The Problem With The Linux Community

By Caitlyn Martin
November 20, 2009 | Comments: 49

I wrote a less than stellar review of openSUSE 11.2 this week for DistroWatch. Why? Well.. because this particular release really has issues: the installer choosing the wrong driver causing it to hang, serious instability in KDE on my two month old netbook in a release that touted itself for netbooks, and numerous smaller issues. It's a shame because, in general, I've always liked openSUSE. It was never my true favorite, but that was because of some personal preferences, not because of faults in the distro.

First, I must compliment the openSUSE developers. I've had great correspondence from Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier and Will Thompson, a developer in the KDE team in Nuremberg, which were truly first rate. These are Linux professionals who clearly are much more interested in solving problems and putting out a quality product than anything else. I'll be filing bug reports by tomorrow to try and help them resolve the issues that I found.

While I'm very positive about the openSUSE team I must say that I am a lot less sanguine about some in their community. Some fans (or really fanatics) came out in force ready to attack the reviewer (me), to question my skills and even my sanity, to attack Ladislav Bodnar for posting the review, to blame the hardware, anything at all but the distro code which is, according to some, "the best release ever". Fine, whatever, I'm used to it. Writing honest reviews will never win friends or make me popular in the Linux community. Some folks (way too many) only want fawning fan reviews and distro commercials.

Here are three response comments that I found especially clueful and pretty much spot on:

There is too much fanaticism in the world, people getting all exited over nothing - over stuff which is meaningless. The really important and relevant stuff is ignored.

But the reason is clear - the real issues are ignored because what is most important to me? ME.

So, forget the real issues - you better watch what you say about MY distro (religion, team, car etc., etc.) because what you are saying, you say about ME.
Remember, this is MY distro (religion, team, car etc., etc. ) I have chosen it. Therefore, if it is less than perfect then I am less than perfect......and THAT I can't bear.

--Antony, DistroWatch comments section, post #291

I love Linux, but I sometimes hate the community. I think often the community is Linux's worst enemy. Let me clarify that: I do love the development community, where the focus is on collaboration and making things better and sharing those improvements for the benefit of all. But I can't stand the "user community", at least the vocal part that have nothing better to do that going around with "mine is better than yours" nonsense.


Why can't this positive development spirit be extended to the user community? Why do some in the user community need to "defend" their distro? Why do some, as Antony brought out, take criticism to "their" distro personally?

--Patrick, DistroWatch comments section, post #295

Patrick, I agree that in many cases the Linux community is its own worst enemy. I say that with myself being a big (Linux) free software open source community fan. Unfortunately in many of the comments, from both sides in discussing the reviews in this distrowatch weekly, there have been comments which are only part of the technical, and appear to have been posted either out of ignorance, or posted only designed to hurt.
--oldcpu, DistroWatch comments section, post #297

The three comments above illustrate, that this is not a problem with just the openSUSE community. It plagues large parts of the wider Linux community. I'll have more about perhaps the worst example of this I know, and some people who just can't leave well enough alone, in my personal blog.

You might also be interested in:


The OpenSUSE installer certainly has issues. It is the only installer i have used that while performing a HD installation, and telling it NOT TO TOUCH the other partitions, not even mount them or label them or format them, NOTHING BUT IGNORE THEM, it forced me to remove their labels.I havent seen that anywhere else. Not even pet project distributions made for fun.
It is one of those things that makes you wonder, WTF were they thinking?

I stopped using Linux a long time ago.
At that time many selected people attended a linux crash course. Only 10% of the paticipants understood some more advanced features of Linux, such as samba server. Thus it is not a system for everybody.
The X-windows system kept crashing all of the time.
The comand line interface was the strong part.
If anybody that is not a system administrator or programmer really need the unix power, which is much more poweful than windows NT for large installations (more than 10 interlinked computers) I recommend them to download the free bash for windows together with all of its extra utilities.
Some of my friends who are real life system admins only run linux from CD´s (knoppix) or USB-sticks, not to trash the commersial programs that even they need, even so that they managed the crash course and spent the next 5 years learning more.
There is unfortunately an ugly human caracteristic that people do not want to work for free, and if they do, they have alterior motives such as to copy from others, such as many countries do regularely.

For educational purposes linux is a perfect thing.

Keep learning !

That makes me recall an ECOL strip I saw long ago...

Just put a Tux icon instead of an apple on the third panel :-D Yeah, the Linux community can be a bit fanatical sometimes.

-- Javier

I recently installed three distributions, Mandriva 2010, openSuSE 11.2 and Fedora 12. All three were 64-bit KDE distributions.

Not all distros are equal. Some distros are better in some respects while lacking in others. If you emphasize the strengths and down play the weaknesses, your favourite will always come out on top. People do that consciously or unconsciously all of the time.

The worst are Windows users who seem to cut the OS and Microsoft all kinds of slack for giving them a second rate experience that requires all kinds of extra work just to maintain and keep their computer running.

There is no perfect distribution and there all have something positive to offer. Choice is great! We need to keep things in perspective and quit shooting ourselves in the foot. By cutting up opposing distros we are not helping our favourite distribution but making others think that the community that you represent is bad. It is a PR nightmare that often can't be undone and it plays into the hands of those who would like to see Linux go away.

My biggest problem with openSuSE was the installer. It wanted to format a drive and I could not de-select that choice. It persisted so I took a chance and installed it to another driver, hoping that it would not format my sda drive. It didn't but it trashed the partition table such that I had to recover the partition with System Rescue CD. Not fun! However, Mandriva's installer does not even offer a back button. It is forward or abort. Ouch!

However, I think that openSuSE is a good choice for some people. Just not me. I will still use it from time to time and hope that some day I can learn to like it.

BTW, I liked Fedora 12 the best and am still using it. None is my usual distribution which is Kubuntu.

Tech fans are really all the same. Watch any tech forum and see the Applites go at the MCSEs, who themselves bash back and on Linux whenever possible, while the Linux fans harangue about MS and Windows (though not Apple as much). It's even hard to separate the trolls from the confused and ignorant.

