Explaining Linux isn’t enough.
Case to Muggles
Most people experience Linux the way they experience a light switch or a water
faucet. When they use it, they expect it
to work and give them what they want.
And if it doesn’t work, they expect an
expert to come and make it work. In their
experience, Linux is the business end of
infrastructure: the road, not the rubber
that meets it.
But the difference between Linux and
water, electricity or a road is that most
people know what those other things
are—and they don’t know what Linux
is, even when they’ve heard of it. That’s
why we need metaphors like the above if
we’re going to explain Linux to them.
But do we really need to explain Linux
to people who don’t know or care much
about it? And if so, why?
For most of Linux’s history, those of us
close to the topic believed Linux mattered
enough to deserve understanding by
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others, especially since we were certain
that Linux would some day achieve what
we liked to call World Domination. Linux
has crossed that threshold, but not by the
crowning victory we had hoped for from
the start: running on many millions of
personal computing and communication
devices and getting full credit for that,
by name. Today, the only form of Linux
doing that is Android, which is “Linux-
based”, rather than Linux itself.