Snobbery + Ignorance = Linux Advocacy

I’m not big on snobbery, especially when it’s packaged with an unhealthy dose of ignorance. I think that’s one of the reasons why I’ve always been put off by the lists put out by advocates of Linux — seems more often than not the lists contain things you can do in Windows, and often much more easily. To the Kool-Aid guzzling, true-believing advocate who gets a priapism when he sees a penguin, Windows is some maimed and dysfunctional computing ecosystem adopted through laziness and it, its creators in Redmond, and its users are to be mocked at all times. Never mind that Windows is every bit as capable of doing everything they say it can’t or doesn’t do, or that the applications they use in Linux also run in Windows. Linux advocacy suggests it’s contending against FUD when, in fact, it’s based entirely on FUD.

Linux advocacy is fundamentalism. The heretics and infidels continue to buy PCs with Windows licenses, so the jihad continues. And along with it is all the bullshit snobbery that “I can do this but you can’t.”

Oh really? 

The latest victim of my wrath example is Andrew Gregory at TechRadar, which is a site which bills itself as “deep into technology.” I was curious when I saw a feed truncated down to “Hack your Aspire One…” so I clicked it and saw the ellipse hid “Linux netbook interface.”


Oh joy. Not only do we get to see how easy it is to change appearances of the interface, we get a healthy dose of “can’t do this in Windows” bullshit. But you actually can, it just takes a little more effort because most Windows users use computers rather than cum all over themselves from playing with eye candy.

This article would be bad enough if it were just a how-to. Unfortunately, it includes fucking retarded crap about neighbors from Vista Manor asking questions about their Linux-based netbook after an asinine statement about “They just want something that works, and when they try [Linux on netbooks], they like it.” If it works, why are they asking you?

Right, it just works. Like when I ordered my Aspire One, the internal mic didn’t work in the Linpus model but it worked in XP; or how the multi-card reader worked in XP but not Linux; how suspend and hibernate worked flawlessly in XP but had some serious issues in Linux; how the XP model worked perfectly with external monitors and projectors but the Linux model was rather crippled to say the least; etc. Guess which model I ordered? Yep, the one that just works: XP.

Don’t give me that fucking bullshit that “Linux just works.” If it had, I wouldn’t be using XP on an Aspire One right now. The few problems the XP models had, such as issues with the Atheros wifi (which thankfully haven’t affected me), pale in comparison to the crippled-from-the-factory woes of those who bought Linux versions of the AA1. I don’t know why Acer would ship non-functional hardware or choose it without appropriate drivers, nor do I understand why people would buy it. Guess that’s reason #24 “why Linux rocks and Windoze sucks” — you can see the source and write your own fucking driver. Riiiight.

And if people really want Linux, how the hell do you explain the higher return rates for Linux netbooks or how Windows XP has so thoroughly eclipsed Linux on netbooks sold? I’ll have another entry shortly on that latter point. Suffice for now, XP models now account for 90% of US netbook sales. There is no momentum for  Linux on desktops or netbooks; no, sunshine, there’s tremendous momentum away from it with fewer and fewer Linux models being offered in large markets like the US and UK. Just as I wrote last summer would happen as the niche matures. That won’t stop the Kool-Aid crowd from toasting Tux.

Speaking of which, Mr Gregory eases the reader into the complexities of Xfce settings with the calming assurance that “you’re not a newbie: you’re a Linux guru in the making.” WTF? Can one really get the Platinum Certified Linux Guru (TM) card just by tweaking a few window manager controls now? I think they give you that for misspelling “windoze” or “micro$haft” and other signs you’re sipping the Kool-Aid with them.

Mr Gregory suggests, “If you’re used to Windows you’ll probably be surprised by the extent to which you can change the way the system works, but that’s part of what makes Linux so powerful.” If Mr Gregory could pull his head out of  his arse long enough to use Windows, he might be surprised to the extent to which Windows can be changed. It might also surprise Mr Gregory that what he’s configuring isn’t even Linux. It’s a friggin’ window manager that runs on the X Window System and, accordingly, isn’t a Linux hack.

