To restate in fewer words, the attitude of Linux users reflects to a large degree that of the developers. The Open Source culture is developer-centric. The guy or gal who writes the code gets to make all the decisions, because they do it in their own time. That’s only fair. The results aren’t too bad, but only if you are attracted to what the developer considers important. The relatively small fan base reflects something obvious to everyone except the Linux evangelists:
Superiority of any computer software is decided by the user.
The purity of your developer’s vision has no bearing on whether it really is better. The expectations of the user count for something. When Linux evangelists make their pitch, it’s always in terms of what they consider important in computer use. It falls flat when what they offer is of no use, or frankly hinders the pattern of use most people possess when they come to the keyboard.
It matters not a whit how the user came by those habits and expectations. If you won’t meet them where they are, don’t pretend you care about them.
The Open Source community is wrapped up in their vision of computing nirvana, and are often completely out of touch with the common computer user. They believe the problem is the user, not the software design. This vast gulf of understanding is not accidental; it reflects the standard temperament of code geeks. They see themselves as the Truth Police, the Chosen Few who truly understand. If you aren’t inclined to agree, the problem is you. There is zero objectivity about the problem and solution in terms of what meets genuine human need. This hateful demand everyone bow down at the altar of their beatific vision for purity in computing is what keeps Linux in the minority.
Yes, that may mean some day theirs will be the only computers still able to access the Net when some doomsday virus hits all the Windows boxes. But if most computers become unusable for whatever reason, the common computer user will find something else to fill that void. The likelihood that would mean a mass migration to Linux or other Open Source operating systems is quite small. It’s more likely they’ll abandon the whole thing. Then the Net will be relegated once again to the rarefied domain of geeks and elitists it was in the beginning. Most of them would like that.
In other words, virtually no one in the wider Linux and Open Source community gives a damn about you.
I understand all too well how much easier it would make things if there were no viruses because they simply didn’t work, and malware didn’t work, and spam would be reduced, etc. But I’m not sure I’m willing to exclude most of the world to have that. Computer geeks would be quite happy with that. If there is to be a doomsday virus to take down all Windows computers, it would have to come from a member of the elitist Truth Police of Computing.
The real computer criminals are only interested in milking the current computer ecosystem; they love Windows and want even more people using it, so long as these users don’t become smart about it. They are elitist, too, just for a different reason.
What makes Linux users bristle at my three-year-old post even today is some silly notion elitism is inherently evil. I never said that. In a recent post, I stated my contention elitism was God’s plan. The problem here, as always, is which elite should rule? My thesis is, since the Open Source elite despise most of the world, and the criminals are basically the same as any other predators, the whole issue would benefit from a little benevolence, a class of developers who somehow manage to adopt the shepherd’s instinct of caring about the people they lead. Shepherds know better than trying to reprogram sheep; the lead sheep as they are. They realize sheep are what they are, which is part of what makes them so beneficial. They value what sheep are because of what sheep provide, but even more so, what it means to those they love.
It’s possible you can get just a little of that from a closed-source commercial developer process, but not much in the modern Western Merchant Culture. The whole existence of the Open Source culture is a group of people who don’t like being controlled by the big commercial elites, so they create their own coder elite. Most of them frankly do not like real people, and prefer the company of computers.
If there is to be any shepherd instinct, it is least likely to come from the Open Source Linux crowd. Open? Yes. Useful? Only by accident. You can trust Linux developers only in that they will not prey on you; that’s because they would rather you didn’t exist, unless you are a fanboy.
Oh, and I forgot to mention: Since I wrote that original post three years ago, I have since seen the Linux desktop become so utterly foreign and useless, I gave up. I’m using Windows 7 now.
Update: That didn’t last long. I switched back to CentOS 6 when it came out.
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