Definition of a Linux Elitist

I talk a lot about Linux elitists and how they are poisoning the Linux world and parts of the Free Software world, as well.

Since “Linux Elitist” could mean a lot of things, I want to describe what I personally mean, when I use that term.

A Linux Elitist is someone who…

  • says “we have always done it like this, so it’s fine like that”
  • says “never change a running system”
  • says “why did you fix this bug!!! My script that I have written 29 years ago does not work anymore – YOU SHOULD RE-INTRODUCE THE BUG, SO MY SCRIPT KEEPS WORKING!!!”
  • thinks, that infinite backward compatibility is better & more important than constantly improving a system, which involves the occasional breaking change
  • thinks, that C is a language, that is still viable this and the following years
  • thinks, that C++ is a great, “modern” language
  • thinks, that any language other than C or C++ is “too slow”
  • says, that you can write “safe” C or C++ code
  • uses single letter or syllable variable names in C/++, because “it does not matter”
  • uses Perl, Bourne Shell and tells people who use Bash or Python that they should use Perl or Bourne Shell, so it can be compatible with the most fringe operating system versions you can imagine
  • does not understand what “DEPRECATED” means – for example, still uses backticks for command expansions, even though we have “$()” since like forever and backticks are deprecated since like forever – AND THEY DON’T EVEN CARE, because they love this marvelous idea of having infinite backward compatibility for everything
  • thinks POSIX is the one and only unquestionable way to go
  • does not care about GUI design, at all
  • thinks, that people should learn how to script or read 600 page manuals, instead of making the underlying software more usable, so the end-user does not have to go through unnecessary pain (everyone loves those “jUsT ReAd tHe mAnUaL” guys…)
  • tells people to fuck off on “help” fora, if they did not read at least one 600 page manual from start to end
  • thinks, people should just learn lots of high learning curve stuff, to get something relatively simple done on Linux, instead of helping the person trying to achieve this simple thing
  • thinks, people should only try to do something advanced on Linux, if they know the ins and outs perfectly, i.e. wants only professionals to use Linux and wants others to not use Linux
  • thinks, that people should stop complaining when something does not work in Linux GUI, because they should just use the CLI instead
  • thinks that, resorting to CLI is a proper and sufficient replacement for failed GUI design
  • thinks, that having a stream of arbitrary characters should be always considered as input to your CLI software for Linux is a fine idea
  • is usually opposed and extremely skeptical of new technologies, even when they are clearly superior
  • still uses Python2 and thinks it’s fine
  • thinks, that having Python2 as the default python in Linux is fine and makes sense
  • thinks, that using antiquated standards is fine
  • does not understand some new technologies and then says, the older ones are better, because they work
  • says “I have 20+ years of experience in Linux bla bla bla” and thinks this should & would justify all the antiquated opinions, he has
  • thinks https is unnecessary
  • thinks, IRC is fine
  • thinks, mailing lists are still viable today
  • says “computers work that way, so the design should accommodate to how the computer works”, i.e. thinks that it’s more important to stay true to how the computer works internally, instead of designing the user interface in the most human way possible

Of course, not every elitist uses all the arguments at the same time. But, they always use at least a sub-set of the arguments provided above, when talking about Linux and Free Software, in general.
A couple of the arguments are not always wrong! But in the context Linux Elitists use them, they are wrong. So, keep that in mind!

At the same time, not every person who uses one or two arguments from the list is automatically an elitist. It’s about the attitude, the average behaviour, etc. It always depends. Humans are individuals. There are lots of elitists out there, who do not sound like that and there are lots of normal people who sometimes sound like elitists.

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One gripe I might add to that list is complaining about the big bad corporations taking the software someone created for free and made available to the public to then make money.


I think I would suggest a single statement for Linux elitists.
A linux elitist believes that they possess superior virtue for having suffered more to acquire their skills.

The virtue part is essential; most of your list details are about the skills, and it is human to be proud of those skills. It is also a human frailty to look down on people who have lesser skills. Neither of those dynamics count as elitism to me.

I was certainly in the “virtue” camp with my first Kindle (4th gen, no touch screen), and thought I was becoming morally dirtied when I upgraded to a Kindle 10th.


Well if they break the GPL licence in doing so, like Microsoft does, there are grounds for complaint

Sure, if there is a breach of license. I have a feeling MS pays lots of money for lawyers to make sure they are not in breach of any licenses.

