How Not to be That Linux Person, or: this is why they hate us.

Now would be a very good time to review the Geek Social Fallacies.  Lord knows I’ve been guilty of a few of these.  OK, more than a few.  While the Linux community, as a whole, has gotten better than it was in the 1990’s, it can still be a damn unfriendly place to be, especially if you’re new, on the fringe, or otherwise not “the norm.” 

1.)  Your choice of operating system is valid only for you.  You may be convinced of the brilliance of Linux.  You may think that everyone should be using Linux.  Your grandmother may be perfectly comfortable with Linux, but you and your granny aren’t the world.  Not everyone is familiar with the cathedral and the bazaar.  Not everyone cares.  The person you’re trying to evangelize to may be open to learning about Linux.  They may be trying to convince you of OS X’s brilliance.  Fact is, sometimes you have to agree to disagree.

1. a.)  A person is no less a geek, if they don’t use Linux.  My father-in-law is a genius at everything Mac.  He can make old macs run and new macs come back from the dead.  Knowledge of Linux?  About my knowledge of OS 9.  That is, nil.  

1. b.)  A person’s choice of distro means that they prefer that distro.  Look, I think Slackware is awesome.  I’d be happy if everyone used it.  That having been said, I’m glad there are ubuntus, Debians, Fedoras, and SuSEs out there.  They get people in the door and using Linux who might not necessarily use it, if their choices were Slackware, Arch, or Gentoo.  

2.)  Don’t assume that everyone you encounter has the same parts as you do.  “Bro” may be a term of respect or endearment, but the other person might not be a “bro.”  Yes, women exist in the Linux community. 

2. a.) We (women who happen to use Linux) are not obligated to be your girlfriends.  If we say no, back off.  

2. b.)  Making women prove their bona fides (in your mind) is a douchebag thing to do.  See also: the Fake Geek Girl fallacy

3.)  Don’t bag on someone else’s hobby.  You may think wargaming is stupid.  You may think video games are a waste of time.  You may think 2nd edition AD&D was the last good one.  Someone thinks you’re wrong.  

4.)  Someone always knows more than you.  Being in the music biz taught me this one loud and clear.  No matter how much you know, no matter how good you are, there is always someone who knows more, can bootstrap gcc/glibc in their sleep, and reads kernel source in the bathroom.

4.a.) Everyone fucks up.  Doesn’t matter who you are or what your knowledge is.  There will be a time when you do the equivalent of “rm -rf *” in someone else’s directory as root. 

5.)  RTFM might’ve worked for the 1990’s, but it doesn’t now.  Sometimes it’s still useful (like when you know the person on the receiving end should know better, or if it was spelled out in some documentation they should’ve read.)  But for complete newbies to Linux?  Douche move.  Manpages only provide information if you understand what you’re reading (or how to access them.)

So don’t be That Person.