I really am.
A while back I won the “Ultimate” version of a prominent desktop operating system in a prize drawing. As a Linux user, this, and really any product from this manufacturer, isn’t terribly useful to me. I had a good laugh at the irony and tossed the box in the trunk of my car, where it sat for a couple of months. My father is still a devoted user of this company’s operating system, so on my next visit I gave it to him. He could use it more than me.
I got an instant message from him the other day. He had a number of adventures. First, there were issues getting his various types of hard drives in correct order as the operating system and the computer’s BIOS wrestled with him. Once he got that sorted out he discovered that the operating system in question did not recognize much of his hardware and he had to go surfing for drivers. He eventually found everything and got the system in working order, but it was a two-day ordeal of dedicated effort. Good thing he’s retired!
The point is, that my dad is not a computer geek. He had a technical background but spent several years as an executive, where one is fairly isolated from the day-to-day mucking about with a system in which many of us engage. Yet he tackled this situation like a pro. He had the persistence and patience to find the issues and knock them off one at a time. He was also very sporting about facing the myth that I’ve always had to face as a Linux user: “Those sorts of things don’t happen with major desktop operating systems.”
Obviously any operating system can turn into a nightmare under the right circumstances. I was quietly amused to think that if I had walked in with one of the current Linux distributions that the majority of the hardware might have been detected and activated and that anything else I needed could be found with relative ease on the Internet. There might be challenges, but it wouldn’t have been any worse than what my dad slogged through. It would certainly be easier than what I went through several years ago on the open-source path.
My dad got to see first hand what happens when things don’t work as expected, and that you can dig into the problem and solve them. He got to see that it can happen with even the most “Ultimate” of mainstream environments. I think the experience leveled the playing field in his mind a little. In fact, he said that our conversations about what I work with in Linux helped him form his strategy to solve his problems. Hmmmm. I’ve already got him using Firefox, GIMP and a few other open-source packages. Now that he’s seen what he is capable of, maybe he’ll be up to giving Linux a try! I’ll keep a disk handy for the next time he upgrades his computer hardware.
Anyway… Way to go, dad! I’m proud of you.