The difference between Linux and FreeBSD boosters for me

August 27, 2014

A commentator on my entry about my cultural bad blood with FreeBSD said, in very small part:

I'm surprised that you didn't catch this same type of bad blood from the linux world. [...]

This is a good question and unfortunately my answers involve a certain amount of hand waving.

First off, I think I simply saw much less of the Linux elitism than I did of the FreeBSD elitism, partly because I wasn't looking in the places where it probably mostly occurred and partly because by the time I was looking at all, Linux was basically winning and so Linux people did less of it. To put it one way, I'm much more inclined towards the kind of places you found *BSD people in the early 00s than the kinds of places that were overrun by bright-eyed Linux idiots.

(I don't in general hold the enthusiasms of bright-eyed idiots of any stripe against a project. Bright-eyed idiots without enough experience to know better are everywhere and are perfectly capable of latching on to anything that catches their fancy.)

But I think a large part of it was that the Linux elitism I saw was both of a different sort than the *BSD elitism and also in large part so clearly uninformed and idiotic that it was hard to take seriously. To put it bluntly, the difference I can remember seeing between the informed people on both sides was that the Linux boosters mostly just argued that it was better while the *BSD boosters seemed to have a need to go further and slam Linux, Linux users, and Linux developers while wrapping themselves in the mantle of UCB BSD and Bell Labs Unix.

(Linux in part avoided this because it had no historical mantle to wrap itself in. Linux was so clearly ahistorical and hacked together (in a good sense) that no one could plausibly claim some magic to it deeper than 'we attracted the better developers'.)

I find arguments and boosterism about claimed technical superiority to be far less annoying and offputting than actively putting down other projects. While I'm sure there were Linux idiots putting down the *BSDs (because I can't imagine that there weren't), they were at most a a fringe element of what I saw as the overall Linux culture. This was not true of the FreeBSD and the *BSDs, where the extremely jaundiced views seemed to be part of the cultural mainline.

Or in short: I don't remember seeing as much Linux elitism as I saw *BSD elitism and the Linux boosterism I saw irritated me less in practice for various reasons.

(It's certainly possible that I was biased in my reactions to elitism on both sides. By the time I was even noticing the Linux versus *BSD feud we had already started to use Linux. I think before then I was basically ignoring the whole area of PC Unixes, feuds and all.)

Written on 27 August 2014.
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Last modified: Wed Aug 27 02:25:27 2014
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