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For The Love Of Unix

There's been something that's been on my mind as of late, and it's been bothering me enough that I'm finally blogging about it, and that's the hypocrisy that is the Linux community. If I'm way out of line, let me know. If I'm off base, let me know.

To start, I'll begin with the phrase that we've all heard: "Linux users use Linux because they hate Windows. BSD users use BSD because they love Unix." I can't emphasize how true that statement is. I'm subscribe to several mailing lists, I subscribe to hundreds of RSS feeds, I visit forums semi-regularly, I'm on IRC 24/7 in plenty of channels. You want to know what I see?

M$, Microshaft, Micro$oft, Win-blows, Windoze, and so on and so forth.

Is this really becoming of the Linux community? Have we really stooped so low? Yet, as Ubuntucat mentions in his blog, at first sign of a Linux user struggling with his/her Linux install, the first thing we shout as a community, is "Go back to Windows then!", or "Don't let the door hit you on the *** on the way out."

Wait, what?

I find this rather unfortunate. Aren't most of us computer users, because of the science that is computing? Don't all operating systems have something to bring to the table? I would think that we use Linux, not because we hate Windows, but because we want to learn about Linux. We want to learn the Unix way. Computing should be fun, not filled with animosity.

As I'm not entrenched in the BSD community, I can't speak for their behavior, if such mentality exists or not. However, the BSD users that I have come in contact with definitely love their operating system. In fact, I've learned more about Linux from BSD and Unix users than I have from Linux users. And yet, I never hear a bad word about Windows or Microsoft. If brought up, it seems to be logical concerns, and clearly states as subjective. Doesn't the Linux community make blanket statements about Windows, concerning its security or stability?

Now, with that said, I recently ditched Windows in our home, as we got hit with a virus, and got hit hard. Rather than spend hours cleaning it up, not even sure if I rid myself of everything, I opted for wiping the computer clean, and moving strictly to Ubuntu or Mac OS X. It was a personal choice due to the fact I didn't want to administer an operating system I knew little about. Plus, I'm excited to use Ubuntu. It's a fun operating system.

Now, I know I've been guilty of calling names in regards to Microsoft and Windows. I'm not saying I have a clean slate, and I'm certainly not on a pedestal higher than anyone else. However, I do think we need improvement in this area. Windows may not be my favorite operating system, but belittling it, and the users who use it, does nothing for us as a community. It's time to move past this, and embrace Linux for what it is, not for what it's not. We aren't any better than anyone else, because we use Linux. Windows users aren't beneath us because of their choice to use proprietary software. Each has a different philosophy and reason for their actions.

So, let us get past this ridiculousness. Let's start learning and advocating Linux, because we love Unix. Let's bring excitement to the table with Linux. As a system administrator and trainer myself, I love learning everything I can about Linux, and it's fun to see the exciting new advancements on the Linux and Unix arena. Windows is a good operating system. Give credit where credit is due. Make criticisms based on logic and understanding. Understand, that Linux and Unix isn't perfect either. Flaws aplenty abound in our world. Learn those flaws. Learn the strengths. For the love of Unix.

{ 40 } Comments

  1. Will Smith | July 31, 2008 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Aaron, I couldn't agree with you more. I have had much of the same thought. I think it extends beyond just a childish attitude towards windows but a belittling of others right here in the linux community. You aren't as good because you don't use distro.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. Paul | July 31, 2008 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    To an extent I think it's an inherent problem with something that is 'widely popular'. In that situation you get large numbers of people who value something but who don't have much to contribute other than their voices.
    Linux has a wider audience than BSD (and the term "Linux" itself is largely used in a wider sense than BSD so comparing the communities is probably difficult).

    If I go to a football match I will cheer on my team and boo the opposition because I want to feel part of it. I can't hop on the pitch and score a goal for them so I will do what I can do, hoot and holler with my fellow supporters beside me, hope it makes a bit of difference and simply enjoy the resulting feeling of community.

