Monday, February 23, 2009

Linux for Casual Computer Users

Folks have told me that I should start making money fixing computers. I have done such things for years, but am unwilling to do such a thing under normal circumstances. These folks I mention don't understand my caveats, but I'm unwilling to waver from them. Am I being totally unreasonable to want to convert casual computer users to Linux?

Frustrated casual computer users often upgrade their hardware, and in the process, their version of Windows, in an attempt to ease their frustration. After the initial joy and credit card bill, they find the same frustrations, or gain new ones (ala Vista). I would be willing to help users save their otherwise usable hardware from ending up in the landfill and ease some of the stress of viruses, malware, and such that cause frustration. Would a dual-core machine enable users to watch youtube videos that much faster than a P3 or P4 with a reasonable amount of RAM? I'm thinking that in most cases, a customer's internet connection is more of a bottleneck than their hardware.

Such a conversion would not be for those that need to use commercial Windows software. Those that just need to use the internet and play card games would be the targeted audience. Yes, WINE is robust enough for those that use certain commercial apps, and I would consider helping them, too. My goal would be to make the price attractive enough to make people think twice before they said "No thanks".

I'd make it really cheap to hose off their machines and install Ubuntu or the like, restore their internet connectivity, figure out the hardware drivers, and include an hour or so showing them the features, since it is similar enough to what they are used to. For twice the basic fee, I'd move their music and pictures over. I'd add an extra tier for users that needed apps setup on WINE, or for figuring out linux alternatives.

I'd do the basic service for $40, and $20 for additional service calls or training. I'm in a rural location, so I wouldn't need to worry about too many customers, and I wouldn't be doing this to get rich. Helping users asking "How do I use my computer to do 'this'?" would be more fulfilling than them asking "Can you remove this virus?" Letting customers use a demo machine prior to "the act" would probably be a good idea, and depending on the customer's hardware, could be a turnkey solution.

I'm to the point where I want to make a flyer/poster to hang up in a few local shops. If I get a few bites, great. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I'm just not much of a graphic artist ;) Time to hit the royalty-free clipart collections, I guess.


happyseaurchin said...

if i am right about armagetron being a vehicle for open source movement
then the design ethic that evolves from it
could be used by everyone wrt eg linux
keep your eye on developments
and perhaps you could nab some of the visuals that come out here...

Anonymous said...

yes, good idea, cheap linux help, token fee to cover some expense and keep enquiries genuine ... great way to meet new people and serve the community :) good luck with it!

Anonymous said...

I know people who are tired of windows but do not want to do the footwork required for linux. Installation and a quick tutorial will give them the incentive they need to make that leap!