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

Michael Deck deckm at cleansoft.com
Thu Aug 2 10:51:10 MDT 2001

At 09:27 AM 8/2/01 -0600, J. Wayde Allen wrote:

>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.

It's hard to see how the Linux community can aspire to world domination and 
at the same time expect every user to 'chip in' and make everything work. 
Most of the world has neither interest, expertise, nor time to do so. What 
the community is going through right now is the heartache of trying to 
figure out whether its goal is world domination or niche occupation. The 
other big decision for the community is whether it wants to see itself as 
based around software that is inexpensive and happens to be great, or based 
around software that is great and happens to be inexpensive.

My feeling is that the commercial distros are going to help, rather than 
hurt, by making it possible to have it both ways. If I'm inclined to chip 
in, I can grab a base distro and keep up to date with patches and even 
contribute. My costs are lower because I contribute my effort. Otherwise I 
buy a new box at CompUSA whenever I think I need to, I buy add-ons as 
needed, and I rely on various channels of support. Some of that support is 
free (provided, as with most commercial software, by a community of 
interested volunteers) and some of it is not. The commercial distros, armed 
with my cash, can put resources toward fixing problems that their customers 
are likely to have; volunteers will fix problems that they perceive which 
may be a different priority set.

I'm grateful to the volunteers but I'm unlikely to ever be one. If offered 
the choice between volunteering to help code open-source projects or go use 
Micro$oft products, I'd probably end up with the latter. I'm already 
spending 20 hours a week contributing to the community in other ways. 
Others will find that writing open source software is the ideal outlet for 
their energies.

I like having the choice between commercial 'buy-ware' and volunteer 
'share-ware'. And I'm pleased to see the level of required philosophical 
and ideological 'indoctrination' required to participate in the larger 
Linux community declining. When using an operating system requires you to 
take a loyalty oath, you know something's wrong.


Michael Deck
Cleanroom Software Engineering, Inc.   

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