Linux Users vs. Linux Culture

In my line of work I get to test, try and evaluate all kinds of new open source software and the occasional new distribution flavor of the month. Sometimes it's a smooth process but other times I find myself casting a line in the lake of forums hoping to get a bite. In a lot of ways, this is how it was when I was first introduced to Linux in the late 90's. When I look back and compare my experiences then with my experiences now I see the progress we've made in a number of areas but I am left with one conclusion: we're not quite there yet.

We've all experienced the agonies of an app that just won't install or otherwise function as hoped for. When this happens, inevitably we all find ourselves grasping at the same tried and true straws we've know for years now: forum boards and IRC channels.

Using a forum board or IRC channel is a lot like trying to solve your problems by walking down a dorm room hallway. Room by room you poke your head in, say hi to everybody, and ask around quickly to see if anyone has an idea. The responses can vary depending on which door you knock on.

A lot has changed since I first started knocking on doors to solve my problems. First and foremost, there are a LOT more doors. Second, there are a lot more people to ask as open source finds itself becoming more and more mainstream. What doesn't seem to have changed much are the responses.

There will always be the self righteous neighbors. I knocked on one of these doors the other day. The first response was "why don't you just come out and tell us what you broke...". There's the newbie rooms full of happy people that are just as lost as you are and have huddled together in the kiddie pool. There's the oh-so-elite rooms (you know who you are Gentoo users!) who only have one response for any question "RTFM". Remind me to further rant on these types some other time.

Occasionally (and less and less by accident of late) you get lucky and find a room full of sympathetic techies. These rooms are filled with people who can explain your problems simply enough to enable you to actually fix something.

All of this leads to my point: those of us who are passionate about open source projects are by nature, somewhat evangelistic. We want to share them with everyone and convert the masses. Nothing is more frustrating than meeting someone who tried open source at one time and couldn't get the kind of support they needed and in anguish, scrapped the hole thing in lieu of the very matrix we're trying to unplug them from. I had the pleasure of sitting in an IRC room the other day when a complete newbie walked in. One by one, the entire room took turns walking him through a wide array of problems. In the end, he left the room excited. He'll be back soon and his questions will be a little more complex each time (a good indication that he's learning, and solving the easier stuff on his own).

You never know who's gonna pop their head in. It could be a complete newbie, it could be a professional with a tech issue his paycheck depends on (like myself). It could be the next Torvalds, in his ***formative years. Either way, how you respond will either encourage them, and swell our numbers by one, or discourage him, and everyone who will listen to him. Be nice. Be understanding. Most importantly, be patient with them. It takes a village, and you might be raising the next Linux fanatic.

*** Note: the use of the word formidable was removed for the sake of world peace.


Chase Crum is the IT Infrastructure Manager for Voicenation and a self-proclaimed Linux FANATIC.


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Younger People Have No Loyalty To MicroSoft...

Anonymous's picture

No more loyalty in fact, than we had to IBM when the internet/AOL came along. IBM/DOS clones were the de facto PC of the 80's, but when the new thing was being 'online', MicroSoft Windows OS became all the rage. Now that portability is the new paradigm, expect the MAD Theory to render MicroSoft a faded shell of what it once was --just like the desktop/tower PC is quickly becoming.

It is truly a generational thing; and young people have no alliance to the cute little five year old girl they had schlepping Windows 7 in those commercials. In this Apple and Google dominated world of the newer consumer market, veterans of the Desktop/Tower case form factor are of little relevance in their choices.

I use a VERY user-friendly desktop distro that auto-configures my WiFi card, nVidia card, and various multimedia codecs. It has ALWAYS done this, since I first got a copy of Big Daddy all those years ago for the tower.

I use the laptop most often now, and my wireless LogiTech stand, multimedia keyboard, and mouse are also auto-configured. I CAN use the CLI but I don't want to in this day and age; I don't recall the last time my distro required me to use the Command Line for anything; thus, that usual Linux stereotype does not apply in this case.

Most people of my age are familiar with the term 'App Store', so Synaptic is second-nature for them. In this name-conscious culture that chose the cool-sounding 'Blue Ray' over the more mundane sounding 'HD-DVD', something like "FireFox" carries a whole lot more Hip Factor than the old fogey "IE".

Firefox is perfect for gaming on the web because thats where a whole lot of gaming is taking place right now in 2010 --on the internet. Where were you when you last saw a PC game for sale? You weren't at Wal-Mart or K-Mart; you weren't even in a Game Exchange or Game Depot. What year was this?

I can play 3D games like Tremulous, Stratagus, Americas Army, Open Arena, etc. on my Linux PC. Why would I want to play a game on my laptop screen when I have this giant 42" LCD HDTV connected to an XBox 360 by HDMI instead? Nobody plays games on PC's anymore; you can't even buy them. PC Gaming isn't a Linux fault because PC Gaming has been dead for 10 years; stop beating that dead horse.

The name of my distro of choice is PCLinuxOS.

A few years ago I was on a social site called Multiply in their Linux Group and trying to talk to people about this distro not requiring any 'work' or 'linux learning'. An older and more experienced fan asked me why I was still proselytizing and 'casting my pearls before swine'. He said that the masses expectations were lower for Linux because the majority were just looking for something for free --not that theres anything wrong with that. He said that the masses had never heard of PCLinuxOS because they were looking for something to just 'get by' or 'make do' instead of looking for something that works right out of the box with little to no fuss.

You can't get them to talk about a trouble-free, first-rate PRODUCT like PCLinuxOS because that would entail them changing their whole paradigm about what their expectations are for a Linux OS.

I no longer evangelize for any Linux distro or the OS itself. In 2010, I have no concern about what OS people use on their outdated towers. I simply support PCLinuxOS through financial donations well worth every penny.

Enough with the tired old Linux stereotypes from the 1990's --mostly truly aimed at Ubuntu and Open-Source fanatics than anything.

For the last time:
not every Linux fanboy hates MicroSoft
not every Linux fanboy worships Apple
not every Linux fanboy is a Open-Source Only fanatic
not every Linux fanboy complains but not donate
not every Linux distro is second-rate on the desktop
not every Linux fanboy wants to convert Windows people to Linux

...leave the masses to their own devices.

Big community; lots and lots of choices.

Re: Younger People

Anonymous's picture

Actually, I have seen plenty of PC games available at national chain stores as recently as last week. I was shopping for a gift for one of my cousins.

Good comparison between app stores and Synaptic.


Anonymous's picture

...really really wish that you could have been more SPECIFIC in your reply. You say that you actually SAW and PURCHASED new PC games from a retail store? What country are you in? ...what region of that country? ...what was the name of the store? ...when was this, exactly?

We only see USED PC games locally around here; usually at GoodWill stores. The last time that I got a retail PC game locally, it was a freebie included w/ a serial port joystick; the game was called "Duke Nukem 3D" --remember that Golden Nugget? Its now available on XBLA (XBox Live Arcade).

The local 'gaming houses' no longer stock PC games; only used console games and DVDs. You can't even rent PC games at the places left that still rent console games and videos.

PC games are indeed dead.

Even MicroSoft saw the handwriting on the wall and developed the first XBox. They knew that even hardcore gamers were sick and tired of buying a new video card every year, new RAM, etc ( I know, I was one of those people sick of getting reamed). Even the 360 XBox came out in 2005, fully half a decade ago.

I didn't go back to Windows; I abandoned them for it. I resented having to get the latest ATI or nVidia product every few months. I hated Serial Port FlightSticks and their configuration headaches. I jumped ship, and so did my Gamer friends. We got fed-up, got ourselves some game consoles, and ditched Windows for Linux.