Tech fans are, as a group, myopic and territorial. Penguinistas are no different. If you had put out a similar review of Snow Leopard, do you think anything would have been different?

The main plague of GNUlinux is not its communauty (try to read a French football fans blog.....) but its delays :
I remember that you wrote that testing in three days was too short (and that part of its title was '"quick" review'). Putting short development cycles, short review timelines (some parts of the flaws might even be corrected -thanks to whom?- , which makes the review ironically unreproductible) are a REAL plague.... and accepting this way of "working" is an error (I do not accept work with too short timelines, in a quite different subject : I know that it might take 10 times the normal time (??) to fix it).

@Daengo Bo: Yes, IMHO, it might well have been different with a MacOS review. IME there are certain corners of the Linux community (not the community as a whole) that go to an extreme not found in other tech communities. Here is the most extreme example I know of.

@Sapeur Camembert: The problem with journalism in general is that you have to report on what's news. A short deadline is the norm. The fact is that the openSUSE devs want me to file bug reports. The problems with the installer are reproducible as are the KDE issues. Others have reported them. I honestly don't think the review would have been much different if I had written it two or three weeks from now.

In any case, this article was never about how good or not so good openSUSE 11.2 is. It's about the fanaticism in the Linux community which is a real problem. This sort of zealotry, which I have written about before, will drive people away from the Linux community. It hurts Linux adoption. It needs to be addressed.

"The problem with journalism in general is that you have to report on what's news. A short deadline is the norm. "
I suppose it is but :
Should it be THE norm?

And there are journalists who write about long time scales (in politics : "one year after XXX promised something, aa,bbb were achieved"). These are parts of the newspapers who deserve being kept.
If one writes things , it might be :

* to be a writer (rather solipsist, is not it?)

* to help people (people who download linuxen generally use them for more than a month : if HW issues happen, they might get fixed in a rather short time lapse -shorter than its life duration, anyway!!!).
And linux adoption can be driven away, more by too frequent , irrelevant releases (untested KDE, one year ago), incompatibilities between two linux versions (I can have, say, codeblocks
and gretl - -working without any effort on Scientific Linux, not in Sabayon: both work perfectly under ... XP -it is easier to port).

And did you try a French football lovers blog? : you might even find Puppy loovers kind, sane, after this terrific experience.... Pity it does not shy anyone from football).

Anyway, you were very clueful in adding "short" in your title.... (I was surprised you detected the same bug than me, one year ago, on SLED and MSI and I thank you for the ALT} mouse workaround, but I switched {it was not the communauty's fault!!!]to a dual boot Scientific Linux + XP (great disk defrag tool, ready to use free GNU binaries)....

@Sapeur Camembert: Actually, yes, news is, by definition, reporting of what is happening now so short deadlines do have to be the norm. I don't see a way around that.

You are absolutely correct that code released when it isn't ready and is decidedly broken can drive people away from Linux and FOSS in general. You've given some very good examples of that. I would argue that happens with distros as well. I actually expected better from openSUSE since they were willing to delay their 11.1 release to fix bugs and get it right.

The alpha, beta, and release candidate process should fix the worst bugs. I have read many reports of problems with the openSUSE installer, for example, and I do think it is more than fair to report on them once "gold" code has been released. The same is true for the netbook support issues. I'm hardly the only reviewer who has thought this particular release might be worth a pass. See:

You are also correct that there is fanaticism in other areas. There's no denying that and it was part the point of the first comment I quoted in the article. That doesn't justify it or make it right in the Linux community. It also doesn't change the fact that there is a wide and growing perception that Linux users are fanatical and that nothing we say about the OS can be trusted. The fanaticism I am writing about hurts Linux adoption as much as anything else I can think of.

"The Problem With The Linux Community"

What, there's only one? :)

Caitlyn: regarding the recent comment discussion, I think the problem here is the conflation of 'news' and 'reviews' (which is by no means specific to Distrowatch). A good solid review of a product doesn't have to be printed within a week of it coming out, though the _news_ of the product being released should be.

Adam, no, there's not just one problem. I do think this is a serious problem, though.

Fair comment on news versus reviews. What it comes down to is that my editor, in this case Ladislav Bodnar, asked me if I would write a review for Monday's column and I said "yes". I don't blame Ladislav; it was my choice. If I didn't do it he would simply have had another writer do it instead.

I honestly don't feel that a week or two would have changed the review very much. Yes, I could have approached the community and interacted with developers. Some of the serious flaws in this release, though, would still have been present. A later review would have been more detailed but would still have been unfavorable.

While I agree that the linux community can be a daunting place I do see some truth in their argument. As a linux newbie (One year down, many more to go), I probably would have read your review and decided to steer well clear of OpenSUSE 11.2. While your gripes are well merited, and thankfully you took the constructive step to file bug reports, they represent the problems of you and a small portion of linux users. While you had problems I'm sure there are thousands of people who didn't. I think for distrowatch, and the linux community as a whole to progress, there should be two reviews of distro releases, one positive and one negative.

@Simon: First, no review justifies attacks on the reviewer so long as he or she was honest. You seem to be entirely missing the point of this article.

Second, realistically, the bugs I ran into with the installer, with KDE, etc.. are being reported by numerous users. I qualified my comments by stating I hadn't tried the 64-bit version and made clear that they referred to my hardware and specified what I had. What more do you want? Get real!

I am far from the only reviewer suggesting people may want to pass on this release. See: for an example from another prominent website. Oh, and yes, I DO want to steer new users away from openSUSE 11.2. I hope I can do the opposite for 11.3 or 12.0 or whatever the next release is called much as I did for 11.1. My point is that I believe you are fundamentally wrong about the number of users who are likely to be impacted. It isn't small.

In any case this is entirely tangential to an article about fanaticism in the Linux community.

I agree with everything you said; and that is coming from a user that installed succesfully openSUSE 11.2, and so far I've had zero problems, and I strongly believe this is an improvemente over OS 11.1. But then again, this is the Linux world, and my experience might not be the same as yours. In fact it wasn't, reading your review of OS 11.2. And I'm ok with it.

