Originally Published: Tuesday, 17 August 1999 Author: Maurice Entwistle
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Linux/GNU Spiritus

What do I see in the Linux community? Granted, there are the flame wars. If you want that, there are places you can go where the combatants are already faunching at the keyboards. These virtual war rooms remind me of prize wrestling, with the masks and costumes. I envision the flamers donning their virtual persona psyches just as the connection brings up the ring. But, just as prize wrestling gets a little comical after awhile, so too does the flaming. I don't see much of that because I don't go there....

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What do I see in the Linux community? Granted, there are the flame wars. If you want that, there are places you can go where the combatants are already faunching at the keyboards. These virtual war rooms remind me of prize wrestling, with the masks and costumes. I envision the flamers donning their virtual persona psyches just as the connection brings up the ring. But, just as prize wrestling gets a little comical after awhile, so too does the flaming. I don't see much of that because I don't go there.

What I do see is this: a community where intelligence is respected without jealousy and no one is afraid to congratulate another for code well written. When you write free software, the dollar is left far behind, while the passion for freedom generates creativity--and this is proving to be a far better developmental model. What is the organizing principle? Responsibility! Anyone truly committed to freedom becomes responsible, and this is what holds the community together.

When people are free and responsible, what do they get? They get meaning. And when mankind has meaning, anything can be accomplished. This is what the rest of the world, and the business world especially, doesn't get. But with Linux/GNU coming to the forefront, with good fruit--evidence of their labor, the world may see anew. The community has a right to stand tall.

Now, if I seem to be going off the deep end, let me back this up with some quotes. In Upside, The Man Behind Linux, by Jonathan Littman, Linus had this to say:

Upside: How would you describe your ethics and goals?

Torvalds: My basic rule of life is, "Do unto others as you would [have others] do unto you." It's not Christian, it's global. It's a simple rule, and in most situations it tells you what you should do. If you ever wonder, "What should I do?" and you ask yourself that question--"What would I want somebody else to do?"--suddenly you know the right answer."

And, from LinuxWorld's interview with Richard Stallman:

RMS: "When somebody says, here is this nice thing that you will enjoy using but if you share it with your neighbor we'll call you a pirate and put you in jail, they are polluting society's most important resource, which is goodwill, the willingness to cooperate with other people."

So perhaps, the Linux/GNU gurus are not just software gurus, but influence leaders, soon to be global influence leaders. For the life of me, I can't get it out of my head that they are a lot like spiritual leaders. And whether the Linux gurus see themselves as global community leaders or not, I think the future will prove them to be more than leaders of a software movement.

Maurice L. Entwistle, maurice@discoverynet.com.





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