The Insidious Linux “Community”

I recently published a post about my feelings on Lightweight Linux. The article was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek look at why I feel that some Linux users are unnecessarily obsessed with how lightweight their system should be when using more powerful hardware.

The article was shared fairly widely, and I got a reasonable amount of feedback from various places online. Some was positive and saw the article for what it was, some was indifferent, and others were just plain obnoxious.

Insidious

I don’t expect anyone to agree with me. I actually prefer when people don’t, as I thrive on discussion and debate – I love it. But I draw the line at people emailing me for no other reason than to be as insulting as possible.

Over the last few days, I’ve received a number of emails from multiple mailboxes to tell me how stupid I am, how I know nothing about Linux (which is evident by the fact that I use Ubuntu apparently), why I should commit suicide, and how I don’t deserve what I have because I don’t appreciate it.

I even had one email informing that they have traced my IP, they know where I live and they’re “coming to find me” – good luck with that.

Really?

I’m pretty thick skinned, and I haven’t lost any sleep over this. I just added the mailboxes to my blacklist and moved on with my life, but what I found concerning about this whole episode was the fact that the response to my relatively silly post garnered such a disproportionately aggressive response from the Linux “community”.

Had I created a post about how misunderstood Hitler was, I could understand such a response, but this was a lighthearted post about my feelings on lightweight Linux. So being told I should “kill myself” seems ludicrous.

For the record – Hitler was a lunatic.

The “Community”

For the most part, my experience of the Linux Community has been positive. Check out Fosstodon as an awesome example of how great the Linux community can be. Many people disagreed with my post on there, but we discussed it like adults, and although some of our opinions differed, there were no insults thrown.

That all changed when someone posted the article on Reddit. That place can be hideous; and as if by magic, that’s when the abuse started to come in thick and fast. By sheer coincidence, I was listening to Linux Unplugged on my way to work the next morning, and they were discussing this very subject.

What if someone is new to the Linux, but wanted to get involved in the community? Reddit seems like a reasonable place to start, but if your first exposure to the “community” is that you’re told that you must be an idiot because of the distro you’re using, or because you’re still a Windows users, or maybe because you have decided to use a particular piece of proprietary software. It’s not really the warm welcome people expect.

Now I know Reddit isn’t all bad – there are some great people on there who give great advice, but there is a significantly sized sub-community that seemingly loves to do nothing more than belittle and abuse any user who disagrees with their oh-so-perfect opinions.

These experiences leave a really negative and lasting impression on potential new users. I see posts all the time “Will this be the year of the Linux Desktop?” No. No it won’t. Not unless these idiots get down off their soapbox and stop extraditing other members of the community.

As far as I’m concerned, these people are not part of the Linux community and they’re not wanted. If you feel it is appropriate to belittle someone, or tell someone to “go kill themselves” for their choice of software, operating system, or their opinions, do us all a favour and f**k off.

For anyone reading this who is thinking about joining the Linux community, please don’t take this bad experience as a gauge for the wider community. The Linux community is incredible for the most part, but like many things, the loud minority tend to ruin it for everyone.

Final Message

To those people who took my previous post as it was intended – an opinion piece that was intended to spark debate – thank you for taking part in a really interesting and thought provoking discussion. I came away from those discussions with lots of additional perspective and information – mission accomplished.

To those people who feel it was appropriate to be rude, obnoxious, and in particular to the guy who thinks I should commit suicide; I only have one thing to say to you all…

Get back under your bridge, you insidious trolls.