Now, what bothers me is that a good part of the Linux community expects that you accept Linux with all its flaws; talk (or write) about it and you'll burn. At least in the Windows world, with all its flaws and problems, you can be happy using it and at the same time be critic of some feature or app that is just plain garbage, and you will not have a mob outside your house with pitchforks and torches ready to lynch you. Yes, it's that bad.

And the list of things that you shouln't talk about goes on and on. Examples:

- "Are you using openSUSE? shame on you, traitor! that's not 101% free!"

- You review a distro and finally conclude that "this distro isn't any good." Grab a bucket of popcorn and watch the endless "'your' crazy", "n00b", "ur an idiot" and other nice and articulate responses ¬¬

- Talk about the "readiness" of Linux: "I love Linux, but it's just not ready yet for the desktop..." try that one and I guarantee hordes of rabid trolls

Granted, not all the community is evil; Linux zealots aren't the majority, but damn they are the fastest when it comes to attack others that think differently. So much for "choice" and "freedom."

The problems with the Linux community comes from the unwholesome stress of philosophy over function. The Linux community is so rabid with their religion of free that they will forgive any failure of function so long as the philosophy of free is adhered to.

I am attracted to Linux and enjoy using it but I refuse to become a slave to this religion of free that I excuse poor function.

Well - please do not forget the majority of the Linux users do not even bother to react. That is not to say they have no opinion, but they read the article just as it is - a personal experience...

Now I have to say that those "bashers" are really easy to spot. You see - a lot of them are bashing the reviewer, but also show some strange gaping holes in their Linux "knowledge". Sometimes that's obvious, sometimes it is more hidden - but it is a phenomenon that's puzzling to say the least.

I also noticed those "bashers" increase in number any time a new major distro hits the street. And (on the risk of someone starts mumbling about tin foil and the use of it) I have seen a significant increase of "bashers" every time around the publishing dates of a major OS (or major updates for parts of it) from Redmond.

This could a well be coincidence, but it is noticeable.

Anyway - there will always be jerks in every community, and most times these people are reacting several times on several websites, newsgroups and forums. Sometimes you can recognize them because they are using the same words an style. Sometimes they are even using the same name. One thing those few people have in common - they place a huge pile of reactions. You would get the impression there are a whole bunch of those "bashers" in the community, but I think in reality this is not as much as you would think. Most times they are the same persons. As if they have a -very- huge amount of free time.

So there it is. I am sure there are people out there trying to discredit the Linux users as group by acting as a "overprotective basher" or "raging Linux evangelist". Sure - there will be people that are in reality the jerks they seem to be. And also t5here will be people having a bad day ore something, but I am convinced a significant amount of the "bashers" are just the kind of people I just described.

Just my 2 cents..

"It plagues large parts of the wider Linux community. "

I assume that it from above text were referring to EGO...

but then every community will have such ego, if you going into any religious community and then say anything stupid about them then someone surely will throw your head with their shoes.

at least we have a choice here... you don't like them fine create your own distro, build your own community... so simple isn't ?

What I appreciate in a reviewer is 1) lots and lots of Linux experience, 2) a sharp eye for flaws and 3) style. You have all three, Caitlyn, and that's why I more or less read all your reviews on the internet. Even if it's a distro I will probably never use, because even then, there's always some tiny bit to learn from the article.

I've been 100% GNU/Linux since 2001, mainly using Slackware, Debian and CentOS. Must have made hundreds of install, desktops and servers. Maybe even thousands, I never counted them. If there's one experience I've been gaining from all this, it's the following: there's always some fiddling and tinkering to do. Sound card mute here, no X there, no 3D on that other machine, and the NIC remains desperately autistic. I know, most major desktop distributions (no names) install more or less flawlessly on most hardware. But then, if you do this every day, you won't be that lucky.

Cheers from the rainy South of France.

I must admit I'm an OpenSuSE user myself, but in the past I've skipped distributions for several reasons, (e.g. 10.x). Yes, there good ones and lesser ones, so if you find a lesser one, I'm thankful that you pointed that out to me. Saves me a frustrating install.

On the other hand, the issue that you address has been addressed a million times with very little effect. It only worries me when those nuts go out and bash some ignorant girl that buys an Ubuntu laptop and finds out Ubuntu > Windows. That's BAD publicity and doesn't help the cause.

If you write something BAD about just anything you will get flamed. That's a fact of life. I've been blogging several years now and that's how it is. Get used to it. A community is build out of many individuals and some are nuts. And you can't fire nor educate them. That's how it is. End of story.

You are being much too kind, my dear. The snobby Linux elite, as I call them, are doing nothing to improve or promote Linux to the uniformed population. Fortunately, however, there are some very good Linux users at large who genuinely care about and have a passion for teaching Linux. Many of them can be found in local Linux users groups around the world.

While it is fair to chastise those who inadvertently harm the cause, we also need to praise the men and woman who give tirelessly of themselves to make a difference in the lives of others.

Keep writing honest reviews. Your work will be of more benefit to the Linux community than those zealots who wrongly believe that perfection has already been achieved. There is always room for improvement.

Actually, yes, news is, by definition, reporting of what is happening now so short deadlines do have to be the norm. I don't see a way around that.
But news are not journalism !!!(investigation journalists took year to find a lost explorer in Central|Easter Africa -I presume it was Dr Living Stone!- and years to unveil the watergate affair....).

There are two ways of getting rid of this unformal "norm" (rather some kind of general acceptance ... among people who read CTRLW zap news)
* journalists say they prefer telling more truth| in depth checked info -they were for that, in the beginning!), and wait a little.... In quite another job, I did the same... and felt better....

* readers say they want to read something carefully selected and treated, instead of superficially reading, skipping it, bad mouthing it and getting headaches.
Both solutions , I know, are unlikely to happen to day (like GNUlinux is unlikely to be widely accepted). But common acceptance should not be an individual norm (if common norm can even be bad, like in Austria in 1938...).

