How Non-Geeks and Technophobes See Linux

In a Linux forum I read but haven’t joined, a “typical” desktop user replied to a geek who hoped to shame us “typical” users of “easy” desktop Linux. The reply to his point is classic! Too right-to-the-point not to share here, on behalf of us “typical” users and technophobes. Here is the original post and reply on Linux Mint forums:

“Typical users” don’t expect to type commands. Too complicated, that’s for experts, I’m no geek, I just want to use my computer the easy way so I can get in touch with Susan. And then Mr. Typical User will click (or — God forbid — “touch”) his way into Facebook somehow, and once there, he will type, he will type away all day long and make Susan happy. Go figure.

I am one of those “typical” users who doesn’t expect to type commands, but expects to use the keyboard for applications rather than for maintaining, tweaking, or fixing the OS. The times that I have used the dreaded terminal have been very few and far between. If not for Linux Mint’s simple GUI, I would have run right back to Windows!

But I don’t think it’s just us “typical” users that benefit from the GUI. I have read these forums enough to know that there are plenty of very tech-savvy geeks who prefer to click their way through things instead of using the terminal. I respect the power of the mysterious, foreboding terminal too much to mess around with it without knowing exactly what I’m doing! When I first learned to use a gun I felt exactly the same way. A gun is too powerful to use without knowing what you’re doing, potentially lethal to you and to others!

Overcoming my dread of guns took a lot of gentle coaching and patience. I’m glad I did though, and now I’m a pretty good shot with both my pistol and my shotgun. But without the gentle, patient, compassionate coaching of my dad and the instructor, I would have walked away from shooting even knowing that without those skills I would be more vulnerable to “bad guys.” The thing for us “typical users” is the lack of gentle, kind, patient coaching and instruction in the use of such a powerful tool as the terminal. OMG, even the name of it is scary: Terminal. As in “The End.” “That’s All, Folks.” “Game Over.” The Linux community – and Debian’s in particular – is famous for chasing away people who are scared of the terminal. In fact I wonder if we respect it’s power more than some geeky people do!

I can use the keyboard to “make Susan happy,” but you just have to forgive me if I don’t use a “GUN” to make you happy.

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2 thoughts on “How Non-Geeks and Technophobes See Linux

  1. Hi Robin,
    “The thing for us “typical users” is the lack of gentle, kind, patient coaching and instruction in the use of such a powerful tool as the terminal. OMG, even the name of it is scary: Terminal.”

    I absolutely feel the same way as a “typical user.” I thought I was on to the perfect distro when I chose AntiX (Debian) but I´m afraid that it is slowly falling short of my expectations. Well, it has been an enjoyable honeymoon but I´m ready to try another, more Linux-dummy friendly distro. Could Mint be that one? I have an aversion to the “terminal” but am willing to learn the basics.

    Like

    1. Hello Lydia, absolutely Linux Mint could be the one! Just be sure to check which version is best for your hardware. The Xfce edition is less resource-hungry than most of the others, if you have modest hardware. But if your computer is “old enough” to require AntiX, then consider using the amazing and lightweight LXLE distro instead. I have done some reviews of LXLE here, and I’ll be writing one on Mint 17.2 (“Rebecca”) Xfce soon because I use it on a laptop.

      Like

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