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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Happy Sitting at the Kid's Table?

I'm not.

I'm not happy at all sitting at the kid's table.  But that's where I am.

And if you are a Linux user, you are too.  Bet you didn't know that didja?

Neither did I.  Until two weeks ago.

That's how long it's taken me to decide whether I'm going to even talk about this in public.  I decided that it's probably something you knew in your gut anyway.

Yeah many of you did.

I made a good friend at Google three years ago.  We became friends when I was offered an interview for a job there.  Fact is...I would have been this new friend's replacement.  He would have trained me in, if I was hired on.

In that I turned the offer down due to the commitment I now have really wasn't a surprise to many.  Friend was able to find work with Google in another city where his wife was being transferred so it all worked out in the end.

And I gained an extremely good friend.  He'll be reading this as soon as it's published.  I am sure he suspected it would be a topic for discussion.

Two weeks ago, Friend was in Texas and He drove down to see me.  We knocked back a few beers on some small patio bar in Round Rock.  When the subject turned to work, I knew Friend was in a position to answer a question for me.  It's probably something you knew in your gut anyway.

Yeah you did.

I asked him the question:

"Why does Google refuse to reference that Android or Chromebooks are Linux-based?"

He took a pull on his Shiner Bock and did something I didn't really expect.

He answered me.  And I'm not going to use quotes because I didn't write it down but this is awful close:

Because Linux Users can't be trusted to behave if they are taken out into public.

He went on to explain that the powers that be (of which he is not one but within that circle) simply don't want anything getting in the way of Google's march to their phone, tablet and computer market supremacy.  Their Chromebook slayed the numbers this Christmas season and many within the marketing effort at Google believe NOT associating their brand with Linux may have helped tremendously.

Is Linux mentioned anywhere in the Android Marketing?


Is Linux mentioned anywhere in Chromebook Marketing?


From our public infighting, to our fragmentation in distro and desktop wars, to our inability to even give decent application names to our programs.....

We act like a bunch of children fighting  over the drumstick at Thanksgiving.

In other words.

Let the grownups take care of business, and be quiet....don't make us stop this car.

And no, don't rage at me.  I wrestled with this for a couple of weeks, knowing it would piss some people off, but more importantly.....

It would validate what many of you already knew.

Many of the grownups just don't want to be seen in public with us.

Maybe not you, and I certainly hope not me, but still...

It is felt that Linux as a brand name is tainted, and for far more reasons than I mentioned above, but those are pretty much the heavy hitters.

If it makes you feel better to yell at me in the comments, go ahead.  I've pretty much accepted that it would happen anyway.

And by doing fairly well prove Google's point.  See?  Sometimes, the grownups are right.

All-Righty Then


Mark Unwin said...

No big surprise. Everything you have said, I agree with. If you also note - Ubuntu is going down a similar path. VERY heavy branding. Not that I have a problem with that. They are being distinct and pushing their brand - not necessarily pushing the "Linux" brand. If I was to build a distro (no way), branding and program names would be a major part of it (not all of it mind).

eMBee said...

interesting observation, but there is something i am missing. aren't there 3 groups in this? the linux kids (1), those that can get the value of linux and take advantage of it (2) and those that would come to believe that linux is not good (3)?

if everyone knew the value of linux then marketing it directly should not be a problem. this is supported by eg the IBM marketing campaign which obviously targets group 2 whereas android is targeting group 3.

so i don't see this as kids vs grownups, but kids vs those who think kids are only trouble.

i for one prefer to sit at the kids table and stay away from those so called grownups with their air of arrogance around them thinking that they are better.

sure, kids have a lot to learn, but they are the next generation.

greetings, eMBee.

sak said...

Great news. I really like sitting at the "kids" table. The more I grow up, the more I tend to dislike "adults".

Anonymous said...

Surely the continued success of RedHat Linux shows this to not be true. More likely surely is that "linux" means nothing to the people in the markets that they are after and having a product named Google Android Gnu/Linux would be just to much for the majority user to care about it needs to be a simple, catchy and mind snagging.

