Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Regarding: Linux Snobs

As a bit of a geek - OK, I'm a total spazz (Tiger Tiger Woods y'all!) of a geek - who builds his own pimp computing rigs (SLI FTW!!!), I've always been annoyed by the snobbery of two groups of jerks: Apple aficionados and Linux nutcases.

The Mac addicts are like cult members, cheerfully guzzling the Kool-Aid that streams from Steve Jobs' nozzle and convinced that their pretty, but overpriced and underpowered, computers prove that they're better people with shinier hair and whiter smiles as a result of their ownership. (Basically, they're liberal dumbasses. Redundant, I know.)

OTOH, the Linux kooks are arrogant pricks who sneer at anyone who dares be content with Windows and wonder why more people don't come to their side of the OS divide. (They're like suicide-bombing jihadists.)

Read any of the comments on a ZDNet column about a virus or some tech glitch in IE and the Apple/Linux jerks are in full effect, frantically fwapping their weiners all over the place, trying to mark their territory or some such nonsense. They're dicks.

Well, I'm not the only one who thinks this because as Linux Snobs: Real Barriers to Entry discusses, one reason more people aren't trying to move off of Windows is because, well, the suicide bombers aren't very helpful.

Yet, there is a resounding, unwavering reaction among many newcomers I've talked to about people who make the Linux community look bad (read some of the digg replies for examples). I'm writing about Linux, not the whole realm of software support. I'm also referring to people who ask reasonable and sensical questions. And most importantly, I'm not the only one stating this. For other good examples of Linux snobbery please read this great article as well as this insightful one.

As I spoke to newbies, one Windows user who wanted to learn about Linux shared the encouraging and constructive note (not) he received from one of the project members. The responding note read: "Hi jackass, RTFM and stop wasting our time trying to help you children learn."

Lovely little encouragement. This particular Windows user was a newbie to Linux but had been in the I.T. industry for years. His question, regarding "how do I start process daemons like a web server" was reasonable, not childish. His reaction to the Linux "guru" was also reasonable. He basically said that he doesn't have time to deal with people so fanatic and terse they reject questions on message boards created to answer questions.

But was this simply a situation of a particularly rude Linux junkie, who perhaps had missed sleep or woken on the wrong side of the bed? Or is there something more serious going on? I will not point to any particular group, distro, or person in this article but do hope that my examples clarify an issue that is real.


Later, I decided to start meeting some of these unique folks myself. I figured, there has got to be some misunderstanding. Highly cognitive people, people of intellect, have more sense than what I was hearing from these newbies. Besides, I had some very pleasant experiences getting help myself. So I decided to check on it first hand.

I ended up meeting with someone who I considered highly versed in the Linux realm and who was also well respected for his experience with Open Source development.

The meeting began on a positive foot as we shared about personal travel experiences. The conversation was mild and reasonable. But as I continued to ask questions such as "which database you find more effective for scaling" it apparently hit the delusion of godhood nerve.

Suddenly, this person was standing up waving his arms and yelling about database theory and "how f-ing stupid I was" and how "little I understood about databases" and their "f-ing inner workings." How little I knew about "keys and locking" that he had experience with. He went on to tell me how he was one of the "most well versed database" people and that "you can learn a lot from me."

I had to wonder what he included in his morning coffee? I was contemplating calling 911 to get this guy a respirator and some valium. Or maybe I should have interrupted to remind him that it was unlikely he had reached the apex of human evolution ahead of the rest of us.

Make sure to read the linked stories in the excerpt and also check out the Slashdot comments from the item that led to this post.

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