On my old tower, I still have the last nVidia (fanless, I had to learn the hard way) graphics card that I bought a long time ago. I still have the same 2Gig of DDR-2 RAM on that old machine --but years ago, do you realize how freaking expensive that was then? ...and this was every few months having to get new gear just to play the latest PC games! F- that.

I, too, have PCLinuxOS on all my computers. I fix peoples Windows boxes and clean viruses off of them for money. I can't go back to Windows and neither can my friends or family. We don't hate MicroSoft. M$ Windows folly is our 'Bread and Butter', we just don't want the product.

With Uber-Desktop distros like Linux Mint and PCLinuxOS, there is no compromise; those two are fully developed commercial-grade products developed for people who work for a living.

I'll prob get the new XBox 360 Slim for my birthday and my Mom (65+ and uses PCLinuxOS) wants my old 360. If Steve Ballmer really wrote that long Linux-Hater Rant below, then he'd better get off these comments and get busy trying to port Hulu to XBLA, ...before he loses his job.

I humbly agree

Anonymous's picture

I'm a linux fan and I don't wear a neck-beard or a chinstrap beard. I use linux for my business, not for any "philosophy behind it". I'm no NeoHippie or a Computer Nerd. I just want something that works right out of the box. Too many loudmouth comments on this board are people trying to oversimplify a very diverse linux community by generalizing them and their respective distros in one big stereotype.

Enough of that.

Big community; lots and lots of choices.

Althouth I really like Linux

Anonymous's picture

Althouth I really like Linux and the free software, I think that we all have to accept the crushing truth.

In these times it really doesn't matter if KDE 35.0 or Gnome Vista is launched, because while both environments (and others with less weight as IceWM) were worrying about confusing the user with a completely different aspect, Microsoft was consolidating its position as leader in the desktop OS field, first with the operating system Windows XP (that has approximately 90% of the client operating system market) and with its advanced successor, the recently Windows 7, that offers a new form to interact with its PC. Is faster, friendlier, and more secure.

The reality is that Linux has little to offer to the inexperienced user. The same novice that is seen disconcerted by the impossibility to do a simple one copy-paste between QT and GTK applications. Go out and ask to the people how they install a program that does NOT have packages for its distribution (because each one has its own packege system, completely incompatible between them and that requires the use of complicated commands). Even packages of the same format as RPM cannot be installed equally in Mandriva or Suse.

Then what we suggest to this user (that is just starting in the Unix World) is that he needs to download the source code, go to the console, decompress it and compile it. How many managed to do this? One from a million, I have to say. We insist in THAT is the normal thing... nothing is more far from reality.

Explain him why in his Ubuntu, Kubuntu or Fedora he can't see many web pages: he must download the Flash and the Java plugin, and then he needs to install them with complicated commands. Also make him know that he won't be able to listen its MP3, WMA and WMV files. Tell to the flaming buyer of a new Intel Core i7 how he can play flash games... A shit.

And the gamers? Obviously they'll return to windows, because even God can't use the hardware acceleration of most modern graphics cards (besides, the drivers don't come in the distributions... because of the fucking freedom) and that games... just a few ones. By each Linux videogame we have 500 that run on Windows. And the few ones that run on Linux...Oh! Surprise!...Just Windows binaries on the CD, and you have to download the Linux version from a website. Finally the user return to the best option, the OS most used on the desktop (we all know what OS is).

The proof of the free software failure is seen also in the professional world, either in areas like electronic design (doesn't exist anything similar to Protel), architecture (the standard CAD -all we know which one is- only works on Windows), web design (something similar to Dreamweaver? Don't mention something like NVU, that's not only is full of bugs, but just have the 5% of the Dreamweaver features too. Neither Bluefish, Quanta or one would face a complex project with such a primitive tools). DTP? Scribus is a good try (very immature) but Quark or InDesign are far batter. Flash content creation (A standard, and the Flash player installed in the 99% of PCs)? It cannot be done on Linux.

In the software development industry there's not a single decent RAD tool. Gambas seems to be promising but for now it's just shit, Eclipse is a RAM eater (thanks Java) that only can be used with 2GB RAM, Kylix promised to give the potential of Delphi to Linux, but it was discontinued because the developers hate to pay for licenses and they prefer to use a primitive tool, like KDevelop. And now that we talk about Borland tools, is not rare that programming gurus like Ian Marteens abandoned Delphi and C++ Builder and now prefer the most powerful system for software development: Microsoft Visual Studio.NET.

A computer game developer would never develop free (as in free beer) games, because they have to eat and there's no business model compatible with free software. The Linux users don't want free (as in free speech) games, they just want commercial quality without paying a single buck.

Administritive management? In Linux? There's not software in this area. The businessman wants to have something standard, something friendly, something mature. He doesn't want to be fighting with a console, compiling sources just to, in the end (if he finally get it to compile) obtain a half-finished application.

If Linux is free (in both senses)...Why the high computers-makers don't preinstall it (just a 1% makes that)? Or at least dual-boot? Others, in other hand, opt for FreeDOS.

The PC Battle is loss...because it never existed. Linux with it's chaotic development (instead of boosting existing applications or create new ones to supply the lacks, we have thousand of unfinished clones or that directly just make us laugh) just has dug it's own tomb. The user don't want a degree in Computer Science: He wants to insert the Game CD, make a few clicks and have all installed and running. He doesn't want headaches. He wants to visit XXX sites and watch the video correctly. He wants to install his webcam without recompiling the kernel.

Keep defending the console. Keep defending LaTeX as if it was something that a secretary or a lawyer have to use with the same simplicity of Microsoft Office. Keep defending Vi as the best tool to develop a web site. Keep believing that new users need to get close to Debian or Gentoo, taking days to configure an USB modem. Keep insulting distributions like Ubuntu or SuSE because they're are trying to be friendly. Keep just like that and in the end there will be just three freaks using Linux, while the rest of the world will be using what is already mature and functional: Windows.

And You? Where do you want to go today?

Thanks for you attention.

Re: Althouth I really like Linux

Snow's picture

You mention having to install Flash and Java on your Linux with "complicated commands." Recently, a friend bought a new PC wilt Windows 7 Home Premium pre-installed. It did not have Flash or Java, nor Adobe Reader installed. He had to download and install those himself. He had me talk him through doing that. The only thing I had to do that he did not was to give the installer permission to execute. After that, installation was the same.

In my observation (and conformed by some of my friends, Windows is not as easy as most people think it is. But because its users are used to Windows, they don't complain. Same thing applies to Linux users. IF a new quirk appears in the next update, the users shrug and deal with it. But give them "the other OS" and they will look for things to complain about. Again, Linux users do this as well.

By the way, I only installed Adobe Reader myself so I could compare the installation steps. My Linux already included epdf and gnash for reading PDFs and playing Flash.

Waxing Nostalgic?

ArchAngel's picture

... still waxing for the Good Ol' Days of 1990s MicroSoft?

You don't have to preface your off-topic Alzheimer's Rant with, "Althouth I really like Linux and the free software..." bullsh*t to revisit the past.

Your comments are at least 5 years too late; probably more. In this age of Android-OS rapidly becoming the most popular Linux distro (in terms of sheer numbers), it's kinda fun for old people like me to sit back and reminisce about the times before the laptop, smartphone, Wii/DS, and tablet erased the relevance of the fading Desktop PC and thus the relevance of MicroSoft.

...but in strolling down Memory Lane (pun intended), you tried to throw all of Linux under the bus with your boiling hatred for Ubuntu. Thats too bad.

If you had kept up with all of desktop Linux instead of that one obvious and most-popular Ubuntu distro, you'd have known that TexStar delivered people from all of your 'talking points' YEARS AGO when he released Big Daddy onto the world; freeing them from the clutches of mediocrity.

The name of his distro is PCLinuxOS.

