So I’ve recently switched from Windows 10 to Arch Linux as my main OS. It’s perfect for me, but I’m also a techie: I can customize my setup however I like. WINE and Proton development got quite far recently, so I can still play my games. If they need some fixes, I can tweak some settings, but I’m also a techie: I fiddle around with the settings until the game runs well enough to my liking. Well, I do still have some problems with getting my camera to work, but that will eventually run when drivers are updated. I need to do smaller automation? I can simply type arcane commands into a terminal and make magic happen, but I am a techie that has the knowledge to do that.
But there are non-techies out there. People that don’t have time or knowledge to tweak things. People that want their stuff to look the same as before. People that want to do work instead of fiddling around with stuff. Yes, those people exist. No, they aren’t less intelligent. Stop being a dick! Why are IT guys such dicks?! I digress… Those people just decided to put more time into acquiring expertise in other domains. They have different needs with their computer: they need the computer to help them solve their problems, not create them. They need simple access to the functions they need: a good search and/or putting things where they’re used to finding them.
From time to time, I want to help people try out Linux, but change is scary. Luckily, in 2019, Kali Linux released Kali Undercover, scripts and theme assets that change an existing Xfce4 to look like a typical Windows 10. Nice, I thought, now I just need a Linux boot splash screen that looks like a Windows one, and I can try giving it to a non-techie to try out. Yes, if they are only using basic stuff like browsing, chatting and mailing, they won’t notice the difference. After a while I can talk to them how it felt, if they wanted to try out more Linux features etc. Of course, I ran into a very vocal group, that were against the very splash screen I was looking for. Linux were for people that want freedom from Microsoft, and anyone making their setup to mimic or support Windows software were undermining the integrity of that very freedom. WINE and Proton were things the GNU/Linux community should not support. Removing password prompts for mundane tasks, like updating, is something that should not be encouraged: updates could break your system, and you should only do them if you know what you’re doing. Sorry to break it to you: no matter what software, if an update breaks your system, whoever provided the updated is doing something very wrong!
While Kali Undercover was spared from this outcry, their official reasoning is to make it harder to spot pentesters. But using it to ease new people to using Linux, is a forbidden use case! How dare I suggest using that for such a heretic purpose?! Those people need the culture shock, their inferior proprietary software they know how to use taken away and replaced with new superior free software running a free GNU/Linux they don’t know how to use. Only then will they convert to believe in free software!!
If you call companies by degrading names, you’re very much part of the problem. Stop being a dick! Why are IT guys such dicks?
Of course, the splash screen got removed after a while. Not because of copyright issues, because they didn’t want to deal with the mob. This just emphasizes the notion of Linux users to be hardcore techies. The notion, Linux users all feel superior over the lowly sheep that still use Windows or even macOS!! Oh, the horror!
While it’s a nice thing lots of Linux software gets ports for Windows, so more people can enjoy it, in many cases, bugs exclusively occurring in the ports are almost never considered worth looking into. Yes, the devs are less likely to use Windows, but it again emphasizes what people see: Linux users see Windows users as lesser beings. I eventually stopped even trying to reporting bugs in Windows ports. Why should I care, when 90% of all bugs for Windows I report end up closed with “won’t fix”?
To me, being able to do stuff is more important than having free or open-source software. Computers should be used to save time, not waste time! And if that happens to include using a different software, then so be it. I’ll just look for some proprietary software instead, it might be expensive, but I might get it working more efficiently, so I can actually do some work! Other people might want to use different software, and I respect that, just like I want others to respect my choices. I don’t want to waste my time justifying my choice of software that’s completely unrelated to problems I’m facing and discussing. This isn’t just a Linux vs Windows problem. Even between different distributions, there are such notions.
“What idiot would use Arch Linux? It’s not used in any corporate environment! You’ll never get hired for an admin position with that! Do Debian or SUSE or Red Hat instead!”
“What idiot would you use Debian? It’s only ancient packages! You’ll never get hired for an admin position with that! Use XYZ instead…”
I could go on forever, and we’d be running in circles. I have only one question: why are IT guys such dicks?
