ITWire has this little ditty in their open source blog, going "tsk-tsk" at the Linux crowd for being such a tenacious little bunch. Why, just look at how Russell Kennedy got them all riled up! When he did that "why Ubuntu still sucks" troll, the peasants with pitchforks and torches lined up at the gates. So Varghese asks "Are Linux users really a feral bunch?"
No, Mr. Varghese, it's worse than that. And calling us "loose-lipped or juvenile" is also missing the point.
Think about revolutions and minute-men. Think about angry libertarians. And after that, think of the settlers of the wild frontier. Because at this time in history, that's just what Linux is: the Wild, Wild West.
The nature of leaving civilization to settle an untamed new world requires a special breed of individual. Colonists self-select for a set of attributes which make them prone to be seen as anti-social, but at the same time makes them the toughest survivors you've ever met. These are not gentle folk with AOL accounts and smilies in their instant messenger.
As retail computers with Linux installed are still just beginning to peek into the marketplace, you may be assured that anybody running Linux today is one of the pioneer settlers. We had to fight a monopoly, but it didn't stop us. We had to wrestle with problems and install things ourselves and desperately claw through manual pages, but that didn't stop us. We had to learn a thousand times as much about computers as the average person knows, but that didn't stop us. Our co-workers, teachers, and neighbors looked at us with a mixture of awe and horror as we babbled in a high-tech language they'd never heard before, but that didn't stop us.
If we were the kind of people to shrug in the face of adversity and go "Oh, well, I guess I can live with it."... why would we be running Linux in the first place?
We did it just because we love liberty.
We are very, very hardened. We are resilient. We are fearless. And, if I understand the local talk correctly, we want nothing less than open revolution.
And there are savage lands beyond Linux that are even less tamed. If you think Linux users are feral, try going to systems that are as much of a fringe on the edge of Linux as Linux is on the mainstream. BSD, Open Solaris, ReactOS, or - I double-dog dare you to troll this lot - Plan Nine from Bell Labs. The smaller the niche, the more fiercely defended it is. In reviewing increasingly smaller niche systems in the past, I have found fewer and fewer natives, while at the same time more and more outspoken ones.
A good word, that "feral". But it also tells as much about the speaker as the subject. A "feral" creature is one who has never been tamed. The image is one of a jungle savage who is only outside the big city because they've never beheld the wonders within. But that's not the case.
The case is, we've been to the empire. We were born within it, and we left, because we would rather tame uncharted territory than give up our self-sufficiency and independence.