So this is his lame idea of power? Changing an interface so it’s more aesthetically pleasing, which is a personal preference and has ZERO to do with how the system (Linux, GNU, or anything else) actually functions? (Another warning about upcoming posts: I’m going to add another video to my youtube account shortly — hopefully — to demonstrate at least another of many Linux advocacy fallacies about resource use. “How the system works” goes far beyond tweaking user interfaces.)

I’ve been working with Linux for over a decade — servers, embedded, desktop, you name it. Before that, real Unix; currently, I’m using BSDs more than Linux distros. Prior to getting an Aspire One (XP model), I hadn’t done very much work with Windows since the late 90s with NT 4.01 (server and workstation). We have another XP computer, but I’ve rarely used it in the six years or so we’ve had it; it’s slated to become a file server in the near future. My beloved has a Vista laptop which she loves (she hates all Unix-like operating systems), but I’ve only used it a few times. But one of the things I’ve always appreciated about Windows is that it’s scalable and flexible and configurable — and very easily so despite the mindless FUD from little wankers who think Windows is preconfigured and you’re stuck with its defaults.

I know a thing or two about tweaking interfaces — I don’t consider it hacking at all because it’s so bloody fucking superficial. It doesn’t affect productivity (sorry, Nathan, it really doesn’t). It can be a fun diversion, but that’s about it. 

One of the biggest sources of hits to this blog is searching related to themes (not to mention links from DSL for the same) because I posted quite a few for jwm. Why did I do that — because I have some sick predilection for gussied-up user interfaces? No! I did it to shut people up by showing:

  • aesthetics is a very personal and subject area;
  • accordingly, no single distro can please everyone;
  • window managers aren’t inherently “beautiful” or “ugly;”
  • any window manager can be configured to please any user, from colors to controls;
  • people who whine about user interfaces are the very people distros should avoid welcoming to their communities because they tend to value style above substance;
  • most distro reviews are about two things: aesthetics and the incessant dick measuring contest of versioning numbers (“this distro has foo 4.3, which is behind the times because that distro released the same day includes foo 4.4rc2”); and
  • it doesn’t matter whether a distro uses fluxbox, jwm, openbox, kde, gnome, e16 or e17, or whatever else because it can all be gussied up to look pretty much the same but they ultimately provide the same or similar functions.

I was fucking tired of reading in the DSL forums that jwm was ugly. Or that it presented a barrier to wider adoption. So I did a lot of those themes to at least open minds, if not to change them. Some had even balked at the move from fluxbox as the default window manager to jwm, as if that’s what DSL was all about. So I showed how to set it up so it looked and worked (no menu on taskbar, only on right click) like fluxbox. Etc. The window manager doesn’t define what’s  under the hood. Nor does the way it’s painted.

Computers are tools, machines. It’s how they perform that should count. Not how they look. Or, a big peeve, when people try to tell me how something “feels,” as in, “this feels more {stable,vanilla,____(fill in the freaking blank with nebulous drivel)}.” How does “stable” or “vanilla” feel? Compared to what benchmark? Short of crashing or stuff not running correctly, I don’t know what the average user would notice about stable/unstable. Vanilla? That’s usually ascribed to Slackware to denote that it’s not filled with patched binaries or marked up with logos like other distros.

Which was more important with DSL 4: that it marked  a paradigm shift from previous versions’ focus on applications to being more data-centric with MIME-type associations on the desktop and with the new file manager OR that it had a certain “look”?

Every fucking review I read either skimped over the nuts and bolts or mentioned a lot more about the paint job (while occasionally mentioning the aforementioned dick-measuring version numbers for everything, of course) than the change. I usually stop reading or listening to reviews as soon as default aesthetics come up — that tells me about the reviewers sense of aesthetics, not qualities about whatever’s being reviewed.

So the same useless goddamn bickering starts between Linux advocates about Windows. More Linux advocacy lies to crush.

I’ve played this game before, and I win it every fucking time. There was the asshole who said that Linux rocks because it has tools like cron and a shell like BASH. So I showed him a batch script that accomplished the same thing, and that it can be run from Scheduled Tasks. Then there was the fucking idiot who said that Linux was superior because of the wide selection of open source applications; he was left stammering when I showed him that they all — every single one of them — also ran on Windows. Or the blowhard who prattled about proprietary software while I helped him configure ndiswrapper so his blob could run in his pure and  unadulterated open source operating system (I politely nodded my head; he was paying me to set up his certified easy-to-run and free-as-in-beer-and-speech distro).

