Zealots and Narcissism

Many times in my journeys of distribution hopping, I’ve run across rabid fans and communities [1]

I’ve written a guide for new users on how to understand the vitrol that rabid zealots spew in Linux communities [2]

Those problems are all very easy to see…but these articles deal with only the tangible problems in these areas.  What are the reasons these problems exist?  Is it because of one or two individuals?  Is it mob mentality?  Are people just waking up on the wrong side of the bed?  I don’t think these reasons get down to the core of what the real problem is…the hidden problem…of zealots in the Linux community.

The Hidden Problem

The hidden problem is Narcissism…people think that what they have to say about a given subject makes the most sense and is 100% correct (or at least more correct than others’ POV) and it’s one that is hard for people to talk about…because anyone that writes or blogs has to be a little bit narcissistic.  People don’t like talking about problems they’re guilty of.  I know I am guilty of it…and I’m still going to talk about it.

With social networking riding a tidal wave right now, the era of the narcissist moves on, unhindered, on the interwebs.  Subscribe to my twitter feed…what I have to says in 140 characters or less is a MUST READ!  My facebook page will keep you updated on EVERY little thing I decide to post unless you edit me out of your news feed.  Sites cater to the egocentric tendencies of anyone plugged in.  So what happens when you get a bunch of narcissists together sharing a common goal?  “My distribution is THE BEST out there and no other point of view matters!”  That’s right, you get zealotry in the purest form.

This has slowly begun leaking into Linux communities during the past few years as Linux is tried out by more and more people and becomes more available to people who aren’t technologically advanced.  Bottom line is, more people are trying Linux now than ever before.  This makes the user pool larger and more diverse.  Where there are more people though, there are more narcissists…and birds of a feather flock together.

Take narcissism with a twist of mob mentality and the powder keg in Linux communities is set to blow.  The zealots seethe and team about in forums, IRC, and on blogs across the internet looking for a place to show how right they are and how wrong the person posting information is.

Oh, I admit it…I have a narcissist streak in me…I want people to read this blog.  I want people to follow me on twitter.  I want people to pay attention to what I say…it’s part of being a blogger…but I don’t think that my distribution of choice is any better than yours.  In fact, I know it’s not.  Just like my car isn’t any better than the one you drive and my clothes are so last year and aren’t as good as yours.  I offset my narcissism with realism…I understand that what I think isn’t the only point of view out there…I don’t think I’m 100% right all the time.

I also don’t go out on the web and try to find others who think my view is the best view and then try to push my egocentric viewpoint to others.  I don’t create a community of zombie thinkers who all believe my viewpoint is the best out there.  I’m not forming any mobs for my mentality.  I’m not flocking together with birds of a feather.  I’m a part time ego-narcissist I guess.

The first step is admitting that you have a problem.  The second step is having some good old fashioned manners, respect for others, and above all…tolerance and realism.

Solution to the Problem

When you’re standing in line at a bank, would you cut in front of someone in the line?   Most likely you wouldn’t.  Personal conflict is something we as humans avoid most of the time.  So, why is it when you’re driving you don’t mind cutting someone off and do it regularly?  It’s because the personal aspect of that motion has been replaced into an impersonal one…the car becomes a protection from that personal conflict that would happen if you had done the same thing in a bank line.

To fix the problem this presents on the web and in Linux communities, think about others (not yourself) and in doing so, become less narcissistic.  Apply this thinking to commenting and blogging and facebooking and tweeting.  Imagine that you are face to face with people saying the things you’re typing.  If you wouldn’t say things like that in a face to face situation, don’t say them.  Remember that tolerance of other viewpoints makes you a better person…AND smarter.  How?  Albert Einstein is largely considered one of the smartest humans to ever walk the earth.  He often gathered with other intelligent people to debate and discuss various topics that interested him.  In doing so, he caused those he debated with “to sharpen and refine their understanding of the philosophical and scientific implications of their own theory.”  Remember that everyone does NOT have to share your viewpoint…what works for you may not work for them.

Lastly, no one cares if you sat down in your office or are eating a peanut butter sandwich.  We subscribe to feeds and twitter accounts for meat and potatoes posts…not 1 liners that tell us you’re in the bathroom of a bakery on 96th street.  So, you zealots out there…you know who you are…take this opportunity to reflect on yourself (your favorite subject) and try to replace your narcissism with realism, tolerance, and good old fashioned manners.

