Or so it would seem.
A while back, I along with about every other Linux blogger got all bunched up over Microsoft "training" Best Buytm, Office Depottm and Staplestm in the art of besmirching Linux.
Honestly, it chapped my nether-regions.
Enough to go take a look. I looked a lot.
Best buy - 3 in Austin, 2 in Round Rock
Office Depot - 5 in the Austin Metro area
Staples - 1 in Austin...The one on Barbara Jordan Blvd
And I didn't just visit them once. All but one Office Depot, I visited twice.
Nada. Nothing....and some surprises.
There are no outward signs of any comparisons between Windows and Linux. Even more surprising was some of the responses from the sales staff.
Now I know...there were fears that I would go storming the gates, all wild-eyed and foaming at the mouth.
People that know me know that I don't do that. It's only those who know me by my blog alone that assume such a thing. Yes, I keep a level gaze and control the subject matter, but a rabid mad dog does nothing but get shot.
Or locked up.
Let me check my calendar. Nope. Neither are on my agenda.
Let me tell you what I did find. I visited these stores on Saturday/Sunday the 12th. the 19th and the 20th of September. I visited each store an hour after opening and an hour before closing...most multiple times. In the spirit of open and honest disclosure, I have a fairly new friend that works at Best Buy. See, after I did all this, he told his side of the story.
There are a bunch of closet Linux users and enthusiasts that work at Best Buy...even the Geek Squad has been known to demonstrate Linux after swearing the customer to secrecy.
And they are just busting to tell their customers about Linux. But they don't.
Jobs are not easily found these days. Oh trust me on this one.
So they bite their lip and do their job...they sell the products their employer pays them to sell and they keep their mouths shut about anything else.
I struck up a conversation with a lady at a Best Buy in North Austin this past Saturday. Ulterior motives aside, her name is Staci and she is an admin specialist for a County entity...I didn't say which county.
As she was browsing the netbooks I started a conversation with her and we began comparing the different models. I told her that it was odd that there were no notebooks with Linux pre-installed on any of them.
She cocked her head to the side as I pulled out my tagged and approved laptop and started it. There was a salesman hovering just out of hearing range, just like they are told to do once a customer says "just looking".
Of course, my laptop is set on kill. Fully optimized for the "holy cow what is that" response.
It didn't fail me.
As I spun the cube and made things blink and whirl, I explained to her that Linux was all but imune to Windows viruses and I demonstrated the OpenOffice suite, showing her how a document can be saved in .doc format.
She was honestly impressed. And confused.
"Then why are they not selling it?"
So I told her...the readers' digest version anyway.
I closed down my Acer and we talked about her problems with her computer at work. There were always tech-types asking her to get up while they stuck a usb key in and did some cryptic stuff to her machine. "Patches" they told her.
Yes, I explained to her...you always have to patch something that is broken.
The salesperson could no longer take it and approached us with a smile. He asked Staci if she needed any further help in making a choice. I believe it was the laptop opened for ten minutes with her full attention that got the best of him.
"Do any of these come with Linux". Her question was direct and without malice...she glanced over at me just for a milisecond after doing so.
"Um...no, we don't carry Linux products here. I'm sorry."
No "Windows pitch"....no "comparisons..."
What...maybe they are waiting for the release date of Windows 7? I dunno.
I get a phone call from an unknown number today at 7:25 AM. It was Brother of Staci.
Brother of Staci works at Tivoli here in Austin. Seems that Staci brought up the subject at a weekly family gathering Saturday night. Brother of Staci wasn't angry at me...
He called to ask me about my conversation with Staci in Best Buy.
See, he has been trying to get his family switched to Linux for over two years but they all refused to budge. Staci was the first to break and allowed Baby Brother to dual boot her Dell Inspiron with Ubuntu.
Over a conversation in an electronics store.
Mom and Dad should see the light soon...or so I am told. Mom is seeking reassurances about her data not getting hosed. Staci and I are going to talk about it at Chili's tonight.
With Brother of Staci in tow of course.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 5:10 PM