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

Michael Deck deckm at cleansoft.com
Thu Aug 2 17:53:14 MDT 2001

My reply on this thread contained some phrases that folks may have taken 
the wrong way, so here are a few clarifications of my thoughts.

* Whether or not Linux or any Linux-community members were truly bent on 
'world domination,' there has nevertheless been a fair amount of griping in 
that community about why Linux isn't more widespread. Many Linux-related 
forums also seem to be havens for those who wish to bash large vendors of 
proprietary software. Although it has lessened of late (and is at a 
tolerable level in this forum though worse elsewhere) this bashing and 
griping could lead one to think that a goal of this community is to replace 
other operating environments with GNU/Linux.

* I'll stick with my argument that most folks ought not be required to 
'contribute back' to the Linux base. I'll give an analogy from a different 
area I'm familiar with. Most of us figure the water that comes out of the 
tap is a commodity that we purchase. If it is brown or smelly, we complain 
to the city (or whoever) and wait for them to fix it. But few of us have 
the interest, expertise, or time to become active in the process of water 
production. In our neighborhood, though, a few of us decided to replace a 
motley collection of wells and have treated 'city' water run to 125 homes. 
That activity has consumed easily 20 hours a week of my time for the last 4 
years, and an like amount of time from several others. (That's my 
'community' involvement, for those who asked). Most of the people in the 
neighborhood, however, will continue to treat us as the 'utility' providing 
a 'commodity.' While I sometimes feel like a pat on the back and some more 
volunteer help would be nice, I understand that my gift to this community 
goes into the karma bank so that I can draw on the GNU/Linux bank for a 
while. And in the water business, having people complain to me is not 
really a 'contribution' :)

* My comment about a 'loyalty oath' was obnoxiously overstated and 
inflammatory. But. Although it is getting better, it seemed when I started 
using Linux that you weren't really considered a true Linux 'friend' if you 
didn't participate in the commercial-vendor bashing and the 
free-as-in-speech rant. That made me uncomfortable because I'm not sure I 
agree with that rant. I'm glad the ranting has attenuated and I credit the 
broadening of the Linux user community with helping.


At 01:30 PM 8/2/01 -0600, J. Wayde Allen wrote:
>On Thu, 2 Aug 2001, Michael Deck wrote:
> > 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.
>OK, I don't intend to be inflammatory, especially on my own mailing lists,
>but fear that what I'm about to say will strike a spark.
>On the world domination idea my take, perhaps incorrectly, is that this
>was originally meant kind of tongue-in-cheek.  Later, as it started to
>even look possible people started to believe it.  I personally am not sure
>that it makes sense to "aspire" to world domination.  One should always be
>careful what you wish for.
>As for the rest of the sentence, quite frankly this position is
>entitlement at its full best.  The implication, whether intended or not,
>is that everything should work whether people 'chip in' as you say or
>not.  The implication here is a bit more extreme than the guy who simply
>says I bought it so it should work.  At least in that case, this person
>did supply some resources back to the supplier.
> > Most of the world has neither interest, expertise, nor time to do so.
>Not true!  This is the advocacy of one sided communication and apathy.
> > 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.
>I think that is partly true.  It is certainly a good part of the
>discussion, but I tend to think there is more to it than that.  There is a
>certain amount of culture clash too.  You've got the blending of the
>problem solving mentality and the quick fix or make it someone else's
>problem mentality.
> > 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.
>I get the feeling that there is more than meets the eye in this
>paragraph?  I can't say I'm sure what you are really trying to get at
> > My feeling is that the commercial distros are going to help, rather than
> > hurt, by making it possible to have it both ways.
>As long as we don't lose sight of the having it both ways condition I
>think we all are in agreement here.
> > 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.
>Yes, that is the basic underlying philosophy.  I think we are in good
>agreement here.
> > 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.
>This however, is where the rubber leaves the road.  In an open source
>community, help comes in an awful lot of ways.  The recent perception that
>all help must be in the form of answering tough questions, fixing bugs, or
>writing new code has missed the point.  There are many other aspects of
>help.  The developer who never hears about people having problems with
>his/her code is hampered in not knowing that a fix is needed.  People who
>don't help identify hardware problems prevent an awareness of these
>problems from surfacing and hence getting fixed.  Also, for the people
>answering questions, as has recently been noted, simply reporting the
>solution back helps not only everyone listening and documents the fix, but
>also helps the person who supplied the initial guess.  It helps build
>If Microsoft products suit your purpose and works better for you, then
>certainly by all means use them.  I'd rather be pragmatic rather than
> > 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.
>Not sure what community you mean here?
> > 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.
>I've been part of the Linux community for probably around 8 years now, and
>I've never seen a requirement for what you call "philosophical or
>ideological indoctrination".  Most of the Linux people I know are very
>open minded and willing to explain and discuss most anything from any
>angle you choose.  The only indoctrination that I've seen is a somewhat
>tacit assumption that people enter the discussion with a willingness to
>learn from each other.  Computing and networking are large complex topics
>and there isn't just one right way.
> > When using an operating system requires you to take a loyalty oath,
> > you know something's wrong.
>And has anyone asked you to take an oath?
>- Wayde
>   (wallen at lug.boulder.co.us)
>Web Page:  http://lug.boulder.co.us
>Mailing List: http://lists.lug.boulder.co.us/mailman/listinfo/lug

Michael Deck
Cleanroom Software Engineering, Inc.   

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