Why <insert year here> is not the year Linux takes over the desktop

Right now I’m feeling extremely pissed off and sad, both at the same time. I have been using Linux for more or less 10 years now. By “using” I mean that it has been my primary OS for every purpose you could possible use a computer for. Ok it’s not entirely true, I replaced Linux with FreeBSD for about a year back in 2000 or somewhere around that time. The reason I switched to Linux was simple and I think many of you will recognize it. The major operating system on home computers at the time, you know the one, was extremely bug ridden and unstable and had very little to offer in terms of functionality. Some will argue that it is still unstable and bug ridden but in my limited experience things are much better now than back in the older days in those terms.

Very quickly I learned that Linux had a lot of powerful tools to offer which helped you in everyday matters if only you spent a little time getting to know them. Tools such as find, grep, sed, vi and so on are invaluable and I feel utterly lost without them. The other operating system has virtually no useful tools installed in the base install and even if you go out and waste (a lot of) money on their horrible development package you’ll find yourself with the definition of a bloated GUI where every power tool will be hidden under layers and layers of menus without offering console equivalents. It’s not like the GUI was usable in the first place. Why do focus follow mouse clicks and why on earth isn’t this configurable? Why is it that there are no system logs whatsoever? Why does the system hang for minutes upon minutes during boot if there is no DHCP reply leaving the user in limbo as to what is going on? Now all these issues are moot to me as I do not use this operating system and have no plans on doing so in the near future but to a lot of people this is very much the reality and to an unlucky bunch has been forced upon them. How fascist!

Where was I .. oh, yes .. In recent years Linux adoption by “regular” users has started to grow rapidly. I though this was a great thing at first and I even did my best to help these people ease into the transition. As time went by I started realizing that more and more people around me were Linux users and several of them had jumped on the bandwagon in the last year or so. “Great!”, I thought at the time but recently I have slowly started to come aware of the dark side of it all.

To me applications like Samba are a solution which makes it possible for people who choose to use lesser operating systems to interact with the rest of the world. Personally I like NFS and SSHFS (FUSE), depending on the purpose I think both these solutions do a very good job. If you want service discovery multicast DNS services such as Rendezvous, Avahi etc do an excellent job. You have a portable system which cannot be beaten, why on earth would I need a severely crippled system like SMB other than when interacting with someone on a crippled system?

Back to the issue at hand. Recently I’ve started hearing complaints from the recent Linux switchers. This is all good as no system is perfect and in the beginning I thought it would be refreshing to hear complaints from someone with a different background. Now I’m starting to realize the surmounting disaster that we are soon to face. These people want Linux to plug right into their legacy infrastructure built on top of SMB and other bad solutions. It doesn’t matter that they have replaced their systems with Linux which offers all these “new” shiny features, they still cling to the legacy crap. In the beginning I tried to reason with them but I soon learned that this was impossible. Stupid people don’t get smart just because they made one smart move in their life. With the growing presence of commercial interests I fear that we are going to see major Linux distributions move more and more towards being a bolt-on replacement to their original systems. Resources are going to be spent on making Linux compatible with legacy solutions rather than getting these companies to invest in upgrading their existing infrastructure. Others should be forced to adapt to modern, intelligent standards than forcing Linux to implement proprietary, badly designed, protocols. I fear that Linux is going to become the “new” OSX. All the power tools will be present on the system but most users will have no idea that they exist or how to use them.

The reason I’m pissed is that I am really really fed up with people trying to explain to me why I should be using SMB or why vi is so bad. Why KDE is so much better than GNOME and then having no clue about all the other options like Fluxbox (which I am using), Enlightenment and so on. Why some distribution is bad because it doesn’t automatically call WINE when double clicking an EXE-file, if they had just bothered to STFW they would have set that up in less than 2 minutes btw. If they don’t like the Unix philosophy then why on earth are they using Linux?
Maybe I’m a digital millenium racist but right now I feel that all the switchers should simply go back to their old operating system and leave the rest of us be. I don’t tell them that of course as it would be counter productive.

I’m seriously considering going back to FreeBSD. I loved FreeBSD and the only reason I went back to Linux was due to two drivers, one of which exists for FreeBSD today and the other I don’t need anymore. The BSDs are (luckily) further away from mainstream adoption and do not suffer from the mass of ignorant people infesting the Linux community.

I’ve never been a fan of blurting out RTFM or STFW but I’m seriously considering starting now.