So now ya say Windows XP can’t be dressed up? Yeah, it’s XP. I can’t take credit for it, even though I have several of my own themes. I did the background myself — all 40.1kb of it. The theme itself is genuine Microsoft, available if you search for it (“signed embedded theme xp” seems to work), signed and all so it didn’t require any DLL hacking.


I need to throw in an image showing window decorations. Because we all know how important that “Piranha” look around all your windows is to getting things done.

Guess that’s what separates me from Linux advocates. I actually use my computer to get things done, whether it’s while using Windows, Linux, or one of the BSDs. I have digital picture frames for when I want to admire pretty stuff.

You know what, I think I’m like most people that way. Maybe that’s why Linux advocacy isn’t working.

Edit: Here’s the lowly window decorations for the embedded theme. Maybe not spiffy enough for l33T Xfce-tweaking Linux gurus, but it does clear up the lie that Windows can’t be themed apart from the classic or XP looks. Twats.


edit 2: Here’s Microsoft’s Zune theme (also signed — no dll hacking required — and available if you search for it) on my netbook, again with a quicky homemade background (I’ll tweak the colors later). Also edited content above.


9 Responses to “Snobbery + Ignorance = Linux Advocacy”

  1. fsdgfsdg Says:

    Gay background…

  2. lucky Says:

    Consider it my tribute to those of you in the GLBT community. Maybe next time I’ll put Judy Garland on it for you or something.

    PS: Thanks for sharing your queer eye with a straight guy.

  3. rhausafus Says:

    Lucky, Thanks for the insightful comments on operating systems vs. window dressing (no pun intended). I’m looking forward to your comments on the state of DSL. I would guess we needn’t worry about you pulling any punches. Welcome back and regards.

  4. lucky Says:

    Thanks for visiting. I have a couple different drafts that are related to the current state of DSL. I also have some very candid reviews about other distros coming soon, probably sooner than I do anything about DSL’s future (or lack thereof). As you might guess, the reviews will not touch much on how pretty the wallpaper and icons are and look instead at how things function — properly or improperly — and what’s totally messed up. It’s gonna be fun. And nasty.

  5. idontwanttosignup Says:

    You might want to see this:

  6. lucky Says:

    borzoiboy: You might want to read this:

    1. I didn’t “bash Linux and people who use it.” I bash Linux *advocates*, and specifically one particular set of them who say or write ridiculous things about Microsoft and/or Windows either out of malice or ignorance. This “bashing” thing of which you accuse me has very little to do with operating systems and a lot to do with those who don’t let facts get in their way — the zealots, the charlatans, the true-fucking-believers who present brazen distortions and lies, or even display ignorance, in their efforts to convert computer users to the Unholy Church of the Bloody Fucking Penguin. For more than a handful of them, it IS a crusade and it IS religion and they are fundamentalists: Linux good and virtuous, Windows evil and malicious. I have to put Mr Gregory in the category when he bullshits about “Vista Manor” and suggests interface tweaks, of all things, can be done in Linux (see below or reread my post: it’s X/Xfce, not Linux) but not in Windows.

    If Linux is so great, why do these people have to lie about Windows to get others to use it?

    2. How the hell can you say the article in question doesn’t infer that Windows and its users have fewer capabilities than Linux users — Mr Gregory is the one who wrote, “If you’re used to Windows you’ll probably be surprised by the extent to which you can change the way the system works, but that’s part of what makes Linux so powerful.”

    Linux isn’t the part of the system that the author was modifying, as I already pointed out. He tweaked the freaking window manager settings. That’s all. The same tasks can be done in Windows, and more easily. And so on with other more important ways the system functions — Windows is also very tunable and configurable.

    3. If you’d bothered “investigating” my blog further, you would’ve learned that I’ve covered the Linux-netbook-return-rate issue before. Unlike other bloggers, I don’t always link to every single post in my history to show that I’ve covered things before. But here ya go:
    I think my comments are italicized in this one:

    See also my posts at LXer about netbooks and Linux adoption/return rates.

