[lug] The changing Linux Community was Re: cp and rm

Riggs, Rob RRiggs at doubleclick.net
Thu Aug 2 10:54:40 MDT 2001

I'm far less concerned about this than Wade is. I do understand his point,
but the fact the one can pick up Linux at the local CompUSA is a big bonus.
Now, we may end up with a smaller percentage of users that can or are
willing to contribute back to the community. But the sheer volume of new
users has also added to the total number of contributors in the community as

But, lets face it, in the past you had to be a hacker to use Linux. With the
advent of commercial Linux distributions, that's no longer the case. We can
not continue to expect that every Linux user will contribute some code
changes back to the package maintainers.

Yes, the overall face of the community changes, but we still gain. And it
gives us the opportunity to introduce new Linux users that can code to the
concept of code contribution that is at the heart of the Linux community. 

-----Original Message-----
From: J. Wayde Allen [mailto:wallen at lug.boulder.co.us]
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2001 9:28 AM
To: List: Boulder Linux User's Group
Subject: [lug] The changing Linux Community was Re: cp and rm

I think the following two comments are particularly important!

On 1 Aug 2001, Tom Tromey wrote:

> But I still report it, because for me that act is an important part of
> operating in a free software community.
> Sometimes it seems to me that the advent of corporations into the free
> software arena has obscured this.  That's too bad.

On Thu, 2 Aug 2001, Nate Duehr wrote:

> The one thing that is starting to worry me about Linux is that with the
> popularity of the OS, there are an awful lot of end users who never were
> indoctrinated into the "community" oriented nature of open-source
> software -- many have an entitlement attitude -- "I'm entitled to a
> working piece of software because I bought this box at CompUSA."   

I too have been troubled by the appearance of this attitude in the Linux
ranks.  When I first got involved with Linux there was a real sense of
community.  People realized that they were using a system that was built
by the work of volunteers, and there was a very real sense of cooperation.  
People worked on and used Linux because it offered the user the freedom to
do things however they wanted, and it was quite simply fun.

Once people started making this a business things changed.  Instead of a
distribution being a system constructed by an individual or a cooperative
group of people, it has become a system created by a corporate entity.  
In a sense, this makes the people behind the distribution kind of
faceless, and as Nate pointed out many people don't seem to have learned
about the "Linux community".  They purchase a copy of Linux and expect
that somehow this purchase cost entitles them to a software package that
will do what they want out of the box and often without taking time to
learn the complexities of the system.  Of course this doesn't work, and
then the cry goes out that we need to build a system that is more user
friendly.  Unfortunately, user friendly is a pretty vague term that
usually is interpreted to mean that someone besides the user has to make
the tough decisions.  What worries me is that this is not too unlike the
evolution of DOS into MSWindows.

Also, not surprisingly, you see this change of attitude in the User groups
themselves.  You don't hear to many cries for events like install fests,
etc. anymore, and if you try to put one together, finding volunteers is
getting to be tough.  Most people attend Linux events as if they were
going to a movie to be entertained.

- Wayde
  (wallen at lug.boulder.co.us)

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