And no I don’t think any zealots will be converted by this post…it’s more of a rant than anything else…and rants are one of the reasons why I have a blog :)  Well that and because what I say is more important than anyone else and my viewpoint is 100% correct 100% of the time of course. ;)

Foresight, rPath, LiveCD, and Unity Linux

Most, if not all, top distributions of Linux ship a live CD that allows an end user to preview the operating system without installing it.

Foresight Linux is the exception.

Now, this isn’t because they don’t WANT to have a Live CD…they do.  The problem is that rPath, the creators of rBuilder Online, have discontinued the Live CD image creation type.

There was no announcement…no news posting…no clue dart thrown toward Foresight for this discontinuation.  There was only a comment on a single bug in the rPath issue tracker just this past May…Formally discontinued…which in my opinion, is a HUGE mistake as far as community goes.  Why? Because a community is a solid base on which to stand for any distribution or toolset for open source.  rPath has essentially dismissed a feature that the community would find valuable and in the process alienated anyone who finds this feature valuable or desirable.  But I’m not here to talk about whether or not people want to develop their own distributions on rBuilder Online using rPath tools nor the incentive to do so…I’m talking about Foresight. 

So, what incentive does rPath have to help Foresight by fixing it?  Not much…I’m sure there will be those that argue: “rPath has customers and their first allegiance needs to be to them” and those people would be right.  But can’t the Foresight community pick up the torch for Live CD building  on rBO and develop it as a community effort?  Can’t a license be found that it can be released under that would prevent forking?  Can’t it be modularized as a ‘plug-in’? I don’t pretend to know the answer to those questions…I just think that Foresight will continue to suffer as they have been for many, many months now with respect to not having a Live CD.

I’m sure that there will also be those out there saying “but Foresight has a bunch of Virtualized Images to choose from!! No one really cares about a Live CD!!” and I’d say you’re halfway correct.  Developers don’t really care about a Live CD…but those that Foresight attempted to attract…the end user…they DO care about having something they can ‘try before they buy’.  It is my belief that Foresight would be a crap-ton more popular if they had a Live CD.

So What Solutions Are There?

I don’t think rPath will suddenly fix the broken Live CD creation in rBO.  I don’t think they’ll release the code anytime soon (though this is more likely than a fix).  So in the meantime, what if Foresight helped out with LiveCD project that recently was taken over by Unity Linux?  Both Unity and Foresight are Red Hat like distributions and use similar file structures and OS organization.  I think that if Foresight were able to integrate LiveCD onto the distribution, a huge niche would be filled.

Where to Start?

Being involved both with Foresight Linux and Unity Linux gives me a unique perspective on what areas of collaboration could be developed.  One thing is for sure…having both distro development teams onboard would be a huge boon to LiveCD development…and Foresight could suck in SRPMs quite easily from Unity to hit the ground running right away.

I am by no means offering to be the head of this project because I can’t even begin to know where it would start or finish.  I’m just offering a workaround to a problem I’ve seen Foresight have for longer than it should have.  I know the Unity Linux guys would welcome anyone wanting to get involved with helping LiveCD development.  Would Foresight be open to this?  I can’t answer.  I hope so…Foresight needs a Live CD if it hopes to attract more people to it…and that’s something I’m keen on seeing.  Is this something you’d like to see as well?

[poll id=”2″]

Unity 3.7 Snapshot Preview Out

Gettinther announced that build 3.7…a developer environment snapshot intended as proof of concept…has been released.  This is an unofficial release…It’s stable…but we consider it not even an alpha quality release…mainly because it is being used as a proof of concept to show the new technologies we’ve integrated.  Gettinther wanted to have a bit larger test base for this release so he announced this in the forum only…but I figured that it would be nice to flash it to our Planet Unity readers.

The full announcement is in the forum here: http://forum.unity-linux.org/general-news-and-announcements/release-3-7-out

Gettinther advises, “It’s still rough around the corners so please excuse us for it. Also the shut down script in livecd mode generates errors. Those are not important and can be safely ignored.”

