Something's Amiss in the Linux Community OP/ED - www.reallylinux.com
Something's Amiss in the Linux Community
by Walter V. Koenning for the Reallylinux.com OPINION/EDITORIAL section.
Maybe something is amiss in our beloved
Linux community? This is the same unique self sufficient, self
sustaining realm where I can sit behind my monitor at 2am and immerse
in the concerns regarding Bitkeeper, getting intimately close to the
thoughts of Linus and Andrew. I don't know either personally, but
that's the amazing thing about this community. It is tight, it is
personal and it is greatly beneficial.
It is also the realm where the support so many keep
pressing as a Linux weakness exists in microcosm in thousands of
local, or on-line communities world wide.
If I have a problem with my Fedora Core
3 using NFS mounts and RAID5 striping, then I go to my local or
on-line Linux community. There I find that someone named Andy
encountered the same issue a week ago in his work and shares with me
some tips and installation tricks.
Now why would a nice stranger named
Andy help me out for free with such a significant issue? Because
someone helped Andy as he was dealing with the same issue. A principal
that has less to do with Linux and more to do with humanity.
Yet, over the past few months something
has changed. No, the people are as friendly and helpful as ever.
But something unquestionably has changed. So what smells so fishy in
the Linux community today?
Here are three of my thoughts:
Advertising Aimed at Our Community
FIRST, there is an enormous amount of
new advertising all over the Linux community targeting "business
applications users" that is pro-Windows. These are the usual
grouping of "analysis" documents comparing Windows and Linux
servers. Notice that no longer are the sponsored analysis documents
stating Windows is superior.
At this stage of the game, when Linux
servers are world-wide, and entire nations are shifting to Linux in
their infrastructure, this would be too overt, too ridiculous.
Instead, now most use words such as "comparable performance"
or "analogous results" to make it more palatable but also more
subtly manipulative. These ads are not new. However, their
frequency in the Linux realm is new and it can only mean two things.
First, a lot of Linux and OpenSource
sites are making money to continue their FOSS endeavors from such
ads. Ironic, but quite good if you think about it. Second, a lot of
this is obviously targeted at you and me, the Linux guys. Why? We
don't plan to switch.
But I think the intent is most likely
to soften the positioning of those in the community that are not
polarized. By doing so the hope may be that some people in the
community should falter under the confusion of contradictory data.
Just look at the jumble of information out there: "Linux adoption
rate stalled" and then released a day later, "Linux adoption
Undeniably, there is a lot of new
jumble promoting Windows or negating pro-Linux studies and it's
targeted at the Linux community.
That takes me to the second fishy
smelling thing in our community.
Those Against the Community Spending
Time In the Community
SECOND, I started to notice that even
on regular replies to Linux articles the actual content of
the replies were THE SAME as that of other negative replies to other
articles. Perhaps these are amazing coincidences where one person
states the exact same words as another in a distinctly different
context. More likely these are the overt duplications of negative
responses across unique articles. I started wondering, are some
readers simply so exhausted they
have stooped to duplicating other people's negative responses? Seems a bit
odd to me.
My conspiracy friends tell me it's
gnomes hiding in the basements of offices sponsored by "you know
who" taking turns writing negative comments or giving negative
ratings to articles that are pro-Linux.
I personally have another theory.
There are a lot of new people hanging around overtly Linux oriented
websites mouthing off negative, often rude comments. I have to
wonder why they spend so much time reading material on websites they
obviously do not agree with, unless they're there for another motive?
I wouldn't have the gall to suggest this, were it not that I kept
finding different people writing replies across so many articles with
the exact same negative comments.
I just can't figure this out, except to
say there are a handful of people hanging around the Linux community
who aren't part of it, and more importantly, never intend to be part
of it. This takes me to my third point.
"There are a handful of people hanging around the Linux community
who aren't part of it, and never intend to be part of it."
Targeting Each Market Segment Including
the Linux Community
THIRD, it seems that perhaps Microsoft
maybe using an approach that targets each segment. It's my opinion
that perhaps to their core users they have provided some rather
strong messaging regarding Linux. The symptoms to which we see
wrongly manifested in aggressive behaviors such as threatening
authors of pro-Linux articles with emails filled to the brim with
every conceivable cuss word imaginable (some are really quite
imaginative). I was approached by one individual who believed that
Linux was putting thousands of people out of work including himself
and he demanded I stop helping promote "that damn free thing,"
while another gentlemen simply regards Linux as "a socialist tool
to undermine democracy."
The second audience is the mass market
of people. These are the mainstream, the middle of the road. They
are often those who've never heard of Linux except from the headline
news or announcements like when they learn that ILM maker of Star
Wars graphics uses
Linux servers to generate those fancy movie effects.
These people are getting more and more
intrigued and asking "just what is Linux?" to which I'm
finding a fascinating amount of non-Linux people responding to the
I'm noticing a great load of new articles regarding "what is Linux"
and then using the forum to expose its apparent "weaknesses, infancy, or lack
of support." And at the same time, I'm seeing more articles on the
virtues of Windows now than ever before in my
life, and I've been computing for a good long while.
Undoubtedly, this is because the Linux
community, where most people who want to learn something about Linux
come to, is now being inundated by information that is not from the
"The Linux community is now being inundated by information that is not from the
Finally, there is the segment of true
Linux users, who are being told that Linux, the philosophies behind
OpenSource, and even the community is segmenting, perhaps even
fragmenting into nothingness.
All this is incredibly old. For ages
these techniques of fragmenting the enemy, confusing the undecided,
and provoking the loyalists have been employed.
"For ages these techniques of fragmenting the enemy, confusing the undecided,
and provoking the loyalists have been employed."
Yet, I propose there is one big
difference. The difference is so major that it allows me to smell
the fishy smell, and notice that which has gone amiss and still sleep
well at night.
Linux did not get to where it is today
because it was promoted extensively, strategically deployed, well
marketed, etc. It got to where it is today because there is an
unquenchable thirst in the world (I'm talking about all of humanity)
for creativity and collaboration.
Thousands of people have volunteered
their blood and sweat to OpenSource because it matters more than
general economics or power.
What we create with our minds and
fingertips together with others we've never seen matters and benefits
many and leaves a legacy that money can't buy and power can't wield.
It's not possible to stop inner human passion. Nor will it be
possible to undermine the community that makes it tick so well.
Instead, for every action, there will be an equal and opposite
Walter V. Koenning is a technology writer and provides insights
regarding industry trends. He contributes regularly to the
OPINION/EDITORIAL segments on Reallylinux.com.
This brief opinion piece should not be construed as factual information, and only contains the opinions and personal experiences of the author at the time of publication. Reallylinux.com could not find information in this article that at the time of publication was inaccurate. However, the opinions and personal experiences that have been posted do not express the opinions of Reallylinux.com and are not endorsed in any way. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Microsoft and Microsoft Windows are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation both in the United States and Internationally. All other trademarks or registered trademarks in this opinion piece belong to their respective owners.