Ignorance, Wal-Mart and desktop Linux

Paul Murphy thinks the best way to convince IT managers to go with Linux is to convince them of their "invincible ignorance." If bias and ignorance are the reason Linux is rejected, however, it's not just business executives who exhibit those traits.
Written by John Carroll, Contributor

Paul Murphy talks about a social divide between Linux and Windows users, arguing this is the real reason desktop Linux has failed in the marketplace. In other words, bias explains why people don't enthusiastically embrace Linux...that, and the fact that IT decision makers are stupid. But don't take my word for it. Quoting from his recent post:

Specifically: the invincible ignorance of the non-technical decision maker who considers computers nerdish and therefore socially untouchable, while treating people like Bill Gates and Michael Dell as heroes of American business acumen. Talk to these people –whether they're involved with a small business, a professional firm, or government — about desktop Linux and you'll be immediately categorized as on the wrong side of a social divide -and it's not because you're talking Linux, it's because you're challenging their self-image by talking about computers at all.

I have never figured out why so many fans of Linux consider insulting the opposition to be the best means of convincing them. But then again, I would say that, as if there is truly a social divide and Star Wars is an accurate reflection of cultural divisions within society, I'm in the control room of the freaking Death Star.

Paul's explanation ignores so many reasons business customers use Windows, which include near-universal compatibility, the abundance of knowledgeable technology staff, an absolutely massive API toolbox with which to build applications, consistency across the Windows universe (which is big enough to mean consistency across a wide variety of devices), etc. Heck, these are the reasons I favor Windows, and I felt that way years before I jumped into the Microsoft pool.

It wasn't for lack of contact with Linux. I spent years as a Java programmer, a subculture about as enthusiastic about Windows as Starbucks customers would be if they found strychnine in their coffee. Not only did many on my team not use any Microsoft products in their home, but considered me the bad guy for trying to bring Microsoft-backed, SOAP-based web services into our development environment.

Life would have certainly been easier if I had been a dyed-in-the-wool hater of Windows, at least from a cultural standpoint. That was impossible, however, because I PREFERRED Windows, and bias had nothing to do with that decision.

However, let's pretend for the moment that cultural bias and ignorance is the reason business customers persist with Windows. It doesn't explain why Wal-Mart now has a "Microsoft Store" offering low-cost refurbished PCs running a Microsoft operating system, as Paul pointed out in his post. It's not businesses who buy their computers from Wal-Mart, but regular consumers.

Therefore, if it's bias and ignorance that prevents businesses from embracing the Linux future, then it isn't just business executives who exhibit those traits, but regular consumers who buy from Wal-Mart. That means everyone is biased and ignorant...except for the people who use Linux.

What can one say in response to that?  Maybe....ignorance is bliss?

Editorial standards