“Just install Linux on it” is the “just change the engine of your car” of tech.

Not everyone is a mechanic, not everyone wants to be a mechanic, and, if we want a world where freedom is the norm, we must stop expecting everyone to become a mechanic.

Note: this is not because these people are too dumb to be mechanics. It’s because they’re brain surgeons and space-shuttle pilots and they have three kids and they care for a loved one and they don’t have time to also be a mechanic.


We are not going to compete with the mainstream car industry by promoting engine replacements. We are going to compete with the mainstream car industry by building better cars that are safer and more sustainable. But those cars aren’t going to grow on trees. We must fund the organisations that will create them from the commons for the common good.

@aral I disagree. We're not going to compete with the car industry with other cars. That's still just the car industry being in competition among themselves. The type of drive-train/motor is irrelevant to that.

What we really need is less individual transport using cars and subsequently less cars. Most cars are used by 1.2 persons when in use and most of the time they just occupy public space. That public space must be reclaimed for humas.
Transportation must be public/shared.

@MacLemon @aral so you're basically saying we should stop using computers and therefore don't need to care about free software at all? I think free software should be for everyone, not just us mechanics.

@aral obvious problems of the car analogy aside, I think the difficulty of improving on the state of a new laptop regarding privacy (e.g. by installing Linux) has reduced a lot over the last years, more like "get new tyres" at the moment. But the default state has worsened rather than improved, and I agree that improving the default state is what needs to happen.

@aral Unfortunately, in order to compete with the status quo, you'll first need to create some awareness and demand. Right now, PCs with preinstalled Linux are either Chromebooks (pretty infested) or cost significantly more than regular old laptops. They need to move from the "artisanal organic" price category to a point where you don't pay extra and "I heard somewhere these are good" is enough to get someone over the threshold.

Just a couple of quick remarks :)

Competition with proprietary software in terms of quality, security and convenience is not an important goal for free software in general. I think that this misconception leads to a lot of frustration.

And installing a mainstream GNU/Linux distribution is not a technical task. You don't need to study in order to do this.

@vk How did I get it so wrong? Is there somewhere I can go to read up on all this?

@aral There are a lot of different people doing different things, so I can't speak for everybody. However, I think that this gnu.org/philosophy/philosophy. is important.

If you want to install a distro, there are many ones, and everybody has their favorite. Mine is debian, but there are a few pages to read (debian.org/releases/stable/amd)

This one has less pages to read and many users too. I started with this one. ubuntu.com/download/desktop


I very much doubt the "not a technical part" but. If I hand a USB stick with "any mainstream Linux" to my dad (75), he'll plug it in and nothing will happen. Why? Because my dad does not know about boot order, boot loaders, BIOS, efi, or any of that. If he should by some miracle manage to get the stick to boot, how do you expect he'll get past the partition screen without losing all his data?
The answer is: he's not. He does not even know what a partition is.


@ck @aral The comparison was unfair to mechanics, because these people study to do their jobs. Now, I don't know your dad, but he may have relatives (😉) who know how to boot the USB stick. Then, the "mainstream linux" will boot and he will be able to try without installing it.

The partition screen will come well later, and there will be an option to partition automatically.

And don't assume that you are so much more intelligent than your dad 😁


I guess I'm missing your point completely unless it's "you don't need your stuff to simply work for you as long as you have someone to fix it for you", for which I can't even phrase a response...

I also tend to avoid quantifying peoples inteligence, I thinks the differences are marginal at best in comparison.
That is, unless you are trying to be condescending of course


@ck @aral No no, It's not about fixing stuff, it's about running the system. You can usually try running it and get familiar with it without installing, at least with the mainstream distros.

@ck @aral If you run it without installing it, then there's no risk and there will be nothing to fix.

If you choose to install it, the default partitioning works OK.

It's more like driving stick instead of automatic, honestly.

Install Linux on it is a perfectly reasonable answer when people can't easily use their current tech. "I want my car to compete in the Baha 1000" Well, you ain't doing it with that engine or that suspension.

Sure daily drivers such as Camry or Civic work at being daily drivers, but if they want to take it off-road or compete in F1...

The tech is not the main problem anymore. Large part is just older people's rejection of new/different things. Inertia.

My parents (in their 80ies) happily run Linux because I installed it and they never "learned" Windows before.

My kids (primary school) run Linux. I also put it on their and a couple of friends' schools-notebooks. They boot into Linux for school tasks because the Linux apps are easier and more capable. Irritates the teachers big time tho.

But try to get a 40 year old non-techie, who spent decades getting used to and work around Win idiosyncrasies, to switch? No way.

3-pronged strategy:

1. Get Linux into schools. That is an extremely hard and unfair political fight against GAM.

2. Get Linux into
administration, publc service, etc. Same political fight.

3. Make GAM surveillance based business model illegal. So that free ( beer) cloud services tied to prop. surveillance tech becomes unprofitable.

Summary: Forget the tech, it's politics, baby.

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