    At the football there is nothing wrong with that as it's pretty much the whole point of such sport (as well as playing the game for fun).

    For open source though it probably represents wasted enthusiasm. Perhaps the solution is not just educating people to be more "grown up" but to steer them towards more productive uses of that enthusiasm so that rather than cheering on the "linux team" (or booing the "opposition") they actually become part of it.

  3. krist0ph3r | July 31, 2008 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    i'm so happy you've finally said it for all of us. i love linux, and i make my living out of it...but i'm tired of being labeled as a microsoft fanboy everytime i try to say that windows doesn't suck. next time someone says that to me, i'll wave this url in their face 🙂

  4. chris jones | July 31, 2008 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    No. If BSDs had as many users as Linux, they would have immature ones too. I never mis-spell windows or microsoft. I never tell people to go back to some other OS. I am also not 12 😉

  5. Oliver Herold | August 1, 2008 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    For the love of Unix and for the love of opensource! Pragmatism is the wrong way, childish behaviour too. Sure the BSD community doesn't flame Windows, but they do it with Linux sometimes at least. And the have a strong attitude against proprietary software. Really I don't like childish flamewars, but I don't like the pragmatism of today Linux users too, it will render opensource to something different. I'm using Linux and UNIX since 1993, it was a strong community and nowadays it's fainting.

  6. Stefan | August 1, 2008 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    Hi Aaron, I just could not restist to tell you that I have no love for UNIX 🙂
    I started with Linux (SuSE 7) when I first seriously worked with computers. So I have never had a reason to love Linux because it is UNIX, I always loved it because suddenly I could learn about the system that I used. All the button-magic from Windows 95 and Borland Delphi turned into real knowledge with Linux and C.
    So: What I really love when thinking about it is GNU and Free Software, be it Linux, BSD or Hurd :-).
    And what I don't like are big companies that fight my freedom. Therefore I have good reason not to like Microsoft and Apple. Both are fighting to take freedom from me, therefore I don't care if MacOSX is UNIX or Vista is usable: I will never use them.

  7. Lo0m | August 1, 2008 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    I agree...

  8. Jonas | August 1, 2008 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    Well, I don't think it is quite that easy...but it is certainly very easy to find people who do behave that way (and I, too, have been guilty of it).

    And I agree with Chris: if the BSDs were as popular as Linux they would have their share of immature ones as well. Plus, the BSDs are often (rightly or wrongly, I can't say since I haven't used them as much as I have used Linux and never as a desktop, only servers) considered to be harder than Linux, so it is not surprising they have fewer Windows-escapees on a whole and consequently, fewer "reasons" for such behavior.

    Finally, that "Don't let the door hit you in the..." part. I think it depends on the newbie to a large extent. If it's someone that doesn't listen or says things like "Well, the Windows filesystem is much more logical/easy to understand and the Linux way is just plain stupid" or not listening when someone tries to explain why Amarok (as just one example) need a lot of extra stuff installed as well if you want to run it on a previously pure Gnome desktop...well, it's not exactly the best way to get help now is it? Or productive for either tutor(s) or the one wanting some help for that matter. It's wasting time, and since most help out (or try to) because it's the only way they feel they can contribute back...well, let's just say I can perfectly understand the frustration that leads up to such statements even if it would be better to just walk away. Or develop a thicker skin/better pedagogy skills or something along those lines...

    And I agree: Windows is a decent OS, although not one I would use myself but that is a personal choice. It has its flaws and drawbacks, but so does the *ix varieties.

  9. Arby | August 1, 2008 at 1:38 am | Permalink

    I don't often comment on blogs but this one got me thinking. I think you're a little off the mark here. I think you're allowing the whole community to be tarred by the actions of a minority. I don't dispute that a subset of our community behaves the way you describe and it bugs me too but to say that is representative of the whole Linux community is unfair.

