I have met a community that appears to be quite fickle. The community that I am mentioning is the same one that will go on and on over and over again about how Linux is superior to Microsoft Windows and how it allows for user freedom. I do agree with such a stance, hence this publication, website, forum, and net radio show. I like the idea of having an office suite that is quite functional and laid back concerning licensing. However, I have seen a conflict in this community.
The virtues of freedom and the ability to see and modify the source code are preached on a fairly consistent basis. People are encouraged on a one on one basis to convert to a distribution of Linux. Some may even write useful software for everyone to utilize, and in some cases, improve the software. With a large body of developers across the planet, a monolithic corporation in Redmond Washington could very well be brought to its knees, yet it doesn’t happen. Why is this?
Vista has obviously flopped in a major way, so now would obviously be a good time to capitalize, right? That’s what Bob Moore and Ken Starks are doing with the TUX500 Project, which is the main point of this discussion. While websites such as BadVista are wonderful when pointing out the flaws and issues pertaining to Vista and attempting to steer people towards free alternatives, the numbers are not there. What do I mean?
In order to get people to ultimately shun Microsoft, they have to know that they do have a choice, and that it is viable. Freedom is preached to the choir all day long, but is it true freedom, or is it limited? I have tried to bring awareness of the TUX500 Project to the websites hosting many of the distros of Linux. One response was helpful and pointed out a typing error made at the bottom of the page. Another said they’d love to help, but they don’t use PayPal. Then, there’s the final response:
I tried to tell them that it was not meant to be spam, but was told about the “definition” of spam. The individual erroneously assumed that I was mass mailing people. Problem: I went to each site listed on distrowatch and contacted anybody available on the site whenever an easy point of contact was possible. Next, I was told that it was not proper netiquette to add attachments to my e-mails. Perhaps being blunt in a response would go against netiquette as well?
Then there are the comments that Ken and I have been on the receiving of that would cause any outsider to wonder what the point of trying something different is if no one can even get along long enough to get things done. I was accused of ethnocentrism (i.e. thinking that as an American, I thought the rest of the world did not exist), which was the most ridiculous thing I have ever read. Microsoft has billions of dollars, hence they have an abundance of influence, so by keeping them at bay here in the U.S., they are thus prevented from expanding across the globe and locking in more people, especially since their three dollar offer wouldn’t be accepted by a good number of third world countries.
Others have said towards Ken that we can not do something like TUX500 because it’s going commercial and selling out is a bad thing. Is it that commercialism, or dare I say, capitalism that is truly the problem, or is it simply that those who say such things are not truly confident enough in their choice of Operating Systems and applications? In other words, are they afraid of success? Are they so afraid that they would no longer be seen as rebels that they would rather have setbacks than success? Make no mistake. I’ve spoken once to an individual who said that if Linux became too popular, they would switch to another system entirely, not just another distribution.
Another way of saying it was that this person was an elitist of sorts. That’s right. An elitist. Those who think they are better than anyone else, and heaven help anybody who threatens their superiority. This messed up feeling of superiority, this backward feeling of elitism, is what’s damaging the Free and Open Source Software communities, and I’m not talking about the developers: I’m talking about the users who make constant requests for fixes, changes, and more. I’m talking about the ones who have no problem using the software, copying it on a small time basis, and become critical of anybody who tries to do anything to promote Free and Open Source Software. I have one simple question for you: What have you done lately?
What have you done to make others aware that they do have a choice when it comes to software on their computers? What have you done to spread the word of software freedom? What have you done to promote Linux? I’m not talking about the one-on-one’s. I’m not talking about the copied CD’s/DVD’s. Those tactics are great, but allow me to use another movement as an analogy: The 9/11 Truth Movement.
Whether one agrees with these individuals questioning the official story of 9/11 is beyond the scope of this article. What is being focused upon briefly: the tactics used to spread their message. Copying documentaries and passing them out to other people worked to an extent, but once enough numbers were obtained, some from that same movement realized that they had to reach the entire world on a mass basis in order for the possibility of them being heard to become reality, hence the bruhahaha in the mainstream media pertaining to Loose Change Final Cut being released to theaters.
The whole point of said analogy is quite simple: you have to invade the opposing camp’s territory every now and then in order to succeed. Microsoft has the budget for advertising, but even that is not helping Vista sales. In order for people to adopt Linux, they must first know that it exists, and as wonderful as copying and sharing with other people, it can only go so far, just like copying Loose Change. A massive announcement has to be made, and I believe it can be done. The opposing camp for Louder than Words is the traditional theater, which is backed by large multimedia corporations that would rather not allow such films to see the light of day.
The same goes for TUX500, but with one major difference: there are no millionaires behind the promotion of this project. There’s Bob Moore, Ken Starks, and myself, who created the press release promoting TUX500. We’re trying to get out of our armchairs to do something about the threat to computing freedom, and for that we’re being ridiculed. So do me a favor: if you think promotion of Linux is a waste of time, then get out of our way and don’t interfere. If you do not wish to participate in a project after receiving an e-mail (attachment or not) a polite, “No thank you.” would suffice rather than accuse the sender of spamming them. If you don’t want to participate that’s fine, but please stop abusing those who are trying to do something.