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

Nate Duehr nate at natetech.com
Thu Aug 2 17:11:45 MDT 2001

You guys are giving me a great way to avoid packing up to move... hehe.

On Thu, Aug 02, 2001 at 10:54:40AM -0600, Riggs, Rob wrote:
> 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
> well.

But when the user buys RedHat in a box, they only get a limited amount
of "installation support" from RedHat -- then they jump out into the
brave new world they've just found expecting folks who've done it for a
while to explain away every bug, fix every problem, and in general make
it "easy" for them.  If they ask politely and show a willingness to
learn, folks usually "take care" of them.  When they show an entitlement
attitude that it should "just work" many times folks ignore them and
they end up running around claiming the open-source community is
"unfriendly."  Huh?  You can't just buy a box at CompUSA and expect all
your problems to be fixed.  Linux isn't a magic bullet, and neither is
M$, Solaris, BSD, or anything else..

> 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.

Agreed, some people will always be end-users.  That's fine, but in this
world those same folks have to realize that they can't get anything
fixed by complaining, and in many cases they drive down the motivation
of those who are already working on the problems by doing so.

> 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. 

Agreed, but I'm a LOT more careful these days about who I introduce to
Linux, in that my "tech support" time is limited, and I'll always go
after the folks who won't need any vs. those who will call every day
with a complaint.  Someone who calls every day with a question and a "I
can figure this out" attitude is a lot more pleasant to deal with than
someone who says, "I don't like this.  Fix it."

Quite honestly because I'm natually a pessimist, I already worry too
much about various silly junk that adding worrying about someone I've
introduced to Unix/Linux is not something I take on lightly anymore.


A couple of years ago I complained MIGHTILY at the new-maintainer
process for Debian Linux -- how I wish I could take those words back.
The complexity of the problem came through after reading a year's worth
of e-mail to debian-devel, debian-newmaint-discuss, and
debian-mentors... but I wouldn't have known that back then.  That
community effort is an INCREDIBLE one, I sorely hope I didn't dishearten
anyone in the project with those poorly aimed comments... sigh...

Nate Duehr <nate at natetech.com>

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