April 24, 2019

The Bully In The Linux Schoolyard - page 2

Bullies Hurt Linux Adoption

  • September 15, 2010
  • By Emery Fletcher
If it were simply a matter of flaming back and forth, it wouldn't be so serious. The deeper problem is that most newcomers to Linux are well aware they face a lot of learning and effort, but they accept it for the chance to work with the system. If the first thing they run into is one of those Terminal Bullies, it's going to be a swift, sure way for them to lose all interest in the subject. I wouldn't blame a newcomer for saying, "Why go to the trouble of learning something that's used by a bunch of jerks?"

In a practical sense it is impossible to eliminate bullying entirely; any school official knows that, so does any parent. Some schools certainly do better than others, but it is a sensitive issue. How much control do you exercise? In the forum case, the very freedom that makes Linux possible can be a problem unless the people exercising it are capable of demonstrating good will and self-control.

You can't legislate personal responsibility or common sense.

There is at least one forum I know of that has taken a radical and decisive stance against this sort of digital abuse. Peppermint is a rather new (May of this year) descendant of Ubuntu via the LXDE form Lubuntu. I won't review it here, beyond noting that it is designed as an extremely light Cloud-enabled platform which still offers the option of easily installing any software from the Debian/Ubuntu repositories.

Your computer can be anything from a nearly empty vehicle to take you to the Cloud, to your personal collection of All The Software I Ever Wanted.

This means that Peppermint can look especially interesting to someone who has never really looked deeply into computing, but would like to become a bit more involved with the rapid advances that are being made. The strong newcomer bias shows in the small but active forum, too: last time I looked, the New Users section had 64 entries, the Advanced Users section had 1.

Not long ago I visited the forum and found some major changes, including a post by Moderators about what had happened to bring them about. It had involved an example of the very sort of Terminal Bullying I mean, but the post was intended to assure the registered members that the matter had been dealt with already. It wouldn't be proper to go into personal details, but I can say I was impressed by how fast and throughly it was "dealt with". Clearly, the goal was to position the forum firmly as an instructive and helpful place where all are welcome. I think it shows best in an explanation one Moderator posted about the incident. He ended the account with a statement I think should stand as a Manifesto:

"The old school Linux elitist and exclusivity mentality has no room in this distro's community and won't be tolerated."

Perhaps this is a first step toward chasing the bully out of the schoolyard.

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