Wandering Thoughts archives


FreeBSD, cultural bad blood, and me

I set out to write a reasoned, rational elaboration of a tweet of mine, but in the course of writing it I've realized that I have some of those sticky human emotions involved too, much like my situation with Python 3. What it amounts to is that in addition to my rational reasons I have some cultural bad blood with FreeBSD.

It certainly used to be the case that a vocal segment of *BSD people, FreeBSD people among them, were elitists who looked down their noses at Linux (and sometimes other Unixes too, although that was usually quieter). They would say that Linux was not a Unix. They would say that Linux was clearly used by people who didn't know any better or who didn't have any taste. There was a fashion for denigrating Linux developers (especially kernel developers) as incompetents who didn't know anything. And so on; if you were around at the right time you probably can think of other things. In general these people seemed to venerated the holy way of UCB BSD and find little or no fault in it. Often these people believed (and propagated) other Unix mythology as well.

(This sense of offended superiority is in no way unique to *BSD people, of course. Variants have happened all through computing's history, generally from the losing side of whatever shift is going on at the time. The *BSD attitude of 'I can't believe so many people use this stupid Linux crud' echoes the Lisp reaction to Unix and the Unix reaction to Windows and Macs, at least (and the reaction of some fans of various commercial Unixes to today's free Unixes).)

This whole attitude irritated me for various reasons and made me roll my eyes extensively; to put it one way, it struck me as more religious than well informed and balanced. To this day I cannot completely detach my reaction to FreeBSD from my association of it with a league of virtual greybeards who are overly and often ignorantly attached to romantic visions of the perfection of UCB BSD et al. FreeBSD is a perfectly fine operating system and there is nothing wrong with it, but I wish it had kept different company in the late 1990s and early to mid 00s. Even today there is a part of me that doesn't want to use 'their' operating system because some of the company I'd be keeping would irritate me.

(FreeBSD keeping different company was probably impossible, though, because of where the Unix community went.)

(I date this *BSD elitist attitude only through the mid 00s because of my perception that it's mostly died down since then. Hopefully this is an accurate perception and not due to selective 'news' sources.)

unix/FreeBSDCulturalBadBlood written at 23:32:40; Add Comment

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