Of GNU/Linux, Hardliners and a clear case of double standards!

In an ideal world, we’d all be updating our statuses on Identi.ca via the terminal on Arch Linux, have text based web pages without Flash or any form of animation, hang anyone using Microsoft Windows, impose a fine on anyone who uses Twitter and make it a law for all students to take a full course in computer programming.

But in the real world, there is something called choice. Take a look at this thread over on Identi.ca that ensued because my very good @acurrie included Ubuntu as a hastag in an update to a post on his blog. All hell broke lose! I have followed with keen interest the recent brouhaha surrounding Canonical’s contribution to the upstream GNOME project. 

First of all, I was not impressed with Shuttleworth’s response to the whole upstream commits issue. He sounded more poetic than a technical guy to me on that post. Jono Bacon did a little better. That notwithstanding, the fact remains that there are millions of Linux (sorry GNU/Linux!) users out there that got exposed to the entire FOSS world via Ubuntu. That in itself is no small feat.

I also agree that Ubuntu is not synonymous with Linux, I am not aware if Canonical is seeking to achieve that goal anyway. However, what I seriously have a problem with is the needless and mostly very inflammatory comments that some hardliners make at the mere mention of the word Ubuntu. Is it not ironic and hypocritical to have people that claim they are saving others by giving them choices other than Windows get all worked up at the mention of one of the options available as part of the choice subset they offer?

Is it not hypocritical to be seen damning one distro (on purely philosphical basis) and actually getting worked up over people’s choice to use that distro? Where is the choice? Where is the freedom we so loudly proclaim in the FOSS world? There is Microsoft Windows, and there is Linux. Unless the entire FOSS world clearly defines its strategic goal of making Linux a viable choice for AVERAGE JOE and not Tom Geek, the 1-5% will eternally remain our lot.

How many of you will put your monies in investments for over 20 years that will yield returns of less than 10% and keep holding your monies there? Not everyone will be a geek, writing emails via the terminal, not all of us are interested. I for one am more interested in the financial/business aspect of FOSS than the technical/philosophical aspects.

And if you are like me and live in the real world with friends that only do Facebook, Twitter and Solitaire, you’d want something that works easily for you that you can convince THEM to give a try. Ubuntu does that for me, so I use it. Plain and simple. Sure my very good friend and co-author has a different take on Ubuntu, but he has never called me names or flamed me, not even in a jovial way for making my choice. He has given his reasons for his dislike of that distro, and most  of the time, I’ve had to agree with him based on FACTS he advances!

Linux is a great OS (yes it’s just the kernel I know) that has great potential, but I don’t see that happening anytime in the foreseeable future because there are just too many hardliners that divide their time between writing code and putting people off from using that code! There is absolutely no need to proclaim FOSS out loud if what we indulge in is mostly bickering at each other over philosophical differences and syntax that only makes Steve Ballmer’s day very worthwhile.

To advance GNU/Linux and FOSS in general, do away with the hardline, fundamentalist intolerance and understand that we are from different parts of the world, with different skillsets, interests and understandings trying to put in our small quota to make FOSS a viable alternative. If you have enough time after wrting code to damn something, spend it on trying to close the gap the Penguin will have to travel to catch up with the Windows!

8 Replies to “Of GNU/Linux, Hardliners and a clear case of double standards!”

  1. I understand your point. What I would like to "enlighten" on you, is:
    A) Linux was made on the hacker's side. Yup, those guys who hammer bits, but don't give a damn about business.
    I understand they wanted to create an option to the major OS'es that existed back then.
    B) They suffered, right from the start, attacks from the established powers, you know who, and those attacks also made them very suspicious. I mean, the Linux community could be other thing today, not this frightened neighborhood, like in the slums, where people is afraid to walk down the streets fearing muggers.
    and, last, but not least, is, what is happening now: C) Linux in the mainstream. And, it's an irreversible path, Linux is going mainstream, backed by many corporations. There's the fear of what's gonna be of the sweet Penguin OS ? And let me tell you: I don't want Linux to dominate in the desktops. What would be good is more balancing in the used systems in the desktop. That would be good even for winblow$, if it loses its position, the crackers would let it in peace. Open standards and compliance to these standards, this is what I want. With open standards, there's no need to interoperability, it comes naturally. Well, these are my 2 cents, my humble opinion.

  2. +1. Perfectly understand your point. I just don't like the attitude of those that see things only in black and white. There are always shades of grey in life you know.

  3. As always, thanks for the links!

    I wasn't so angry about the Ubuntu-bashing per se — I just wanted to test the waters and see if there really was a massing hatred of Ubootnu ; )

    It could well be that Identi.ca is the realm of coders and more fanatical folk, and that it's our job as FLOSS evangelists to smooth over the occasional rough edges…

  4. Always a pleasure AC. Seriously I just don't get the point of the so called hardliners. It is a community man, not some Gestapo run camp that all must tow a certain line

  5. My opinion is that people like yourself with business interests is exactly what the FLOSS world needs. Open source is very good at generating value, not so much at capturing it.

    That said, there have been a lot of people in open source fighting an extremely difficult fight for theirs, and especially the users', rights for the use and distribution of software. In a sense, with an increasing commercial interest in open source, I can understand the resistance to compromise from the pioneers of the open source culture and principles.

    Nevertheless, we must be open for new ideas if we are to make progress. Open source adds tremendous value to businesses and individuals alike, and in most cases more than propitiatory system, as the users have much greater liberty in using and redistributing the software. Therefore, it really should be much easier for open source developers and companies to be profitable.

  6. Speaking of intolerance and ignorance…

    Your analogy of using the terminal to surf the web (with links I supose) with ArchLinux was really not called for.

    I'm currently using ArchLinux, (yes, with a full gnome desktop, firefox, and guess what? firefox! with flash!!) and once in a while I feel a little bit insulted by the typical Ubuntu user (or posts like yours)

    I don't hate Ubuntu, I like that distro and recomend it to my friends who are willing to give Linux a chance, and I understand that the ubuntu comunity feel threatened with the gnome census numbers.

    But what the ubuntu users-blogger do? Insult the rest of the comunity? really? that's your "human" respnse? here is an Advise from a Linux user: Don't be disrepectful with the comunity just because you guys felt threatened by a stupid census (made by red hat BTW).

    You just lost a Reader sir, good job!

  7. Couldn't agree with you more, exactly what do the FOSS Nazis want really, if they had their way, Linux desktop would be forever relegated to Geek dungeons. Ubuntu and similar distros have bought Linux out for all, specially those who are switching over from Windows, it has even appealed to many Mac users looking for a more securer and viable option, where is the harm in all this really.

  8. Rafael, similes and metaphors are the main ways of expressing oneself in my part of the world.

    That first paragraph is a metaphor mixed with some hyperbole in an attempt to convey a picture of an ideal world in which Free Software ruled with all its nuances and tenets.

    I used Arch Linux not as a sign of disrespect but because I wanted a distro that truly represented what geeks like to use. No offence was intended.

    I am very sorry if that was the impression that my words created in your mind 🙁

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