Making Free Software easy to use and commonly available

Daniel Pocock daniel at
Sat Sep 28 14:17:44 UTC 2013

On 28/09/13 15:23, Otto Kekäläinen wrote:
> Hello,
> I just wanted to share two pieces of information that I hope everybody
> who do FS advocacy would know:
> 1) If the target uses Windows and has no experience with Free
> Software, give them a VALO-CD. See for details (in
> English)
> 2) If the person already uses some FS, and you want them to make a
> strategic decision to always us FS, suggest them to buy a
> pre-installed Linux-laptop. This way their experience is likely to be
> happy and at the same time they contribute in the process of "voting
> with their money" to show laptop manufacturers that Linux support is
> important.

These are good tips.  One of the leading strategies that I've seen in
corporate sales (involving free and proprietary solutions) is to focus
on problems: what are the biggest problems facing the person or
business?  They may not always be obvious IT problems either.

At one point, I was in the headquarters of a large international
corporation at a meeting of the IT heads from every business division.
Some prominent open source products had made it onto the agenda.  Top of
the list was Firefox.

Basically, this is large group of some 30 people for whom time is in
very short supply.  For them to get together and sacrifice even 10
minutes discussing a single topic only happens when there is a burning
problem that can't be ignored.

To cut to the chase, they didn't get together to discuss Firefox out of
sentimental reasons: they were discussing it because, like every big
corporation, they had a problem migrating web-apps from IE6 to IE8 as
there is no way a big company can just migrate all their in-house
web-apps in one day.

Many people had proposed Firefox as a solution and one argument was the
fact that it is easier to support concurrent installation of IE6+Firefox
than IE6+IE8.  The proposed solution: staff would access the upgraded
apps with Firefox and legacy apps through IE6 over a period of
months/years while the migration work was completed.

So my advice would be: don't hope for every user to make a strategic
solution right away.  Make a list of known problems, like IE6, privacy,
inconvenience managing license keys, proprietary vendors offering
support by 0900 number, and have a list of open source solutions next to
each problem.  They may let you solve some of their problems first and
then when they see the pattern, they will think open source strategy was
their own conclusion.

For those aiming at a niche market, the problems are more bespoke.
There are also common problems across all industries that are probably
easily shared through a wiki or this list.

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