You gotta get outta Redmond more often.

don't agree

Anonymous's picture

Well, I'm a relatively new linux (ubuntu) user, ~1.5 years. I just adopted it because i loved it when i saw it in my brother's computer, and I too feel aligned with the whole philosophy behind. And I really didn't have any trouble with it, everything just works the way i want. Just a few times used the console, but because i wanted to learn, i could have used a GUI tool instead. It has everything that i need, i can do the same things that i did in windows.
About games, i think you are wrong. See and for example, and the various emulators for consoles. There are pretty cool games in linux, of course, there are more on windows, but that can start to change as the desktop linux community start to grow more, and be massive, and is doing that. Thinking about it, I still have windows for that reason, when i play LAN games with some friends is the only day i use it. There is too, the benefit of the available source code, so if there are people interested in doing games, can see how it is done after careful studying it. I think that this will ultimately benefit the gamer, and obviously the people who want to make games for fun.
There is surely work to be done in certain areas, where no good replacement exists for widely used commercial programs, give the community some time.
And it doesn't matter if other people in the community loves the console, or Vi, or whatever, they have the right to do so, they defend why they believe is better, and you can agree or not, it's your choice. I personally like that diversity.

I think making available free software to more people, which otherwise can't have, to let them fully exploit the power of one of the greatest inventions of our time, will have surely excelents benefits to humanity.
Sorry if i made mistakes in the language, I don't speak very good english.

Steve Ballmer trolling the boards again...

Anonymous's picture

...why do you come to a site named LINUX Journal, Steve? ...or are you the Other Steve with the Cult-following? Mr. Jobs? ... Et Tu, Brute?

You simple-minded Fool; none of your long-winded drivel is relevant in 2010. Go back to sleep, Rip Van Winkle.

Nice try, though.

Tired, Bitter Old Man...

Rip Van Winkle's picture

If Steve Ballmer wrote that comment, he'd better get busy trying to figure out how the Apple stock price has bested the M$ stock price instead of trolling these boards.

He needs to go brag about M$-Gaming abilities to the kind folks at Nintendo Wii; because the Wii platform is the most popular, followed by the online games at social sites like Facebook --run and tell the girls playing Bejeweled and FarmTown how superior Windows 7 is to gamers. You got old, Bruh.

If Steve Jobs wrote that comment, then he'd better figure out what his cult is gonna do when he has to admit how sick he really is. Then he needs to address the burgeoning prodigy that is the Android-OS, and how the iPhone is gonna have to ditch AT&T way before 2011 if they want to remain second-place behind the ubiquitous BlackBerry. You're looking a little haggard lately, Steve; go sit down.

The OP attacked Ubuntu instead of Linux; having made the Newbie/Blogger mistake of thinking that Ubuntu-based distros are synonymous/interchangeable with Linux in general.

This is a popular misconception that Mr. Ballmer sought to exploit in his rant against Linux/Ubuntu. After all, it was Mr Ballmer who called out a legal team to halt the 2008 Consumer Reports article that tested Desktops at the Workplace/IT departments and rated 'Best Buys' for PCLinuxOS (KDE) and Linux Mint (Gnome) tied for first over Second-Place Windows XP (security nightmare) and Third-Place Mac OS (cost prohibitive).

You got bigger fish to fry than Linux, guys.

Good points but ...

Ken Sarkies's picture

I think you have expressed it rather extremely. I use Ubuntu for normal work (email, web, documentation, audio and video editing, electronic design, software development) and basically do not need to use any complex commands. I can use them and do use them for other work on servers, but prefer the GUI always. My feeling is that Linux could be considered to be very close to being usable by a non-technical user provided they don't have any wayout applications (like 3-d games for example). Yes I have had troubles in the past with wireless and audio, and they can give trouble on certain hardware. but my recent experience in installing Ubuntu is that it works out of the box, as it were. We know the reason for this - refusal of manufacturers to produce drivers or even release technical information, and delays in development and bug fixing due to the volunteer nature of the work.

Linux has always excelled in the server area but the desktop is getting very close. If you want a comparison, consider that if Linux is crippled by the above problems, then commercial software is equally crippled by its own artificial licensing restrictions.

Good points but ...

Ken Sarkies's picture

I think you have expressed it rather extremely. I use Ubuntu for normal work (email, web, documentation, audio and video editing, electronic design, software development) and basically do not need to use any complex commands. I can use them and do use them for other work on servers, but prefer the GUI always. My feeling is that Linux could be considered to be very close to being usable by a non-technical user provided they don't have any wayout applications (like 3-d games for example). Yes I have had troubles in the past with wireless and audio, and they can give trouble on certain hardware. but my recent experience in installing Ubuntu is that it works out of the box, as it were. We know the reason for this - refusal of manufacturers to produce drivers or even release technical information, and delays in development and bug fixing due to the volunteer nature of the work.

Linux has always excelled in the server area but the desktop is getting very close. If you want a comparison, consider that if Linux is crippled by the above problems, then commercial software is equally crippled by its own artificial licensing restrictions.

What is the best OS?

ntime's picture

The one I get paid to work on, which today happens to be Linux. As a technical consultant I've supported many operating systems over the years, cpm, dos, Windows (still dos), MAC, PDP-11 RSTS-E, VAX VMS, HPUX and yet today I use both Windows and Linux interghangeably.

What needs to change is all the zealotism. Get over yourselves and that aweful self importance. Learn to get along, your choice is not my choice and I'm not going to force my choice on you because that wouldn't be right. It also isn't right for you to push your choice on anyone else.

It's okay to like or even love something, but at the end of the day it's simply software and meant to be changed. I love the magic box because when I get bored I can change the software and not be bored anymore.

We wouldn't be where we are today without *nix systems. Microsoft simplified the UI and some tough computing concepts so that many average people could now see a larger world.

It is all about fitting in, where do you fit in? Is it a Mac? An iPhone, a Linux Web Server? A Linux Desktop? Or Win 7 gaming? The really cool part is we have choices.

Me personally I don't really care for Apple or Microsoft because they FORCE people to do what they want. This is why I support Linux, I like being able to choose what I want, how I want it displayed and how I want to work. The OS simply does not get in my way and if something doesn't work the way I want then I figure out how to change it. But this is my choice.

If all you want is to check email and browse the web then get Andriod or Google Chrome. If Windows or MAC works for you then great do that.

Keep our freedom to choose alive! I can't think of a better time to be a techie. Let's stop all this pitting one against another, the energy is wasted, counter productive and can be better spent figuring out the larger issues like crime, pollution, politics, and what meal we are having next.

Linux vs MS

JT867's picture

I think that the MS OS is good software and the developers and programmers that write the code are also very bright. I use MS XP, because I have to most of the time. Most companies that write software for devices, only write it for MS, for example; I bought a Canon all in one printer, Canon only had software for MS only.

I prefer free software, but I am not against anyone trying to earn a living. I like Linux because, Linux allows me to take control of the OS unlike MS. I admit that I have damaged many machines with my experiments, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I have witnessed Linux really take off lately; I work in IT as a network engineer, most technical environments that I or some of my colleagues have been involved with are replacing most of their web and applications servers to Linux.

In my humble opinion, I can see MS still being dominant with Exchange and the desktop. I recently installed Ubuntu 10.04 and like what I see, but I don't think that it's enough to replace word, excel and power-point, these are very good programs and most people are somewhat proficient with them.



Alternatives to Word / Excel and Powerpoint

pcardout's picture

I recently installed Ubuntu 10.04 and like what I see, but I don't think that it's enough to replace word, excel and power-point, these are very good programs and most people are somewhat proficient with them.

Dear JT867 -- I see you have tried some Linux out (Ubuntu) but I found your last sentence puzzling. Open Office, which runs on Windows as well as Linux,has replacements for Word/Excel/Powerpoint which run almost identically to those tools. For folks who are not ready to leave the Windows world, it seems using Open Office (in Windows) beats paying a couple hundred bucks everytime Microsoft decides to upgrade its Office suite.