    4. You wrote, “The rest of the post is just basically bashing Linux without any research into it.” Perhaps you should read through the rest of my blog — do your *own* goddamn research to see what I know or don’t. I’ve been active in various Linux and open source communities for over a decade. I’ve tired of Kool-Aid drinkers who suggest that Linux is a panacea for every single computer use, that Microsoft is evil, and that Windows lacks tools that only “Linux” (used in the broader, generic sense encompassing far more than the Linux kernel) comprises — that latter error being the one Mr Gregory made in his lame interface tweaking how-to you found so illustrative (imagine that).

    Research into Linux? Maybe you could read more than a few paragraphs before letting your knickers twist — including reviewing my categories and reading any of the other 106 posts linked to the word “Linux.” Or any distro-specific ones like DSL (Damn Small Linux), including the “DSL Hard Drive” page linked to your right when you hit my blog. Are you THAT daft and unobservant?

    Finally, I’ll one-up your “I use this OS here and that OS there” by pointing to:
    a. the desktop unit in the corner which currently has NetBSD installed on it;
    b. the server box tucked away in my closet (to deaden the noise) which has OpenBSD installed on it;
    c. my old laptop also on my desk in the corner presently with three Linux installations (DSL, DeLi, and an Ubuntu derivative) on it for the purpose of reviews, to be posted here in coming days, in addition to a bigger OpenBSD partition (slice); and
    d. I’m about to put my Acer Aspire One, the sole Windows computer I personally use on a regular basis, on the desk with the other computer so I can go outside and run.

    “Without any research”? Fuck you, you ignorant prig. I’ve been using Linux — desktop, server, notebook — for a hell of a lot longer than there have been netbooks. Hell, this blog is older than “netbooks” — when I moved from my previous host, I had something like 375 entries and about half of those made the transition (sans images). And that didn’t include all the posts to the older lucky13blog before moving to the old host for this one. All about Linux. I’ve not done as much with my BSD blog (see link also in right column) or with the new one I’ve intended to “go public” but just haven’t had time.

    Which reminds me, why the fuck am I casting more pearls before swine with insufficient reading comprehension to distinguish between “bashing Linux” and “don’t pass the Kool-Aid”…

    ADDENDUM/EDIT: As far as your claims about all the hardware working perfectly under Linpus, I’ll remind you what I wrote: “At the time I ordered” one. I don’t know how much Acer and Linpus have done to improve hardware support on the Linux models since posts and messasges like this were made last year:

    “The Acer Aspire One is a great little unit if you can accept that, under Linpus, both the internal microphone and an external microphone connected via the side 3.5mm jack will not record sound for the web cam application.”

    The above says the external jack didn’t work in XP, but mine always has. In any event, I didn’t crib my decision on notes from Ubuntu or whatever you prated about — read my entries from October and November and you’ll see I had a chance to use an Eee (and a couple other models) that ran Linux. I was underwhelmed by the spartan specs of the Linux models and the poor performance of the hardware under Linux. It was after I got to borrow an Aspire One with XP that I placed my order.

    What else shall I clarify for you?

  7. maurizio1957 Says:

    Well, that Linux and other Unix-products like Mac, ARE technologically much superior then that ethernally beta versions that Redmond offers, is scientifically proved: no viruses, journaling filesystems, real multitasking, no necessary need of the state of the art hardware, open, relyable, affordable, sure and and and, … made for people, skilled or not, and not for shareholders.
    M$ make products that seems like a whore, nice skin and shit inside.

  8. maurizio1957 Says:

    he lucky: you wrote:

    “If Linux is so great, why do these people have to lie about Windows to get others to use it?”

    Because there is no marketing and is made for intelligent, indipendent thinking people that not buy what TV and other media shows.

    Anyway, I work for the swiss federation, and since we introduced Linux 6 years ago, we are almost workless… that’s the advantage of M$ products, its generate very much unproductive work!

  9. lucky Says:

    Au contraire, my little volunteer example. Linux is very heavily marketed by companies from Red Hat to Novell to IBM to Oracle and also by brain-dead zealots who’ve taken the worst Dark Ages page out of the Crusade Textbook and harass other computer users with their own mindless version of the Inquisition.

