Make Their Jaw Drop

by Terry Brown (Animal)

I know that when a lot of people want to show off the capabilities of Linux, the first thing they do is demonstrate the bling: wobbly windows, minimize effects, cube, and such other eye candy goodness.

Now that's not all bad, and it has its place in a demonstration. But whenever I want to show off the capabilities of Linux, I try to focus on those things that are truly unique and have true value.

For example, last night I was showing off my desktop to some extended family members. I was running the desktop shown in the November screen shots (below). Pretty utilitarian. Pretty, but functional, and minimal.


But then I asked them if they wanted to see something really incredible? So I inserted my latest remaster in the DVD drive and rebooted. And after a few minutes, we were looking at the very same screen we had just exited.

Color them unimpressed – until I told them that I was running off a live DVD, and that it was a fully functional desktop containing all the programs, settings, and drivers I had just showed them.

I explained that in the event of a hardware failure, or a corrupt update, that with that one disc, I could reboot and continue any work I was doing uninterrupted. And, in a matter of a few minutes, I could reinstall from this disc and be right back to where I left off, bit for bit, without hardly losing a beat.

Now that impressed them.

Then I went on to demonstrate the power and flexibility of Synaptic, how I have a central repository (I hate that word by the way) to locate, update, and keep track of all the programs I may ever need for my needs.

Next, we discussed the value and and philosophy behind open source software. I showed them the close personal relationships I have with several of the people behind the software I use on a daily basis. I also know that if I ever encounter a problem, have a question, or just need to blow off steam, they are there and are willing to help. I asked them if they have ever encountered a "glitch" in Windows or one of the programs they ran, and if so, how did they go about getting help?

Well of course they have. Anyone who has run Windows has, but that wasn't the point. It was about where to go when that happens. They had no clue who to contact if they had a problem, other than the local PC store.

I went into the mentality of choice over what you did with your software, and how you had control over how it looked and worked.

We talked about the cooperation and communication with all of those involved around the globe, and that Linux wasn't about corporation. It's more about community and personal freedoms.

Then I wowed them with the bling. It's like the icing on the cake. Icing is all well and good, but you have to have substance underneath for it to taste good.

Finally I rebooted, took out the DVD, and showed it to them, so I thought I would share.

Why did I go through all of this? Because I do have a relationship with those behind the wonderful distro I use, and I wanted to say thanks in my own little way.

Terry Brown has been a Linux user since 1998, starting with Mandrake 5.2. He's been a PCLinuxOS user since version 0.92, and a user of Texstar's RPMs back in the Mandrake Linux days. He currently resides in Kingsley, Michigan, USA.