% fortune -ae paul murphy

I'd suggest Linux - but..

The most persistent complaint you hear about Linux from the wintel community is that it's for geeks - and that the geeks involved so rejoice in their geekiness that it's off-putting to the sensible majority represented by who ever happens to be speaking.

This used to be true for a minority of those involved with Linux - as witness the widespread use of the intentional, compiler stopping, minor error in the distributed source to frighten off the unwashed.

It generally isn't true anymore but the meme persists - presumably because the people who recite it as a mantra believe that it's both effective as a put down against open source and a subtle way of strengthening their personal identification with the pretty party people who typically rise to the top in business and government organizations.

Unfortunately saying that most Linux geeks have outgrown this doesn't mean all of them have - and because it takes years for social dampening to affect a mythology like this it's particularly unfortunate that a high profile site many Linux tire kickers go to for Linux information: linux.org; goes out of its way to illustrate the problem.

Try it: do what any wintel user would do, go to "Linux.org" in the expectation that this will default to www.linux.org and this the message you get:

For comprehensive information about Linux please visit our proper site, www.linux.org.

Please update your bookmarks and any links you may have to this old site.

It defaults to the www address in ten seconds - but think about the impact this smug, arrogant, and geeky message has on a potential Linux recruit just barely willing to whisper "linux" out loud and point his browser at the obvious: linux.org, to get more information.


FYI: I tried to contact them using the email address Linux.org provides on its front page:

The original message was received at Thu, 29 Nov 2007 10:10:21 -0700 (MST)
from suni []

----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----

(reason: 550 5.7.1 ... Mail refused: listed by
DIAL DNSBL. See http://www.invlogic.com/mail/dial.html)

----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to mail.linux.org.:
>>> DATA
<<< 550 5.7.1 ... Mail refused: listed by DIAL
DNSBL. See http://www.invlogic.com/mail/dial.html
550 5.1.1 ... User unknown
<<< 503 5.0.0 Need RCPT (recipient)

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.