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5/29/2007
04:06 PM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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Linux Supporters Arrogant? You Be The Judge

Never one to shy away from a good argument--the mark of the employed blogger is a very thick skin--I'd like to continue the debate kicked off by my recent post, on Dell's decision to offer PCs equipped with Ubuntu Linux. My tepid post, in which I gingerly chided Dell for not caveating its Ubuntu offerings up the wazoo, while at the same time complimenting the previously direct-sales-only PC powerhouse a

Never one to shy away from a good argument--the mark of the employed blogger is a very thick skin--I'd like to continue the debate kicked off by my recent post, on Dell's decision to offer PCs equipped with Ubuntu Linux. My tepid post, in which I gingerly chided Dell for not caveating its Ubuntu offerings up the wazoo, while at the same time complimenting the previously direct-sales-only PC powerhouse as being the best friend Linux has had in a long time, prompted a firestorm of reader responses.Many called me a Microsoft FUD-spreader who's in Bill Gates's pocket. However, there were also lots of folks who've had it with what they perceive to be the arrogance and insularity of the Linux fanboys and girls.

I've winnowed the 120+ comments I received down to the incendiary few which best make my point(s). (You can read all the others, here.) I've left the mostly made-up names of the commenters, and the misspellings, intact, except where they were too egregious.

Two other points: You're more than encouraged to continue the debate by weighing in, in the comments section, below. Also, to those who said I should have tested a Dell Ubuntu machine before commenting, I point out that my post wasn't commenting on the quality of the machine. I was talking about marketing and operating-system issues. However, this is definitely something worth pursuing, and I have contacted Dell's media-relations team to see if I can get a loaner to review. Separately, I've been testing Ubuntu on some old machines at home; I'll report on this separately.

The comments are divided into five sections (they're easy to find when you scroll down, because each begins with a bold kicker):

  • Anti-author
  • Pro-Linux
  • Anti-Linux
  • Rational
  • A closing mystery comment

    The first crop of comments essentially accuse me of being in Bill Gates's pocket:

    From Windows&Nix User:

    "Wow, this just smacks of Microsoft propaganda. Your whole point just boils down to 'Dell is evil for not warning users that Ubuntu is terrible... I guess you have to try to veil that a bit before people notice the hand of MS guiding your keystrokes.

    From tree:

    Why the negative attitude? Give it a chance. It may work and it may not. But it is certainly worth a try and there is no question that Linux smokes Windows in all aspects of usability.

    From Scott:

    Please stop spreading the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt for those unfamiliar) that M$ is famous for (it really doesn't reflect well on you). Know this: Dell is giving Ubuntu a try because its potential customers indicated they wanted to give Ubuntu a try. They (both Dell and its customers) don't need you to "protect" them by proclaiming that they're going to find trouble."

    From Jeremy:

    I don't know if Microsoft gives kickbacks to authors here or if you're a strange bedfellow of Bill himself; but, it is very irresponsible of you to write alarmist articles that chastise Dell and demonize Linux.

    Jeremy, what negative? The title of the post was Dell Ubuntu PCs Are The Best Friend Linux Ever Had.

    From Jay:

    I see the point that Linux and Open Office will not be buying advertising in your publication, which may tend to bias one a wee little bit. Or not? You tell me.

    My response: Not.

    For want of a less blunt way of characterizing it, the second group of responses is Linux users who've had it with Windows weenies:

    From Andy Lavarre:

    This anguish over Linux / Dell / Ubuntu being "too hard" is the classic liberal arts anguish over "gosh, that is too hard" whenever it comes to doing anything other than reading poetry, munching on cucumber sandwiches, and drinking Bud Lite…If you are not willing to exert yourself just a little bit then you do not deserve to run Linux.

    From Dave R:

    Oh gosh, that was so hard. Who has time to learn something so complicated? I had to type actual words, and some had more than four letters. Why isn't there a big flashing button to push? It's unfair that I should have to know anything about a computer to use a computer

    From Phil:

    The article is really negative. Bad Dell for not mentioning that Ubuntu doesn't run all of your Windows software. What about "Bad Dell" for not telling their Windows customers about all of the great Ubuntu features that you don't get with Windows. Oh yes, I forgot, there are no good features beyond what Windows has.

    From Tel:

    But where are the warnings on **Microsoft Vista**?