    From my personal point of view I came to Linux when I was a destitute student with a 5 year old computer that needed an upgrade. I couldn't afford a new copy of windows so someone gave me a copy of Kubuntu breezy. I got another 3 years out of that PC and wouldn't go back for anything. Linux is now embedded into my workflow because it's a technically better solution for me. I don't hate windows, there are still things I miss.

    I think the commenter earlier who likened the windows haters to a football crowd hit it on the head. These people see other Linux users and developers doing cool stuff and they want to feel part of the in crowd. Their enthusiasm is just a little misdirected, this is probably more a problem of education. If we could channel that enthusiasm to something a little more productive that would be a big win.

    I also think your inference that most Linux users are computer scientists is off beam as well. I think that's probably true of most developers but not necessarily the wider community. My local LUG is no more than 50% computer scientists at best. We run an installfest once a year and we get everyone except computer scientists through the door. Admittedly that's likely because they don't need our help.

    I don't disagree with your post but I think you've fallen into a few sweeping generalisations.


  10. Herman Bos | August 1, 2008 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    I think its OK to joke about Windows/MS, i think that is only natural. 🙂 But when things get serious discussions should be hold based on arguments. And of course Open source is better!

    But most of what you write has nothing to do with that. It is just retard behavior. Lets call it human behavior. And unfortunately a large percentage is retard (where such behavior manifests itself more aggresively)

    To solving this is not really related to Linux at all, its one of the root problems in society.

    What we can do though in our part of society (our community) is make some clear rules and enforce them (basicly this is covered by the CoC i guess). Kids/retards need rules to make them behave and use the brain they often leave unused.

    Enforcing the CoC is another challenge on itself ofcourse like as you can read on the planet on regular basis.

  11. Reine | August 1, 2008 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    i agree with what you said but, don't say(quote): 'windows is a good operating sys'!, please!, for the sake of truth. Cheers, Reine.

  12. Reine | August 1, 2008 at 2:09 am | Permalink

    And not to forget: GNU is NOT Unix!. Reine.

  13. Tiago Faria | August 1, 2008 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    I could not agree more! Thank you.

  14. Noel Nuguid | August 1, 2008 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    I really have to agree with you with this. Although I've been into some BSD forums where there are name calling on Microsoft and Windows, I genuinely believe that open source communities should strive to treat everyone nice. Now, there will be exceptions to this rule but for me, Name calling on Microsoft is the nearly the same as Microsoft spreading FUD against Open Source.

  15. marvin | August 1, 2008 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    way to throw the entire linux community into a big stereotype. classy.

  16. jldugger | August 1, 2008 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    This is ridiculus. Nobody loves UNIX, and anyone claiming BSD guys love it more don't understand that's all they have left 😉

    Seriously though, the UNIX hater's book is a classic. As I've said before, there's a tragic reflex against critical review of Linux and Ubuntu, and it's just as strong as the Windows hatred you mention. Perhaps it's related? We must reserve our harshest words for ourselves, or perish through vanity.

  17. Thomas Jespersen | August 1, 2008 at 6:05 am | Permalink


    I tell you, I am one of the "old farts" who still reads Usenet 🙂

    There is a certain group that anyone who is a bit serious filters out in their newsreader. That group is "comp.os.linux.advocacy". My reading pleasure of usenet is much higher due to it. Sure there are Windows advocates as well who can be just as annoying as the linux advocates but this way I filter BOTH of them 🙂

  18. Jonas | August 1, 2008 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    @Thomas Jespersen,

    Any *.advocacy group is better left alone and given as wide a berth as humanly possible...

  19. oliver | August 1, 2008 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    I agree with the summary you gave, but don't agree with some single points in your post.

