Last night I’m afraid to say I failed the LINUX community.
My wife’s Aunty and Uncle came up from Glasgow to Aberdeenshire to visit my mother in law for a few nights and en route stayed at our house for a meal.
After the meal my wife’s Uncle asked whether he could use our PC to check his emails etc. My wife asked my son to give the Uncle his laptop to use which is running Windows 7 but I saw the instant opportunity to demonstrate the power of LINUX by letting him loose on my laptop running Mageia 2.
Now the reason I am running Mageia 2 is that I had an unfortunate incident last weekend whilst playing with the partitions on my laptop whereby I accidentally destroyed the version of Zorin I was running previously. This however was not I thought an issue because I had set up Mageia meticulously with the KDE 4 plasma desktop and I think it looks really impressive. I have even installed Compiz to add some whizzy effects. Add to this the Chromium browser and you would think you have a really good setup to demonstrate to a non Linux user.
Why did it all go so wrong?
What I initially failed to appreciate is that in Central Glasgow they have pretty decent broadband all the time running at around 8mb. Here in Aberdeenshire they have only just discovered colour television so our home broadband speed with Orange is under 2mb. I normally counteract this by using the 3 mobile broadband which can at times give you around 7mb but occasionally in bad weather and peak times it drops to about 2mb.
For those of you unaware of this fact the weather in Scotland has been shockingly dull and dreary for the past month and there is a lot of fog in our area. I don’t know if that affects mobile broadband signals but needless to say the 3 mobile broadband last night was running at around 2mb.
Instantly my wife’s uncle’s first response was “I don’t know if the laptop is old or it is the software but the internet is very slow compared to my Macbook”. When he said this a few things went through my head including “you stupid [insert expletive here] Apple fanboy” and “blast you Three mobile broadband”. The problem was not the laptop at all. The laptop was responding perfectly fine to every request but it can do nothing at all about the broadband signal.
The second reason why my demonstration failed was because of Chromium. The uncle is an Apple user. He is used to Safari. When there was an address in the toolbar he could not work out how to clear the address to type in a new one and so frequently placed the cursor at the end of the address bar and pressed the backspace key. I explained that you can just press CTRL and A to select the whole address and just press the delete key at which point he said “It is much easier in Safari”. I fail to see what is so difficult in pressing CTRL and A and then the delete key.
My wife’s uncle is a professional artist (Which goes someway to explaining his love of everything Apple) and he was demonstrating his work to me. Unfortunately the third thing went wrong at this point. One of the files he wanted to show me was a flash video and unfortunately due to the reinstall last weekend I had not got to the point of reinstalling Flash. Doh!!!
Compiz to the rescue
The one thing the Uncle did really like was the little effects Compiz gave when closing windows and navigating around web pages. Frequently he said things like “wow that is weird” and “that is really amazing”. All this goes to prove is that it doesn’t really matter to an Apple fanboy how good something is as long as it looks amazing. (I’ll await the flames in the comment area for that statement).
I tried to demonstrate the power of LINUX to a non LINUX user and I failed. I failed because I failed to appreciate that normal users do not care what is to blame for the internet going slowly. As far as they are concerned it is the machine they are using that is to blame.
I failed to appreciate that even Chromium can be tricky to get used to even though I use it daily without any issues.
Finally I failed to set up my laptop properly in the first place to play Flash videos.