I want to testify that I have done 98% of my serious work and play on Linux for 5 years. When I have to use my one remaining Windows laptop because I just can't find a Linux tool to do the job, I find it very annoying ... because it is SLOWER and always updating and virus checking and generally wasting my time.

You would be amazed what you CAN find for Linux. I use HP printers exclusively because they work so well with Linux. Regarding Canon, I don't know if there is a solution for your all-in-one, but I want to tell you I have an old Canon scanner which never worked all that well when I used the Canon drivers with Win XP. However, when I hooked it up to my Debian machine and used Xsane, the Canon scanner worked BETTER (it stopped crashing) than it ever had with the Canon Windows drivers. Keep poking around. For those willing to do a little extra work, Linux pays really big benefits.

All the best -- JeanLuc

More Related

BK's picture

Eric Raymond wrote something pretty good up a few years ago that should be required reading: Asking good Questions

There's another I found, too: How to talk to tech Support

Rock on.

Not just the :Linux/OSS community

Snow's picture

I am a Linux user by choice, but I also need to use Windows. Many times, I need to turn to online forums and chat to get help with Windows and Windows apps. I have run into the same less-than-helpful types of users there, too. Yes, Microsoft and other vendors have paid customer support people, but they have trouble helping users, too.

I don't think the OSS community is any worse than the other communities, they just have the advantage that far more people start on Windows than any other OS. For what it is worth, some people who started on Linux have trouble adapting to Windows.

Yes, there are differences. Some people claim the differences are gratuitous. Are the differences between Adobe PageMaker and Quark Express gratuitous?

By the way, I am a woman, brunette, wear miniskirts and like to dance - but I code in Perl instead of PHP.

ubuntu users show ubuntu to each other

anothermark's picture

the people in ubuntu forums seem to live up to their name, and if you use ubuntu, it is the biggest community


dave h's picture

Why do "we" have to overtake the majority?
Seriously, have you met some of "the majority" - you really want these dweebs infesting Linux forums with their inanities?

Some of us use Linux because of the underlying philosophy - if you don't like that - tough. For some people everything is a political act. For others, nothing is. Vive la difference. Go to some Linux sites and you'll find contempt for Ubuntu users. The same people bitching about Ubuntu users are also heard to say "why don't more people use Linux?" For some, Linux is a religion - if you use the wrong distro you're bordering on belonging to a weird sect and are probably a heretic. It's not a religion, it's an OS. It's testament to how empty and meaningless many people's lives are that they fall into religious behaviour patterns over a computer!

to BK

Poejoe's picture

Why do you bother? Really, why? What do you care if anyone besides you uses Linux? You convert .000001% of a few people to Linux. So what? 200 boxes.. wow. And only because they deserve Linux, I guess. You only sold people who already had learned one system already. Why does a person need expend so much energy to relearn? Everyone got hand held using windows. Even Linux users. It's not like everyone takes the manual out and is self taught computer whizzes. People need to do this and that in your opinion for the right to use Linux. People stay where they are with windows or apple because there is no earned status to use it. All you have to be is a person who wants to use a basic computer. They don't want to be some expert able to fix the darn thing. They want to be an expert with the programs they use. There is no bar set by random people. There is just no reason to switch. Turn on the PC, click on whatever program, and do what ya wanna do. These people all learned dozens of programs already besides their old OS. The PC was already usable for them. After 10 years or more of using what they have been, they owe it you unlearn and relearn open source stuff? Windows wants every one of the people they can get. No one is asking for the Linux product. There is no big favor in that for them from you or Linux. Oh thanks for giving the hard way to go to get back the exact point I started from with a completely workable computer that I was using very well already. I used Ubuntu for almost a year ... it was a pain in the butt to be honest. I never felt any advantage of it. Nights spent looking for answer to some little thing. Frustration doing dozens of little things differently just to do what I was doing fine before. I got the satisfaction of a hobbyist, and had some time to be one. But had I been seriously needing all my time to be productive, Ubuntu would have been in my way. After a couple of weeks I would have gone out and bought a copy of windows again. I already learned it, no one ever insinuated I was too stupid, or lazy for it. No question was too dumb. Hoping for 20% linux on the desktop... good luck. 20% aren't smart enough I don't think. Or motivated to the standards required. I bought a netbook with choice of Linux or XP... took XP. And I had one year experience with linux. Just not worth it. So the same 1% usage as always.

Figure it out. Why do people pay $100 or more for what linux does for free? They pay for expectation of knowing what they get, and what they need to know. I had no anxiety at all going to windows7. Dealing with the manic personalities in Linuxland, the anxiety of newness, and the steep learning curve isn't worth $100. Linux is just the kit-car market compared to Ford. I am not learning to build a car to take my kids to school and go to the grocery. Dealing with passionate kit car people doesn't help when I just want a car... there is no rabid Ford mini van club. Thank God.

Really? Why do I bother?

BK's picture

Your entire post was a big excuse for "gimme what I want NOW!!" Heh, why do I bother? Because by nature I am a sharer and, well...people ask.

But I'm too old to listen to some lazy, entitled person demand I make my time available to them because they are lazy and entitled. Just because Microsoft has made them stupid doesn't mean it's my job to re-educate them to the world. Format means the same as it meant before personal computers were invented. So does mount, etc. If you don't understand that everything is a file, well - sorry for you. If you don't want to understand it - TERRIFIC, DON'T!!

In your world you seem to demand that others with knowledge cater to you. Lol, in my world my Mother threw a dictionary at me when I asked her the definition of a word. Too bad that's not the treatment you got because you would be can-do instead of "ooooh, it's too hard".

If you can walk, chew gum and have a thought you can run GNU/Linux quite happily. If you demand more from the system it's up to you to dig in and earn it.

I'm not sorry at all that my attitude toward the lazy and entitled is harsher than yours. You mock my 200 (it's likely quite a bit higher, but it doesn't really matter. I've been doing it ~ 10 years) installs of GNU/Linux on the boxes of people that would otherwise still be suffering Windows. Lol - get there, support them, and either put up with what I now ignore or don't. The choice is yours. But know this, if you can't learn a thing then why bother? If you can't actually use your brain then, really - why bother? Are you comfortable making excuses for lameness? Honestly?

I just read some more of your post -- I gotta laugh because you sound so very young. Don't use GNU/Linux if you don't want to. Who is forcing you to do it? It sounds like Windows, and everything it entails, is right for you. STAY WITH IT and stop wasting everyone's time.


This is why windoze will

Anonymous's picture

This is why windoze will continue to persist long after it should have been buried. When one windoze user has a problem, NO MATTER HOW MINOR, other users jump in and help out enthusiastically. Whether you choose to respond constructively or not is your choice. You can respond to the request for help or you can be a complete ASSHOLE and insult people. Again it boils down to choice. ASSHOLES like yourself get a deep sense of satisfaction in thwarting others, and retarding any progress a person may make. I have bought several expensive books just to learn how to truly learn to use Linux to full effect. It's funny how someone like you wouldn't help another user, but will expend the necessary energy to insult and degrade them. Oh, and did i mention that YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE

This is why windoze will

Anonymous's picture

This is why windoze will continue to persist long after it should have been buried. When one windoze user has a problem, NO MATTER HOW MINOR, other users jump in and help out enthusiastically. Whether you choose to respond constructively or not is your choice. You can respond to the request for help or you can be a complete ASSHOLE and insult people. Again it boils down to choice. ASSHOLES like yourself get a deep sense of satisfaction in thwarting others, and retarding any progress a person may make. I have bought several expensive books just to learn how to truly learn to use Linux to full effect. It's funny how someone like you wouldn't help another user, but will expend the necessary energy to insult and degrade them. Oh, and did i mention that YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE

I see your frustration,

Chase Crum's picture

I see your frustration, honestly. I think I can offer a different perspective.

what *I* am suggesting is that when you're in the forums or IRC (commonly referred to as the place to get help) and you're in a position where you can help and desire not to, just be kind. Don't unleash a rant like yours on someone who may honestly just be looking for pointers. if you don't want to help, don't. No one is demanding you do anything. If you were in a police uniform, and I needed assistance, I would assume you were the person to ask. You're in a place where people look for help. You are easily mistaken for a helpful person. If you'd rather not be that person, I'm ok with that. I won't even ask that you not be there in the first place. I would instead ask that if you'd rather not use your time to help, just don't. Be nice, but don't.