    - ridicule against Windows (or Mac OS X or BSD or...) is immature and pointless; all these OSs are the result of hard work (which should be respected on its own already), and also Linux is indeed not in the position to look down on other OSs.
    - writing "M$" and "Windoze" etc. is childish
    - still, "go back to Windows" seems like a valid answer to some requests (like uninformed complaints like "under Windows this is much better, and so Linux must have this as well" - then why not use Windows in the first place?)
    - I don't _hate_ Windows, but I dislike Microsoft and it's products for the attitude they have against users and developers
    - IMO GNU and Linux score in exactly those points which I dislike about Microsoft and Windows: giving the user freedom, not locking the user to a certain product, and serving the user (instead of serving the own wallet). This might seem stereotypical, but it's really at the core of my dislike of Microsoft 🙂 and it's not so much "loving Unix" (well ok, "everything is a device" _is_ a beautiful concept) but rather "loving free software"
    - "converting" Windows users to Linux still seems pointless to me... If the system works, why change it? and why would it matter to me if _someone else's_ computer runs a system _I_ dislike?

  20. David Clark | August 1, 2008 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Cool ! I don't care what people 'like' so long as one remains open-minded to the benefits of other languages and platforms. There is a natural balance in our world. of course I am now biased towards Linux.

    But I see a problem with Linux and maybe its because I'm such a Windoze guy, now 'crossing over ' to the bright side, Obi-one. With almost 20 years experience in DOS and Windows and I'm looking forward to the time when I'll become proficient at the prompt in a Linux terminal

    But education is a problem. I like Linux and I remember the pain suffered struggling with a SCO workstation some years back. The support sucked. But the problem is the dearth of tutorials and step by step material for newbies. We need a site or collection of Linux Tutorials covering EVERYTHING from boot to root readily available to the new-comer. Patience, if you remember, is a virtue and linus presents intimidating challenges for Window GUI users. i know people who have NEVER seen a prompt.

    Hopefully my venture into Linux will be different and so far its been pretty positive, unlike my experience with Mac. A couple of years back, I bought a 3 thousand dollar G machine because I needed - OK, I wanted to integrate Macs into my network. Out of about 1100 users a couple of whiny Mac guys wanted access the network so I gave in. After all the bitchin' and snubs from Mac users, I said to hell with it and GAVE the useless thing to my nephews - they liked the games. Not a single member of a MUG was willing to support m or my staff, including the Mac guys. Third-party software was limited to a single elementary application. Linux isn't that way, but training and educational opportunities are far and few between. Tell me I'm wrong........

  21. raden Mu\'az | August 1, 2008 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I guess the surviving OS that have no root/cloning/relation to Unix is Windows.
    Linux clones Unix.
    Apple Mac OS X uses Unix (BSD) and ditched old non-Unix Mac OSes (System 7,8,9?)

    Windows? nah. They're on their own.

  22. Levi | August 1, 2008 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    The root of the nasty element of the Linux culture is, I believe, the Free Software Foundation. Richard Stallman is full of hate towards non-Free software, and when he coopted the Linux kernel for his GNU operating system, Linux culture was doomed to absorb his hate and poor social skills.

    BSD has been a complete operating system for longer than Linux has existed, and it has long had its own culture of true openness, without the nasty hate that the FSF is filled with. People point to the FSF as the source of all the openness that we have in software today, but forget that BSD and its open license would have likely taken off just as well as the GPL did if it hadn't been under attack by a lawsuit at the dawn of the public Internet.

  23. sourchier | August 1, 2008 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    You are way out of line here. Microsoft has destroyed more jobs from unfair practices than the Chinese. Also, they add a $300 (or more) tax to the price of buying a PC. The only way for the linux community to move forward is the eradication of closed source software. Open source is important for hardware and software to work hand-in-hand. Please grow up Aaron. I am sorry that you Microsoft stock is tanking, but that is an issue to take up with Steve, not the open source community.

    Let FOSS and freedom ring forever.
    Peace out.

  24. Diggy | August 1, 2008 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I, for one, do not use Linux or *BSD because I hate Microsoft (in fact, ours is a mixed environment, with many more *nix boxes than Win, of course 😉 ). I use them because they're powerful, flexible, cost-effective platforms upon which our business's technical infrastructure is built. Period.

