The Power of One : Reaching Out

By | 2007/02/23

Inspired by this previous post to the Planet I realized something that more of us could be doing in our Ubuntu advocacy that we might not. Welcoming new users into our worldwide and local communities early on. This can be a great way to keep them excited and keep them going with Ubuntu. I honestly see each new “convert” as a huge success and we have hundreds of these each day! The more of these we can retain the more Ubuntu will grow.

Think about it for a moment. When you first switched to Ubuntu were you new to Linux? Perhaps a little experience here and there? I know I was a recent convert from XP although I had some previous experience with Red Hat 9 and I had tinkered on a few other distributions. When I switched I had a little difficulty (remember, this was two years ago now!) and it was the active community that really welcomed me in. Primarily the Ubuntu Forums but then later the teams, chat rooms, etc. The Ubuntu Community has always stood out as more welcoming (in my experience) than any other distro.

Without that help early on I might not have stayed, might not have continued to learn and… I don’t even want to imagine how things would be different. I have no idea the number of people I have been able to help since making the switch, but if the traffic to this blog is any suggestion it seems to be quite a bit. What if I never switched? What if the person who helped you find Ubuntu never switched? Where would you be?

Just one user can make such a difference. One user can recruit hundreds more. One user can write that sweet new application. One user can change the world (sabdfl)!

What I propose is that we keep an eye out for new users and more actively reach out to them. I have setup a few Google Alerts to help me find new blog posts of users making the switch. I want to be able to leave a quick comment on their sites offering a few tips, or post a weekly linkblog here for some of you to visit and help make them feel welcome. I can think of nothing more that would make a new, possibly nervous, user feel more welcome and excited than a few community comments on their blog welcoming them aboard.

It is the amazing Ubuntu community that makes us what we are. Please try to reach out more actively to those users blogging about making the switch. You never know what that one user might do!

4 thoughts on “The Power of One : Reaching Out

  1. Sak

    I completely agree with you 100%, the Ubuntu community is indeed the best out there. I made the switch a little over a year ago of my own accord, and had nobody to help me but the forums. I’ve since been extolling the virtues of Linux (and (K)(X)Ubuntu specifically) to everyone I know, and have switched several people, helping where I can with my limited knowledge and referring them to the myriad sources of help for anything else. A little help and positive reinforcement in the critical beginning stage creates the ripple effect that helps this community continue to grow, as the person who was initially helped repeats the cycle. Great job with this blog, keep up the useful tips and I hope you decide to stay with KDE for good 🙂

  2. eha1990

    Thank you for the inspirational message. I definitely agree with everything you said and I also wanted to thank you as well. I’ve found your website to be just what I needed at times when I was stuck trying to figure out something in Ubuntu. I’m an Apple OS-X convert making the switch to Ubuntu. I was a die hard Windows guy until I made the switch to Apple OS-X back in 2002. What initially drove me to Linux and particularly Ubuntu was crazy costs of being an OS-X users. When Apple switched to Intel processors last year I knew that I had to begin to think about my next steps and going back to Windows wasn’t an option. I messed around with Suse a few times back in the day but always got stuck and went back to Windows. This time I was determined to make the move to Ubuntu. So I hunkered down and picked up a few Ubuntu books (Beginning Ubuntu Linux by Keir Thomas, Ubuntu Linux For Non-Geeks by Rickford Grant, and Ubuntu Hacks published by O’Reilly) to get me started. Every time I get the opportunity to speak to a friend or acquaintance about the pros of Linux I tell them about Ubuntu. I’ve spent months reading about various distros, testing out one Live CD after another, and without a doubt I can say that Ubuntu is the only OS for me. By digging through various community websites including your’s, I’ve been able to get past any bump in the road that I’ve faced. Your articles about Vi were very helpful and I hope that you’ll continue to post more tips & tricks because there are a lot of noobs like myself that are eager to learn everything that I can about Ubuntu. Your insights about your own experiences with Ubuntu have definitely helped me out and I want to encourage you to keep up the fantastic job. You are proof that one voice can make a difference.

    This year I hope to be able to chronicle the new PC that I’m going to build to replace my aging Apple PowerPC. I really plan to pimp out my next PC running the latest version of Ubuntu with an AMD processor, 4GB of RAM, at least a 256MB PCI-E video card, and at least 300GB of storage space to start. An article that I read in Linux today about the Ultimate Linux box turned me on to this idea.

    Eventually I want to really start contributing to the Ubuntu community beyond simply being a user of the OS, I’d love to learn how to code and develop applications even though I don’t have any back ground in programming. My back ground is in network and systems administration in Windows XP environments. I’d like to hear your comments about how someone like myself could begin to learn various languages to eventually be able to write applications to support the Ubuntu open-source movement.

    Ubuntu Tutorials is bookmarked in my Favorites and is a welcomed resource for not just me, but for anyone who aspires to dive into the awesome and powerful waters of Ubuntu. It is people like you who pave the way for others like myself.

    Thank you!


  3. James Stansell

    eha1990, thanks for sharing your story. I found it every bit as interesting as Christer’s.

    To answer your question directly, one suggestion is to start automating some of your administrative tasks. Even if it’s merely JScript on Windows Scripting Host it can serve as a practical introduction to programming. You might find ways to learn and use bash, python or perl which can all be used on both ms-windows and Linux. Some of the most important Linux programs are small ‘scripts’ that ease administration tasks.

    Programming contributions are wonderful, but don’t overlook all the other ways to add to the community. From welcoming new folks to submitting bug reports to sharing your tips there’s a multitude of ways to help.

  4. James Stansell


    I think the code of conduct plays an important role for the ubuntu community. Those simple points don’t directly talk about reaching out to newcomers, but they provide a great foundation to foster that.

    Your post reminds me of a quote I heard last week.

    “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

    – Mother Teresa

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