Chase Crum is the IT Infrastructure Manager for Voicenation and a self-proclaimed Linux FANATIC.

I do and I don't

BK's picture

Chase, I'm speaking for more than myself. 'Course, I'm nobody's advocate. I am kind in forums, if I bother. I am kind to the point where I realize it's just another freeloader not following directions, not bothering with effort, just demanding this and demanding that. Then I no longer respond. Or, I don't offer up anything because it's clear it won't matter anyway.

My rant isn't a rant at all. The internet has become a place of easy outs. My "rant" is merely true and I'm not yelling or upset. Moreover, it's the same philosophy that I have at home, "you don't work, you don't eat." Even the neighborhood kids that play with mine. If they are here and it's lunch time they are welcome to eat with us but they must earn it. Every single one of them is happy to sweep the floor or wash the table, serve the meal or whatever. So long as they earn their keep they are welcome. I am not alone in this. This is not my philosophy. It makes them feel like they've actually earned a thing and I feel good about rewarding them. 'Course, if you're dying or something, you can work it off later, lol.

Earning your keep goes with anything. I have seen so many of the type of demanding miscreant that demand I (we, all and any of us) do what they want lose jobs, get passed over and have all manner of difficulties in their lives. Simply because they are spoiled little sh$%s and want everything for free. They think they've earned it because maybe their Mamma (poor kids) said so or some other reason.

It's the ones with the biggest mouths and the most demanding attitudes that do the most complaining. I am here to say enough -- I, we, will not kiss your a**. We will not make your bed and teach you to click. If you want to use what we use then earn it. Like we did. If you're honest about facing difficulty and you've clearly and demonstrably done some legwork already then I, we, are overjoyed to lend assistance. You know it, I know it and even those miscreants know it.

Now, that's not to say that almost every single day in the real world I don't drive to someone's house, or speak with them on the phone, and show them (oftentimes again and again) how to accomplish some task or get more out of their OS than is immediately available to them. Because I do. I don't get taken advantage of so I'm not bitter. In the real world it's a piece of cake to troubleshoot or teach or what-have-you. People are very grateful and some of the ones that keep getting the same kind of help must pay for the privilege. Online in a forum or in IRC or whatever it's exceedingly difficult to get through some person's sense of entitlement. To hell with that.

Your article was purposefully provocative, I think. But that's OK. I don't seek to divide our community I seek to unify it. In some small way. These people foaming at the mouth that I, or others like me, are elitists or snobs or whatever merely have an overinflated ego. It sucks to be them. They blame us and others for their failures or inability to achieve success. People like me are merely discouraged at the riff-raff that think it's "cool" to run GNU/Linux. They have an attitude like, 'ok here I am now show me what to do'. Lol, rtfm, kid. Seriously. I, we, told you about something cool and if you want to use it, by all means, use it, but as anything else in life, a chainsaw for example, if you jump in head-first without knowing anything about it chances are you'll not like it very much. We will only take you so far or put up with so much laziness.

I'm ok having this attitude because GNU/Linux is no more difficult than Windows of Mac. Anyone saying that it is is a liar.

I keep telling people about GNU/Linux, if they care to know, because it's fantastic. But I also say it's not for everybody and you have to actually pay attention a time or two and know what you want to do.

Whiners, the sick, lame and lazy (as we used to say in the army) etc., need not apply.

That said - I agree, I, we could be nice or we could keep our mouth shut. However, allowing new users to get the idea that the community is here to bend over backwards for them is destructive and unrealistic.

Maybe distributions like Ubuntu should have more community responsibility. Maybe they should stop trying to pull Windows users away from their dumbed-down security blankets. It's not my fault the lazy want a free ride. It's their parents and it's their communities that perpetuate it. It's not even a computing phenomena at all. It's a social one.

Woe is us.


gbatmarx's picture

and you?
why did you bother to write all these just to claim that using windows is the right thing to do!!!
In a linux place!!!
WHY?What motivated you?
Well for me that i discovered linux a year ago, I found lots of reasons why linux is the right choice.
No more closed, overpriced products that i am not allowed to copy, to explore, to modify.
No more viruses, trojans, spyware, malware.NO MORE "VIRUS DATABASE HAS BEEN UPDATED"
and in a much more positive tone:
At last multiple desktops and panels!
I adore my kde where i can have different behavior in each desktop.
I adore my synaptic package manager.
I adore the depth of customization.
I adore that my kids adore linux and contempt the limits of windows.
I adore that I can copy my os and no piracy laws are here to restrict me.
I adore that the opensource ecosystem evolves so rapidly.
I adore that the wisdom of life is proven.(aka the best things in life are free!)
I adore the wealth of choices in every aspect of the linux world.
I adore compizconfig magick and the way my windows are minimized, closed, opened etc
I adore that I have a file manager so much prettier and functional than the file manager of windows.
I adore that every new person that discovers linux asks him/herself:"why didn't i discover it earlier"
I adore that all these that are unimaginable in the world of windows are provided without charge.

You're framing by suggesting

Anonymous's picture

You're framing by suggesting that only Linux provides any of these features you adore. Frankly, in most cases, nothing you adore is exclusive to Linux or even made possible because of it. For example, open source has nothing to do with Linux. I work many different types of open source software from applications to servers to libraries and programming toolkits; and I do this from a Macintosh. I could easily do the same using Windows or BeOS, Amiga, GNU HURD, or any commercial UNIX. Even among the big commercial operating systems, there is abundant choices for things like file managers. Given the backwards compatibilities in Windows and the entire backlog of Windows software over the years, Windows users likely have access to more usable software out of the box. Macintosh would be able to claim the same except for the the changes in architecture that have occurred a couple of times. There is still WINE, which does not have anything to do with Linux itself.

Multiple desktops have been available on Windows for years. Most of your remaining adorations seem to focus on the GUI. That is an area where Linux and other open source operating systems have an advantage. But again, this is not an exclusive advantage.

I would like to see one example of a function Linux can perform that cannot be performed by either Windows or Macintosh. Remember, we are talking about complete operating environments here (operating system + third party software). Therefore, one cannot credit Linux with providing rock solid web hosting strength when in fact, Linux cannot do that without Apache or Lighttpd -- two pieces of software that are available to me just as easily under Windows or Macintosh.

experience and habits

blueparty's picture

Linux is a piece of software in the first place. No one has right to expect others to change lifestyle just because they installed it on their computer. Some people might want to be more than consumers or to join community, others might not. There is also an option to buy Linux with payed support, so one does not depend on goodwill of strangers.

It is wrong to say that there is no problem with Windows, and when the problem exists one ifs often helpless because there are no real logs, and event viewer is seldom any help. For example, I had a problem with one XP installation because I set the screen resolution 16:9 while the monitor was 16:10. It created all kind of problems which did not seem to be related with video subsystem. It even reported that one copy of registry has been corrupted and that it had to restore it from backup copy. I even thought that hard disk has developed bad sectors.

