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The Linux Insecurity Complex

Date/Time Permalink: 05/27/07 02:41:23 am
Category: General

Please love me!

Oh, my God, Linux community! Stop it, just stop it right this minute! This is sickening. Get up, dry that face, and get over here.

Honestly, the way you're carrying on lately! I've never seen anybody make such a spectacle of themselves. Get a hold of yourself already! Don't you know everybody can see you like this?

Let me introduce you to a psychological affliction, because I think you've got it bad. It's called an insecurity complex, and it's a symptom of low self-esteem where you suffer from false perceptions of being unloved, inadequate or worthless. Don't shake your head and look away when I'm talking to you, young person. You know you're prone to self-worth issues already: The high school jocks who beat you up, the potential dates who've laughed in your face because you were too geeky for them, even the office politics that kept you low on the ladder because everybody was afraid that you'd take over if you rose one level higher.

There's no use living in denial and suppressing rage. Face up to the fact that you might have Linux Insecurity Complex. The symptoms of L.I.C. are sneaky, creeping in around the edge of your psyche every day. There's no known medication for it yet, but we're hoping for a breakthrough. In the mean time, recognizing your problem is half-way to coping with it. I once suffered from a mild case of it myself. But let me tell you, once you acknowledge your complex and glare that sucker back down into the shadows from whence it came, the world will be a sunnier, happier place - and incidentally not taste so much like dirt. And it improves your posture, too!

So ask yourself: Do YOU have these symptoms of L.I.C.???

1. Apologizing for Linux. "We're sorry that we have so many distros. Yes, we're terrible elitist beanie-heads for using the command line. We're not a cookie-cutter clone of other systems, ergo there must be something wrong with us. We'll try to emulate Windows some more on the next release."

Truth is, Linux does things the Linux way for very good reasons, not just because some market focus study group said it would be a good idea or because it would make somebody a million dollars. Linux would not be Linux without these different methods. Linux would be worse, not better, without the things that make it different!

Counter thought: "If I stop trying to be somebody else, the world will have to love me for who I really am."

2. Panic attacks. "Microsoft is going to sue us for patents! DRM will make it impossible to install Linux! There's a new document format that's going to lock us out!"

Imminent doom of Linux predicted, film at eleven. But Linux has been here for 15 years, and open source can never die. It is in every country. It runs the Internet. You could drop nuclear bombs on every Linux user on the planet, but you'll miss at least one server housing the source code, to be found by some future archaeologist, and there it will go spreading again. Linux is creeping charlie. It is rooted too deeply to budge. Why do you think Microsoft is so afraid of it?

Counter thought: "Anything that could have killed Linux has already been tried."

3. Impulsive defensiveness. "Augh! Somebody said something derogatory about Linux! Attack! Cripple! Kill!"

Has anybody thought of a new approach? Take a lesson, my geeky friends, from Scotty's line in the Star Trek classic episode "The Trouble With Tribbles": We're big enough to take a few insults. Trolls, shills, and asstroturfers will be attacking Linux for the rest of its days, because it's an easy paycheck and because making a list of things wrong with Linux is a no-brainer to jam out five minutes before deadline so you can head for the bar. How they do that is, they still have the list from 1998.

Don't take it personally - it's business. Look at the famous Slashdot troll: "Netcraft confirms it, BSD is dead." You don't see BSD users jumping all over that one anymore, do you?

Counter thought: "Pigeons will always crap on the statues of heroes."

4. Not knowing when you've won. "Linux/Open Source will never be adopted!"

That's funny, because Linux is running TiVo. Apache has the biggest install base on servers. Here's five Linux cell phones, not to mention other devices such as gaming consoles that come with Linux. Firefox with a (+/-?)25% market share. Every time you use Google, you use Linux. They're even talking about cramming Linux into every freaking car!

Just how much more ground does Linux have to conquer, before we can at last be secure that it isn't going to be wiped out?

Counter thought: "Linux is like air: Everywhere, but transparent to the casual observer."

5. Buying love: Of course, we all know about the latest attempt to scare the Linux community into donating money to "market" Linux. But it's only the latest, and it will not be the last. Meanwhile Ubuntu Linux is now being sold on PCs by Dell - and they're going to put them on the shelf at Walmart! Walmart, people! Google three keywords: "Dell Ubuntu Walmart": I just did that and got 1,170,000 hits! That's 1.17 million instances of exposure already, not counting the exposure when the biggest retail chain in the country puts a Linux computer on their shelf.

What did the Linux community have to pay to make that happen? Did Dell have to take up contributions before they'd do it? Did they have to fake a grassroots demand for it? Did they have to set up an extortion campaign? No, they are a business, and they are doing it because they see a viable market in Linux, as dozens of other companies have before them. They are touting Linux actively; at Studio Dell they are saying warm, happy things about it and showing everybody what a Gnome desktop is - breaking the troll-spread myth that Linux doesn't have anything but a terminal.

It's about time we stopped trying to buy friends and appreciate the real friends we have.

Counter thought: "Real love is earned, not bought."

6. Looking for love in the wrong places. "Joe Sixpack won't run Linux because:" followed by various assertions of what an uncultured bourgeoisie the mythical Joe is when it comes to his computer. Joe Sixpack: the Polish joke of the 21st century.

Now, crack me up with all the tech support anecdotes about impossibly stupid users you want, but I am a humanist. I do not point to the dumbest possible sub-human and declare him to be the "average". People have been DELIBERATELY KEPT IGNORANT by the Microsoft monopoly, and of course they have some catching up to do. That's not their fault.

But just to play devil's advocate, suppose we are stymied by how to make the stupidest possible caveman adopt Linux. I could wring my hands forever worrying how to sell Linux to this mythical straw-man, or... You know what? TO HELL WITH JOE SIXPACK! Let him use Windows, MSN, and Hotmail until he rots! What does the Linux community gain if a scabby trailer-park lowlife adopts it? Another problem, that's what. Linux is a power system that favors power users. Would you want Joe Sixpack to drive a bulldozer, or have a seat in Congress, or perform open-heart surgery? Why is the most powerful computer system ever known to man a failure if he doesn't run it?

Here's a client we need to focus on, instead: Wall Street. Merrill Lynch - the investment banker, perhaps you're heard of them? - runs on Linux. When companies like this put their faith in Linux, who cares about Joe Sixpack? Seriously, who would you rather have for a client? If we never get another low-end read-only user to switch to Linux, that'll be fine with me. They're not worth the bother. But, please! Just keep bringing me business suits like these guys! That's where the real money is, anyway.

Counter thought: "If we get abused and rejected by Joe Sixpack, perhaps it is because he doesn't deserve us."

7. Megalomania. Why *MUST* Microsoft die so that Linux can take over? Why is the adoption of Linux always phrased in terms of a war? Why *MUST* we have a year of Linux on the desktop? Dozens of technology companies have thrived with multimillion dollar businesses for decades without ever touching a desktop. So what if you never hear of them? They're quietly behind the scenes making things work. Like FOSS has been doing all along.

This isn't about total domination. This is about having the courage to change the things you can, the grace to accept the things you can't, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Counter thought: "If we wanted to be part of a monopoly, we would have stuck with Windows."


Here's let's take a lesson from Slashdot's icon for the "Linux Business" category:

Business Tux

Now, let's sum it all up with one thought:

"Act like a winner, and the world will treat you like one."

It's about time we stopped acting like a lunatic fringe movement and started acting like productive, professional members of the business world.

And for God's sake, have some dignity, already!

Update 1/24/09: I said it first, but Carla Schroder says it again.

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