Linuxquestions.org has announced the winners of its members choice 2004 awards for Linux and open source. Upon hearing, I visited the site and slowly scrolled down the list nodding my head every so often, sometimes shaking my head where I disagree. Then I arrived at a category I actually know a little bit about…Live CD’s. Knoppix?!? Again!?!? Ok…let’s think this through. Perhaps it deserves it…afterall, X number of system admins swear by it. However, to me, this isn’t what a Live CD is about.
IMHO, a Live CD is about trying out Linux…not just rescue functions or data recovery. It’s about being able to run an entire operating system as read only from your CD-ROM. It’s about showing the power that Linux has. It’s about having an entire desktop with all the eye candy fixins in sub-5 minutes to attract new users. In a sense, it is a “try before you buy”…in this case download. It’s about detection, installation, configuration, and automation. While Knoppix does a good job on this…actually it wrote the book on it…there are those distributions out there that now PUMMEL Knoppix in detection. Two that come to mind are PCLinuxOS and MEPIS.
I figured that PCLinuxOS would be the major player at this years members choice award…mainly for the reason that it really advanced this year at distrowatch.com. In 2003, it was 44th. In 2004, it skyrocketed to 9th. That’s the fastest moving Linux distribution that is currently being tracked by Distrowatch. So, when I read Knoppix as the choice…I was surprised. Then I thought about it for a minute, isolated the real problem, and became a bit ticked off.
This isn’t about choice and it definately isn’t about a Live CD…it sure isn’t about the best. It’s about the most popular. Unfortunately, this is becoming the ‘in thing’ for open source. Linux has become chic. Well, maybe shabby chic. Nonetheless, Linux has arrived mainstream and brings entoe all of the things (good or bad) something that goes mainstream will bring with it.
When open source first got its start, there wasn’t a huge following. There were a few people posting at BBS’s and Usenets or chatting on IRC that co-developed applications and handy software packages across the net. Fast forward to today’s society. Processor speed has gone through the roof, bandwidth/download speed is no longer an issue, and information is available at the speed of point-click.
Now, Linux has become a ‘cool thing’ to run and use. I picture Adam Sandler in Billy Madison saying, “Everyone knows that running Linux is the coolest” and everyone answering, “if running Linux is cool, then I’m Miles Davis!”. This is what really gets my goat…that there are people out there running Linux because its cool or because it’s the ‘in thing’ to do and for no other reason. These same people flock to forums or IRC channels and post, “My Amarok thingie won’t work! I played my Brittney Spears song on it and it doesn’t work anymore. Help!! Must hear Brittney Spears..X!!!X<!X!)OO!” If they dignify a response at all it takes at least 3 reformations of the question before anyone can isolate their real problem…which usually comes out to be operator error.
Yes it is good that Linux is popular…it is good that open source is popular. This doesn’t mean that all things are “right as rain” though. It means those that are true to open source have to sift through the BS and make sure that they are supporting their choice for the right reasons. It means that those of us that support our choice need to stop ourselves from jumping on the bandwagon that everyone else is hopping on.
Some of you might be asking, “Well, what about Firefox…everyone hopped on THAT bandwagon and look at it!” Yep…it’s doing great. Now how many open source projects can do what firefox did? How many did it before them? Now you should understand what I’m getting at. If you support a distro and get caught up in the mix with those that are there just because its cool…then that will blind and maim intentions and directions. A distro or open source project must stay true to itself and not allow itself to become a prada bag or gucci tailored pants…that was never and isn’t the intention of Linux…and it isn’t and never will be the intention of the GPL…let’s face it, prada and gucci aren’t free.
So the YayHoos will be out in full force touting X project as the best…pouring their “wisdom” about like a salt shaker dropped on the floor. Unfortunately, this means that for all the good and knowledgeable people that use Linux, there will be just as many evil idiots that do as well…bah, they don’t even need to be evil…they can just be idiots and cause the same problems. The only thing positive I have to say about it is…at least they’re running Linux…so they’re only half of an idiot…but for some, that is more than enough.
That’s my two cents…stay true to yourself and your choice and don’t buy into the hype.
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