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What is GNU/Linux OS | Commentary on the GNU/Linux Community

What is GNU/Linux OS Community


At it’s best, the GNU/Linux OS community is a helpful, open-minded group. Unfortunately there are a few fringe groups within our community that don’t display those qualities. This has outsiders wondering whether GNU/Linux is a private club or an operating system. There are three groups in particular that come to mind from this fringe community — the distribution fanatics, the anti-anything-other-than-Linux zealots, and the “I had to RTFM (read the freaking manual), so why shouldn’t you?” camp. Let’s discuss some of the common practices among these groups. What is GNU Stands For ?

The Distribution Fanatics

Which Linux distribution (GNU/Linux OS) is the best? Ask the wrong person this question and you’re liable to get an ear/eye full with their response. This can result in a virtual “war” about the virtues of XYZ Distro compared to ABC Distro. We can only imagine what new users think when they pose this question and receive conflicting answers, or rage instead of reason. Why is something that seems so inconsequential to non-Linux users such a big deal to those who do use Linux? It’s a matter of preferences and of personal loyalties.

First, we aren’t specifically committed to any one distribution. We started with Red Hat, but explored the other distributions eventually settling on three that we prefer: SuSE, Mandrake and Caldera. We tried most of the other major distributions, which also include Debian, TurboLinux, and Corel. We believe we’ve made a good determination of what distribution best matches our needs. When asked, “Which Linux distribution is best?” our favored response is, “I prefer SuSE, Mandrake and/or Caldera. But, you should decide for yourself. You can get a bundle with 6 of the most popular distros on CD for about $10 at LinuxMall (search for Linux SixPack).” We wouldn’t try to push our opinion on anyone else and have never been able to understand why others become so fanatical about a distribution to the point of abusive flame wars.

We wanted to offer newbies a “safe haven” to ask their questions and get reasonably objective opinions on Linux matters (including distributions). While subjectivity in reviews is unavoidable, we try to offer an honest view of the installation process and detail some basic features of each distribution, which in our experience, really matters to new users. To keep the site from being too biased we accept visitors’ reviews and post them along with our own. Email us if you’re interested in doing one. 🙂

The GNU/Linux OS fanatics tend to take a different approach than we recommend. They will tell a newbie (or anyone who will listen) that the only distribution that has anything to offer is their distribution. They might describe all the other GNU/Linux OS as lame or use some other more colorful, Anglo-Saxon adjective. If the newbie doesn’t want to or isn’t interested in the fanatic’s GNU/Linux OS then they often refuse to help and even make statements questioning the user’s intelligence. In addition, they will also take any and all opportunities available to slam other distributions and point out their shortcomings. This divisive behavior is counterproductive for the Linux community, and is exclusionary to those wanting to join our ranks.

Are all these different distributions good for the Linux community? In our opinion, yes! Choice is what made Linux the phenomenon it has become, the choice to have something other than proprietary offerings controlled by a few. Openness and the power to choose compels people to join the Linux community.

The Anti-Anything-Other-Than-Linux Zealots

Another group we could do without are the ‘anti-anything-other-than-Linux’ zealots. This group makes it their duty to bash other operating systems. Most Linux users CAN speak intelligently about the flaws of other operating systems but this group chooses another path. They are overtly negative about ANY other operating system and rarely pass up an opportunity to point out the flaws of non-GNU/Linux OS’s in a not so polite fashion.

This mentality is confusing because our community becomes a private club instead of a welcoming place for people seeking information about GNU/Linux OS. Doesn’t this seem self-defeating? Let’s use a simple analogy. If you were trying to get someone to buy the same kind of car you have, would you use ridicule to persuade them? Probably not! If they were tenacious and still looking for a new car they’d certainly remember being humiliated and look elsewhere. Now if you took the approach of showing them the benefits of your car, you might get a more desirable response. If they’re looking into your getting a “car” like yours they already have doubts about their own vehicle and have drawn the right conclusions on their own. As Linux moves into mainstream computing environments, the time to advocate in a mature and responsible way is upon us.

The RTFM Camp

This group is probably the most frustrating and dreaded of all to the Linux newbie (as it is to seasoned users). Suppose you have a question that you have not been able to answer on your own. You spend some time digging around for the answer but are getting nowhere fast! A newbie might ask a question that is completely new to them and they will spend an hour gathering facts for the question, only to be met by “RTFM”. This is becoming less of a problem as sites like educate the masses. But, it still happens! The RTFM camp believes that since it was hard for them or they had to spend hours or days figuring out a problem, others should feel the burn as well. This is not the way to get new users to Linux; this only frustrates them to the point where they convert to anti-Linux status. If you ever find yourself on the verge of answering a newbie’s question with “RTFM” please, just don’t answer at all. Save us all some grief and move on… If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of an “RTFM” answer you know what we mean.


Now that Linux is progressing to the end-user population, it is time to polish up our attitudes to ensure that we make Linux the Operating System of choice.

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What is GNU/Linux OS | Commentary on the GNU/Linux Community

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