OpenSUSE: No Sales Pitch

The average consumer gives precious little thought to the technology they use, beyond concerns with their own convenience. The only time they start caring about what’s going on behind the interface they experience is when failures impinge on their convenience. Even then, any such deeper consideration is still rooted in their convenience. They may well become ardent supporters of one market offering or another, but that choice still reflects their perception of what is most convenient.

Thus, the most helpful tutorials are the ones that get people quickly over the hump between gaining possession of their new technology and their preferred usage patterns. Only a very small segment of the market will give consideration to the technology itself in terms of what they can know about it. And most of those are business users, folks who need to know a certain amount because it’s part of their job to make decisions for a number of workers.

Thus, advertising smartly seeks to reach one of those two market segments: mainstream mindless consumers and business buyers. There is a bit of merging between those two when individual consumers have various use cases that require knowing more than the average. This is why we can sell big fat paperback reference books that address the users with little technical knowledge, helping them access the inner workings for common use cases so that they become “power users.” They don’t become real experts, but they are as close as most mainstream consumers and small offices ever need.

What’s left is a truly small segment of the market for whom this is all a hobby in itself. This is the technology fanboy culture. While you can find some really decent business oriented technology guides out there, the vast majority of what is written about Linux is from the fanboys. Somehow, most Linux and Open Source software development is either pure business, or it’s a reflection of the fanboys. Nobody out there is aiming to reach the mainstream consumer, in part because those consumers are pretty much owned by the big commercial outfits, but also because the majority of Open Source projects arise from fanboy culture.

Worst of all, the fanboys typically overestimate their ability to influence mainstream consumers. The searing brilliant logic in the minds of fanboys is silly useless noise to the mainstream. Nerds are in a different world from everyone else, and those nerds suffer varying degrees of alienation, typically without any clue about it.

I can’t help the fanboys, but I will defend the right of mindless consumers to keep on being mindless about technology. Until it matters to them, no one should demand they learn all about the technology in their hands. It’s not in their best interest to be ignorant, but that’s nobody’s business but theirs. Don’t try to force them to wake up about technology, or anything else, for that matter.

When I write stuff about Linux and computer technology in general, I’m not trying to help the mainstream user. They may well use my tutorials, but they aren’t the target audience. I’m trying to help those who fall more into the range of power users, folks who need to know but aren’t really all that charmed by the technology.

I am not at all charmed by the path Linux has taken over the years. I’m honestly never that far from switching to something I think might work better for some particular need. My support for Linux is conditional, and I am highly annoyed by fanboys. Further, my choice of which Linux flavor I use is even more conditional. Right now, the single biggest factor in my choosing OpenSUSE is control: It’s the closest to what I want with the least hassle. Given where the dominant stream of Linux development is going, OpenSUSE offers the fewest challenges, never mind whether I think any of it is approaching any kind of ideal for me.

I will go so far as to suggest that, given the political and technological trends of today, OpenSUSE is a pretty good choice for most use cases. If you can buy that, then you can expect my full support and assistance for as long as OpenSUSE development stays more or less on the same course it has followed so far. I will be highly frustrated if it doesn’t. I can tell you that I grew frustrated at how Ubuntu and friends changed course enough over the past few years that I can no longer support them, nor recommend what they offer. Surely Ubuntu does some things better than everyone else, but it does not seem to me the overall best response to what’s going on in the world. Then again, I fully admit that’s just my perception.

There’s no sales pitch here, just a declaration of what I’m doing and an offer to help if it sounds good to you.

About Ed Hurst

Avid cyclist, Disabled Veteran, Bible History teacher, and wannabe writer; retired.
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