Anonymous said...

It may cause a bit of a flutter to see it come from a big corp with a serious interest in Linux, and in such stark terms but I'm not sure how anyone could take exception to what's been said... it's all true.

I'm an independent IT consultant in the UK and try to introduce OSS & Linux where possible. I'm always a bit nervous when trying to establish the credibility of OSS by showing people the size the the ecosystem surrounding it. I've been in the position a couple of times of having to explain away rude or stupid comments or silly app names and it's just like apologising for a naughty child.

candtalan said...

Thank you for this posting. I am sorry to hear it took you some effort. I have a FLOSS information table at a local computer fair - monthly, for some years, now. So I face the sharp end of the Microsoft wall to wall retail culture, traders and customers, who mostly ignore me. I long ago concluded, from harsh comments from otherwise nice users of Windows that the 'L' word itself was a strongly negative influence. I travel about, and ask in various small PC shops. 'Oh' they say, ''L' is only for techies, *not* for *ordinary* people'. I am not making this up. Quite apart from the branding issue, where, in our retail based society, brand is almost everything, as is a retail presence (note 1)
I concluded that the 'L' word had been subverted by the well funded and devious opposition (note 2) to such an extent that to the normal PC Windows user 'L' is certain to be way out of their range. A friend said to me 'Oh I HATE Windows!' I had been trying to persuade him towards Ubuntu, me as admin. He had another equally trusted, friend, who was saying to him that 'If you can't manage Windows then you certainly will not be able to use Linux' Note the change of agenda item. Me: 'Ubuntu'. Opposing friend: 'Linux'.

The transparent infighting, imagined and sometimes real, lack of discipline, and other factors, all - to an onlooker anyway - deprecate 'Linux'. We even actively and proudly collude with an uncertainty. Linux is the kernel, truly only for techies, not even me. And many FLOSS users insist on using the 'L' word for the OS. It is in Wikipedia too I think!

I could go on and on.

I run a few FLOSS groups locally, for novices, mostly elderly. I name the groups 'Libre Computing'. And they focus on 'Ubuntu'.
'L' is not mentioned.
More power to your elbow!!

Note 1: (Apols to Descartes) 'I have a brand, therefore I exist'.

Note 2: I WISH FLOSS was well funded and even half as devious!

Curt- said...

Can't even name our programs well?

Who is "our"?

I won't tell them they're wrong, whatever works for Google or Canonical, fine. That's their choice, so long as they contribute back to the kernel.

pjz said...

It could equally be a 'marketing hangover' from all the naysayers of yesteryear. If nothing else, by avoiding mention of Linux, Google Android/Chromebook/etc start from a 'clean slate' marketing-perceptionwise, and then get to compete on their own merits.

I'm not foolish enough to claim that linuxites are uniformly safe to take out in public, but it seems to me just as likely that the Linux brand has enough baggage public-perceptionwise that yeah, it totally could be worth avoiding.

We don't complain when Netgear, Motorola, etc, etc put linux in their embedded controllers without mentioning it, why is Google different?

pjz said...

It could equally be a 'marketing hangover' from all the naysayers of yesteryear. If nothing else, by avoiding mention of Linux, Google Android/Chromebook/etc start from a 'clean slate' marketing-perceptionwise, and then get to compete on their own merits.

I'm not foolish enough to claim that linuxites are uniformly safe to take out in public, but it seems to me just as likely that the Linux brand has enough baggage public-perceptionwise that yeah, it totally could be worth avoiding.

We don't complain when Netgear, Motorola, etc, etc put linux in their embedded controllers without mentioning it, why is Google different?

Rick Troth said...

Compared to Canonical and Google, IBM has been remarkably well behaved. Maybe that derives from "group 2" -vs- "group 3" as eMBee suggests. I was quite afraid they would produce yet another distro, but for more than a decade they have simply bolstered the message and funded real development.