  25. Sean Tilley | August 2, 2008 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    I just wanted to say: I read this on Planet Ubuntu this morning, and I couldn't agree more with you.

    I originally switched to Ubuntu because Windows had problems on my dying machine, and I was able to squeeze out 6 more months of life from it. I've come to love it for that reason alone. I discovered a community that I could mingle with, one that could answer my questions.

    However, the whole Microsoft-bashing is starting to push me away from the very community I've loved. I've tried dozens of distributions, but the mindset is still there. The OpenSUSE community seemed the least disturbed by Microsoft, but then sites like Boycott Novell have been blasting them on a regular basis.

    The whole ordeal has pushed me around. I've switched OS'es about five times now in search for a community that doesn't judge people that use other OS'es. When I said switch OS'es, I MEANT OS'es, NOT DISTRIBUTIONS.

    The closest I've found is probably OpenSolaris. As they're relatively new, they've developed a mindset that pertains to "We don't care what you use, but if you want to help out with something, that'd be great!"

    OpenSolaris is rather underdeveloped in some respects. It uses an older version of Gnome. GStreamer and Xine need full porting. The IPS package manager frontend is not very good yet. But, the community is fantastic and very helpful, and it's the non-elitist mindset that might ultimately lead me over to stay.

  26. Jonathan Carter | August 2, 2008 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    I don't agree with you, the type of people who say things like M$ and Microshaft are a loudmouth minority. You'll probably find that all of them are Windows users as well.

    A true free software advocate won't use those terms.

  27. stahu | August 5, 2008 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Wow it's amazing to see linux users that thing exatly the same as me 🙂
    A love linux but i don't hate windows. In fact Windows 2000, XP and Vista are good systems - maybe not as good as linux 😉
    And i don't hate microsoft. I use xbox 360 and i simply love this console.

  28. Anon E Moose | August 5, 2008 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    sourchier: So, that $299 Acer desktop I saw at Walmart last week would be free if it didn't have Windows on it? 😛

    The rest of your comment only plays to the central theme of this blog post.

    I wish I could read about Linux without having to see some jacktard like you posting propaganda, fud, and stupidity.

    Aaron: I agree with you completely. I muck with Linux because I want to learn about it, and I like to keep a finger on its pulse to see how it is coming along on the desktop. Unfortunately I have yet to find a distribution that I can unreservedly use for work, due to issues with the one app that is central and vital to my job not working worth a damn on any variety of *nix (even though it has a native Linux version.)

    I find my eye drifting over to the BSD world, however, because I just cannot stand the bottom x% of the FOSS community who have the mentality of prepubescent boys playing King of the Castle.

  29. Jon | August 5, 2008 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Save your time writing stupid stories about this, ignore the idiots, write good code and good free software. Let the kiddies talk how they want to talk, the core and soul of the linux community does no such thing, only people with too much time on their hands.

  30. Anonymous | August 5, 2008 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    you are taking a part of the community, some random people so to speak, and present them as being the core of the philosophy the linux world has. what could possibly go wrong ah?

    also obvious noob is obvious, so i don't care about what you have to say, bye

  31. Michael | August 5, 2008 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    The Linux Community would be a lot better off if there were somehow a massive checking of egos. But I don't see that happening in the foreseeable future. I think OSS is great, but somehow when it comes down to producing a viable OS it all seems to go to hell.

    There's far too much division and the go-it-alone attitude. Secondly nobody wants to do the hard coding. Everyone loves to add features yet nobody seems to want to make some of the key parts work.

    It's funny though. A decade ago, people complained that Linux was graphically unappealing and that the installation was horrible. That's fixed now, but really it's all just window dressing.

    Every year has always been "The year that linux breaks out big on the desktop" but guess what? It never will. Linux is free and is still not that popular. The reason why is simple, because it is simply too divided. The efforts of the community are effectively wasted due to the fact that what effort is put to bear, it is very poorly focused.

    I'd personally love to have linux be a viable alternative, but it's simply not there at the moment.

