Thursday, January 10, 2008

Free software users

Thanks to LXer, I found a great post by Bruce Byfield, 9 Characteristics of Free Software Users. I found it to be a very interesting list. And a pretty accurate one. Among the 9 are:

3) Free software users expect to work the way they choose

Switching from Windows to GNU/Linux, the first thing that users are likely to notice is how many customization options are available ...

These options are a direct result of the sense of control that free software encourages in its users. Not only do they expect to use menus, toolbars or keyboard shortcuts as their preference dictates, but they expect to control the color, widgets and even placement of desktop features easily and efficiently.

6) Free software users expect to help themselves

Free software users ... are far less likely than proprietary users to expect formal technical support. Instead, what they expect are the means to help themselves .... A Do-it-yourself philosophy runs deep in almost every free software user. The longer they have been using it, the deeper it runs.

The whole post is great, but what actually struck me most was his introduction, in which he talks about helping family and friends with their Windows machines. He said:

...I was able to solve problems that baffled the others -- not because of any technical brilliance, but because the free software culture in which I spend my days made me better able to cope.

I believe what he is saying is true. I also think it extends far beyond the questions of computers and software. But that is another topic for another day perhaps.

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