Ken Starks of the HeliOS Project posted a rather depressing blog post about a letter he received from his child’s teacher. Though the original blog post was written largely in anger and frustration, and a more measured and thoughtful follow-up post has been written as well, the original points out a serious issue that our computer using public faces.
The idea that Microsoft somehow enjoys complete control of the non-Mac computing world is not that rare, at least here in America. Until very recently, it was exceedingly difficult to get a computer without Apple’s or Microsoft’s OS installed without building it yourself. I have met people who thought everything from “it’s illegal to run non Microsoft OSes on PC hardware” to “Open Source software isn’t really free, it’s just pirated.”
So, even if you don’t want to be that guy who pushes his friends to go to Linux, or GIMP, or any other FOSS project, be ready to answer questions. Don’t be too standoffish to give a little impromptu demo on your laptop at the coffee shop, or to flash your RockBox’ed iPod to a guy on the subway. Even if you never get someone interested enough to try these products, you’re still decreasing the level of ignorance in the world.
That reminds me, I ought to stick a couple of Live CDs in my briefcase.