We have to know and correct our mistakes. Just be frank to yourselves: how many times you have e-mailed the hardware vendor because it did not have Linux drivers or did you say that Linux is bad because your hardware is not supported? How many times did you tell the newcomers to read the man pages?
And the list goes on...
We have to do something: if the opponent is an army (it is), we have to be the guerillas. Do we have free magazines? Do we have commercial support (except Ubuntu and to some extent SUSE)? Would you buy a community-supported refrigerator if you did not have the support? Be frank, this is what newcomers are thinking.
Did we try to offer everything that a user might need? Just look at the damn offline help files: do they help anything?
And now let's look at our opponent: organized, working hard and conquering. Not with the IE but with the operating system. OpenOffice.org is highly criticized for changing the interface, because it looked exactly like Microsoft's ribbon interface. They were right: does OpenOffice.org community have the funds to set up focus groups? They were wrong: they choose to imitate rather than innovate.
We have to begin with ourselves: what am I doing for the community? With which tactics I am fighting?Or am I the one who does nothing more than supporting a side in the Alan Cox - Linus Torvalds or KDE - Gnome discussions?
What am I doing? I am writing for Bright Hub. I am trying to make the newcomers understand that Linux is not so much alien after all. I am trying to tell them how to do things in an official, magazine-style articles. This is how I personally can contribute. Plus, I watch things: I don't switch to the command line when I'm in public places with my netbook: people think that Linux is a command-line only operating system and I don't want them to think they are right. I stick with the Ubuntu Netbook Remix desktop. When they ask, I answer and say "here is what Linux looks like". I fight with their beliefs, prejudices, whatever you name it. And know what? My wife just used Linux for 6 months (she is now using the company's laptop) and she is a strong advocate; she says Linux is easier than Windows.
And if you want, here is another thought: the Linux world needs a site that precisely counters every Windows application with the Linux counterparts, such as introducing Live Writer and talking about KBlogger and Gnome-blog. This is what I would call a guerilla warfare. Linux.com, do you hear that? Here is a volunteer to organize things.
Edit: Seems that I'm right. Just read this blog post on ZDNet on how Microsoft trains Best Buy employeesto spred FUD against Linux.