Commercial Linux Transforming the Community? Or Do They Need a Wakeup Call?

Last week, I had the privilege of addressing the North Texas Linux Users Group. Ralph Green asked me to present information on my upcoming book called "Linux System Administration" by O'Reilly. I only had the digital images of the cover and gallies, since the book actually goes to press in early March. So, I showed my digital images.

While this may seem like a plug, the vast majority of Linux authors make little to no money on their books and other publications. So, consider this particular book more of an effort of documentation like you would on a OSS project.

Back to the presentation. I have noticed over the years that proprietary user groups have become common. Few, if any members of those communities offer code to the operating system or application projects. These communities such as Amiga, Mac, Java, Microsoft, etc. are truly USER GROUPS.

I asked for a show of hands in a rather large audience of Linux users how many of them were Linux System administrators. Not a single hand went up. That's the response I expected having done surveys on marketing. The Linux community today, for the most part, reflects the validity of the name Linux Users Groups (LUGs).

Last week I interviewed, by invitation, with one of the two major Linux commercial vendors in the US. I wanted to see what occurs in that environment since almost everything they say about their work is "No Comment". I found out a great deal since I researched the people scheduled to interview me.

I would characterize the interview as one of the most humiliating experiences I can remember. The interview process reminded me more of a cattle round-up. The people conducting this process just ran us through like you would herd cattle into a feed lot.

The group manager's original correspondence prior to the trip seemed full of enthusiasm. I thought from that correspondence that I would actually interview face to face for a position for which I had several telephone interviews.

I made a day trip out of the travel since I don't like to pack even for a 1500 mile, 15 hour excursion. When I arrived, I soon discovered the company had no plans to conduct a normal interview. I had taken a trip to a major city on the east coast to become a member of a feed lot for cattle.

I found an absence of a coordinator. My schedule didn't fit the one sent to me. People other than those scheduled interviewed me. They did not have my resume. Before the trip, I spent a few hours filling in an interview form that I "had to bring". No one asked for the form and they interviewed me from nothing on paper.

Many of the people I met had worked for companies such as HP, IBM, Dell, etc. They had approximately two years of experience on average. To them, Linux was another product like any other they had sold before.

One of the key decision makers decided she didn't feel like making my interview. That may have occurred as a result of the receptionist ordering me into an interview room in the most discourteous manner as the decision maker watched.

I did have a heavy dose of importance of the decision makers interviewing me. The head of the Federal group had no idea of the work I had done in the Government arena and didn't have time to ask me about that. I suppose that in a 30 minute interview, he had to spend a majority of the time allotted to his own grandeur (sic).

If I thought my feedback would make a difference, I would consult this company about the gross process I endured and how it could have worked. All in all, it did not work. As a business process it demonstrated immaturity, thoughtlessness and serious disorganization.

One of the more interesting claims dealt with the company's self importance. According to one of my interviewers, the Linux development community has gone to hell. No one is left. The non-commercial Linux users lack the ability to produce anything of real value.

We're only a user group and we cannot afford the products offered by our commercial Linux friends. Well, bless these folks. While they have convinced themselves they have won, I can only reflect on the concept of history repeating itself. People who believe they have arrived, will fall. And the cause of that fall will come from a place they never anticipated.

So, back to the book. One thing our team at O'Reilly wanted to accomplish involves a different kind of Linux book. We haven't written and will not publish another version of running Linux. We wanted to take the Linux power user to the next level. LSA is about servers and making our readers into admins who have to build servers and administrate them.

Linux has a rich history of turning hobbyists into professionals. You can continue to use the desktop to run a web browser, send emails and post comments to news sites. If you want to move on, consider what it takes to administer Linux and you'll only have one job opportunity according to the people who interviewed me - them. Them as in full of themselves.

And that's all I have to say about that.

