[clug] Why do we do what we do in Linux? [was Re: Text editor]

Scott Ferguson scott.ferguson.clug at gmail.com
Tue Oct 28 08:57:41 MDT 2014

On 29/10/14 01:07, Bryan Kilgallin wrote:
> Thanks for clarifying, Scott:
>> Consider the early days of radios - where people built and invented
>> their own radios in the back shed.
> When in high school, I built a crystal radio. And on it I heard eastern
> European news of suppressed attempts at freedom!
> Then I built a superhet receiver.
>> They built them to "scratch an itch".
> I had a bit of trouble finding that idiom's explanation. 

When you have an itch, do you:-
;get on the phone?
;ask a neighbour?
;shop around for a de-itcher?
;scratch it yourself?

> Adults
> typically learn by means of self-directed projects.

My apologies, I don't understand the relevance (I can be a bit thick).

>> They also shared their knowledge - helped each other - and pooled
>> resources.
> I ran into a lot of trouble where groups of people with disparate
> interests refused to share but made arseholes of themselves trying to
> get others to conform to their way of thinking!

You ask questions on this list - you'll get an answer, almost always as
a sincere attempt to provide you with useful assistance.
If the answer doesn't suit/offends you:-
;1. it's just words, from people you may never meet, and may not respect
if you did, and don't "know" you. Grant them to possibility of ignorance
- (and the reverse). The internet means the ability to hear from people
we'd avoid in real life - and robs us of the visual ability to see them
;2. consider that /sometimes/ people "learning" make the mistake of
"asking how to do something they don't know how to do" *and* then *3.
tell* the person who offers assistance "how it should be done"

As to how disparate interests formalise an arrangement to work towards a
common ends, and what they believe - there are various examples as you'd
expect from such a large community. Here are some common ones - -and the

Linux - the biggest co-operative development project in the planets history.

>> And most /did/ actively seek feedback from people who used
>> their advice/designs as a genuine desire to make others happy.
> I find it ubiquitous that advice gets rejected:

Whose advice? The maker/knowledge source - or the "user"?? (puzzled)

Demonstrably it's not the case in either instance. I listen to end users
of my work, I've found developers listen to mine - but in neither case
is it "ubiquitous".

NOTE: that you can't please everyone, especially those that make
unreasonable demands (or want to "shoot foot"). Subject to usual
restrictions that apply when someone "demands" someone "do something"
(bully for them).
For those that don't find an responsive audience there is always the
option of "forking off" - which is one reason there are many hundreds of
Linux distributions. Like the, um, ultra-conservative Christians who
demand the term "daemon" no be used. Or those that just like ponys (too

> the Cassandra effect.

You'd have to give me an instance when dire warnings from users have
been ignored by developers. Especially that those instances are


I've never been able to differentiate between psychic ability and
clinical psychosis - or outright fraud. Others believe otherwise - I
lack that faith.

> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassandra

I'm familiar with Greek mythology, but not offended by your assumption
that I'm classically ignorant.

I doubt many readers of this list are unable to Google. ;p

>> Never-the-less - their work, unpaid, was not *compelled* by that
>> feedback and requests for features/capabilities, but *impelled* by a
>> desire to "scratch their own itch*.
> You are talking about the not-for-profit sector.

The Linux kernel development project is not-for-profit. The majority of
Linux distribution work is not-for-profit. That companies sponsor the
majority of development doesn't change that - Linux as a whole is
fiercely anti-commercial, but not against the idea that people should be
able to profit from Linux. There's a difference.
Which is why companies are happy to fund it's development in order to
support the bits that aid their enterprise - why reinvent the wheel? And
coders - why not get paid to do what you'd do anyway (a wage can only
buy so much loyalty to the employer).

Note that the commercial sector - e.g. RedHat and SUSE, are built on,
and from libre software. That people can make money from it, just as you
can make money from Ubuntu, doesn't change the nature of FOSS.
As the one time director of Sun once said "I accept that I may never be
able to employ the best" (but he was smart enough to fund their projects).

Reading the terms of the main licenses used in "Linux" should prove
enlightening. If that sounds dismissive - it's not meant to be. You'll
hear the words "free" and "libre" frequently used. "Free" as in "free to
change, modify, or build commercial products from" - not just "free" as
in "no money required".


> The Men's Sheds movement is many
> ways parallel hackerspaces in their aims; although open to anyone
> regardless of age or gender, they tend to advertise themselves as "Men
> in sheds".}

All the Hackerspaces/Maker communities I'm familiar with welcome anyone.

> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hackerspace#Notable_hackerspaces
>> I hope that clarifies things a little - and may help you understand why
>> "Linux" is very strongly a "do-ocracy" that listens to users - but is
>> not driven by users (at least, not the main, non-commercial distros).
> I can analyse procedures.

Kind regards


"Faith is not wanting to know the truth"

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