Sure, I use Arch Linux on my PC. I wouldn’t use it on a productive server, but that’s something I have chosen to do. Some people might run it on their server, that’s their choice. And that’s totally fine. Anyone saying having used Arch Linux for a while doesn’t help you in the job market, doesn’t know what the current market looks like. Sure, companies don’t use Arch Linux. But it’s still meaningful. If it’s not the only distribution on your resume, it’s an extra one for the HR person to see. And to the technical lead, it means “this person has seen the innards of Linux configuration files”. And if you can say you used it for a while, it also means, you can deal with it. Granted, it’s not as prestigious as an LPIC-1 certification, to the correct people it still means something.
Companies don’t want people that only do Linux, or even worse, only one distribution. At best, it just means you’re not willing to break out of your own bubble. At worst, it means you’re an IT guy that’s going to be a dick to everyone that uses different software that you do.
Everywhere, where people use different tools, it’s always “us” against “them”. And the language isn’t very nice either. It’s harsh, condescending language at best. Where has all the politeness gone? Why do we keep arguing over trivial things like little children? Why are IT guys such dicks?
Sure, there’s always the case of people not understanding each other, but that’s usually a problem of not being able to speak to each other properly. And least one side not the taking the other seriously. Sure, the current language on the internet is harsh, but we should be nicer to each other. We should grow up and stop being little kids that argue about everything. If you don’t know something, then ask. If someone doesn’t know something, then explain, or at least link to the place that can help. Simply telling people to google their problem doesn’t help, it just poisons future search results with unhelpful answers. And do not attack their choice of software! Sure, suggesting alternatives can help, but again, do not attack their choice of software!
Not sure if we really need to grow up? Certain people unify with the mindset, everything tech company X does is anti-consumer. Granted, a lot of things they do is actually anti-consumer, but that doesn’t mean everything they do is anti-consumer. When you distance yourself from a very important petition just because company X backs it, it just shows how you haven’t grown up. Being grown up means to being willing to compromise when needed, but still maintaining your own point of view. Certain things need to be addressed, yes, it might happen to align with company X’s interests, but does that mean the issue at hand is less of a problem to everyone? Or other when companies that sue company X for anti-trust, because X actually does something for the benefit of the consumer, the people don’t applaud company X for doing the right thing, no they’re just happy to hear X got sued. You don’t have the best interest of people in mind, you’re just getting off your schadenfreude.
To this day, I’m still waiting for a built-in package manager for Windows programs. Microsoft wanted to make one for quite a while, but they got push back from all sides. Just having a working package manager would help IT security quite a lot: automatic updates and less bloatware. Why is bloatware a problem? By not helping non-techies to avoid bloatware, we have come to train them to associate updates with bloatware, so they stop updating. And it’s a problem. But people left and right were claiming that package manager Microsoft announced to be anti-consumer, so the development was slowed down, and bloatware sadly is still a thing on Windows. Granted, Windows Defender does block some bloatware-infested installers, but that just annoys the consumer that wants to install their software.
Of course, for advanced users, I believe there should be a way to install software from other sources. The problem isn’t Windows getting a package manager, the problem is Windows potentially locking out other sources. By campaigning against the package manager, you’re not helping. While there’s still development in the Windows App Installer, it’s still stuck in Insider Previews. There’s other solutions like Ninite or Chocolatey, these are not built-in, so users or administrators need to be aware of them to even make use of them. Or they hack their own solutions.
I’m very happy about the existence of Ninite. It has saved me lots of time when setting up Windows systems. Chocolatey seems to have existed for a while, but this month was the first time I ever heard about it, and that’s just because I was researching for this post.
I’m not saying I was never part of the problem, it’s something I’ve realized over time. And I have come to hate it. While I can easily change what I do, it’s just me.
I want us, the techies think a bit of the non-techies when we make and do stuff. I don’t want advanced functionality to be scrapped, I want beginner functions to be actually beginner-friendly. But that will only happen, if we techies don’t insist on scaring away non-techies with our condescending mindset at every opportunity. And it starts with us being nicer to each other.