The Sound And The Fury
Just before the demise of Commodore, a marketing executive for the company summarized what he thought led to the Amiga's failure to capture significant market share. He minced no words: "The fanatical element among our customer base hasn't done us any favors."
The similarities between the Amiga camp and Linux users are striking. If a journalist writes an article about, say, printers, he or she may get several flaming letters from Amigoids complaining that mention of the Amiga was excluded from the review. Not only is the Amiga the best desktop publishing system on the market, they'd say, but you'd be an idiot to run anything else. And by the way, I know where you live.
Linux fanatics display similar zeal when they slam MS-DOS (MS-DOG), Windows (Windoze), Windows NT, and the people who use them. Never mind that your PC must be running MS-DOS before you can install Linux. Also, never mind that DOSEMU and Wine, DOS and Windows emulators, are among the most touted achievements of Linux developers. Flames erupt frequently on the Usenet when a heretic suggests there's another OS worth running. Heated respondents pen pages of incendiary prose in reply.
The uncivil behavior of these few loudmouths threatens to hold Linux back from the stature it deserves. As with the Amiga, many people who could benefit from trying Linux are put off enough by these displays to take their interest elsewhere. Some journalists refuse to take Linux seriously because of the regular Usenet rants, letters to editors, and angry calls to computer talk shows. Linux techno-troopers may not realize that their irrational activism plays a significant role in keeping them a minority.
We should see a taming of the rhetoric as commercial players get involved. Red Hat Linux is a publicized commercial release. Considering they cost vendors nothing, we should see Linux releases covered by proper documentation, support, and even licensed additions (e.g., OSF/Motif) while maintaining a consumer-friendly price.
Copyright © 1996 CMP Media LLC