Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Linux Versus the Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome

The following article is an extention to the previous post, Free software isn't freeware: why Linux and FOSS have a higher standard, where I hypothesize the reasons the general public is hesitant to make the switch to free/open source software. Perhaps I did not experience Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome because I have always have had an open mind relative to computer software alternatives. As an example, when most folks were dealing with Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups 3.11, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, or Windows 2000, I was either running PC DOS and then IBM's OS/2, the later of which was far suprior to at least Windows 95. It is too bad that OS/2 did not go further than it actually did. In any event, on to the aforementioned article.
Feb 10th, 2009 by Gene.

Recent articles I have read by people complaining about how things on Linux do not work like they do on Microsoft led me to coin the phrase Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome (MTBS). The problem is that people who have lived, worked, and played in a homogeneous Microsoft computing paradigm are lost and confused when they encounter a different paradigm. These people have only seen the flawed Microsoft ideology for how computing systems should work and so have a difficult time with more elegant systems based on Unix. They see the Linux system with its’ own paradigm and ideology and try to force it into the only paradigm they know, which is Microsoft’s. This will always cause the user problems.

These people may or may not have a problem with an Apple system running OS X since Microsoft’s desktop is at base basically a rip-off of Apple’s desktop. Apple’s desktop is arguably a rip-off of the X windowing system used on Unix and Linux. However, both Apple’s desktop and Microsoft’s desktop diverge significantly from X. Of course underneath the graphical interface Apple OS X now has much more in common with Unix and Linux than it does with Microsoft systems. In any case, because these other platform ideologies are different from Microsoft’s ideology the typical Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome user can have a rough time trying to adapt.

I have had discussions about this problem with others prior to today. My point in these discussions is that if one took an average child with average intelligence, gave the child a first computer exposure with Linux installed with a graphical interface and a bit of instruction to get started, the child would have no problem using Linux and learning how to do tasks with Linux. The point is that if one starts using Linux based computers from a tabula rasa condition then there are no bad habits to unlearn. The people that have only learned the Microsoft paradigm have bad habits to unlearn and much new information to learn. These people should attempt to approach Linux like a child that knows nothing about a computing paradigm and has never been exposed to another computing ideology.

In regard to computing systems we are all beginners, or “kindergarten children” if you will, at some point. Many computer users progress through a school of knowledge under the Microsoft paradigm to become “seniors” in the Microsoft ideology college. These users then discover they are not satisfied with their only exposure to computing systems under the Microsoft tutelage and attempt to branch out with Linux. It is at this point that the Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome becomes a problem for many. These users discover there is a totally different Unix school that has a largely different curricula from what they know. For whatever reason they decide to attempt to use the old knowledge from Microsoft training in this new school and are discouraged, shocked and/or angry that it does not work. What these users need to do is ignore almost all they know about computing from their Microsoft Trained Brain and start over.

The bottom line dear reader is, do not attempt to force preconceived notions and knowledge from a totally different computing paradigm onto Linux. Ignore your previous knowledge from your Microsoft Trained Brain and start over with Linux as if you are a child getting a first exposure to computing systems. I guarantee this will help you in the long term. Many of us wait to welcome you to our universe of heterogeneous computing.
And with that, I am off to see the wizard...

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