It is all about experience. Many people started with Win95. Over the years they learned how to deal with Windows-like systems.

My first serious job was on UNIX, particularly Solaris. Since then, using non UNIX system is not an option for me. Using Windows is just as strange and cumbersome to me, as Linux might be for Windows users. But, it has nothing to do with Open Source, community, philosophy or anything like that. It is just a software I am comfortable with. I consider myself UNIX/Linux consumer.


Debate aside, consider this

Webmistress's picture

Debate aside, consider this my official endorsement of #linuxjournal as a very friendly channel FULL of people who are nice. ;)

Katherine Druckman is webmistress at You might find her on Twitter or at the Southwest Drupal Summit

completely out of touch and dysfunctional

Anonymous's picture

Truly amazing how these endless debates over courtesy never die in Linuxland. Out here in real-peopleworld it's simple: Courtesy always. Respect for others. If someone asking for help annoys you, ignore them. Flaming someone just for asking a question just shows that the flamer is a jerk. The world is full of self-centered snitty twits, and two-thirds of them infest Linux forums.

Let's stop coddling and rewarding apathy and laziness

BK's picture

Sure, there are some real winners on forums, etc., that think they deserve a certain kind of a**-kissing before they help another out. That has absolutely nothing to do at all with computing. So let's stop blaming the tools out there for a rookie's lack of effort.

Moreover, just because some anti-social or lazy or entitled kid decides to install and run GNU/Linux (yeah, r198t, that's what it's called, get your own life and quit demanding we accommodate your ignorance) and expects it to magically wash his dishes doesn't mean that experienced GNU/Linux users need to pander to that person.

To drive a car you take a test, to enter college you take a test, to get married you take tests. Just because these people are coming from Windows, with it's own community of rabid shills and apologists, doesn't mean that we have to stop everything, roll out some carpet and hand-hold his/her way through clicking a button. Nossir. However, if a person is confused about software titles, that's a different story. Still, menus are pretty clear. GThumb is obviously not an FTP app and most folks can tell because it's found in the Graphics sub-menu.

I have a low-tech hand-holding tutorial site. So any of you that think I'm one of those crotchety RTFM guys, you can save it, pal, you'd be talking out your a&&. I do my part but I also have a cost of admittance. Just like the expectations I have of my children I expect someone asking me a question to have already exhausted their own avenues of problem-solving. I was not put here to bend over backwards to cater to some entitled user because they think that's what my job is. Moreover I have never stated anywhere that I will stop everything to help you. Still, that's what these tools expect and demand. It's a combination of bad parenting, laziness and a disposable society. Likely more, too.

Sure, when you put the welcome mat out you can expect people to come knocking. As well, when you say - sure, I can help, you are expected to do so. However, I won't ever help someone that can't be bothered to right-click, or read a reply and report on its success or failure. No. GNU/Linux isn't for them and it's not my fault or responsibility.

We in the GNU/Linux community that offer assistance to anyone asking deserve respect. Just as that person asking for help does, but when they are lazy, apathetic, mouthy, or incapable of following directions because they don't feel like it then they can pound sand. Respect is earned.

I get a little sick and tired of the loud complaining new, and even experienced GNU/Linux users, do. Like I ask my kids, 'who wipes your a**?'

So many people want to make excuses for these annoying folks. So many people like to say that we drive new users off. GOOD!!!! I have personally installed GNU/Linux on over 200 boxes for both business and personal use. I personally support those boxes unless they don't want or need me to. The second they decide that I can do everything for them is the second that I drop them like a bad habit.

Go on, keep pandering to the lowest-common-denominator and that's what we'll have in the community a bunch of lazy self-centered entitlment-whores running the show. Yeah -- that's what we need.

Linus isn't "god". He's an arrogant and mouthy kid just like the folks I no longer go out of my way to help. GNU/Linux isn't the greatest thing since sliced bread, it's an OS (more or less) for your hardware. It's not a magical or special talent to be able to click or type or read.

In my day we had to earn a thing. Look where entitlement is getting us. Look where a profound lack of personal responsibility is taking us to. Some of you seem to actually enjoy what we're degrading into.

BK out.

Clearly, there are three

Anthony's picture

Clearly, there are three camps ideologically. There is the one group that sees Linux as something great that should be proselytized. It's like when I've watched a really excellent movie, or heard a great song, or tasted an amazing liquor, I want to share it with my friends. This group wants Windows and Macintosh users to hear about this great thing.

Then there is the group that doesn't care whether other people use Linux or not. Linux is a pragmatic, personal choice. This group feels no obligation to help anyone with Linux just as I feel no compelling obligation to help people repair their cars. Read the manual, learn the system, pay someone to teach you or make it work for you, but leave me alone -- I'm busy.

But there is a third group populated by somewhat antisocial zealots who prize the exclusivity of being Linux users. They despise anyone who doesn't pass their fitness test being a Linux user. They fear a future where hot brunettes in mini-skirts ssh into their web host's server in order to install PHP modules for their blogs while simultaneously dancing in a trendy nightclub. They do not want Linux to become popular.

Frankly, I despise that third group. They are as useless to a Linux community as they are to any community, and but for Linux, they would be muddling away somewhere obsessing over some different "leet" counter culture activity. The sad part is, they aren't the majority of Linux users, and they aren't even the majority of contributing Linux users, because this last group is too focused on their contempt for others to do anything other than reinvent the wheel for the sake of impressing their friends.

D'oh - man, if you're referring to me you read me wrong

BK's picture

Using GNU/Linux is a choice. Being lame is a choice. Seeking further clarity is a choice, too -- make them or not. But, in doing so - the responsibility is yours.

If you think that I am leet, then your maybe you just don't like can-do people? Ey? I am certainly not leet, lol - however, I am fed up with the uselessness, self-centeredness, apathy, laziness, stupidity, etc. of the crowd. I have kids, I rasie them to be self-sufficient. Call it what you will but you seem to fear that.

Sure, there are people that hold themselves higher and above others. That's their own bad-juju. I'm not one of them, I simply no longer cater to the pathetic. And frankly, most of the new GNU/Linux users from the past 4 or 5 years are absolutely pathetic. It's not my fault, it's not yours. It is society's, it's Microsoft's, it's their parents, it's their schools and I am saddened by the next crop of people that will someday run the planet. They couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag. When things really start to matter to you, this attitude, this mindset will, too.

Heck! what are we debating?

Bhaskar Chowdhury's picture

Ahh lot of flame! why? Kindly keep simple thing simple.Chase has posted his view with association with open source and open system(read GNU/Linux).It might and bound to be different then others.

See everything thing has got pros and cons.If the cons become over weight the pros people simple discard it and look for new avenues.. Right? Reverse can happen though.

I have been using GNU/Linux for almost 10 years now( Yes all of you are right that I am still lagging few years!) personally as well as professionally.

Yup encounter almost all of those stated above.Still I am pursuing it..why?? Am I mad or insane?Certainly not.What drives me stick to it that every time I failed and turned down I came with even stronger approach just to make a point that we are not above the problem.

Yes, the more time I spent I become more and more comfortable to help people(sorry help is strong word I should use coordinate) better way.I did and I am doing it everyday within my scope and sometime go beyond that. I have been taught by the people who already were there that the best way to enhance the knowledge to share it and gain it from others.

I don't know much my reply relevant to this article but felt to share the point.

Last but not the least ..being genuinely nice to someone doesn't cost a single penny from your pocket(yes money all the matters most of time..and it talks too!!)