- God bless the child thats got his own - Billie Holiday

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

The author gave not so

caballosweb's picture

The author gave not so subtle clues about the corporation whose interview process humiliated him. One of the two top Linux corporations. Novell or Red Hat. Novell's corporate hq is in Utah. Red Hat's is on the east coast. The puzzle was so simple one wonders why he just didn't come out and say that Red Hat's interview process made him feel like a cow.

To me the article described a clash of egos - an egotistical corporation not paying due respect to an egotistical author, so the author abuses a Linux media outlet to whine about it.

Apparently he didn't get the job.

___________________
Submited by : Caballos

We think this is an

Home Refurbish Course's picture

We think this is an inspiring article.

oh my...

Nina's picture

how can people selling linux products have such asnotty attitude with a person who edifies the product they sell. all blog writers in linuxjournal write articles that promote and induce loyalty or maybe curiosity to linux products-that sounds like advertisement to me...didn't they think of that before treating you like___?

A good article.

new thumbs daily's picture

A good article.

Investment

ArticleBee's picture

There is always a time when you develop something for free you reach a point which you cannot go any further. At this time you need extra resources and investment ... Investors always want a return on their investment so inevitable the product is going to have to go commercial for it to grow and keep ahead of the game.

It's simple business.

Administrate? Strewth!

Anonymous's picture

This is an example of a 'backformation' - (a word made by cutting off the end of nouns that were themselves created from verbs). Often backformations are unneeded and clutter the language. Words like 'administrate' (backformed from administration) and 'orientate' (from orientation) duplicate the shorter and older verbs (administer and orient) from which the -tion nouns were formed.

Business Process

Anonymous's picture

You said "As a business process it demonstrated immaturity, thoughtlessness and serious disorganization."
Welcome to the wunnerful world of all too many businesses. You should tell us the name of the company so we can avoid/dump/short their stock.

Looking forward to an

Matt's picture

Looking forward to an O'Reilly on Linux System Administration. For years I've had my copy of Unix System Administration laying around and it's come in handy numerous times. Additionally I appreciate the O'Reilly books and their presentation of material. Often they seem much more professional and to the point. By the way I guess I should comment on the administer word but that's trivial BS and people that harp on items such as that truly do need to have more work put upon them.

Book?

BC's picture

If you are going to write a book on administration, you should know that there is no such word as "administrate". The correct verb form is administer.

Buy a new dictionary

Anonymous's picture

administrate
One entry found for administrate.
Main Entry: ad·min·is·trate
Pronunciation: -"strAt
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): -trat·ed; -trat·ing
Etymology: Latin administratus, past participle of administrare

Buy a new dictionary

Anonymous's picture

administrate
One entry found for administrate.
Main Entry: ad·min·is·trate
Pronunciation: -"strAt
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): -trat·ed; -trat·ing
Etymology: Latin administratus, past participle of administrare

administrate

emmet's picture

You know, I thought the same, but then I checked. Administrate is a damned awkward word, but a word nonetheless.

Administrate | Ad*min"is*trate |
v. t. L. administratus, p. p.
of administrare.
To administer. R. --Milman.
1913 Webster

Merriam-Webster Online administrate.

nudepenguin's picture

If you were using LINUX and firefox or konqueror to browse the web you would have Merriam-Webster online search at the top right of your browser. Administrate: past participle of administrare
: ADMINISTER

Check a dictionary

Xaethos's picture

Administrate is as valid a word as administer. If you couldn't find the word in your dictionary I suggest getting a new one.

Admininster/Administrate

Anonymous's picture

Points to ponder:

From M-W Online:

Administer:

Main Entry: ad·min·is·ter
Pronunciation: &d-'mi-n&-st&r
Function: verb
[etymological info snipped]
1 : to manage or supervise the execution, use, or conduct of
2 a : to mete out : DISPENSE b : to give ritually c : to give remedially
intransitive verb
1 : to perform the office of administrator
2 : to furnish a benefit : MINISTER
3 : to manage affairs

Administrate:

Main Entry: ad·min·is·trate
Pronunciation: -"strAt
Function: verb
[etymology snipped again]
: ADMINISTER

Note how administrate's entry points to administer's? Would that not lead one to believe Administer is the preferred form for modern use? Be that as it may, either form is acceptable.