BTW : I often read reviews from you, as you write interesting things. I bet that, if you took a longer time, it would be even better (and I do not use what you write immediately : I try to rember it, in case I would need it :
if you stuck too much with the news, my little skull will explode...).

"The alpha, beta, and release candidate process should fix the worst bugs."
Rather the most visible than the worst (Mandriva 2006 -the Christmas Edition) was very nice looking, but its log-rotate bug made long lasting computation : -for me, decoding vegetation satellite channels during night- even *much* longer, and executions time became unpredictable..).

(in the GNUlinux distributions)... I agree, if they are not that frequent : M$ took about one year to have seven empirically tested by thousands of volunteers [perhaps it was not flaws begin to unveil],
and I doubt the amount of testers in the GNU linux world is that great : they are given shorter times, they are less numerous and I bet most of them are less skilled than you ===> relying on empirical testing is another error (even if they detect something, I can imagine they might be shyed away through some bad mouthing, but even if testers | criticises always were welcome, it would not be enough...).

I agree that analogies with worse communauties
does not make something bad
But, as long as they release too fast, distributors|code builders lead to a great loss of time (trying ) to fix their errors, and discredit themselves among users (who seldom /never ask a communauty for help) ....
I therefore think that fanaticism (which exists, I do not deny it) has no or tiny consequences on GNU linux adoption: habits , lots of unsolved|undetected bugs or errors -SLED putting GRASS on a MSI wind netbook, which has a too tiny screen for proper work was nice, but unusable).
The only mechanism an offensive communauty can have consequences on GNU linux acceptance is , *indirectly and
* on large time scales,
by interfering with bug detections -oh, it seems linked with your experience!!- ... (in football, such interference doesnot obviously exist, and "beer sport" communauties are worst.).

Caitlyn, I penned something for new users and how to "interpret" the community a while back here. I think it really points a finger at the problem:

I would simply like to thank you for doing HONEST reviews rather than than just the silly and trivial stuff that all too often passes for a so-called review of a distro. Why should it really matter to ANY intelligent Linux user which particular distro turns out to be buggy in some particular way? I've never seen one yet that doesn't have some. An honest reviewer definitely SHOULD point out the problems he or she encounters (whether hardware-related or not). I've read many distro "reviews" by others that turn out to be not much more than silly comments about how "pretty" the installer and/or default wallpaper are. Who the hell cares? As long as the installer doesn't require an advanced degree to do a complete and proper installation, a moron can figure out how to change the desktop background.
So please continue the good work, knowing that at least SOME of us really do appreciate honest, in-depth reviews such as yours. I myself don't much care what percentage of PC users use or don't use Linux, but I DO know that the percentage will NEVER amount to much at all if those who put out the distro's and the software don't care about the QUALITY of their product.


I'm an avid Linux fan from way back, not to mention a computer professional for many years, dating back to when I was quite a bit younger.

I appreciate your honesty. I would think that the fanatics would welcome your criticism, besides if there's crazy bugs out there they need to be addressed. And it sounds like you've uncovered just a few.

I also agree that fanaticism without open-mindedness is just annoying. I really hope you find a distro which suits you better. Personally, I like debian, redhat and slackware (as well as derivatives like centos and ubuntu).

The tech industry is widely varied. Mainly because people are widely varied. For every ten fanatics out there, I'm sure there are a thousand more people honestly willing to help you, and to be open-minded about your opinions.

This idea goes well beyond the tech industry as well. The state of the country is in a rut, and while some want to divide and exclude, we need to unite and forgive.

I agree with Hans Bezemer and suse. It's not only problem of Linux community, it's wider, it concern every community.

Write constructive review of Firefox, Opera, Foobar2000, Winamp or so... Reactions will be the same, or even worse.

@Hans Bezemer and Marian: You both seem to forget I write about other subjects, some of them highly contentious. The Linux community is worse than other communities, including other tech communities. In any case, even if that wasn´t so (and I am sorry to say that it is) that wouldn´t change the fact that the image of the Linux community as fanatical and intolerant drives people away. If you care about Linux adoption as I do that is a serious problem.

@Caitlyn Martin

Is there A linux communauty?

Once, I asked my sister -she is a rather open-minded teacher- "have you got XP or W98 on your computer?" ... and she did not know... : the notion of OS is unlikely to shy away people from linux, and linking with some bad behavior of an OS communauty, ***if the latter notion exists**** is
even more unlikely. Of course, she cannot have any image of a linux communauty!!!

OTOH I know my sister would be upset if she could not read/write documents with tools she is accustomed to . This explains why notebooks with linux preinstalled were a failure in France (they were not all in such a weird state like the implementation of SLED on the MSI wind, where menus -in the GIMP or Inkscape, I do not remember- could go beyond the bottom of the sceen...).
People asked in fora dedicated to linux "netbooks" to have the softs they were used to (and they could get help from their neighbors with) and, as they could not, to go back to XP.....
If they had not been already used to softs, they would have been moderately happier -seems it happened in Asia, with people buying (half)PCs for the first time-, and it has nothing to do with the unkindness of a communauty (it is very marginal , if it exists: my neighbor has a Mandriva, and we sometimes help each other, though we do not share at all the same opinions)...
This lazyness leads people in a cybercafé to remove Firefox (which the cybercafé landlord installed for necessary safety reasons!!!) in favor of iexplore.exe. It is not because firefox users were bad guys!

Haha, too bad for you, return to windows then :-P

Problem is big, I agree with that (never said it's not). I only wanted to notice that it affect not only Linux community. It's about people, their mentality, and ideas standing behind Linux and OS are often heightening this not healthy behaviour.

Hi Caitlyn, Think this ia a brave and needed topic you are addressing here, I never like contributing to blogs in the linux community, and when i have, because i have found a flaw or difficuilty that i need to over come or just see how many people are experiencing the same flaw i am or any solutions.

I find without exception, i am attack or side lined!
Some people seam to treat Linux as Though it was a Religion and any comment no matter how true or well ment on something that isn't working as it should be is pounced on.

Your a fan boy because you find a particlar distro more stable than the one your trying to get working

Your a fud spreader if you point out anything in Linux that could be done better...