You are right

Poejoe's picture

I was in the community for a while and now back out. I was using Ubuntu and no real problems. I think I just googled all my questions.. and that wasn't hard. But honestly I just don't relate in general to the community. Nice or nasty. I just needed an OS. Not a philosophy. I have used firefox since it was whatever it was originally called... and I burned out on free as in beer stuff a long time ago. Really I am just one guy with one PC and really don't care in general about the evil empires... profit, since I need to profit from something to live myself or any of that stuff. I bought a new PC with touchscreen, just for fun.. with windows7 on it. I am fine. Works fine also. It's not light years different than anything.. it's really good though. I don't need a flavor of people in a community. I am not in any kind of community of users in using windows. I do look for news about Linux... but I hit articles like this and it reminds me how much Linux is not about an OS, it's about membership and philosophy. And it's hard to escape it because there is no profit motivation to propagate it. So the motivation is to endear oneself to it and all users of it for some greater good. I just can't get into it that way. I do understand it.. but don't really want to mess with the issues like "real" Linux people do. The cost of free is emotional attachment. I don't have it. Never will. If Linux is not better in most ways... and if I can afford a decent PC and not an old piece of crap.... I really just think I will use windows and not mess with this group mostly. It's just so self involved.. even just users who don't even write any code at all for it... who just love that turning on a PC and didn't pay one dime to people who make a living in the software industry, seems a bit weird. Personally I feel a little relieved that I paid for my OS and have it and can bitch and moan and otherwise forget about where it came from.

If I had to be part of a community of all the tools I use in life I would go nuts. Thanks so much for the free toaster... you guys are the best... but it is not toasting on one side... can ya please help a brother out? Thanks for the help... it kinda works I think... those people who paid for that other toaster are sure sheeple aren't they? Talk later... off to my free as in whatever, fridge forum ... I have frozen milk...

Hilarious post. I laughed so

Anonymous's picture

Hilarious post. I laughed so hard because it is funny how insane things can become.

I think its helpful for all of us to pause, take a deep breath and lighten up a little. Life will go on!

Amen, Brother

r198t's picture

Man, you really hit something with that post. I could not agree more. The endless Windows/Gates bashing is old an tiresome as is the elevation of Linux (I'm sorry, I mean GNU/Linux - God, get a life) to a religion with Torvalds as it's Supreme Being. I love Linux but I could do without the religion and damn hippie culture that comes with it.

One point of disagreement: I do like turning on my computer knowing I've not one thin dime invested in the software. But it's not a political statement. I love Capitalism. I'm just a cheap bastard.


Thanks... funny how this

Poejoe's picture

Thanks... funny how this thread is so not about an OS. Or in Linux case many many of them. The weakness for the masses is what the people of the community is what they feel are strengths.

The question is do you as a community want end users and a lot of them? That means dumb ones.. ordinary ones, ungrateful ones, ones who ask questions and don't listen or reply back when it works. Can end users actually have an endpoint? Can they be left alone to be ordinary people? Do they have to love and appreciate a computer program? Does it have to have a meaning?

I don't love Windows. Or Microsoft. I just use a program, or several of them. That's all I am wanted for and to be wanted for. That's really most people want to invest on about any level. Most people don't care what the Linux community thinks and feels about much. I am not even talking about the religiously fanatical crowd. There are several of those people in Windows and even more in Apple. I am talking about the simply enthusiastic people even who just don't get that people can't even relate to because they are not end users. End means end. I have it.. now help me fix and leave me alone. Trust me.. you have the market cornered on fanatics.. anyone else will be the people who only have practical and selfish reasons to use Linux. I don't think ya really want them. Then Linux people will be overwhelmingly a common thing of common people who don't care.. and you won't feel special. I don't have an answer to your quagmire except to commercialize Linux and leave the community out of the mix. Let paid employees answer questions and be paid to be respectful and then they go home and forget about it. The focus is odd this way. And the discussion always happens in places like this where like minded people think like mindedly. Fanatic test it, use it, and talk about it in circles the same way. It's not working is it? Never will. Not that the programs are bad... or even better sometimes. But somehow it's that 99% of people need to come around to how you feel and not one % of you need to come around to how everyone else very obviously feels. You have the agenda.. not everyone else. But they are all wrong. Doubt it. It's the sociology of the argument.. not the nuts and bolts. Socially speaking this community is off in la-la land about Linux.

I would actually agree on some of your points

KimTjik's picture

I'm not sure whether it's your main point, but as I interpret your reasoning, and something I agree on: only commercial products will bend backwards to sell as much as possible. Linux is very commercial, but not on the desktop, and hence many doesn't see any incitement for making the effort to just get a lot of folks on board.

Canonical is probably the only party here following some kind of commercial agenda, and hence has an interest in getting a as large as possible user base. An investment for the day Canonical really launch its grand scheme of business (if that day comes). For others there's just not enough pragmatic reasons to sacrifice huge efforts on getting ordinary users just for sake of being many. Sure there are some possible long term benefits, but it depends ultimately on how vocal these ordinary users will be and how willing the media industry will be to change their mindset. Short term benefits aren't really there, because Linux, as other pieces of such software, is code made by users for users, depending on being an active participant in the development, not necessarily as a skilled coder but as someone who at least cares to file bug reports. We're all busy people, family, society responsibilities, businesses and other duties, limiting us from doing humanitarian work 100% of our so called free time.

The fundamental nature of let's say Windows, Apple and Linux differ. Windows was by evidence based on a successful and screwed business scheme to vendor lock the user base. Apple has been successful in packaging a lifestyle, but differs from Linux in that it more tells users how they should compute, instead of being formed by users. Linux is in a sense an educational system, designed to be understood, even though it never will be technically understood by general users. I would love to see more use Linux, but I have my doubts whether becoming many is a good enough goal to potentially hurt and maybe kill the nature of Linux. Connected to Linux are several other interests pushing for open and future safe formats; that struggle doesn't necessarily depend on how big Linux' market share for desktops are.

I keep several ordinary users up going using Linux (the most computer novice user I know of is my mother-in-law, but even though she lives in another country it has been possible and more successful to have her using Linux). I sometimes take crap because I see that a person actually wants help, but just don't know how to socialize. Fortunately I'm a speedy typist, because I do have far too many important duties to spend a lot of time helping folks, and doesn't manage to reach my goals about Wiki entries. I'm working on it however.


Having deep insight and knowledge is a challenge (I'm referring to the ones doing the real coding). Maybe the same risk applies to them, as how Daniel Ellsberg explained the risks of knowing state secretes:

"First, a great exhilaration, for getting all these amazing information that you didn't know even existed. And the next phase is you'll feel like a fool for not having known of any of this. But that won't last long. Very soon, you'll come to think that everyone else is foolish. What would this expert be telling me if he knew what I knew? So in the end, you stop listening too."

I don't think it's common, but the risk is still there.

It's more about your personal fear and perception

KimTjik's picture

In the communities I've been the last years practically nobody cares about Microsoft, and hence there's close to no bashing going on (if somebody suddenly decided to bash, meaning criticizing without any substance or proof of wrongdoing, it would be against forum rules). On the other hand complacency in face of clear infringements of user freedom is just plain selfish, meaning you don't care about how certain decisions might affect other current of future users of technology. This has no particular relation to Linux, even though favouring open formats put you in the front.

You say "amen, brother", and then complain about Linux being attached by religious devotion. Irony? My point is, this complaint is totally in the hands of your perception. If you by chance find something over the top, look elsewhere, because the same kind of devotion is seen everywhere. If someone feel strongly for something just let it pass, for by reacting on it you prove to just as devoted.

The hippie argument is quite fun. The upswing of computing is by your definition a hippie movement. Bill Gates looked very odd in the hay days, surrounded by pretty hairy colleges. The corporate world of the US is full of old hippies; difference that some changed their appearance. Trying to politicize technology is useless, and in my experience most who do have themselves very strong political opinions, leading them to see animosity everywhere.

