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.comment: On the Outlaw Trail with Linux
The Mainstream Is Good, Right?
February 14, 2001
What is it that causes some Linux users, myself included, a vague unease when talk turns to Linux moving into the mainstream? After all, there's no doubt that this would be a good thing, right?
I've tried to figure it out for a long time. Some things that appear to be clues are actually misleading. For instance, newbies posting to mailing lists or newsgroups are sometimes given the impression that they're not especially wanted, that if you weren't born with knowledge of Linux, you're out of luck; at least they're given a taste of "do your homework first." This in turn leads to accusations of "elitism," at which point any potential usefulness in the exchange is buried forever. There are, too, those who object to paying, ever, for software. Some have cobbled together a philosophical argument to support their position, while some just don't want to pay for software. Which is interesting, but it doesn't explain much.
A couple of incidents in the last week have provided what I think are better glimpses of the causes, or perhaps the effects, of the whole Linux, free-software, open-source movements. The first was when I dropped in at a nearby computer "superstore."