I read with great amusement a blog entry from Bryan O’Bryan entitled Why I ditched my Mac for Linux and some of the comments (no time to read them all; perhaps later). Instead of leaving a comment there and having it lost in the 100+ comments, I decided to respond here.
Man, Bryan is in for a surprise! His essential argument is community… how mac users are rabid, mean, petty, etc. And yeah, I can see that. But come on… to imply that the Linux community is all happy roses? Give me a break. Granted, there are a number of “Linux communities”, and they tend to be distro-centric, but I’ve known plenty of petty, pissy, malicious Linux users and some communities are downright nasty. Of course, Bryan has the first few months of using Linux and it probably looks pretty good so far, and maybe Ubuntu has a better community than some others, but to make a sweeping statement that the Linux community is nicer than the mac one is… well.. naive, and hopelessly optimistic.
I wish him luck.. Linux is, obviously, a great OS and there are some kick ass people in the Linux community. There’s also some pretty rotten, foul, and really evil people here too. His main argument to switch is “community”. I’ve found that both communities are largely similar… the mac community is rabid and defensive… the linux community is rabid and zealous. I’ve been dealing with the Linux communty from a “vendor” perspective for over 6 years. I’ve been a user for 8. We have not gotten rid of the zealotry that infected the Linux community 6 years ago. Hell, it’s gotten worse. A lot worse.
I try to avoid “community” as much as possible. I find it more irritating than useful. I use Linux, I support Linux, I consult on Linux, I develop a Linux distro, I do updates for another… I’m pretty much as immersed in Linux as you can get. I also use a mac. Unfortunately, on the Linux side I have no choice but to be involved in the community. On the mac side… I don’t bother whatsoever. Why? Maybe I’m anti-social, maybe I’d rather have a community of real people… family, friends.. individuals I can deal with on a face-to-face basis without hiding behind a glossy monitor where the only interaction with most people is the click-click of keyboard keys.
Now, that’s not to say I don’t have some fantastic “online” friends that I’ve never met and frankly, I’m disappointed that I couldn’t make it to Paris a few weeks back to met some of my “online” friends and co-workers. “Online” friends aren’t a bad thing… but to “hang out” with an online community? Well, I can do without it.
I don’t put much stock in the whole community thing. Yes, peers are useful to obtain help, to give help when required, and to simply learn.. but he makes it sound like he’s looking for a bunch of buddies that are less rude than the last bunch of buddies he had. That makes him switch operating systems? From a technical standpoint.. Linux and Mac both have their strong suits and downfalls. I prefer OS X on my desktop, but I won’t put anything but Linux on a server. That’s simply personal preference and the fact that I’d rather not tinker if I can avoid it… I have far too much to do to spend 3 days trying to get a fricking wirless card working.
Anyways, my point is about switching operating systems to suit the “community”. This fellow makes software for a living. I wish him the best of luck but I think once he starts developing Linux software “for-pay” he’s going to find the mac community is more willing to pay than the linux community. And I speak from extensive experience on this point. It’s the Linux community (by and large) that wants everything free, everything better, everything faster, and always at the expense of someone else and never themselves. Pity.