And this mindless mindset that anything connected with microsoft must be rubbish, windows 7 is a fantastic piece of code, not perfect, but fantastic none the less.

I use Linux because i don't agree with the world of DRM and restriction's, (but i do find some kde4 distros can be as slow as vista), off course in linux there are no real virus threats to be of concerned with (bonus)..

i hope your admirable aims, reduces that flame war response, to the differences with peoples experience's and gets us talking in away we can solve more of our problems.

No one should turn to abuse when someone like yourself, points some constructive critism at a problem that shouldn't really be there.

(i read your review of suse i never experienced any of the flaws in your review, but im currently having difficulty with ubuntu when i know others are not)

Hopefully, we can truely have that helpfull community most of the time!

all the best Caitlyn, and keep up the honest reviews

Well said. I don't write about Linux or other open source software exclusively (and in fact only a very small portion of my work these days is related to Linux in any capacity), but the flames (although what you describe with the Puppy Linux people on your personal blog goes beyond flames and into pathological terrirtory, IMHO) from the Linux community regarding any bit of criticism is truly beyond what I've seen in almost any other community (I got death threats, email bombs and people attempting to pull up my credit history, SSN and even a piece of physical hate mail when I wrote an offhandedly joking comment about Clay Aiken when writing about American Idol for USA Today in 2007. That was more insane than the Linux community, I'll admit.).

I'm a Mac user and have written for some prominent Mac publications and yes, the zealous Mac fanboi will often appear, but it is rarely as rabid and I don't see (or experience) what I've experienced and witnessed in the Linux community, which is to first suggest you aren't a "real" Linux user (which in your particular case is a laughable suggestion), as if that in any way makes criticism or personal experiences any less justified. Then the attack is that you aren't doing it right or you just don't understand how this bug is really a feature. Then comes my personal favorite, "it's open source, fix the lousy Pulse Audio stack yourself if you don't like it." While I'm a big believer in filing bug reports (heck you should see some of the ones I send to Apple!), I don't have the time or inclination to fix every issue I observe in a piece of software. And in any event, either Linux is strong enough for professional use or it is just for hobbiests. It can't be the former if every criticism is deflected by the fact that the code is open.

I have to say, my absolute favorite part of writing anything about Linux is that when you bring up the lack of social skills within the community (or the community that trolls blogs), you're told that the haters and miscreants aren't really Linux users but Windows or Mac users in disguise trying to make Linux look bad. Right. That fails Occam's Razor for me.

Someone introduced me to suselinux around version 9.1 seeing it on his computer I wanted a copy and got one off him. I went home and tried to install it on my system, what total crap it truned out to be, no hardware drive.

I bought 9.2 with three months support, still couldn't get it to work after spending hours on the phone and emailing back and forth so I dumped it and went back to windows xp. My next attempted was with suse 10.1 and 10.2 again a bought version with another 3 months support, once again I never got it working on my samsung 25. or desktop,

I then I came across PClinuxOS I thought what the hell so I downloaed it and hold and behold it worked out of the box you might say, it even installed on my Samsung Laptop which I had never been able to get Suse to install on period,

I progressed to different community only distributions I put Linuxmint 8 Sabayon 5 and Pardus 2009 in a higher class than OpenSuse 11.2, Fedora 12 and Ubuntu 9.10 I have also stated that the commercial linux off spring communities should take a leaf out of these none commercial distribution,

There you have it period, I don't rate OpenSuse at all

Im always seeing a differance, with other people in the community Carling is saying he's never been able to get suse to work, but i've never had a problem.

I've alway had problems with ubuntu, but many other people would sware by it...

I think there is a major problem in linux, and it not a problem with linux really, but that hardware manufactures don't really do linux driver support, most of the drivers are provided by your distro....

The distros have to then test and bug search on what they think will be the most stable on the majority off machines..

Some get it better than others for your hardware, but i think this way off working, will never work for everyone..

We'd have to provide a base installation to put the relevant drivers on like windows, but that would mean total support from hardware manufactures, which isnt gonna happen.

Mac gets round it by having complete control over what hardware Mac get installed on...
Linux vendors can't aford to do that

The good thing about linux, is choice...
take me im having a problem with grub2 in ubuntu and can't get an installation, so i've played with the new suse mandriva and fedora which all work wonderfully on my hardware.

Downloading liunx mint to see if they fixed the bug in the beta grub 2 (always find mint a far more bug free ubuntu)

Anyway one major annoyance in the linux community as caitlyn found out in her excellent and honest review of suse, is when people have a far different experience of distro x than you, because there hardware is better suited

Then you get comments than disrepect you, belittle you the " what are you talking about........distro x is amazing" blaa blaa blaa, you know the script or the fan boy calling.
Ohh and my personal favourite your working for Microsoft to spread fud.
Ohh and i love this one, you need to do it the Linux way not the Microsoft way!

Which way is the linux way for a new user?
so forget the command line stuff.
Is it the Gnome way? is it KDE? is it open box ? is it xfce? or is it gentoo? or arch? slackware? debian ? or redhat ?

You know there are such big potental variations from distro to distro, even if your talking terminal stuff, you can't use aptget and dedian based commands in suse, or try using redhat commands in mandriva etc..

My point then is there is no linux way, since linux is just the kernal, and everything else on top of that is a variable choice by the distro vendor

Don't these people realise all they are doing is dammaging linux..

Making us appear unhelpful, eliteist and keeping the old lie that linux is a broken geek driven system that you can only use if you like using the command line, alive

Think the only thing we can do, is stick up for each other, and look out for new user's

Caitlyn is a harden user, and she took a lot of flack.
Know imagine the damage that we regularly do to Linux, when someone posts a similar set of problems, as a new user. thats a returned netbook or laptop that, that user should have been able to get working for them.

That is not just a perseption cost but can be a finacial one to the detrement of Linux and it's take up commercially

I do not think bad mouthing, or, in the extreme case, death threatening is detrimental for GNUlinux; at least, it might be very minor w/r to poor support (except RH and its clones, who never introducted bugs, and for limited tasks) and poor tests (empirical tests take a great deal of time and methods to be efficient; I agree that if serious, skilful testers are shyed away -but it would take time- from testing, this could be even worse).

