Originally Published: Sunday, 21 May 2000 Author: Master Sibn
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Community Forum: Mainstreaming Linux: Why Not?

I definitely think that everybody who uses Linux should understand it to the best of their ability. But practically speaking, it will never happen. When is the day coming that every person who drives a car is a qualified mechanic?

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Greetings to the Linux community, as well as to those of you who are not members of this community. I want to introduce myself for my first article briefly. I'm the guy who writes comments on a lot of the Linux.com headlines that are often longer than the original article itself. That said, I want to get at the heart of my gripe with Linux.

The Linux community is facing a monumental challenge right now -- winning the minds and support of the Linux community itself. This community holds the power to make Linux succeed, or to fail. It is in our hands to make the decision, and unfortunately, I feel as though we are not adequately informed to make this decision. I see this every day on Linux.com, in articles and comments alike that say that Linux should never be made available for everybody to use. It should remain exactly or even more complex than it already is, and not include the option to make it "easy" for Mr. Joe User. I have a simple question to assign to this interesting assertion: Why?

Why do you get a flexible and stable computer, while everybody else is condemned to use "the other OS?" Why do you have the power to say who can use it and who can't? Why are you allowed to use it, and other people aren't? Why are you allowed a free OS and other users are not?

Don't mistake me here; I definitely think that everybody who uses Linux should understand it to the best of their ability. But practically speaking, it will never happen. When is the day coming that every person who drives a car is a qualified mechanic? When is the day coming that every man, woman and child who operates a microwave oven is a nuclear technician? Why are computers so different?

I smell the breath of change on my shoulder. Knocking on our doorstep is the opportunity to break the mold, to be different from Microsoft -- to offer a choice. To allow people to choose what they will.

Change is an important part of life; without change, there is no life. Change is the only thing that's always the same, and is embedded into our nature. But the Linux community wants to change that. We aren't happy to be different; we want to be the same, all the time. Only geeks and nerds may use Linux. Only Blue-eyed blonde males are allowed to live. Do you see any resemblance to a parallel here? There is -- both are despotic in nature. Both have this line of thinking: "I will decide what happens to everybody else."

Why can't Linux be all things to all people? It is, after all, not like a monolithic "Be all, do all" OS or Office collection. It's a collection of little tiny things that work together to allow you do do what you want. All the "bloatware" you hear about is non-existent. Sure, some things are ones that vets can live without. Such as the gmc (Gnome Midnight Commander), which is a reasonably true copy of Windows Explorer. You don't have to install it. You can remove it. What are you complaining about?

The "bloatware" distributions I hear about are also non-existent. You can install SuSE, the ultimate bloatware distribution. It has 6 discs of material, 5 of which you will never use. But nobody is making you do that. You can install Corel Linux, aimed squarely at new users, with absolutely no fluff in it. But nobody is making you do that, either. You can install Debian or Slackware, and neither of them have any of this "fluff." Even Redhat still has a text mode install, for several reasons. If you think that "soon" all the text installs are going to be obsolete and unused, stop worrying; text mode is needed for expert users who want it, and for cases when the install via GUI is not possible. The GUI install is always optional, except in the case of Corel. For some distributions, it's not possible. And it's not planned. If it really bothers you, you can always install a minimal Slackware and upgrade the kernel and other software at your discretion. This is your choice. We aren't taking it away from you, so don't take ours away from us.

MasterSibn is currently an unemployed primate derivative with various physical traits which associate him with humans. He likes nobody and nothing, and respectfully requests that all flames be sent directly to /dev/null, which is where they will all end up eventually anyway. He is kind of a Linux advocate (of sorts), and is teaching himself to make his own C programs the hard way. To spite the high-and-mighty, he proudly admits that the distribution that he's too lazy to replace is from Red Hat. He is a newbie yet, but not completely ignorant, and is certainly no Joe User; but he's famous for sticking up for the little guys.)

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