Group 3 imposes bigger challenges than merely consigning Linux kids to the kids table ghetto. Consumers and executives and bureaucrats want guarantees. Linux is dangerous (like cars and electricity are dangerous). The "grownups" want to play with guns but not get shot.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken. I am a Linux user and am happy to talk about it to anyone that is truly interested. I am not a fan of Microsoft for many reasons. I am not a fan of Apple for some of the same reasons. I will tell those interested in discussing the issues why. I do not hate MS or Apple, though I do not like the ways that they do business among other things.

I am not a fanatic though. I realize that no one OS can satisfy everyone. Its a waste of effort and counterproductive to try to convert everyone to be a Linux user. Many don't want to listen, or are just too used to using Windows or Apple products. If they want to believe MS or Apple marketing hype, I am not likely to persuade them to change their minds.

Behaving like some Linux zealots do, only makes it harder to educate those who might otherwise be convinced to try Linux. Their behavior only convinces people that Linux users are a bunch of crazy nuts.

Anonymous said...

As a very devoted Linux user, I love that answer! It is so true.

Linux communities are examples of democracies which veer very close to the edge of anarchy. We are an uncontrolled group that argues very loudly and boistrously with every opinion you could possibly imagine on every subject related to Linux.

It's great for freedom. It's terrible for marketing. Marketing is a means of controlling large amounts of people. Open Source marketing would never work.

Anonymous said...

It's great for freedom. It's terrible for marketing. Marketing is a means of controlling large amounts of people. Open Source marketing would never work.

2briancox is my newest hero.


Anonymous said...

I agree with what you said, and I think it is quite natural. The question is, why should we care? Being kids is fun, and it worked well for us so far. We have the most awesome operating system in the world!

Yuri de Groot said...

I suspect a lot of the bad name that Linux has is due to big vendors of proprietary software spending money on dragging the Linux brand through the mud.
Of course the internal problems of the Linux community haven't helped, but it's not all caused by the community itself.
Linux has been at the receiving end of a largely successful FUD campaign.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't buy it. Users of ALL platforms argue about their own platform and against other platforms. Windows users started that platform fight in the Compuserve Canopus forum 16 years ago and their attitude and behavior didn't impede Window's progress.

How many DON'T know that Android is based on Linux? After all, it is not a state secret:

In fact, Google did NOT hide the parentage of its Android system. When it was announced on November 5, 2007, over FIVE years ago, Linux was highlighted.

Unknown said...

Most people do not know what Linux is. I install Linux servers at all of my clients offices. They always ask. "What is Linux?" Google is pushing their "brand", what it is based upon is irrelevant to the average end user. Apple doesn't loudly announce that they are Unix based. People don't really care.

tracyanne said...

Ordinary computer users know nothing of Free Software, or the people who write it. What they do know when they hear about Linux is that it is hard to use, is for "experts", has a crappy interface, doesn't have applications, and won't run their favourite Hardware... because that's what their local Windows or Mac geek or salesman told them.

Yes Linux is tainted, and is a very hard sell, and the attitude espoused by Ken's friend may actually be one in Google, but the real problem is that ordinary people don't know anything about it, not even the "bad" stuff Ken's friend claims is the problem.

Dave Miller said...

I've been developing software for various companies and customers since 1980. Generally, this has been as part or large development projects with anywhere from 50 to 100 developers working over several years and versions. My experience is that the flame wars, childish behavior, etc. all happen in closed source development, too. It's just all behind the close source doors so customers (and frequently management) never see it. Worse the disagreements are usually settled by office politics rather than an open source best solution.


NotZed said...

That argument just doesn't hold (enough) water.

The reason google brand everything with their own brand - is because they own it. Linux is just the kernel - and the brand is owned by someone else. This is the same for redhat or ubuntu. But anybody who cares knows what kernel they all use.

PS Try sitting around a table with some microsoft weenies and see which table it feels like you're sitting at. I had the experience recently and the most i can say about it was that it was just disapointing.

Anonymous said...

For some reason... I understand the line of Google's thinking.

