Is the language of Linux too confusing for new users?

Today in Open Source: Does Linux have a language barrier for new users? Plus: The best ways to run Linux on a Mac, and ten uses for Linux for Windows users

The language of Linux

TechRepublic has an editorial that thinks the language of Linux needs to be changed to attract more mainstream users.

Language is crucial to helping new user adoption. Confusing them out of the starting gate is the easiest way to lose them. It’s hard enough for those user to learn a new interface, let alone a completely new way of thinking and talking about the way they use their computers. If the language used with the public was drastically simplified, new users wouldn’t be nearly as hesitant to adopt it.

And this new language would hardly affect the core of the Linux community. No changes would need be made to the code or the interfaces. The only noticeable changes might be within the marketing literature or documentation distributed to the public.

More at TechRepublic

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Image credit: TechRepublic
 

I have mixed feelings about changing the language that surrounds Linux.

On one hand I can see the value of making it more welcoming to new users. That could result in more people using Linux as their desktop operating system. More users certainly wouldn't be a bad thing for desktop Linux.

On the other hand, there's such a thing as dumbing something down too far. One of the big attractions of Linux is the power and control that comes with it. Many of the people who opt for Linux are eager to learn what is necessary for them to truly take control of their computers.

Perhaps the trick in changing the language is to do it in a way that welcomes newer, less tech-savvy users but doesn't simplify everything to the point where it turns off more experienced people.

Then again, is it really worth the effort to bother tweaking the language of Linux at all? If somebody really wants a simplified computing experience then wouldn't they just opt for a Mac instead of Linux? Plus, they'd get the rest of Apple's hand holding and support infrastructure.

I really don't know what to think about this. The whole thing might just be a waste of everybody's time that results in little or no additional users coming to desktop Linux.

Best ways to run Linux on a Mac

Speaking of Macs, Reddit has an interesting thread about how to run Linux on a Mac.

It just seems that the MBP with student discount is much better value for money than say, a Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition. Do people buy a mac and install Linux on it? Are there many issues doing this? I'm assuming it voids the warranty. Thank you.

More at Reddit

Run Linux On A Mac

It's quite intriguing that some folks would want to run Linux on a Mac, given that Apple is pretty much the direct opposite of the free software ideals of Linux. But I suppose that Apple's hardware definitely does have a certain appeal for some people.

I have an older Mac that I've used to run Linux on via VirtualBox. I've never tried installing Linux directly as I figured it would be more of a hassle than it's worth. Plus, VirtualBox works so well and it lets me distrohop with ease and comfort.

Ten uses for Linux even if you run Windows

Lifehacker thinks that you can get a lot out of Linux even if you run Windows.

Even if you’re a Windows (or Mac) user, knowing how to use Linux is a valuable skill and it can run a bunch of awesome things in your home — even if it isn’t your main desktop OS. Here are 10 ways you can use Linux even if you’re not ready to go full Ubuntu.

10. Troubleshoot Other Computers

9. Make a Chromebook More Useful

8. Host a Website or Webapp

7. Work with Hard Drives and Partitions

6. Automate Everything In Your Home

5. Run a Home Server for Backup, Streaming and Torrenting

4. Create a Dedicated Media Centre or Video Game Machine

3. Brush Up on Your Hacking and Security

2. Revive an Old or Slow PC

1. Learn More About How Computers Work

More at Lifehacker

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Image credit: Lifehacker
 

I like the article's attitude toward mixing Linux and Windows. I've always been a big fan of people getting their feet wet with Linux via virtual machines in VirtualBox while they are running Windows. So it's great that this article provides some incentive to experiment with Linux while still using Windows.

Today's Linux experimenters are tomorrow's Linux users.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

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