    Our third crop of comments are from those who think the Linux folks are a little too full of themselves:

    From Linux sticks:

    Talk about fanboys, Linux has the worst because the reality is that going to a Linux OS is like taking a step backward in technology. No thanks, I'd rather be able to use the latest cards with the latest drivers that can do more just be a workaround. And no thanks, I'd rather not have to learn geek-speak to converse on how to make things work on an OS.

    From WindowsUser1:

    The Linux crowd tends to view learning Linux as some type of rite of passage…Their blindness might make an interesting study of the self-deluded.

    From Petkov:

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but Linux is "not there yet" in usability. .. As an end user, I want "things to simply work", I don't want to mess about with some config files. Call me when i don't have to edit my config file by hand to get the monitor resolution I want. Until then, I'm sticking with Windoze, thank you very much.

    From Thomas:

    I'm typing this from Kubuntu Feisty on a dual boot laptop, and I must say I'm ashamed of some of the comments made by 'Linux Fanboys' here. Linux is a big OS now, and doesn't need a squad of crack angry people parachuting in to anything that sounds like a slur on it. Even if the author isn't correct on the details, his point is still valid. Linux is a lot easier than what I've heard it once was, but it's still not as easy to use as Windows is.

    From Darren:

    The only problem i have with linux is how every linux user i seem to encounter believes that if you don't know how to code, or don't like the process of working on your operating system... you are inferior to them... which in a way is true, i hate coding... with passion... But on the other side, oh mighty linux users... do you people have cars? do you know how to fix and upgrade said vehicles... their in depth workings... or do you occasionally need help... And not the help that starts off with a "god... wtf is wrong with you... you're so dumb... go back to windows if it's too hard for you".... i tried to get along with ubuntu for a while, and i had a few helpful people work with me on it... i also had a lot of far from helpful people discourage me from joining the little community

    From James:

    Ubuntu tech support.. yeah right. the only thing i have ever gotten from any Linux support forum is grief. Rude people that think they know it all, instead of assisting you with where to look just tell you to do

    From Chris:

    i know about three people who would be capable of finding and installing video codecs on linux. advanced computer users will be fine with ubuntu. The majority will not.

    From Mr. F:

    As easy as Linux has gotten there is still a gap between the user experiences that new users should be informed about especially if the goal is to grow the user base.

    From Bored:

    The Linux user logic never ceases to amaze me. That an operating system should be MORE DIFFICULT to interact with in order to be more efficient; that Windows is INFERIOR because it has a more straight forward interface and doesn't require an education to check one's email….I think consumers are willing to pay a substantial amount to get the best they can get and so far all the Linux distributions I've seen look like a 2nd grader designed the interface

    From steerpike:

    The ignorance and conceit of many Linux users is amazing.

    From average joe:

    Linux is essentially a desktop extension over a command line environment, it's written by engineers, who fail to grasp what average joe wants. B.G.F.G By Geeks For Geeks, the so called 'community' is full of command-line dinosaurs (seriously..move on please), who have no idea about how the real world works.

    The penultimate roster of responses includes what used to be called intelligent and provocative comments:

    From Marie:

    People are not stupid or lazy for using Windows and they are not superior or smarter for using Linux, and the truly wise would be able to work through either/both media to draw a team of people together around accomplishing the end goal, whether that be business or pleasure.

    From ByeBill:

    Anything that gives people an option other then Microsoft is good.

    From Reinhold:

    Apart from one or two comments, The emotional maturity in here seems to be that of an 8 year old. Most of your comments are the worst advertisement for linux. Go back and read the original article again. It is about advising potential Dell/linux purchasers of some of the basic problems that they might encounter. It's not political, it doesn't merit the personal attacks that you have made against the author.

    From Data Doctor:

    I love Ubuntu, but in many ways it is difficult for someone to switch over from Windows… The one great thing is that you don't have to deal with Microsoft - they don't have their hooks in you - they are not spying on you through your OS. You are not bound to Microsoft-certified software. Your security starts off ten times better than Windows XP. And there's tons of great free software out there -

    Finally, we couldn't close a Windows versus Linux debate without reaching the inevitable conclusion, as voiced for us by a person who identified himself only as it:

    I like what dell is doing. i like linux too. but if you want the best commercial OS with support, get [a] Mac.

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