Physical death threats do not change systematically anyone's advice, and therefore cannot have an influence on linux adoption : once, in the last century, I was near the Mauretanian border, and, as it was more hot and more dusty than usual, clad like in Moretania , even with sunglasses -there was sun, too-; when people in a market decided to lynch me, I had to explain very quickly that I was not a Mauretanian spy, but a European tourist, with a passport, and it was not my fault if there had been ethnical cleansing - among ... - in Mauretania; and they wanted to lynch me *physically* -other people said-, not crawling through internet connections... This did not change any of my opinions about the Mauretanian Ba'ath politics{at this time : now, I do not know which regime it is} , even if some of its adversaries were/seemed to be bad guys....

If a version of linux distribution has a bad review (and I could verify from other reviews of you that it was likely to be well deserved) a user might feel that its beloved linux distribution might lose users, and that less apps would then be poured into his beloved distribution: this is a very weak way of reasoning..
There was opposition betw. commercial linux and hobby ones : I tested both, and some of both of them worked for me (other did not, on both sides!) . But I do not see the way gnome, KDE or Firefox would be developped or maintained without money....

I do not think bad mouthing, or, in the extreme case, death threatening is detrimental for GNUlinux ... Physical death threats do not change systematically anyone's advice, and therefore cannot have an influence on linux adoption...

Oh, well, now that you put it like that! I guess you are right, if death threats don't hurt Linux's adoption rate, it isn't too bad and is actually pretty trivial!
But if it was detrimental to Linux's adoption rate, it would be a moral outrage, right?

"I do not think bad mouthing, or, in the extreme case, death threatening is detrimental for GNUlinux"

"Physical death threats do not change systematically anyone's advice, and therefore cannot have an influence on linux adoption"

Hmm, i don't get your the logic Sergent de Ville ? sorry

For a hardened Linux user you may have a point but it's to vague a point for me to accept for the average or new user

Surely, if a window user (which is the users we need to attract) downloads distro x and find something difficult and gets a flame war response, surely he's just going to cut his losses cause hes not losing any money or investment and reinstall window's, and notch it up as a bad experience never to repeat..

I've tryed to convince lots of people to use linux, its hard, so many people don't want to try the unknown when windows work for them, 4 friends ive got using it, 1 off them has went back to window, complaining about the type of things we are talking about here, the other 3 keep persivering but use mainly windows, and you wouldn't call them a linux user.

They quite like linux, think somethings could be better, think somethings are better, nice rounded opinion, but not read to fully switch (mainly cause they like their pc games)

Being politie costs nothing and should be extended to someone you disagree with, you can argue a point agree to disagree and realise, experiences can be vastly different, cause you find distro x stable dosent mean someone else hasn't honestly found it a buggy nightmare..

And surely if someone decend's into insults threats and bad language, they show they have not a shread of intelligence, because there is no intellect in their argument

Being agressive might not frighten off harderned users, but user in a new alien world, will definetly shy away from forums at least, if not linux.

One thing i'd like to say, is alot blogs/forums could learn from this one, as i have found everyone thus far, fairly respectful and decent

I am a heavy linux user, and don't normally contribute to blogs or forums.
But have because of the type of issues caitlyn has raised in this blog..

I repair a lot of windows pc's as a side line, i always leave a live cd/dvd distro (usually linux mint), give them a quick demo, and show them how easy it is to reclaim their files if their windows pc goes down again, hopefully some off them have played about with the distro, and got a little into linux

ta! caitlyn again for starting this blog

"vague a point for me to accept for the average or new user
Speaking of vagueness :

* what is the serious definition of THE average user?

* Is the mathematical operation of averaging (leaving, logically, to a genderless, colorless, ... brainless Joe Six Pack) adequate?
I suppose Linux is meant for Joe Sixpack (drinks too much, needs his XP to be fixed) .

I suppose, too, that this way of "reasoning" is inadequate, as if there were no specific needs and human beings were not individuals (they buy a PC with *their* money, for *their* use in my world : if XP or seven is mmore suitable to *their* needs than linux with a kernel 2-6.[18-333] -the later version is of course the best, just wait a little!!!, though it has not yet been empirically tested with the same number of people as W seven..... why should one advise something unstable??? ...).

This way of "reasoning" is likely to be more detrimental to linux adoption than some bad mouthing... though I disagree with death threats (and, when I am threatened, it does not change any of my opinions)...

As for fora: I have been using linux for 13 yrs on remote connections, 7 years on my [desk|lap]tops ... and never badly needed fora-therefore, if, like many people who can afford PC (or ARM based cards, or...),
I more trust my eye to read books and manuals than some kind of help in fora; therfore fora people being rude or kind has very little influence, if any... Wrong release timings and other technical flaws might be a cause of changing opinions, not the stupidity of someone...

But houses are built on rocks, not on soap bubbles and short release cycles shy away more people than fora wars : there was a grow in UBUlinux installing last year, because of Vista : as people understood, 6 month later,
- that their UBUlinux was already obsolete -they were 'dinosaurs' -,
- that seven had been tested for a longer time and by more people than any linux distribution (that would make the interest of *empirical* testing .....)....
they massively bought W$ seven...

If you want to deal with pyramids of soap bubbles, following the wind, nobody will deny this freedom. But it leads to very shaky linux adoption...

I would say the average linux user! wasn't that different from the average windows 98 user, happy using the gui, and some basic terminal knowledge because its needed, what ever his or her diverse needs are!
Relies on a gui more than a terminal.