Knowing that "not one thin dime [is] invested in the software" speaks against you. Linux isn't about getting something for free, but put the money where you think it's needed. To even complain about superficial matters, human errors, doesn't stimulate progress of good technology. Maybe your interest isn't technology, or is it?

Wow - I feel special

r198t's picture

Kim, really, take a breath. I wrote about six sentences to which you devote paragraphs of argument? Well, I can't have you wasting your valuable time with someone of my subservient stature. So, as a service to you, I'm going to help you. Please, read on.

Let's see, I'm complacent, selfish, by implication, stupid, obviously, since I did not note the "irony" in my subject line and comment, a reactionary, paranoid, superficial and, I think, a troll. Whew!

Thank you. Thank you for taking my opinion and defining it for me so I now know what I meant. Until you came along I was wandering aimlessly through this wilderness we call the Internet without a clue as to what I thought about anything. Now, I have "a place" because you cared enough to put me there. You've performed a service, sir. I bow to your eloquent insight.

I can save you some time in the future as you endeavor to personally insult people you don't know because they have an opinion you don't like. Now, this is just a thought. You certainly don't have to take advice from someone who is so inferior to you but, I'm going to put it out there anyway. You could just say, "Gee, [insert name here], I disagree with you." Wasn't that easy? So simple. The pompous way you did it this time makes you sound like a pontificating ass.

No need to thank me for this advice. I'm only here to help.


Why do you take it personally?

KimTjik's picture

My comment wasn't even directed at you personally. I just expressed my view on the topics you mention, and hence posted as a reply. Topics not person. I stand for every bit of it, but not as you interpreted it.

I don't know whether you're complacent or not, I only added my view about why it can be a good thing to bother about certain questions.

I wrote that you choose to react when faced with overly "enthusiastic" individuals. Why turn this into some kind of personal vendetta, trying to ridicule the arguments? Sure, our misunderstanding, whether bilateral or not, illustrates the subject for discussion.

Irony? I thought it was an unintentional funny twist, nothing else. Why presume it was an insult, when the intention actually was to make it less serious. Should I add all kinds :D and :) or maybe ;)? Another example of how "dead" text doesn't translate intention and mode.

There's a semantic problem with English - not even my secondary language - since "you" stands for both you as one individual and you as an undefined individual. I used "you" in the second definition. So while I take a breath, I suppose you're free to do the same. Maybe we would understand each other better if communicating face to face, or preferably in another language than English.


I don't know whether my last paragraph applies to you or not, but you seem to be quite frank about it. If it does apply I hope that you choose to support software you like, personally or business wise.


Anyway, it's no big deal. It's only about some bits of code. Take care and I'm sorry if my language is a bit clumsy.

Your English is fine. You

r198t's picture

Your English is fine. You write much more eloquently than I.

Kim, insulting someone, which you did do, and then following it up with a description that the offended is misinterpreting your use of language is simply another way to add another insult to the injury.

I certainly believe that "taking offense" has become an National pastime and is a sad commentary in our society today. But I also know when someone is intentionally ridiculing me. You looked at what I wrote and decided I needed to be put in my place. Six sentences. That was all you needed to define almost fifty years of life. I'm sorry, but in this instance, you were simply wrong.

Let me tell you what I think of you. I know you are intelligent. I can tell by the way you communicate. And, frankly, anyone who is multi-lingual gets points in my book for dedication and the ability to apply thought and reason. But in this instance, you got ahead of yourself.

Still, I do believe in your heart you were attempting to sincerely apologize. I accept. If my response caused you embarrassment, I am sorry. All that is left is for you and I to share a Scotch and shake hands. I would be honored to call you a friend.


Alternatives to community support.

rich_c's picture

You do realise you can pay for what you get if you really want to right? There are any number of distros that offer support contracts suited to home/small office right up to enterprise level. Even the small but critically well regarded distro I use has an officially supported (Small/medium business.) side to it. (

Community is not Philosophy

Martin Owens's picture

I'm not looking for ignorance about how my software is made, I'm not interested in blindly downloading what ever looks naively practical right at this moment. It's thoughts like that which really do embody the tragedy of the commons, all self and no community, that's not even natural.

You need to spend more time studying FOSS, Commons and related thoughts, otherwise your claim of "knowing what it's about" is plainly false.

The community is the distro

lipbalm's picture

I've had a varied journey from Mandrake to Slackware to RedHat to Fedora to Ubuntu (with a little Suse and Gentoo mixed in for fun). What's kept me with Ubuntu for the last few years has less to do with the distro itself and more to do with the help I get on the forums. From topics like "I upgraded to Karmic and now my Thinkpad volume buttons don't work" to "Why won't VMware Server install on my 64-bit machine?" - I generally find the answer to the question/problem I have. As alluded to above, this is arguably a side effect of the percentage of Linux users using Ubuntu. But whatever the reason, I just don't find that consistently reliable help anywhere else. The community, more so than the technology, makes the distribution choice easy for me.

And, one more grammar fix:
"hole" != "whole"

Diversity on all levels

KimTjik's picture

I'm not so sure that a second coming of Linus will be embodied by an annoying person, who while flaming everyone refuses to RTFM (some don't feel any need to exaggerate the importance of the "F" beyond "fine")!

If I pass on how differently folks search for help - some methodically trying to be as informative as possible, others emotionally looking for any tendency of ill will and while doing so bumping his own thread twice per minute - Linux' diversity creates a diversity of communities shaping their own characteristics. With that comes a freedom to target certain kinds of users. This could become a conflict if a new user wants to identify with a particular community, but doesn't bother to learn its culture, and encounters someone with little patience for holding hands. Who's to blame?

I think this is an example of a typical social problem that we humans deal with in all spheres of life. We have a tendency to only socialize with the ones we without effort feel connected to, family or persons with more or less the same opinions as we, maybe even being in our own age and having the same social background. Respect doesn't mean what it did, now being a buzz word translated into "I demand you to take whatever I through at you and if you don't like it you can piss off". So what happens when individuals suddenly clash into each others with different expectations? Sometimes it become ugly.

Hence my experience tells me that communities and their forums, or other channels, work best when they're clear about their goals, what users are targeted, what's expected from the user looking for help and so on. For those with knowledge, but less patience, a good contribution is to write methodical documentation. A good Wiki will serve as the backbone of community, making any RTFM actually meaning Read The Fine Manual with no hard feelings.

Linux users with their different cultures are just as peacemaking as the world as a whole.

Again, I couldn't have said

Chase Crum's picture

Again, I couldn't have said it better myself. Don't get me wrong, the intent isn't to say the mean ol' elitists are ruining it for everyone. Rather, I would suggest, much like you touched on, that we might need a moment to step back and realize this has become a culture of it's own and given that, maybe we should evaluate how everyone is interacting and see if we're really streamlined for a community. VERY WELL SAID.

Chase Crum is the IT Infrastructure Manager for Voicenation and a self-proclaimed Linux FANATIC.

Problem isn't the questions... it's the lack of answers

Pham Newen's picture

IMHO one of the most annoying things, and I'd say I see it on 80%+ of the threads on most forums is the person who asks the question, 10 or so posts go by with some clues, hints, or as Chase pointed out lots of nastyness. Then the OP will announce. "Thanks I've solved it."......

Uh, HOW?

Really if something does get solved PLEASE, make sure to followup and post a clear [SOLUTION] post, so the rest of us can figure out how to fix it when we come up with the same question.

That is my two cents.

I'd highly recommend the

Anonymous's picture

I'd highly recommend the Slackware forums as they have been the most helpful in my experience with Linux. The Ubuntu forums are good too because so many people are using Ubuntu. The Gentoo forums aren't nearly as good: there aren't as many people on them and there are a lot of annoying people saying things like "you need to start a separate thread for each question you ask." Gentoo has excellent documentation though.