It goes like that: Linux is just a kernel, not usable by itself (apart from running busybox on it, maybe). To be useful one has to mix it with: glibc, SysVinit or systemd or upstart or initng or ... (some kind of service system), GNU userland (coreutils, etc), services themselves, along with their arcane config files, X, some desktop environment (GNOME, KDE, XFCE, etc), and a list of applications and utilities. As programming means there are: Bash, Perl, Python, Ruby, Java, PHP, Tcl/Tk, languages handled by GCC (most notably C/C++), Mono, and many more. What we get? Mixed, hand- or vendor-tailored solutions.

You see the trend? Such Linux ecosystem really works when configured well, but otherwise it is seen as "professionals-only" thing.

Now let's see this: Linux + Dalvik + Android image + Android SDK + Eclipse + Java. Plus continuous improvement with newer versions of Android itself (2.3, 3.0, 4.0, 4.1, 4.2). What we get here? A very pleasant, touch-enabled, translucent and responsive ecosystem. Integrated with Google Play, GMail, YouTube, Maps and so on. Plus it is open enough to allow almost endless tinkering options, custom ROMs, widgets and hacks.

The trend? It's nice and marketable. Destined for both ordinary *and* power users. Definitely not only for professionals.

And to add something more, even for me (a long-time Gentoo, Debian, Mint, Ubuntu, and Arch user) my Android tablet is more fun to play with than ordinary Linux desktop. I still see "Linux" in the system info pane, denoting version of the running kernel. But apart from that there is no L- word in the Android land.

bkw said...

So, BIG_COMPANY wants to use WONDERFUL_THING, but not on WONDERFUL_THINGS's own terms, which were what created WONDERFUL_THING in the first place. Very adult.

It doesn't matter if all those symptoms that he and you described are perfectly true. If that environment, which created linux and gcc and apache and countless other pillars upon which Google and everybody else stands, is so undesirable, then those particular "grown-ups" are 500x worse than the kids for reaching in to the middle of the kids table and taking the wonderful sculpture they made and benefiting from it, while denying those benefits to the kids that made it for them in the first place. That's really so adult!

Lucky for the adults that the kids are adult enough to deliberately allow the adults to take candy from babies. To understand that it doesn't matter that some people are ungrateful takers and abusers, it's still better to have the candy out there under those unfettered terms, for ourselves, even though it also means some others get to ride on it for free without even having to so much as say thank you.

Using Linux and GNU and Apache and MIT and BSD licensed software for something big and successful, but never mentioning those names, is taking, and deriving huge benefit from, without even saying thank you.

A grown-up respects and appreciates when they are given good value. A grown-up doesn't happily accept the fruits of one value system without being willing to participate in that system in good faith. A grown-up ensures that value in some form or other goes both ways. A grown-up either returns favors, or pays for them with cash.

I think I disagree who are the adults and who are the children.

Sum Yung Gai said...

Some are like that, for sure. But not all. I also find it hard to be around the Apple or Microsoft "fanboi" club, because many of them are equally rude. The difference is that Mac OS and MS Windows have had decades of BigCorp marketing, and thus lots of "mind share", in people's minds.

This is where Jim Whitehurst of Red Hat comes in. A self-described Slackware-lovin' geek and businessman, he's continuing to apply business sense to Free Software, while continuing Red Hat's traditional strong association with "the community". This is what Microsoft used to do, years ago, in the proprietary software space. I remember it; I used to work there. Back then, if you were pro-Microsoft, you were at the "kids' table" as far as the UNIX sysadmins went, and especially so to the network engineers. That's how the UNIX team viewed me, introducing Windows NT Server into a UNIX-lovin' university.

My solution then? Shut up and show users the benefits. Get 'em to love what you did for 'em in comparison to what they had. Know that you can exceed their expectations, and then actually do it. I did that. And I won them over. One of the people I won over was a former department head with lots of Professorial clout. Little ol' me didn't have to do battle with the UNIX admin team. I got Prof. Former-Dept-Head to do it for me. :-) How? Because I was satisfying his business need.

I still do that. Helios does that.

That's what we need to do with GNU/Linux. That's what Red Hat, Inc. does. They have shown us a BILLION reasons why it works. IBM does it, too, with insane levels of success.

