A dear friend of mine read my entry yesterday and had the following to say about it on another network:
Uh, not quite. Windows is a toy car and its box is filled with ads for all kinds of accessories you can buy. Linux is an erector set that you can use to build just about anything you want to and your only limits are the set itself and your imagination.
People who want a toy car and only a toy car will find the erector set very frustrating and usually very confusing. People who want to create and build what’s in their imagination will soon tire of the toy car that’s only a toy car and nothing else.
To each his or her own. I really don’t know why all the emotional ranting. Just choose what you like, learn only what you feel like, and accept the consequences of your own choices. Is that really so difficult?
For some people: Yes. It really is that difficult. Myself included–I’ve used an entirely different OS my entire career; it’s pretty late in the race for me to be switching mounts. Besides, not all of us are super-talented software developers; you have a special, unique gift that affords you the insight and clarity to build whatever you want and need on top of whatever platform you choose. I don’t possess such a gift; all I can do is sing and use pre-built software. And so far, I’m having a very tough time getting Linux to do anything beyond totally frustrate me.
Some people love to tinker around in the garage, and I respect those people a lot (if you’re actually talking about cars, I am one of those folks who loves to tinker in the garage). Some people just want to get in the car and drive because they have to get to work and don’t have the time or inclination or talent to tinker in the garage and build their “dream” car.
In that regard I’m very much like the typical end-users I support: I have a job to do and I have neither the time nor the inclination to build anything from scratch. I want my PC and OS to be useful right out of the box. As clunky and horrible as you think Microsoft OSs software are–and they are, in a lot of ways–they are still very, very useful in the context of what I need to make it do, right out of the box, without expending a tremendous amount of effort building anything; and while the learning curve on Microsoft’s technologies isn’t exactly flat, it sure as hell isn’t practically vertical like 90% of Linux.
I’ll give a tremendous amount of credit to the Linux user community for taking Linux mainstream as a viable alternative to the ghastly cost of Microsoft products; however, I have noted (with no small sense of irony) that the harsh realities of the business world have become a real eye-opener to the Open-Source hobbyist crowd: Red Hat and MySQL both charge Microsoft-like amounts of money for support and patches for otherwise “free” products–if you need them supported in a business context–because even hobbyists gotta eat and can get sued just like everybody else that deals with the commercial world.
But what really, really bugs me is that the Linux crowd stubbornly clings to an outright refusal to compromise and make the damn thing easier to use and deploy–they want to draw in more users (and away from Microsoft), but only if they succomb and learn the insanely complicated incantations and dance moves it requires just to make Linux boot properly, to say nothing of making it do anything useful. And the attitude of the Linux user community whenever I’ve dared to ask for help has been nothing short of shameful hazing; condescending responses of “Well, if you’d just Googled your question a little harder, you’d have found the answer, n00b.” And it would seem that I’m not the only one who thinks so: even the almighty Slashdot has recognized that the Linux user community can sometimes be the biggest hurdle to overcome when one of the Windows crowd tries to break ranks. Granted, the Microsoft user community has much more than its fair share of assholes, too–but it takes a lot of chutzpah to create an absurdly complicated product, refuse to settle on a standard user interface, and then berate newcomers–particularly those trying to make the switch from Windows, the very people the Linux community is trying to convert–for not knowing the subtleties of making it work–and get snotty and snobby with them for asking for help! Learning Linux on one’s own is about as easy as becoming a Mason. Until that is resolved, the Linux community in general have absolutely no business whatsoever mocking a “toy car” operating environment that over the last twenty years has put food on my family’s table and clothes on their backs.
(Editor’s note: I’m as guilty of friendly hazing myself, consistently referring to the Linux contingent here at my office as “Tofu-eating Linux Hippies,” but never once have I refused a legitimate request for help–nor have I ever berated them or attempted to make myself feel superior at their expense–for their choice of platform.There’s the difference.)
Who knows. Maybe I’ll get to the end of this road and actually end up liking Linux. But right now, there really isn’t a whole lot I’m finding enjoyable about the experience. I read the instructions on the websites, and follow them blindly without knowing why they work or why they’re important, and worse, because I don’t know the theory behind the practice, I’m finding it hard to duplicate what few successes I’ve achieved thus far. I cannot recall a time in my entire career where I’ve been this frustrated and this unhappy with what I’m doing for a living.