Linux and a little rant

Allow me to start with the rant bit first. I took my first steps in the world of Linux around 1993, 1994. Back then, Linux was still pretty new and very few distributions existed. Debian just spawned into life. RedHat wouldn’t come to life until mid 1995. There were no big Internet forums or user communities. Most people using Linux were computer engineers that knew how to build a Linux system from scratch and didn’t take newbie kid questions all too well. N00b questions were typically quickly and swiftly dealt with by a grump “RTFM” and you were left to do a lot of reading and figuring it out yourself. None to hold your hand and do the hard work for you. Annoying at times, but when you did figure it out it gave you a real sense of accomplishment. This is how I learned my way around Linux.

Fast forward to today, and you have hundreds of distributions. Some are touted as ‘beginner distros’, others as ‘advanced distros’. Let me shoot that down immediately. There are only user-friendly distros and user-unfriendly distros. Some extremely user-unfriendly. Functionally, they can all to the same. There is not some magical advanced functionality in these so-called ‘advanced distros’ not available in the ‘beginner distros’. The only difference between the two is that the ‘beginner’ distros are as easy to initially set up and run as your typical Windows or MacOS install and don’t offer too many customization choices to confuse you and provide you with a default set of applications you may or may not use, to get you started, while the ‘advanced’ distros pretty much require you to be a masochist and think and decide about every step. Once they are up and running, they work pretty much the same and can do the same. There is literally nothing one of these ‘advanced’ distros can do you cannot also do on one of these ‘beginner’ distros.

This gets me to the users… Some of these ‘advanced’ distro users feel they are sooo smart. They consider everybody that uses a ‘beginner’ distro to be a n00b that should be pitied as they cannot begin to grasp the advancedness of their knowledge and their choice of distribution. This holds particularly true to a significant portion of the Arch Linux community. They think they are so smart for using a distribution that only installs a basic system and dumps you to the command-line so you can use their package manager to install the stuff you actually want on your system. Don’t get me wrong, it is a very valid philosophy that avoids cluttering up your disk with GB’s of stuff you’re never going to be looking at. But it is not advanced.

Back in the day, you had to download the sources for just about everything because if you wanted something that wasn’t installed by default, it probably didn’t have a binary available for your system. You’d have go through the documentation, find and fix all the dependencies yourself (often also by compiling and installing the right versions, in order) and then compile your application from source, hoping it actually would compile without errors you’d then have to debug and fix before trying again. And when it was finally installed, it probably didn’t work until you build your configuration files manually.

Telling a package manager which software you want to install only for the package manager to download it for you from a central repository, fix any dependencies automatically and install your selected package so it works is not anything advanced. It’s just manual work. It’s typing dumb commands on the command prompt. It does not make you some Linux Guru. It doesn’t even give you any usable extra knowledge. If you enjoy doing things that way, all the more power to you. But don’t be some cocky arrogant SOB that belittles others for not wanting to do that. It doesn’t make your install better, just leaner, it doesn’t make you smarter and behaving like that only makes you a prick.

There are a lot of people that have heard enough about Linux to be curious and wanting to try it, that are permanently put-off by the arrogance and belittlement of the Linux community. People should try to remember they too had to learn at some point and realize there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. More competition means more and better choices for us as users, but for that to happen new users that are willing to learn something new should be encouraged, not belittled for being new and put down until they give up to never return.

If you want to try Linux, just do it. Pick a distro you like and stick with it. Don’t be fooled into believing the nonsense about beginner and advanced distributions, thinking at some point you need to upgrade to get a more advanced version. They can all be customized to look like whatever you want, they can all have the same functionality, there is not a single one that is better than the rest. There is only personal preference of the users using them. That’s not to say it cannot be fun to do some distro hopping to find the one that really suits you. Just as long as you remember its preference, not functionality that makes the difference.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

17 − four =