sticker, including printers and scanners. Certainly it is beneficial to show your support for Linux and to verify what makes your own system run. But plastering the world with these stickers does little to promote the benefits inherent with Linux, especially if these stickers get pasted to the stall doors of your office lavatory.

Number 2

Watching the political candidates gear up for the next election can be exhilarating, or nauseating, depending on your perspective. However, using similar insults to promote the validity of Linux and the weakness of alternatives falls a bit short on effective tactics. It is probably easier to convince people to try Linux when you offer them the positives of doing so, rather than pointing to the many obvious negatives of their own OS. And, it reduces the likelihood you will be viewed as a zealot, because you don’t have to convince anyone to try Linux. It is left as a matter of choice.

Number 1

Do not sneak in to work early one morning, insert Linux live CDs into everyone’s desktop system, and hope that when they live boot they will be excited to see TUX. It is always a good idea to keep a few live-cds with you so that you can offer it to someone who may be interested. But “surprising” the office, including the senior VP, with the benefits of a KDE desktop is probably not going to help the cause. Although, from what I’ve heard, it can make your Monday morning at the office most interesting.

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