I still believe that part of the beauty of Linux is your ability to dive in and customize things how you like. The average Linux user has a measure of freedom and flexibility that most Windows users can’t even comprehend, because they’re boxed in so tightly by their frame of reference that their imagination is limited and stunted. No really, I believe that.
Even better, with perhaps only a little bit of help, you can actually build and compile versions of software before they’re released. In effect, you’re getting a snapshot of a program, as it grows, organically and methodically. The measure of freedom offered there is beyond description. It’s almost like being able to taste a meal while it’s being cooked, and experiencing all the new flavors as they come together.
So it’s always a little alarming to see that freedom refuted or denied or even just ignored. It’s not a new phenomenon (dare I say it surges a month or two after every Ubuntu release?), but there’s sometimes a petulant undercurrent to complaints about software readiness, or the time it takes to get new software releases.
And it’s not just Ubuntu users who occasionally get sassy. Ubuntu has a reputation of drawing new Linux users, and with that comes a fair amount of dependence on packagers, maintainers and developers. Occasionally that dependency is coupled to an attitude of entitlement. And in a worst-case scenario, that entitlement borders on victimhood.
But I’ve seen it in Arch users too — the perspective that, as an end-user, someone is “owed” a better degree of “service” from the volunteers who make these things happen. Arch users tend to be a little more experienced and a little more tech-savvy, but it doesn’t immunize them against an occasional whissy hiss fit, as some of my American friends used to say.
Let me counter that occasionally juvenile behavior with an allegory and a quote. First: Demanding immediate software updates from volunteer crews — particularly when, like I mentioned, you have all the tools at your disposal to create your own software updates — is a little like having a kitchen full of food, and complaining because no one will make your dinner for you. Is something wrong with your feet? You can’t walk to the kitchen and cook something for yourself?
Sure, not everyone is a great cook. And maybe the software you “cook” up isn’t quite … perfect … but if it works and it satisfies the update you demanded, who’s complaining? You did it yourself, and you didn’t rely on someone else for once. Most cultures applaud a degree of independence. I will applaud you too.
The Linux philosophy is ‘Laugh in the face of danger.’ Oops. Wrong one. ‘Do it yourself.’ Yes, that’s it.
You want an update? Build it. You want better hardware support? Write it. You want solved bug reports? Troubleshoot it.
Perhaps I sound like that proverbial old guy yelling, “You kids get out of my yard!” but really, people: You’re sitting on a gold mine and complaining about the glare. March yourself into the kitchen and start cooking.
Either that, or be content that someone, somewhere, is cooking your dinner, and they’re probably doing it for free.