Now that we've settled that vitally important point of orthography and grammar, let's move on, shall we?

I'm as unhappy as the next fellow about all this "commercialization" of Linux, but I'm glad to see Linux becoming easier to use in some distributions.

There is room in the Open Source community for admins and for users, too. Remember, every admin out there started out as a user.

I administer our home network and the Linux boxen thereon, and have been for several years now. Oh, I know, I'm not a Linux admin in an "Enterprise" environment, but let our home network go down (infrequently as that happens) and see who loses sleep until its fixed.

There have been many days I have been glad that I am the only admin at my house!

The plural of box is boxes.

Anonymous's picture

The plural of box is boxes. The plural of VAX is VAXes. Not boxen, not VAXen. (So much time, so little to do - Willy Wonka).

Administrate & the new book

Mohamed Ibrahim's picture

Guys, both of you are correct.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Administrate

Also, if you are not going to make any money from the book, then why don't you publish it on the web as a PDF file ? it makes it easier for every one

With a topic as important as

Anonymous's picture

With a topic as important as commercial vendors, trying to say what can, should, and will be done, with Linux, why are you arguing over grammar anyway?

With a topic as important as

Tom Adelstein's picture

I tend to agree, even though the flotsam (discarded odds and ends) had fun attached. I don't know if arguing over grammar or the righteousness of a word game is negative. I just know that us users don't count any more when it comes to the commercialization of Linux. I see that as a game. Couldn't we have a Linux desktop as functional as Mac OS X? Couldn't the same company that brought you the Global File System pay a licensing fee for codecs to play DVDs and Internet audio video?

I don't expect it any more because selling Linux and making sales quotas takes precedence over everything else including developing it. And why should they? After all, the kernel, et al is free as in beer - definitely not freedom.

With a topic as important as

Tom Adelstein's picture

I tend to agree, even though the flotsam (discarded odds and ends) had fun attached. I don't know if arguing over grammar or the righteousness of a word game is negative. I just know that us users don't count any more when it comes to the commercialization of Linux. I see that as a game. Couldn't we have a Linux desktop as functional as Mac OS X? Couldn't the same company that brought you the Global File System pay a licensing fee for codecs to play DVDs and Internet audio video?

I don't expect it any more because selling Linux and making sales quotas takes precedence over everything else including developing it. And why should they? After all, the kernel, et al is free as in beer - definitely not freedom.

White Paper
Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI

Linux has become a key foundation for supporting today's rapidly growing IT environments. Linux is being used to deploy business applications and databases, trading on its reputation as a low-cost operating environment. For many IT organizations, Linux is a mainstay for deploying Web servers and has evolved from handling basic file, print, and utility workloads to running mission-critical applications and databases, physically, virtually, and in the cloud. As Linux grows in importance in terms of value to the business, managing Linux environments to high standards of service quality — availability, security, and performance — becomes an essential requirement for business success.

Learn More

Sponsored by Red Hat

White Paper
Private PaaS for the Agile Enterprise

If you already use virtualized infrastructure, you are well on your way to leveraging the power of the cloud. Virtualization offers the promise of limitless resources, but how do you manage that scalability when your DevOps team doesn’t scale? In today’s hypercompetitive markets, fast results can make a difference between leading the pack vs. obsolescence. Organizations need more benefits from cloud computing than just raw resources. They need agility, flexibility, convenience, ROI, and control.

Stackato private Platform-as-a-Service technology from ActiveState extends your private cloud infrastructure by creating a private PaaS to provide on-demand availability, flexibility, control, and ultimately, faster time-to-market for your enterprise.

Learn More

Sponsored by ActiveState