  32. Steve | August 6, 2008 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Spot on! Spewing names may sound cute, but it drives the average person away.

  33. LinuxUser | August 6, 2008 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    BSD users use BSD because they hat linux

  34. carolinason | August 7, 2008 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    I like a good subjective rant as well as good objective views.

    Let people be people.

    Windows is not a good operating system! Don't get confused.

    BSD... whatever!

    I use Linux because I like it, not because Windows and BSD users can be arrogant farts. I just don't like Windows or BSD, which I have used, so naturally I have the right to criticize it.

  35. Tape Operator | August 10, 2008 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Wow. It's funny how many of the above posts illustrate your point for you.

  36. Thomas Gilling | September 8, 2008 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Yes this is very stupid that people would do such a thing like that. I mean Linux=Communism! What is that supposed to mean that WW3 will start because we used Linux. And then Linux users going in the future all our houses will be controlled by Microsoft!

  37. Chiron613 | December 27, 2008 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    Some of what you say is true. There are some elements in the Linux community who say things like, "if you don't like something, write your own version". And yes, some will say users should go back to Windows if they have problems.

    To be fair, though, many of those having problems say things like, "I can't figure this out, I'm going back to Windows", as though we'll be ashamed of ourselves and rush to the rescue. The newbie's attitude may be responsible for many of those comments.

    Beyond that, though, many Linux users are arrogant. They had to struggle very hard to learn their system, and think everyone should have to suffer. There are some Linux users who jeer at those using Ubuntu, claiming it's only for lazy, stupid people. Considering that Linus uses Ubuntu, I think that claim is ridiculous. Some people want their computers to "just work", without having to learn all the details of the kernel. Heck, they don't want to even know there's a kernel in there. And if they don't want to do this, they shouldn't have to bother. In my opinion, Linux is about choice, not doing things the hard way (unless that's what floats your boat).

    So yeah, some of us are arrogant elitists. But we are becoming increasingly more mainstream, as ordinary, non-technical people start to experiment with Ubuntu and other well-made distributions.

    As for the hatred of Microsoft - well, true, many of us do hate the company. It represents many of the things that are contrary to good hackers and decency. It has a history of producing shoddy software, of taking control of our computers for its own purposes, of unethical business practices, and so on. It is in direct opposition to the goals many Linux supporters have, of providing excellent software for anyone who cares to use it. Still, the name-calling and childish spellings like "Microsh*t" are uncalled for and do more harm than good to our image.

  38. James350 | January 31, 2009 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    It would be my S.W.A.G. that the majority of the Linux people dual boot with a Linux dis and a Microsoft O.S.
    Even those that like to rag on Microsoft products.
    To me it is like kicking a sick dog. We all know that free source is going to knock Microsoft off the pedestal, so why call them silly names?
    Besides Windows 7 is due out soon and wow, won't that be exciting?

  39. Doug Rosbury | March 18, 2009 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I tried linux and went back to windows xp.
    XP is a known. It is logical to my way of thinking. Besides, I do not care for the linux ,
    "nose-in-the-air-attitude" Windows xp serves me well enough for my needs. It's familiarity
    is good for what I need it for. Once I discovered how to configure my use of it, I was
    and am satisfied. I don't need the arrogant attitude of Linux supporters.---Doug

  40. TuxFriend | March 18, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I see no one is recommending Ubuntu because of all the mean spirited people on these horribly documented wikis, tutorials, suggestions, and walkthroughs

    oh just google "ubuntu 8.10 solutions to common problems" (minus quotes)

    does my resorting to sarcasm make me a jerk?
    or was this original post sarcastic? or just FUD?

    and no one hates Windows. Windows helped pave the way to the modern PC. Most (all?) of us respect Windows contribution. Compared to a modern desktop linux distro it is like XP compared to DOS (but you pay a lot more)

    Will Windows hold out longer than DOS?
    1981-2000 RIP DOS
    1995 (XP) - ???? 5 more years, I wish you luck

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