Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ubuntu Flaming

Can’t we all just get along? Who would have ever thought that those infamous words uttered by Rodney King on May 1st of 1992 would be used to parody a situation that has risen between Linux gurus and noobs? Between the hordes of positive Ubuntu feedback I see on a daily basis throughout the open source community, there is guaranteed to be flames from those that feel the Canonical offering to be less than deserving of the accolades.

These flamers are more than likely the same types that take pride in forum responses to queries with answers that even the message board moderator can not understand. These haters feel that somehow are above those that may be newcomers with interest in alternatives to the evil operating system they abandoned so many years ago. Somewhere along the line, these haters must have forgotten that they were these same noobs at one time looking for guidance in much the same manner.

I want to be clear that I’ve been involved with Linux for a handful of years and might consider myself to be somewhat of an intermediate level user. I’ve sampled well over a hundred different distros and force my family to use such distros as Ubuntu on a regular basis. I mostly became intrigued by Linux in the fleeing days of Red Hat Linux 9. I can remember jumping at an original Fedora Core project install as if it were a new toy I unwrapped under the tree at Christmas time. Since that time, I have experimented with and run servers using various distros along with searching for a viable end user friendly desktop alternative to Microsoft Windows for my household.

Those in the open source community that play a support role to anyone other than them can see the value and need of an end user friendly desktop alternative to Microsoft. Much like your calling circle with your cell phone provider, my computer network circle includes family and friends. I don’t know about you but I’m looking to convert as many people as possible to operating system alternatives and what better place to start with than people close to me. It just so happens that many of them are and or was a Windows user that I was constantly supporting for one issue or another over the years. For the non-technical user, ease of use is critical for conversion. A pretty interface only adds to the overall appeal. If all their hardware works and they have the essential software, most people do not care too much about what operating system they use.

Ubuntu bridges the divide or disconnect that many distros have with these types of end users while still maintaining the advanced user level Debian core for those that like to dig underneath. Regardless of the front end, Linux is still platform independent at the core. I mean there are differences in location of some files and package management between distros but the core usability is still the same. What I can’t understand is why a distro is worthy of hate speech just because it tries to appeal to the masses or recruit more converts to their alternative. It is almost as if a distro has changed in a way where by it doesn’t take you at least 3 days to install from the command line that the version is unworthy to be called Linux. That it is a mere imitation of Windows that is only trying to exploit users disgusted with Microsoft in some manner or another.

Many of those guilty of hate speech do fall into the Gentoo user category with the 3 day command line install and nothing else mind set or your not worthy attitude. I had more than my fair share of bad experiences trying to install Gentoo prior to version 2006.1. Ironically enough, the live installer that was able to make me a Gentoo user is the same installer that the same flamers trashed Gentoo developers for producing. Gentoo was trying to reach a broader audience for a number of reasons to benefit the overall project to only be bashed by their loyalists for doing so. The extremism in that camp doesn’t lend to the credibility of a product that takes days to install to eek out a small margin of almost unnoticeable increased speed through hardware optimization. Now go ahead and try to add something new or upgrade an existing package. I’ll see you in another few days.

I don’t want this to sound like Gentoo hate speech on my part and it seems to be turning that way. I respect the project and was a user for a short time until it cut into convenience. The beauty of Linux is that there is a wealth of diversity in variations out there to reach any user needs at this point. Because Ubuntu is the big dog on the block, there is no need to nip at their heels. There is more than enough food to go around without having to attack another. The community grows by the day and reaches new found respect at every turn. These accolades are in part because of the short successes of Ubuntu. Ubuntu has managed to raise awareness to alternatives. This awareness spawns more creativity and more interaction within all distros. In turn the whole community grows in power. More of these noobs than not eventually become more versed to the inner workings or less apprehensive about it. I guess it ultimately depends on your vision of the movement. I see it as more of a growing shared open community rather than an isolated closed gathering of conceded individuals. Funny thing is that I’m the “conservative” and I’m more open to the ideals than those isolationists that attack those that are trying to join the community.