So, yes, we need to remain a "community", with our open discussions. And yes, there are times when Linus Torvalds does need to send a strong message to companies like nVidia. But we also have got to do the business. That's how you win.


Anonymous said...

When I (a genuine senior citizen) glance at computer software forums I see an awful lot of Windows fanboys misbehaving like crazy. No one uses that as an excuse to dismiss the guys from Redmond.

Yep, there are some Linux fans who misbehave. I think that there are far more of them who, like Ken, are there for people of any stripe who are interested in using Linux.

I guess I don't quite get "friend's" issue. Who exactly is he talking about? The guys from the FSF? RMS? I don't find these guys nearly as offensive as I do the MS bigwig-chairthrower.

John Morris said...

Don't really see it the same way. People associate 'Linux' with a while Linux+GNU+X+(GNOME|KDE) stack. Argue all you want about 'Linux' being a kernel and you are wasting your breath. Ship has sailed.

Android and Chrome are about as related to that stack as a TV in Walmart that boots the Linux kernel and then goes straight to a binary blob of control software. Mentioning 'Linux' in Android marketing material (that isn't aimed at developers) would be counter productive.

Now consider that the only reason Google used Linux at all was because it was the only game in town. They wanted a GPL free stack and settled for a strict isolation later to keep the 'ick' off of the apps because it would have been too much trouble to get the driver support on a *BSD kernel up to scratch. Recall how much fun Apple has had with GPL and their app store, Google has managed to avoid most of that but if you want commercial vendors to not be spooked you have to keep the GPL away from their code. Right, wrong, who cares, that is the reality on the ground.

Elf Sternberg said...

I have worked for three "big software" production houses. What he's describing is what goes on all the time behind the scenes-- NO developer group can be seen out in public. We're all embarrassing. Incompetent VCS comments, backstabbing, really stupid (and yes, sometimes horribly, inanely racist or sexist) comments and branch names, branch-mangling merges-- everything that goes on in development before marketing gets their hands on the product and makes it look like it was produced by adults.


Unknown said...

I'm happy sitting at the kids table. Its much more fun here. And I don't need anyone's approval either. I'm perfectly content to let Linux quietly infiltrate the market. But one would be pretty naive to think that this sort of bickering is limited to just the Linux community. Just look at the Apple vs Windows commercials or Samsung vs Apple. They're publicly bashing each other. They don't even try to hide it.

Linux is a scary term to non-techies and I think its a smart move to brand Android as just Android. And using the term "Linux" means different things to different people. Android technically is Linux as Linux is anything using the Linux kernel because X11, Gnome, KDE, xfce, or any other software commonly added to Linux isn't what makes Linux Linux. But try to explain that to a regular Joe and you'll get a deer-in-the-headlights stare. Trying to associate Android with Linux would do nothing but create confusion to regular folks. And that would hurt Android. Us geeks know the difference and we don't need the coddling that regular users do.

Anonymous said...

I have used Linux as my sole operating system since 2001 and have noticed that most linux developers don't understand the meaning of the word "consistency". Remember the KDE 3.x to KDE 4.x mess? I do. Remember the Gnome 2.x to Gnome 3.x mess? I do.

Rule of thumb for developers:
Never make too many drastic changes to quickly. Users just want to get work done and they can't do that if they have to learn a new UI or new ways to do what they want. Make changes gradually over a number of revisions and stay out of the user's way.. or your funding may disappear.

Anonymous said...

Great article and I agree with the kid's table hypothesis. Ian MacGregor said it well--about making drastic changes too quickly which affect work flow.

As for Microsoft,...they have their kid's table too. How about the ribbons in the Office products instead of the normal pull-down menus? And how about "Surface" which hasn't yet found a place in the hearts and minds of users. (By the way, what was their customer target supposed to be with "Surface?")

edmund said...

Distros are much better now than just a few years ago...Linux Now and Linux Then...
WIndows 8 eh I wanna be a tablet Windows Now and Then
Android now on phones Linux dominates phone/pc like machines Now...
Apple stylish and costly Now and Then
-'tertainment now for the masses
Now...Ubuntu on phones When?