Linux is always talking about attracting new users from windows.
And alot of work has been done since i started using linux 5 years ago to make it eaiser to use.
We are at the position know most things are eaiser to use than windows, though there are the odd things that is still a bit behind in an ease of use way..

for example downloading and installing the nvidia drivers just throws up a dependancy error on every system ive tried, its fine through the command line though! but selecting download driver from the nvidia website just give you a trawling text of code, you have to save page as on the link!
things like that has a windows user running to the hills
(what does a windows user know to do with a trawling page of code, or solving a dependancy)
I don't even attempt it, i just go to the command line

Since i do deal with a lot of windows user problems, in fixing and repairing pc, even a few telling me about failed attempts at dipping the toe in the linux waters
Not to mention, my own experiences of entering the linux community

I know the aggressive forums where new users ask for help, put me off having a full linux desktop for a good few years, and does put off others..

I couldn't get it working properly (sound and wireless drivers), not because i was computer illiterate but because i got illiterate sound bites like "you need to do it the Linux way not the Microsoft way"

as i stated earlier what is the linux way ?
arch is nothing like ubuntu etc, there is such a wide diversity because linux is just the kernal, everything else is a choice by the distro producer!

Its diversity that is linux biggest positive and its greatest weakness

i also got

" it works for me,.... i think your a fud spreader" etc
so i didn't have the time to waste.
though there are good polite helpfull members off our community that have gave me good advice.

I'd say mandriva 2006 was the first real desktop i found useable and got over most of my configuration problems, though mandriva 2008 was the best linux desktop ive ever used, easily better than windows!

And no just incase anyone thinks it, im not a Mandriva fan boy, ive used and tried every linux distro imaginable, arch, gentoo, debian suse, puppy, dsl, ubuntu, fedora. etc

I think there is no doubt, that a more friendly and understanding linux community will retain more new users.
An unfriendly one while won't lose any hardened users.. may make a new user, give up! if confronted by the kind of faults Caitlyn found in suse, no satisfactory way to resolve them, and a flame war response if they dare mention they've not experienced that kind of fault in windows (how dare they?) which they are going to do because its there only computing form of reference

Windows and Mac, and i know a lot of Linux user will hate this, They are exceptional operating systems, at the time of window 95 thought beos, was way better than anything else out there. and 95, though i had it, thought it was the buggiest piece of crap ever put on the market! seamed to crash on a daily basis

I just prefer a exceptional operating system called Linux, mainly because im not bogged down with DRM and can install it on anything i want to, no W.G.A or any nasties, and i have a wide source of art and music application freely avilable

But that does not mean as a linux user, i think anything other than my beloved linux is crap

Haiku is looking fantastic, i find Pc-Bsd an amazing operating system , i still use Window 98se and still think despite its security flaws and memory problem (over 512mb and the system has a break down) its fantastic, Mac's are great too, still use my Atari st (gem was brillant for its day) Qbase and inbuilt midi ports no format before or since has been as good a platform for music production

(only thing that could make me give up linux is a mordern range of Atari St's with full music media ports still built in as standard.. (though i'd still use linux on my laptop and other systems)

(got an amiga 500 plus, heath robinson mess off wires at the back, a mess, sorry all you amiga lovers out there the st was better, well until amiga brought out the A1200, know that really was an amazing if not revolutionary machine)

all fantastic stuff

I'd rather think off myself as a well rounded computer user that mainly use's linux, rather than a mindless linux devote.

And maybe that's the problem, if your a linux or nothing kinda guy, maybe you can't take a problem being in our beloved linux, and forget completely that nothing is without fault

"Fora". Definition: a word that enables the user to look semi-educated, pretentious, and illiterate simultaneously.

It used to be that Latin was a sign of an educated person. When did that change?

Na Fora is a word from my neck off the woods, in Scotland.
Example.. "I'm goin Fora fish supper"

This is not a problem of the GNU/Linux community but the community on the web. In the real world, if people spoke as they write on websites, there would be a lot of arrests for threats and assault. The veil of anonymity causes the less virtuous components of the web to drop all pretence of civility. Strong moderation is needed to sweep the stage of this garbage. Look at Craiglslist, for example. People are just tired of flagging improper posts so the ne'er-do-wells use a substitute for moderation to attack all comers with merit. Look at More trolls than legitimate posters in the "versus Linux" forum. Very few legitimate strands of discussion remain untouched. A script cannot detect ad hominem attacks. It takes a real moderator. Unfortunately some fora have extremely biased moderators. It's just a fact of life. As the community grows the edges are noticeable, loud and offensive. On my own blog, I get spam every few minutes 24x7. I do not let it bother me. If the message is that annoying to some it may be music to the minds of the silent majority. Making the majority vocal may be the only cure, but who can manage the stream of posts that might be 100-1000 times larger?

Robert, I write about other subjects including some pretty controversial political issues. I participate in various on line forums and lists. The fanaticism in the Linux community is unique and is the worst I've seen. My prime example is still at: I don't think you can just claim this is the web as a whole.

Moderation can be controversial too. Have you visited my personal blog? See my last two posts there and the harsh reaction this received from some, particularly on and LinuxToday

"The fanaticism in the Linux community is unique "
Try a french football forum (if you know yiddish, try to post in yiddish but written with "usual" latin characters, then, after you have been welcomed ... explain you posted in yiddish!!! ).
From what I read (by accident), it might be a
experience -I never dared, but I suppose the Atlantic Ocean is large enough to warrant some protection (french football fans do not swim)-.....

I stopped using SUSE when Novell and Microsoft landed together in the news. I stop using any product when Microsoft is involved. I know better and Groklaw has helped.

Being a Linux user for seventeen years, I must sadly agree with the author of this article. From my own experience, I've also had my share of fanacism regarding distributions including the Linux operating system. First of all, it seems to me that all too many people now regard the distribution as the Linux operating system itself. This is (in my oppinion) utterly wrong.

Secondly, the many distributions now available are doing more harm the the Linux community as a whole than any corporation or commersial product sporting the same features as a professionally rolled out Linux system ever could.

In short: I'd claim that any single distribution is unable to form the perfect basis for a unification of Linux users and collaborators, which makes them more or less redundant in the long run.

What I think makes the Linux operating system so special is its contributers, not the end-users or fashion-driven fanatism around a distribution compiled around the Linux operating system.

Thanks for the word,
Henrik J.

