My long-time friend, co-founder of the Linux.Ars column at Ars Technica, Ubuntero, Ubuntu Fridge contributor, the guy who got me motivated to go to the 2006 GNOME Summit and general Linux cheerleader has announced that he is giving up on Linux on the desktop. The original post, along with Jorge’s entire blog, has been disabled.
The post, while live, was syndicated to both Planet GNOME and Planet Ubuntu, two of the communities Jorge was most involved with. The comments and feedback, mostly from people trying to preach common sense. There were, unsurprisingly, a few trolls.
Ok, that’s it. I’ve had it. My subscription to LWN lapsed, and I was backburnering resubscribing. So I resubscribed yesterday, mostly because I wanted to read the always-excellent Thursday LWN. What an eye opener!
I just read Bruce Perens equate his holy war against Novell to the civil rights movement.
The Open Source community has a real problem. Poisonous People (PDF). Until this problem is fixed, people are going to be continually pushed away.
I’ll go ahead and be one of the ones pushed away. I am sick and tired of being misrepresented by a vocal minority of jerks who dare to tell others what is “moral” and what is “free”. Someone call me when saner people are in “charge” of this community. It’s a shame too, there are so many excellent “leader-types” in Open Source. Unfortunately they’re busy doing real work, getting software shipped, working on documentation, and other thankless work that no one seems to care about at the moment.
I can certainly understand Jorge’s frustration when self-proclaimed “community leaders” spout off at the mouth and make ridiculous comparisons, claims, or statements. We have several such examples. The actions of a few individuals do not paint a picture of what the Open Source community is all about. We have great leaders who lead by example, sometimes making controversial statements but still focused on the best intentions of the community-at-large.
That’s not to say that we don’t have issues. We do, and they are many, but they are human issues. They evolve; they grow; they improve over time or whither away into obscurity.
Oh, and Openoffice’s mail-merge “functionality” crashing over and over again while our LUG tried to do it’s membership mailing over the course of four hours didn’t exactly give me hope in an otherwise sad state of affairs. perkypants reads “I came for the quality, I stayed for the freedom.” I believe that the people who matter believe this, it’s unfortunate that our community is sandbagged by people who “Came because I hate Microsoft and I stayed because … I hate Microsoft.” And here I thought that it was all about Free Software, what an idiot I’ve been.
The thing that Jorge has complained about, almost endlessly, for as long as I’ve known him, is OpenOffice. Jorge thinks we are “going to lose”, presumably against Microsoft, because “OpenOffice sucks”. First, I think that’s a flawed argument which strikes of hypocracy. Jorge has long-claimed to be pro-Linux, not anti-Microsoft. That is something we discussed often and both were firmly in agreement with. We want Linux to succeed, not to spite Microsoft, Apple, or anyone else but because it represents the freedom of choice in software that we believe is important. If you truly believe that, then the only way we lose is by giving up. We aren’t defeated by Microsoft Office 2007, Windows Vista, or Active Directory. We are challenged by them. We see something in them we find appealing. We are inspired. We take what they’ve done behind closed doors and bring them out in the open. Sometimes those efforts fall short and the result is disappointing. Not every software project can be successful, but given the nature of our community, if you don’t like it, fix it.
Jorge, rather than throw in the towel over Mail Merge in OpenOffice (which has 162 open bugs related to Mail Merge right now) you could have vocalized your discontent, convince other people that our solution is broken, and put your amazing ability to motivate people to work in a positive way. I know others have reached out to you. I’m doing the same. Take a break if you need to, but please, take some time to think about your decision. You’re free to choose to install Windows on all of your desktops, but I don’t think you realize the impact you’ve made in the community. If you leave, you will be missed, but we will continue, and we’ll welcome you back with open arms should you change your mind.