Last night I sat down with her and we talked a bit about what she thought of her penguin powered laptop. With her permission I am going to post some of her responses.
You always hear people say Linux is only for “hackers” or “code monkeys” obviously you must have some programming background to use Linux everyday?
Girlfriend: I know a bit of HTML, but I've never needed to “code” anything to work on my Linux computer.
You've used the Gnome, Enlightenment, and the KDE desktops. Do you have a preference to which you use?
Girlfriend: To be honest beyond appearance I never really noticed much of a difference between the three. Enlightenment and KDE are pretty, while Gnome has a bit of a crude feeling. They all function equally well though. I never had a problem doing what I wanted to do on the computer regardless of the desktop.
Is it important that the software you use is open source? Why or why not?
Girlfriend: I don't write code – I don't look for bugs. I just want an application that works and gets the job done. The most attractive component to FOSS to me is that it is free of cost. Take photoshop for instance – instead of spending thousands of dollars I can use GIMP for free. GIMP does everything I need, GIMP does everything most people need.
What aspect of Linux most appeals to you?
Girlfriend: The software center is great. It allows for you to easily find and install things and know they are safe. Installing things on Windows can cause your computer to die. As long as I am using the software center on Linux I have piles of choices I can just install without the fear of hurting my system (and with out costing me a thing).
What aspect of Linux least appeals to you?
Girlfriend: Most closed source programs are not universal. I still have to load a Windows virtual machine in order to do some of my school work. Aesthetically some of the FOSS applications aren't as good looking, but they typically get the job done so their appearance really doesn't matter to me.
Would you recommend Linux to a friend?
Girlfriend: Sure. If they had Linux then they wouldn't have to have all the extra trash on their system (that normally comes pre-installed on Windows). System stability is better on Linux, it doesn't start running slow after a few months. They also wouldn't have to pay to get viruses and spy-ware removed every few months.
What do you think needs to happen for Linux to become a major contender as a desktop operating system?
Girlfriend: 10 out of 10 people know what Microsoft is because it comes with their computer. People also can be afraid of free thinking you “get what you pay for”. Maybe you should try charging for Linux? Its really pretty dumb, but if Mac can be so popular with being so expensive I don't see why Linux can't do the same. Windows, Linux, OSX – they all do the same thing. Linux just tends to do it cheaper, more efficiently, and quickly.
A few of the responses she gave were exactly what I was expecting. It was refreshing to hear someone who is only a desktop user share some of the same insights as a seasoned Linux advocate – maybe we aren't all just nutty “Linux Zealots” after all. At the same time a few of her answers have given me some food for thought (and future posts).
While my girlfriend is smarter than the average bear, she is by no means a “programmer” or a “power user”. She is an accounting major, full time student and manager at a local bowling alley. Just like most end users her computer is a tool and Linux allows it to function better than it ever did while running Vista.
Have you installed Linux for friends or loved ones? What have their responses been to their new operating system after having time to use and adjust to it?