Originally Published: Wednesday, 3 May 2000 Author: Basil Lalli
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Std View]

What the World is Coming To

We have a problem. I think it was about when kernel 2.2 came out. Suddenly, Linux wasn't a little toy anymore. It wasn't the brainchild of a gifted programmer anymore. In about 2 months, Linux went from the Internet's little secret to the newly christened warrior against Microsoft and the proprietary world. People flocked to it like lemmings to a cliff; they had no idea what they were in for.

Warning: This article is not against Microsoft, for Linux, or both, or neither, or vice versa. If you want to bash or advocate either OS, go to an open forum. In case you haven't noticed, this is a Linux site.

We have a problem. I think it was about when kernel 2.2 came out. Suddenly, Linux wasn't a little toy anymore. It wasn't the brainchild of a gifted programmer anymore. In about 2 months, Linux went from the Internet's little secret to the newly christened warrior against Microsoft and the proprietary world. People flocked to it like lemmings to a cliff; they had no idea what they were in for. The media swarmed Linux, as if it has some divine power just because it's open source. GPL became the magic word; you were nothing in Linux if you didn't have that COPYING file somewhere in there. Newbies became the majority, which turned out to be where I think we went bad. Then came the god-awful word I don't think anyone wants to hear, "Average Joe."

Then, companies realized something. They found out that people pissed off with Windows and MacOS would like Linux. Despite the fact that Linux is just too much for ol' Joe here (The mere presence of the word "system administrator" should have been a big hint), corporations could get Joe to use Linux, or at least try to. So, companies popped up. They advertised and sold Linux, gave customer support, and put the open source part on the back-burner, using it when people questioned their motives. They took "a robust, complex networking OS" to mean "a simple, easy-to-use single-user OS."

In the beginning, Linux was the only working communism ever. Everyone in the community worked for the good of the OS. Now, Linux is exactly what it was fighting against; the elite programmers leading the blind masses. The only difference between us and Windows now is that Linux is open source, except we seem to overlook that there isn't much difference between a proprietary OS in which only the elite can view the code and Linux, where we can all view the code, but only the elite care.

Now, for something I'm sure you're all impatiently waiting for; the point. My point is that Linux is making 3 major mistakes in our manner of presenting ourselves:

  1. We are making out Linux to be something it's not. We can't slap customer support on Linux and call it user-friendly. We shouldn't be selling it or even recommending it to people who want user-friendliness. Linux users should be contributing to the OS. Not forced to, but in way should users be tolerated that expect special attention because they don't want to learn a complex OS and want a quick way out. If you are a newbie to Linux, either read, read, read, and learn the system yourself, or please stop using Linux. This isn't to say that support is bad. We need support, but you can tell the difference between "Where can I find a good HOWTO for configuring my sound card?" and "I can't play CDs. What's wrong?" In other words, stand up for yourself. Don't sit on people that do and expect to get anywhere.
  2. Too many people are settling for proprietary programs instead of concentrating efforts to make open source substitutes. In this way, commercial presence in Linux, although it is a source of users, popularity, and money, is harming the OS. I have seen systems where every important feature on the system is proprietary (Corel WordPerfect Office 2000, OSS sound, CompuPic, MpegTV, Civilization: Call to Power, and so on). We have forgotten how to appreciate the open source world. Not everyone has, but most have. Use GNU programs, embrace them, and hell, love them if you want. Open source has made it this far, so don't tell me we're going to resort to proprietary programs now.
  3. We need to tell the media what Linux really is. Linux isn't the archenemy of Microsoft. Linux isn't a desktop system. Linux, for crying out loud, should never be given to your grandmother, unless she's an unknown genius the world overlooked. Linux, although Joe will hate me for this, is for the geeks, not normal people. Instead of complaining about how Linux is restricted to the elite, become elite and join in. If you don't want to have to learn and read and configure text files, why the heck do you have Linux anyway? Lastly, if you don't like Linux, go away. Never was Linux out to please you, so don't get all bent out of shape when it doesn't. You're welcome to change it, and if not there's a lovely OS out there with your name on it, along with a demographically-correct video of people telling you how much they want to please you.

Basil Lalli (BasilLalli@hotmail.com) is probably the most stuck-up, over spoken person you'll ever meet. He hates the color pink, people that don't know what they're talking about, and anyone that doesn't agree with him. If articles were like books, he'd dedicate this one to Ashley.