Anonymous said...

Not only is the Linux community the kids table. Its the kids that no babysitter wants to be stuck with! A better analogy would be to compare it to colonial/frontier America. Poor King George is not quite sure how to get a lid on those rough and wild frontiersman. Of course he has no problem importing/taxing their goods and services for use in civilized society though.

Gary Newell said...

I don't really see Linux as a brand but more as an engine. Android is the brand, Ubuntu is the brand, Mint is the brand. Linux is the engine that is used withing the product that makes the brand.

It is like certain car manufacturers who use engines from different manufacturers. For instance Fiat and Ferrari. They are heavily linked. It is much easier to sell the Ferrari than the Fiat even though the technology for one is often incorporated into the other. (same with Volkswagens and Skodas).

Crushed beetles are used in a lot of food colourings. Try telling people buying M+Ms that fact and they would probably never buy another packet.

Anonymous said...

The thing that everyone (always?) misses about Linux is that apart from the kernel, Linux doesn't exist. There are so many flavours and builds that it becomes impossible to identify it per se. Companies like Ubuntu and Google and the rest of them know this and sell their version. That's the power of the beast which is why, outside of the PC market, it dominates. The development of Linux into its multi-faceted realisations is extremely complex, dynamic and quite breathtaking. The kid's table analogy is very simplistic and some would say, quite childlike, itself.

Anonymous said...

Ok, the way you explain it is like this. I can ether sit at the little children's table, or I can set with intellectually constipated sheeple. That will be two seats for the children's table please, one for myself and one for my wife, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Ok, the way you explain it is like this. I can ether sit at the little children's table, or I can set with intellectually constipated sheeple. That will be two seats for the children's table please, one for myself and one for my wife, thank you.

Unknown said...

I am a linux user and have been for a couple years. The computers my kids use are various distro's of linux. I am happy sitting at the kids table and can only encourage others to join after all the more the merrier. I totally agree with the story and always try to push so that people give it a chance. It is a great operating system and will get better. It requires us (the kiddies) to be on our best behavior at the right times and throw caution to the wind other times.

Unknown said...

This, to some extent. We like to say we have a great community, and truthfully some distros do. But for every great, helpful guy, we've got an elitist who thinks if you don't use Gentoo, Slackware or Arch your a noob(All three are great distros, with many great community members, but they tend to have the most elitists). We really need to shape up, be nice, and play to our strengths rather than try to claim we're "Windows but better" (We've all heard THAT before.)

On a final note, we aren't the only guys. Windows users can be just as childish, and while Mac fanatics usually won't infight, they are more elitist than the best of us. I myself was guilty of Linux elitism for quite a while. That was before I actually got a chance to USE a recent version of windows and mac, and found that they didn't suck. This wasn't the major factor in my change of heart, but it got me thinking at least.

kozmcrae said...

Sorry this comment is so late but I just wanted to mention; Microsoft has spent much time and energy over the last decade denigrating the Linux name. So what do they do when Android comes along with Linux at its root? They spend much time and energy spreading "the word" that Linux has nothing to do with Android. A golden opportunity to apply all that negative energy to an up and coming Google product not just squandered but actively killed. What were they thinking? Did Google send Microsoft a thank you note for all that free PR work disassociating Linux from Android?

Maybe some day we may read it in a book how Google secretly seeded Microsoft with the idea that it would be better to keep Linux from gaining any possible credibility from an Android success than it would be to drag Android down with an association with Linux.

Grigor said...

I don't want to throw tantrums, but... somehow don't believe this completely.

Yes, the Linux crowd is childish sometimes, to say the least. However, this is equally valid with the Microsoft crowd, even at the highest levels (Balmer dancing, anyone?). The Apple crowd, too. It has stopped neither of the latter two. There are image negatives connected to each, and those of MS or Apple might be even larger than those of Linux, at least because it is relatively unknown to Aunt Doris and Uncle John. Something has to be wrong here.

