Wednesday, June 12, 2013

COLA: No Not a Drink. A Veritable Cage Fight.

by Dietrich Schmitz

On rare occasion, I find going to one of the Google Groups comp.os.linux.advocacy actually informative.  This is about one of those times. (Image credit:

That doesn't happen often.  Most of the time, I simply stay away, but my colleague +Chris Ahlstrom and Linux Advocate mentioned that one of my stories is being talked up there and so I thought I might pay the Google Groups site a visit to see what he meant.

I always prepare myself for the worst when I go there.  You really have to expect that.  Most of the time, the thread begins with an opening exchange, followed by Jack Nicholson-style "you can't handle the truth", then followed directly by Freddie Krueger-style dark hate-filled comments which go around and around and around with no satisfactory conclusion.  Just hate heaped up on hate.

So I thought I would share some of the feedback which has come out on my story Linux Desktop: Little Innovation, Lots of Mediocrity.

An opening thread by Snit, a much-reviled regular COLA visitor, provides his own endorsement for some of the content in my story.  Snit proceeds to make reference to a linked-to Apple video and draws parallels:

"I think this is much of what Apple is getting to with their new commercial here: <>.     -----     If everyone is busy making can anyone perfect     anything? We start to confuse convenience with joy, abundance with     choice. Design requires something: focus. The first thing we ask is     what do we want people to feel. Then we begin to craft     around that intention. It takes time. There are a thousand no's for     every yes. We perfect. We start over, until everything we touch     enhances every life it touches. Only then do we sign our work:     Designed by Apple in California.     ----- 
I think Apple got the wording a bit wrong to focus so much on just the *feeling*, but that is what many in the tech world miss. You *can* get work done on other systems, of course, but Apple gets that when you focus on productivity, efficiency, and error reduction things feel right. 
Too many in the open source community do confuse abundance with choice... and there is a difference. All too often the Linux distros fail to understand that what you exclude is just as important as what you include. Maybe more. Google gets this with their home page and ChromeOS. Canonical might get this, too... but they are so tied to the open source ecosystem it is hard for them to do this well." 

Not surprisingly, Snit favors Apple, and quite often segues to dropping 'b-o-m-b-s' filled with Apple propaganda as if throwing a grenade into the room and quickly runs off, terrorist-style.

But he appears to be quite the glutton for punishment and often succeeds in having the last word even if his message is completely lost on the other COLA participants.

Another regular with anti-Linux leanings flatfish doesn't hesitate to let his ideas be known and is among the regulars who wind up in a cage fight-style exchange, replies: 

"Until the Linux community rallies behind a single desktop distribution and pools it's resources, it will be forever doomed to niche status. 

Choosing between 500+ versions where 490 of them are crap isn't really choice at all.  
And finally, until the Linux/FOSS community realizes that it's all about applications and not geek speak, tinkering with operating systems and the underlying bits and bytes, the average public is not going to be interested in Linux."

I am kind of beginning to see that there are some kernels of truth found on COLA when you sort through the chaf betwixt and between which are somewhat consistent with what I have put in my story.  Flatfish has zeroed in with one sentence (above in bold) which sums up my sentiment regarding making Linux become ultimately wildly successful--I mean ramping up to mass market scale on both commercial and consumer levels.

Finally, we have Mark Bilk who takes a dim view on my story--that means he is pro-Linux, which is good.  He's another regular in the cage and often comes out with cuts, bruises, contusions, and sometimes rendered unconscious on a stretcher.  Not one for taking any of this lightly, Mark steps into the cage swinging and kicking straight off:

"Schmitz uses "commercial success" as his criterion of success, even though he admits that Linux is given away free, and so is often not counted commercially.  Not to mention the fact that it's only used by people who are aware enough to install a whole new OS on the computer they bought with Windows pre-installed.  So his criterion of relative "success" compared to other OSen is absolute nonsense."

To further demonstrate his kick-boxing prowess, Mark furthers and goes in for the knock-out combination with:

"Linux includes many, many alternative distros and apps, some of which are "ugly and unseemly".  This is one of the most common attacks made upon Linux.  It's like writing an article saying that the world of shoes has some "quite ugly and unseemly" ones, so therefore shoes are no good. 
The obvious answer is: THEN CHOOSE THE GOOD ONES, FOOL!  
If you choose a good Linux distro -- well designed and maintained, with good online assistance, and a good desktop environment, and you choose good apps, of which there are plenty for every type of commonly used function, and lots of uncommon ones, too, then you will have an excellent experience using it!  I recommend OpenSuse Linux with KDE3, but there are plenty of others.  Every Linux app will run on every common Linux distro, occasionally requiring compilation from source, which is extremely easy to do -- you get complete instructions, and if you don't understand them, you can ask in the distro or app IRC channel. 
Anti-Linux propagandists say, "What about the person who never heard of IRC, or doesn't know how to use it?"  And that has a very simple answer, too: THEN ASK SOMEBODY!"

Alright, as you can see, I do bring out the best in everybody and it should be abundantly clear that on COLA, respondents are on it faster than flies on cowchips.  I've carefully selected some of the more sedate comments so as to keep this story PG.

So, what are your thoughts?  Let me know.

-- Dietrich

Enhanced by Zemanta


Post a Comment