I’ll admit, I’m occasionally a bit of a Linux Apologist. I have been known to downplay faults in Free Software, and just deal with them most of the time. I haven’t paid for any Microsoft software in a decade, and though I’ve often taken the opportunity to get free (legitimate) licenses for Microsoft software, I’ve always been fine going without.
I think I’m better than most, in that I at least recognize that most users don’t want to put up with some of the problems that I encounter, and I don’t begrudge anyone their choice to use Windows. It’s not the choice I would make, but I’m not the one making it. I’m the same way with iPods. I won’t buy one, since they don’t support the formats that I want to use, and much of the platform is built on DRM (this applies greatly to the iPhone as well), but just because the technology doesn’t fit my requirements doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work for the vast majority of the population. I don’t like it, but there it is.
But like I said, Linux has problems. My system has some bizarre issues that either I lack the time, ability or inclination to fix. My wife’s laptop, which she’s been happy with the Ubuntu installation on, has other issues. Ubuntu is great in that it mostly just works, but sometimes mostly is pretty annoying. Like Jeffrey Stedfasts problems with PulseAudio. To date, I’ve mostly just dealt with it, submitting patches where my time and inclination allowed, but much of the philosophy around Free Software begins to have issues around commoditization.
Hence where the Linux Hater’s Blog comes into play. On the site, some anonymous blogger rants, raves, and curses his way through a variety of major problems both in the Linux and Free Software communities. And I’d clearly suggest reading it. Myself, and others, have taken to viewing the blog more as bug reports, as problems that need attention before Linux will ever see mainstream usage. My wife manages because she has me to help her. My parents wouldn’t, because they live too far away for me to offer significant aide to.
The Linux Hater, who posts simply as “me”, is clearly someone who is passionate about computing, and yes, even Linux. If he didn’t want Linux to succeed, I don’t see why he’d bother with such fervent bile. And I firmly believe that with the right support, Linux can be the premiere Desktop Unix. Or at least, one of the Linux distributions can. And we’re already starting to see Ubuntu falling into the place. Amazon’s MP3 music store offer’s their downloader client for Linux, for Ubuntu, Debian (which is very similar to Ubuntu), Fedora, and OpenSUSE, because these four distributions offer a stable environment in which to operate.
The Open Source community is made up of all types of users, and we all have different views and priorities. But we all want to see the platform succeed. The technology is cool, but the rest of the bits need to be put together. It’s that other stuff that the Linux Hater focuses on. It’s not enough to be cool, you’ve got to work, and you’ve got to be responsive to problems. That is where Linux has traditionally failed, and that is where people like Linux Hater need to call people out.
I’m going to work much harder myself to try to fix these failures, and I’m hoping to get a job soon which will allow me time to do this more. Linux could be the premiere Unix environment, it isn’t yet, but it could be, and that is what we need to work toward.