In addition, companies like RedHat proudly tout the Linux mark, and flourish. On the corporate market - the hardest one to break into. Surely the "L-word" is not so detrimental, then.

It seems to me that there is a far more probable explanation - the branding politics. "Android" and "Chromebook" are Google brands. "Linux" is not. Why should they invest in advertising a brand they don't own? One that can be used by competitors?...

Ditto for Canonical. They always thread very carefully around the "Linux" name. If pressed, the won't deny that Ubuntu is Linux. However, they will never, ever say it without being specifically asked. Or that Ubuntu is actually a thin layer of paint over Debian GNU/Linux. Just a parasitic approach - take all you can, give back nothing you are not forced to.

This is not to say that we don't need to grow up. It is to say that growing up includes also understanding the real world around.

Anonymous said...

I dont have a problem with Google as much as I have with Ubuntu doing it.
Nowhere does Ubuntu mention Linux.

Yes, I know its branding but I despise marketing and all that it entails including the cheap pop psychology.
I hear the word branding and I think of cattle which honestly why I HATE being referred to as a consumer.

And you can make yourself sick worrying about how business lies become the everyday normal.

its like getting angry everytime some idiot on the news refers to Jobs as having invented the MP3 players, the apps stores, buying music online, the smartphone and so on.
the techies know the truth but 99.9% of the public (and the news which somehow we trust as being the word of god) think its true.

Anonymous said...

At least Valve has embraced the Linux brand. They have Tux and Linux all-over, and mention Ubuntu as "version of Linux"

Gavin said...

I think the infighting hurts more in the Linux community because anything and everything is fair game. A lot of it seems utterly pedantic to an outside observer, right down to the disagreements on terms. Is it "free software" or "open-source software" or "FLOSS" or...? Is it related to Unix at all? Did you use the correct GPL version for that piece of software? The chaos is never ending! By comparison, there is at least SOME stability or common platform for the infighting over at the fanboi clubs of Apple and MS. With Linux, it is like trying to make Mario jump on Bowser in a zero-gravity environment, with no guarantee that doing so would even be productive!

I do agree with some other commenters that infighting definitely exists anywhere you have two or more devs. But of course, is MS likely to allow its devs to go whole-hog on Twitter? NO! That would obviously be bad for business! The "benefit" on the Linux side is that the devs can talk all they want. It is a benefit, however, just not in the usual sense. In the world of security, for instance, there is a ton of buzz about all the breaches that have been happening lately. One would think that hackers are on the rise and will kill us all! Except for the fact that breaches are not on the rise - the reporting of breaches is on the rise. I think that applies here. The infighting is regrettable, but I still think keeping it out in the open allows us to move forward more so than keeping it locked behind closed doors. More slowly than we would like, but we are all human after all.

In the mean time, all this commotion has some negative effects. And yes, it makes the Linux world look like a bunch of potty-mouthed kids. But we are all human and we all do the same things, just on different topics. Some argue about GUIs, others argue about truck engines, still others argue about fashion. It is human to do this. The only non orthogonality we can apply to Linux infighting is that it is unusually transparent in comparison to other communities of its kind, and thus it stands out like two kids fighting over a napkin in a fancy restaurant. For shame!

The only aspect of this discussion to which I take offense is the concept that anyone who does not take their OS seriously is a person of lesser intellect. I have met many extremely intelligent people (some of them literal geniuses) who carry iPhones and use Windows without the slightest idea of what they are doing with their computing devices. Computers are not their area of expertise, and so what? Botanists, cellists, financial analysts, airplane maintenance specialists, the factory worker who volunteers at the local soup kitchen - are they less deserving of your respect simply because they cannot tell a window from an icon? Are they listed as the great unwashed in your minds merely because they are confused by a different color scheme? Some people suck at using computers - fact of life. Why they cannot get it is beyond me, and believe me I have tried! People who are perfectly logical and can follow directions for replacing their garbage disposal are thrown into an abyss of confusion if I so much as move an icon on their desktop! But wow can they do [insert their profession here]! I respect people for who they are and what they can do, not for how much of my knowledge set they do not know.