Late last night saw an effective end to what I’m calling “the neck beard incursion”. It started last Saturday with a rather unfortunate post on the popular site OMGUbuntu.co.uk, and ended amicably with the author’s apology.
At least I hope it has.
The last thing I want to do is stir up more bad feelings, but I actually left a comment or two on the infamous neckbeard post, and I want to reiterate what I wrote to the Linux community at large.
If you didn’t know, there has been a growing wave of discontent with Canonical. the company behind the Ubuntu Linux Distribution — first for ignoring the requests of its users, and more recently for the revelation of their lacking contributions to upstream GNOME development. But lately I’m starting to wonder if there is as much anger towards Ubuntu users as Canonical itself.
Prior to the neck beard incursion I unknowingly started a bit of a shitstorm on Identi.ca, for cross-posting a link to both the Linux and Ubuntu groups there. I’ll take all the blame for not getting that posting to such a group is much more of an intrusion than simply hashtagging it, as is the convention on Twitter. Again, my apologies for that.
But the amount and ferocity of anti-Ubuntu venom that resulted took me by surprise. You can read it for yourself here.
You could chalk up that exchange to semantics, as I did. But there’s more…
Exhibits B, C and D:
Read this, this & this and you’ll hopefully see where I’m coming from with my hypothesis. Sure, two of the three directly relate to me (maybe they all do) but I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve heard the term “Ubootnu” before, and not in a good way…
Oh, if you’re here for the first time I should state the obvious and point out that I’m currently an Ubuntu user — I’ve been distro-hopping on a couple of netbooks since 2009 but only went Linux full-time this past April. Thanks to some very kind and generous folks I’ve learned a lot in a very short period of time, but I also understand that there’s still boatloads that I don’t know.
Apart from MeeGo on my netbook and Debian on a borrowed phone (!) I don’t have much in the way of experience with non-Ubuntu-based distributions. The distros I use — Easy Peasy and Linux Mint — make it a trivial matter to install proprietary blobs like video codecs and Adobe Flash. I knowingly use these things, but have only the utmost respect for those who adhere to higher standards of FLOSS on their own machines.
Short answer: I’m here for the free ride, but I also want to learn.
Calling me a n00b is fine (it’s all relative anyway, isn’t it?) but does using Ubuntu condemn me to the eternal scorn of the rest of the Linux community? Does the same meritocracy of coding apply also to general computer usage?
Except for the examples cited above my experience thus far would suggest otherwise — again, I’m grateful for that. And I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s accomplishments in the days before widespread live CDs; I just think it would a shame to scare away users who at least recognize that there are other, better choices for a desktop operating system than Windows or OS X.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that there are many levels of commitment and expertise in Linuxdom, and all should be respected so that there may be peace across the land. For what it’s worth I always preferred the more complimentary “freedom beard” anyway…
P.S. If Ubootnu users are really on the outs please tell me which distro to switch to so I can be one of the cool kids… Please?