Please note that we have updated rpm to version 5, the package manager is now the Smart Package Manager as apt4rpm development has ceased, the livecd project has been updated quite a bit to conform to our updated toolchain as well, and detection has been pretty much rewritten to accommodate all the upgrades.

Also, remember that this is not a desktop…this is a core. Unity Linux strives to be a base for people to build from.

You may notice that TinyME influences are very pronounced in this release…this is because TinyME allows us to have a GUI with some of the least amount of requirements and dependencies.  Developers needed a minimalistic GUI to test core components such as Smart and the updated Unity Control Center.  Unity Linux core, on which derivative distributions (branches) will build, will be even smaller than the size of this ISO…as it will not have Xorg or a window environment.

Please report issues to the forum:  http://forum.unity-linux.org/unity-linux-discussion/

The New Planet Unity

Some of you may have noticed that Planet Unity got a face lift recently. I took a page from Linux Mint and their planet page and grabbed Gregarius which is a feed reader that aggregates your feeds into a central feed and has some really nice display options including tags for individual feeds.

advanced search

advanced search

This gives us a great opportunity to organize our developer blog feeds and developer resources for the end readers to drill down to the information that is important TO YOU. You’ll be able to search through feeds using the search function on planet or click on tags to display similar content.

So not only is this a new look, it’s a whole new set of features and functions:

  • Supports RDF, RSS, ATOM feeds
  • Imports and exports OPML
  • AJAX powered tagging of feeds and items
  • Supports themes and plugins
  • Search in your feeds
  • Basic i18n support
  • Committed to web standards: renders XHTML/CSS
  • Gregarius is FREE software and is released under the GPL

Now not all of these features and functions matter to end users, but they do give Unity Linux developers an opportunity to provide you with a good planet experience…that is, getting the most information in the least amount of time with the least effort!

Look for more great improvements soon!  We’re working furiously all the time to make this the best Linux core out there!

Is Usability Really Simplicity?

I prefer using KDE or Openbox as my main desktop when using Linux.  I’ve used Gnome quite a bit too when working for rPath last year (Foresight is THE Gnome distro).  Still, I prefer KDE…I really like the direction that 4.x is going also.  Sure, they’re not there yet, but I trust they will be because I haven’t been let down in the past :)  I have a little faith (Plus I’ve run snapshots of 4.2).

The thing that boggles my mind is that everyone says Gnome is better for a Windows convert taking his/her Linux steps for the first time.  I have to disagree based on the experience I’ve had with conversions of new users from Windows.  I think KDE gives the best experience for a new Windows user…it’s familiar or at least feels familiar…things are in similar places to Windows.

I’d say that 80-90% of the users I convert across to using Linux prefer KDE to Gnome.  I always wonder why people think Gnome is so new user friendly.  Since I’ve always wondered, perhaps some Gnome users can tell me, what usability reasons do you have for using Gnome vs. KDE?  I’ve often heard that Gnome has integration and simplicity as the main reason…but could I not argue the same for KDE?  I’m looking for usability issues here and not specific bugs that cause you to drop one on its head.  Bugs can be fixed.  I’m talking about hard features that lack from one environment to the other.  What makes you use it in Ubuntu versus KDE?  Remember, not bugs…features!  Please let me know which desktop you prefer below and don’t forget to let me know the reason in the comments section below.

[poll id=”1″]

Call to the Linux Community

Demasiado Personal writes

“There’s a game studio made by only two people, that released an excellent game for Windows, called World of Goo. I recently saw that the piracy on this game is over 95%, and it’s only a 20 dollars game.”

The blog brings up another valid point

“Now, the fun begins. Some of you will ask, what does this have to do with Linux anyway? Easy to answer. Lately this programmers are working in a Linux native port, and that gives us an amazing opportunity.  Imagine for a moment what would happen if Linux users bought more original copies than Windows users. I can answer what could happen. Those innovative programmers will make next game for Linux, and not Windows.”

So if you can afford 20 Dollars for an Award Winning game that will provide hours of entertainment, let your MONEY do the talking for you :)  Afterall, these guys won awards with a fantastic game and are taking the time to port it to Linux…I think of it as a donation…and if Linux sells more than Windows, it may show validity for Linux as a platform!  The Linux version is currently in Beta, but your 20 dollars will get you access to the Beta AND the release when it is made ready.