Over the last several weeks, I have to confess to doing a little soul-searching in the wake of some developments in the Linux world, and I’ve come to a decision of sorts. It’s hard to say when the actual tipping point was, but you can probably mark it around the time Sarah Sharp closed the door on any further Linux kernel work, augmented by the accompanying “lack of understanding” by some who are significantly smarter than their responses would reflect.
Really, folks, I get it: Linus Torvalds is a great and historic man, one who changed the world for the better by developing a kernel that put a huge fast-forward on technology for all, on a far-more-level playing field than it could have been with the Linux kernel’s absence.
Yet I also completely understand this: A clear majority of FOSS folks are okay with “letting Linus be Linus,” and having the chips fall where they may. Me? I’d prefer to “let Linus be Jon ‘maddog’ Hall” or “let Linus be Bob Young.” In other words, I prefer my great and historic figures to have a high degree of grace and leadership skills, and understand and accept the gravity and responsibility the glorious burden of being a historical figure entails, and then act appropriately.
Instead, we in the wider FOSS world are hamstrung to have a great and historic figure continuously and consistently acting like a foul-mouthed, petulant child always having his way; to say nothing of the fact that the acceptability of such behavior clearly runs downstream to others in a variety of FOSS echelons because, “Hey, Linus acts like that, so it must be OK.”
It’s not OK, and personally it’s a strike issue for these attitudes to prevail, especially in an environment that places a premium of importance on community and cooperation. So after considerable thought, I’m going to rhetorically vote with my feet and go elsewhere — in the words of the immortal and beloved Snagglepuss, “Exit, stage left.”
I’m keeping Linux on the desktop box — Korora, for those of you keeping score at home — and on a couple of infrequently used old ThinkPads. However, I’ve spent the last three weeks getting up to speed on PC-BSD, which I have finally installed on the main drive of my daily workhorse ThinkPad T500.
So if you need me, I’ll be over there, on the BSD side of the FOSS street.
My only previous experience with BSD was roughly 48 hours of my life surrendered years ago to installing NetBSD on a PowerBook G3. I finally was successful and used it until I borked the entire system with an update (to be fair, at the time — the mid-aughts — I was completely out of my league in attempting anything remotely resembling updating the OS).
Several years later in 2015, PC-BSD installs just like any Linux distribution. My desktop environment — Xfce, of course — sits on top while Unix rumbles underneath the hood. With a couple of hours of adding backup files and tweaking (augmented by a variety of “oh, look” moments which could easily make me the ADHD Foundation Poster Boy), it looks exactly like my personally modified Korora 22 Xfce which graced the machine earlier.
In addition, you have to like a operating system which gives you a book — in this case, the PC-BSD Handbook — which should be the gold standard of documentation. It’s enviable, as in, “man, I wish I had written that.” Also programs like AppCafe provide a plethora of FOSS software, so there’s no shortage of programs. Side by side, there’s nothing on the Linux side of things that is lacking on the BSD side of things.
Changing teams is going to come as a relief to some (you’re welcome, Mr. Shuttleworth), and I welcome the opportunity to contribute within my skill set on the BSD side of things, if the folks there will allow me. Prevailing attitudes on the Linux side of things might suggest a final parting with the caveat that the door not hit me where the good Lord split me.
Don’t worry, it won’t.
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