Hi Caitlyn,

I think your DistroWatch review of openSUSE 11.2 was quite fair.

For 4½ years, I've been a satisfied SuSE user, from SuSE Linux Professional 9.3 and onwards. Until openSUSE 11.2, every version of SuSE that I tried installed on my hardware (desktop PCs) without a hitch.

With the release of openSUSE 11.2, however, I experienced immense difficulties trying to install the distro on a desktop PC. On the same desktop PC (Intel Core 2 Duo E6750, 2.66 GHz, FSB 1333 MHz, 4 MB Level 2 Cache (Conroe); Asus Motherboard P5E (Intel Motherboard Chipset X38); 2 x 1 GB Kingston RAM DDR2, 800 MHz, PC2-6400; Inno3D Geforce 8400GS (Memory: 256 MB); Seagate Barracuda, 320 GB, 7200.10, SATA II/3, 16 MB Cache; Asus DVD Writer, 18x, SATA, Black; Antec Nine Hundred Gamer Case; NorthQ 500 Watt Ultra Silent Power Supply), openSUSE 10.3 installed without a hitch in January 2008.

First, I tried the openSUSE 11.2 DVD. The DVD Installer wasn't able to read my partition table although "fdisk -l" delivered the expected output when I ran fdisk on my openSUSE 10.3 installation. On top of that, the DVD Installer refused to let me partition my hard drive. Clearly, I couldn't make a clean install of openSUSE 11.2 from the DVD.

Next, I tried the openSUSE 11.2 GNOME CD. When I came to the partitioning, however, the CD Installer crashed with a segmentation fault. Obviously, I wasn't able to make a clean install of openSUSE 11.2 from the GNOME CD either. I really wonder how a segfaulting installer could pass QA at SuSE HQ in Nuremberg. Maybe the critics are right: openSUSE is just a buggy test bed for the development of an industrial-strength enterprise edition.

Naturally, I checked my hardware. I ran memtest for nearly 20 hours and I didn't find any defective bits on my Kingston memory. In order to check my hard drive for bad blocks, I ran e2fsck from the openSUSE GNOME LIVE CD and from a similar GNOME LIVE CD with Fedora 12. I didn't find any problems with the hard drive.

I didn't try the network installation. If I'm not able to do a clean install of a Linux distro, then I won't use it.

Then I tried to install Fedora 12 and Fedora 11 (from GNOME CDs); but Fedora didn't like my hardware. In fact, Fedora didn't recognize my hard drive at all.

I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable Linux user and I can say with confidence that my hardware shouldn't pose any problems for a Linux distro released in 2009.

Weary of installation issues, I downloaded Zenwalk Linux 6.2. 2 years ago, I contemplated a switch from openSUSE to Zenwalk; but I didn't go through with the plan.

Zenwalk Linux 6.2 installed on my desktop PC without a hitch and configured my hardware flawlessly. Now, I'm a satisfied Zenwalk Linux user, discovering the Slackware Way as I learn how to tweak my Zenwalk system to the nth degree. Fortunately, Zenwalk Linux doesn't come with an overarching, officious GUI Tool censoring my manual configuration file changes. There is no going back to openSUSE!

Greetings from Copenhagen,


The problem with part of the linux community is that 90% of them think in a certain, abstract, technical way.

This makes learning and understanding Linux from their advise difficult for non-beta people.

After 10 years of screwing around dos and various Windows OS' I get the hang of their ideas and can predict outcomes and create solutions for advanced problems (like partition problems, multiple Windows boot issues, corrupt files, bad drivers etc.)

For Linux this is all so alien to me, I hardly know where to start.

What I use my computer for, and want to do on Linux (Suse in my case) is the same as on Windows: listen music, broadcast it, share files with my other (windows) pc's, play a game now and then and design websites (programming and art).

Now of course I can type some text in KWrite, and put an audio cd in my drive, even rip it to the HD.

But sharing files with Windows? Samba is a nightmare! How can anyone expect new ppl to start liking linux when u have to go through such a (in my opninion non-logical, impossible to understand if you are not a programmer) tool in order to get anything done. Already took me 3 months to figure out how to get my display copied to my tv.

On forums you do find hints...multiple, all for different issues. Most are like: oh then you have to tweak this or that, install this, adjust that....

I don't even know where to look, what to look for, let alone how to do it and decide if that solution may be right for my case.

Everything in Suse poses a serious challenge. Want to play a Wine supported windows game? > "ok wine installed, how do i start it?", "how to remove an installed game?"
Want to broadcast audio > use this tool. Ok installed, now what... do i have to tell my system that its ok to allow ppl to connect? how do i do that, where do i look, why isnt it working, again to forums, again all the technical terms.

A step by step explanation is rarely given, always assumed you already know everything and are a Terminal fan... Windows is visual based, Linux is command based mostly. It gets better over the years, but still it can be made easier.

If it works, it works good. But if it doesnt, or yast gives a problem when installing, or asks where to go for a certain file on the internet, hey i dont know...not a clue how to fix it, what it means, how to undo it....

openSUSE and SLED are most certainly not the most user friendly versions of Linux out there. Far from it. That may be part of your issue.

Second, as far as being a "terminal fan", I think you completely misunderstand something about Linux. On a modern, user friendly distribution almost anything can be done without a command line, just like Windows or MacOS. However, unlike Windows or MacOS there is a wide choice of desktop environments for Linux and a wide variety of tools. If I want to explain how to do something graphically I have to know both your distribution and DE. If I give you the steps to take at the command line then it works no matter what distribution or desktop you choose. It's universal. Linux is NOT mostly command based. It is mostly visual. Fixing an issue in Linux is often easier or faster at the command line. Huge clue: Windows and MacOS have command lines too and sometimes they are the only way to fix problems.

It is very much a matter of what you are used to. You say it is alien to you and I think you hit the nail on the head there. I can't think of anything more arcane than editing the Windows registry. OTOH, if you know it then you know it.

Forums also vary from distro to distro, community to community. SUSE, despite some claims to the contrary, is neither designed for nor is it focused on the needs of newcomers.

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