It is no longer news that Linux is not a popular operating system (OS) in Nigeria – at least to me – especially going by the data provided by the Statcounter website on computer OS usage in the country as at June. There wasn’t even a tab for Linux on the graph! Damn.
I have always known that things were bad regarding Linux adoption and usage in this part of the world, in fact, that is the main motivating force for the creation of fossnaija. But I never knew and expected that it was that deplorable. Even though it would be long shot we are willing to take it and we are already in the right direction. So today I’ve decided to compile five reasons, especially the ones I’ve gotten off responses from discussing Linux/FOSS with people, why a Nigerian would not use or want to use Linux at all – not even as a primary OS. Even though most of these reasons are preconceived and unfounded. It should be noted at this point that when I’m referring to a ‘Nigerian’ – as regards the topic of the post – I mean an individual residing in Nigeria and not necessarily a citizen.
Microsoft’s Default Monopoly
This is very important. It is on this very reason that the others built – so to speak. I have written an extensive post about this already. What this basically means is that almost every PC (desktop and laptop) that is sold in Nigeria today come pre-installed with one form or the other with window’s OS. The only negligible alternative is Mac OS X, but with a very expensive price tag, it is not an option for a large chunk of Nigerians. Even the Linux laptop I presently use came with windows 7 pre-installed, I had to do a reformat to Ubuntu. In fact, this is the fact every ‘serious’ Linux user must follow if he/she wants to use Linux. Think of this for a moment, if the user is already forced to use windows when purchasing a PC why would he or she opt for something different? LOVE! Yeah, but how many love Linux to make such a life turning change for a people that like prefer status quo in every facet of their lives. It would have to be a very STRONG love for that to happen.
Cheap Pirated Software
I have also dealt with this extensively in the article referred to earlier. Many Nigerians prefer to get a pirated operating system’s disc for 200 nairas (at most 400) than get an internet subscription for 1500 naira to download an Ubuntu/fedora disc image for free. It is unfortunate.
Getting to listen to many friends that would not stop whining about Linux being too techy is not a pleasant experience. What they usually mean by this ‘techiness’ is that Linux is not fun for non-techy users, i.e. unless you’re an ICT professional or a programmer of some sort there would be no need to use Linux. It usually leads to a mentality that the only time you should think of using Linux should be when you work for large corporations like Google, Oracle and the likes – basically you must be working in IT and want to deal with some server-ish stuff. Some say Linux’s user interface is not polished like windows, where you have a “million and one” themes you could just click and your computer becomes looks and feels different. Many Nigerians can not envisage using an operating system where you want to do a little thing like configuration; you’ll need to hop on some command-line terminal. Who would blame them when Microsoft has succeeded in hypnotizing them into putting on the “dumb” cap in a windows’ click-a-lot world.
Truly, there was a time when some of these reasons were valid. Like in the early days of OS development, like the 80s and 90s, Linux use to be only used in hackers [programmers] communities. But that is a long time ago and most importantly Linux has gone beyond all that in its effort to become a truly desktop OS. and there is a lot to prove this; there are a lot of themes are available for Linux just as in windows – just that the method they are installed in Linux is different from windows. Also I have tried to show people beautiful screen-shots of Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Mint, Chalet, Zorin, SolusProject, Haze, Qube, Korora, Apricity, Elementary and so many more – and some of them don’t even know that it is Linux until I tell them (Their initial guesses always revolve around it being mac OS or windows using a specialized theme or something).
Tech Services Revolves Around Proprietary Products
Computer business centres around the country that offer services all use Windows. And because this is so, every other software tools they use for various tasks would be largely proprietary. for instance, say you want to get a 3D rendering of an architectural drawing, it is most likely that AutoCAD [by autodesk] is what the designer would use – except you want to do it yourself using open source alternatives. Another scene would be when a professor tells you to email him your assignment or term paper using Microsoft’s Word and time new Roman font, both of which are not FOSS. You wouldn’t have any choice than to comply – especially when the professor is that of economics/sociology. This is also true in the mobile care and services world. When you want to root, reformat or ‘flash’ your mobile device like phones and tablets, the technician is going to be doing it on windows using different non-free software tools. The list goes on and on. In fact, if I had to write about computer services that are done in Nigeria using non-free tools I think I’d be able to churn out a 200-page book. Just saying!
Game! Game!! Game!!!
Yeah! This has been a recurring nightmare for Linux and FOSS enthusiasts and it is a very serious issue in the adoption of Linux in the country. Maybe until recently, with the advent of gaming platforms like STEAM, which has become a response to critics of Linux’s gaming inadequacies. Though there are more windows games on the Steam platform, Linux is not that far behind. Especially now that many developers have started porting their games to Linux – now there’re many titles that can be enjoyed. Even at this, gaming in Linux is still a volatile topic among computer users. I could remember a time when a friend of mine had to return to using windows 7 after I had installed Ubuntu Linux on his system just because he could no longer play its favorite games. What makes the whole situation that complex is that sometimes many people don’t even want an explanation from you. They’ll tell give me my game on Linux today I’d ditch windows the next minutes. And when they’re telling you about ‘games’ they mean the ones that might require you to install additional ram and multi-playable (using joystick/gaming pads). Also, all they would want is to install once and play forever, not over the internet considering that internet connection is expensive. But Linux is not to blame, as the low number of games on the platform is not as a result of the inferior quality of the OS, but the choice of the stakeholders in the gaming world to not provide support for their games on Linux. Since gaming is majorly based on revenues, they would rather go with the platform that has the highest market share than one with a lesser financial return on investment. I’m very optimistic that things would turn for the better for Linux in the area of gaming. Especially now that some video drivers are now being supported on Linux and with the continuous development in the area of the STEAM game engine.
Whoops! Sometimes I think it takes a miracle to convince an average Nigerian to even try Linux for some time and see how it goes before attempting to install it.
Aluta Continua Victoria acerta!