Confessions of a Linux user

One of the popular criticisms of Linux users is that Linux users can’t take criticism well. This criticism happens to be true. And I happen to have, at one point, been one of those Linux users who could not take criticism well.

Why can’t Linux users take criticism well? Why couldn’t I before? Does using Linux do something to your brain? Does it cause you to have kneejerk reactions?

Well, I think it does at first. I can speak only for myself, but I wouldn’t be surprised if other Linux users had this happen to them, too. When I first “converted” to Linux from Windows, that’s exactly how I thought of myself—as a convert. I felt as if I’d seen the light. For decades, I’d been enslaved by Microsoft and now had finally seen the light in Linux. Praise Jesus! I wanted to share the “good news” with other Windows users. I wanted to tell them what they were missing. I was so enthusiastic for Linux that I couldn’t understand how anyone could level criticisms against it.

It was more than that, of course. Even after my new-convert zeal died down, I didn’t take criticism well because I knew many of the criticisms were not valid or constructive ones. If 95% of the criticisms people throw at you aren’t valid, it can be difficult to figure out which 5% are valid and give people credit for that little bit. In other words, you get in a defensive mode, the same way a dog who is used to being beaten will shy away from even an intended-to-be-loving touch.

Once the zeal went away and once the defensiveness cooled down, I started trying to deflect criticism into pragmatism. After all, what does it matter if I—a Linux user, not a Linux developer—hear your criticisms? How would I know how to fix things any more than you would?

A little bit of this I have retained, and I still will refer complainers to Brainstorm and Launchpad.

But I’ve stopped toeing the party line. It’s taken me three and a half years of Linux use to do so, but I’ve stopped. Yes, there are many things that are the fault of third-party vendors. Yes, there are many things that are out of the control of Linux developers. In the end, though, Linux developers are human—just like you and me. They make mistakes. That’s why some thing that used to work in an older release no longer works in the current release. That’s why that update broke your X server. That’s why that security vulnerability snuck in and took a while to get patched.

Linux isn’t perfect, not even for what is within the control of the Linux developers. And not all Linux developers are volunteers. Many are, and I appreciate their generosity of time and energy. But many are also paid. But they’re human, folks. They make mistakes. Is it okay for you to criticize? Sure. Criticize away.

I’ve had my fair share of problems with Linux. I’ve been a Ubuntu user for over three years, and I saw Ubuntu storing passwords in plain text (that has since been fixed). I’ve had all kinds of problems getting drives mounted and unmounted properly, and I’ve filed bug reports. Sometimes I get annoyed that they won’t fix bugs in the current release unless they’re security-related. That’s okay.

In the end, I don’t believe in conversion. I believe in using what works for you. If you believe Windows has fewer problems, then use Windows. If you believe Mac has fewer problems, use OS X. If you believe Linux has more problems than Windows and Mac but you just want to torture yourself, use Linux.

I happen to have experience with all three major platforms and have found problems with all three. I could level criticisms at all three. In the end, I choose Linux because I like it, warts and all. If you want to offer your criticisms, I won’t pretend I haven’t heard them all before, but I also won’t call you a troll or tell you that nothing is the fault of Linux developers. Use what works for you, and do your best to improve it with whatever’s within your power to do so.

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5 Comments

  1. Well said, aysiu.

    I recommend Linux, Mac or Linux to different people depending on their situation:
    My mother, OS X for simplicity and security.
    My uncle, Kubuntu for security and freedom.
    Whatever works for each user.

  2. Ditto. I hate when someone complains and then they’re called a troll or flaimbaiter or whatever nonsensical term has been dreamed up for them.

    Very well said, aysiu.

  3. I tottaly agree with what you stated in the end. I felt myself exactly as a “convert” from Linux when I first tried and installed it (a year ago), it was Linux Mint. I felt that everything I lacked in other distros and even in Windows I had there, and moved. It was wonderful, and I felt like sharing the news with Windows (or Windoze, Winblows, LOL) users. And that feeling passed, seeing that today I still use Linux Mint and I’ve seen its mistakes (and, for me, they’re very smaller than the ones I have in windows, so I’m happier). The only big complain I have about Linux in general is the poor support for games – if it is Windows games, specially. The usage of RAM is bad (I’m not a programmer, ok?) and, then, I JUST use WindowsXP nowadays to games, and that’s it, I believe in what works. =D

  4. Nice post.

    Somebody was having major problems getting Dreamlinux to work on their hardware, so as I want to promote the use of Linux (any distro), I suggested he try Ubuntu as I found a post on Ubuntu Forums about how his computer was far more compatible with Ubuntu than Dreamlinux.

    I got accused of not wanting to keep users on Dreamlinux and my comment (which I deemed helpful and honest) was seen as pushing the user away.

    Go figure, you try to help………….

    So not only do Linux users dislike criticism, but also rejection it seems.

    I think the community aspect of Linux is also a big draw as well as the freedom of choice and breaking the Windows chains.

    Maybe when people “convert” they are a little more sensitive to every negative emotion felt in their new world. Hence, flamers, trolls, fanbois, zealots. All of whom can be found on Linux, Windows and mac forums.

  5. Hi,

    Awesome, I have been Linux for over 8-10 months now.. I have still not suceeded in convincing my dad(a businessman, with hobby in computers…), to use Linux instead of the SCUM what people call “WINDOWS”.

    It has often ended in heated exchange of words..
    In the world without walls and fences, who the hell require”GATES and WINDOWS”. Forwarding this link to my Dad, hope he understands

    Thanks
    -Deo

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