Saturday, February 24, 2007

Elitism can suck it.

Slashdot | Raymond Knocks Fedora, Switches to Ubuntu

I'm not an open source "guru", "expert", or "leading voice" as ESR has been variously labeled. I think ESR has started believing his own press releases recently and become a creature of his own ego (which, let's admit, all programmers have more than the average share of). He's done some good things for open source, free software, and for the community of computer users at large. I own The Cathedral and the Bazaar, and I'm not rushing to the nearest used bookstore to get rid of it. However, he seems to think he still speaks from some high position of authority; he seems to believe he's above the petty and meaningless squabbles he thinks pervade the open source community, and therefore his opinions are well-considered and without bias when they're nothing of the sort.

I don't care if he switches to Ubuntu. I did it myself, and I couldn't be happier with it. I used Red Hat, and then Fedora, for 8 years, and it's where I learned how to use Linux. I'm not happy with the quality of recent Fedora Core releases, but they don't exist to please me. My personal preferences are not an objective set of criteria for evaluating the worthiness of a distribution, and neither are ESR's.

The fact that he now has a financial interest in Ubuntu/Linspire -- and thus has a conflict of interest in trashing Red Hat the company and promoting Canonical -- turns this from a egomaniacal explosion into something akin to FUD.

The very things ESR has spent the past year decrying -- elitism and a lack of concern for the users -- are now his stock in trade. He thinks he's more important than the average hacker, and he's not. He thinks his opinions matter more than the average hacker, and despite the mainstream media prostrate at his feet due to his remembered glory, they're not. He thinks he knows what users need. Only the users know what the users need, and the developer's job is to try his damnedest to give it to them.

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