    Do you think that tired old “M$” bullshit in both your comments REALLY sets you apart as intelligent and independent-thinking? I find it to be the opposite. I was almost inclined to delete your comments to spare you embarrassment but you prove the very case in two separate replies that this particular article was about: Linux advocates don’t care about the truth and are happy to demonstrate nothing but contempt and ignorance and snobbery. One of your comments ended up in the spam filter anyway, but I went ahead and approved it. I’m only surprised they didn’t both go there. Oh well.

    I’m not quite as surprised that you admit to being unproductive and “workless” but I’m sure it’s not because you use “Linux.” I say it like that in quotation marks because odds are you run at least some of the exact same desktop applications on Linux I run on Linux *and* Windows.

    Your employer is not like mine at all — we in the private sector have to turn a profit, we can’t just go tax citizens to make ends meet. We’ve run benchmarks within different parts of our company and determined that (a) we’ll have the same size IT department with identical budgets for personnel and equipment and software regardless of which OS we run, (b) the short-term loss of productivity in changing desktop OS isn’t mitigated by cost savings in the long run, and (c) a mixed system of proprietary and open source software best suits our needs — which is what many other companies and governments and NGOs have discovered. Of course, an “independent-thinking” and “intelligent” person like you may still take issue with what we’ve determined by our own study and continue to presume all decisions to use proprietary software are based on ignorance, ads, or “media shows”, which only further proves the point of this article.

    BTW, Apple has shareholders. Their OS is the buggiest, most vulnerable piece of shit available for computers today. Consider:
    [zdnet question] “Why Safari? Why didn’t you go after IE or Safari?”

    [Charlie Miller’s answer] “It’s really simple. Safari on the Mac is easier to exploit. The things that Windows do to make it harder (for an exploit to work), Macs don’t do. Hacking into Macs is so much easier. You don’t have to jump through hoops and deal with all the anti-exploit mitigations you’d find in Windows.

    “It’s more about the operating system than the (target) program. Firefox on Mac is pretty easy too. The underlying OS doesn’t have anti-exploit stuff built into it.”

    And Mac users, like many Linux users, falsely presume that it’s the OS that matters more than the applications run on top of it. They think they’re safer by not running Windows, period. It’s more complex than that.

    The OS can make it easier or harder for your system to be cracked. Microsoft has added many hurdles to make it more difficult for systems to be cracked. In the case of OSX, though, it’s very easy because Apple’s security model is based on obscurity: you’re not a big enough target to matter to criminals. Miller has won pwn2own two years running. It’s also no coincidence the Macs are the first to fall in those kinds of competitions.

    Mac and the more naive of Linux users feel invincible of ignorance, not out of intelligence. Malware like rootkits started in Unix, you idiot, not in Windows. Linux and other Unix-like systems are exploitable at the kernel level and even more so in the realm of services and utilities.

    Maybe you should read some of the Linux-related security links on the right pane of the front page of my blog. Look and see how many of them are remotely exploitable, look at how many things can lead to escalation of privileges, etc. If you insist on suggesting Linux is secure in light of the facts to the contrary, then you are a fucking liar.

    You also have a beef against Microsoft for having shareholders and making money from software? What about Apple? IBM? Red Hat? Novell? Oracle? What about all those companies whose employees contribute more lines of code to Linux kernel development than hobbyists like you?

    “Since 2005, over 3700 individual developers from over 200 different companies have contributed to the kernel. The Linux kernel, thus, has become a common resource developed on a massive scale by companies which are fierce competitors in other areas.”

    You’re *exactly* what I meant by both snobbery and ignorance. Thanks for proving my case.

    EDIT: See also:
    “…Tom Ferris, researcher with Security Protocols, a computer security research firm in Mission Viejo, Calif., said the opposite.

    “‘In people’s minds, if it’s non-Windows, it’s secure, and that’s not the case,’ he said. ‘They think nobody writes malware for Linux or OS X. But that’s not necessarily true, as that report showed.'”

    Or you can just keep burying your head up your ass and hope like hell there’s never wider-spread adoption of Linux and/or OSX on desktops. The more lucrative the target, the more criminals will want a piece of the action. See the post I made yesterday about CanSecWest and pwn2own.

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