Here’s what I’m talking about. Do you take the little quizzes you see at the bottom of stories on It’s Foss? One of those says something like:

True or False - 80% of contributions to the Linux kernel come from large corporations.

It’s true but a large percentage of people that take the quiz don’t think it is.

These large corporations are in business to make money, they aren’t inherently evil.

I’m sure I’m in the minority, but I don’t care very much about the tracking Google and Facebook do. It just doesn’t freak me out that they know I ate lunch at Burger King. Especially if the ads I am subjected to (to support a “free” World Wide Web) are more relevant to me. Anything can be taken too far, but I don’t get bent out of shape about it.


MS have incorporate a lot of free software utilities into windows, and they dont release the source code as required by GPL.

Other large corporations like HP and IBM are much more compliant, and as you say, contribute a lot. There is nothing wrong with that, and if they profit by it, it helps everyone.

The lawyers are probably also paid to settle license disputes where MS is in the wrong.

Careful though, singling out Microsoft is probably a sign of a Linux Elitist. It sure seems to be a different company than everyone thought it was at one time decades ago.

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Yeah sure.
I just wish they would put a bit more back… like helping linux with video drivers

100% me…
I’d 10,000x rather get ads that slightly tailor to shit I’m interested, and not argyle socks or miniskirts or Nickelback tours :smiley:

Note : nothing wrong with argyle socks, and I love Bert from Sesame Street :smiley:

And now - over the next few days, FB and PooTube will peck tidbits out of my cookies and I’ll be swamped with Nickelback news and girls in miniskirts wearing argyle socks :smiley: <3 (don’t mind the latter, but I will probably throw up at the Nickelback garbage).

It just doesn’t freak me out that [FB and Google] know I ate lunch at Burger King.

Now we all know your filthy, dirty secret. :smile: If they had any moral scruples they would now inundate you with ads for kale. But I have a feeling they’re more interested in money than in your nutrition.

Nutrition nowadays can become very expensive. It’s a huge market.

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indeed. in American capitalism, quality food is like housing and post-secondary education: a luxury for the rich.

  • Don’t log into “root”!
    “Root” is dangerous!
    In fact, don’t even use “sudo”, or you’ll be sorry!

Doesn’t anyone still spell it anymore as “M$” ? Or is that just the Mac weenies?
(Sorry- I grew up on an Apple Mac II, and DOS 3.3).

Whack “organic” on anything and double price… massive scam IMHO…

Some organic things are deadlier than mineral, e.g. organic chorides are DEADLY, but mineral chlorine in your pool is fine… and organic salt? WTF? Salt’s a f–king mineral, it’s sodium chloride, don’t matter if it’s pink from the Himalayas, or out of a dolphin’s arse, it’s still f–king SODIUM CHLORIDE!

Anyway - rant over… I’m a Mac weenie… and a Linux weenie… My whole house is now, thankfully free of the curse of Windows… Sorry - can’t stand it…

Both daughters have both Macbooks and Mac minis (and each has an iPad mini), I have two Macbooks on my desk here (one’s going back to my employer when I finish up in just under 2 weeks), my missus sometimes breaks out an ancient Macbook air (2 GB RAM!!!) when she needs a computer, but she’s mostly fine with her iPad, I have two iPads (12.9 and 8" mini 5th gen), they’re great, but I WILL NOT EVER GET an iPhone…

I mostly like Mac 'cause it’s ontop of a NIX system, Darwin… And I was in the market last year for a new laptop, and the newish MacBook Pro M1 was actually considerably cheaper than many of its competitors - and - it wasn’t Intel or AMD, it’s ARM RISC…

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Apple IIe as a high school freshman for me. Then had a Commodore 64 a couple years later. A Gateway 2000 486DX when I got my first job. I used DOS 3.3 and Windows 3.0.

I don’t see M$ much anymore. It is a bit harder to cuss them with much better open source support from them than the old days.

That’s one of my hobby horses, the one that kicked me when I got involved in Computer Numerical Control (CNC) only a few years ago. The first ‘C’ is there because mechanical, later electro-mechanical, machines with punched tape or cards had been on the industrial scene since 1725.

Modern CNC is interesting because it covers everything from spacecraft parts, through large-scale industrial automation, to hobby and small workshop activities. While it’s about automation is does require, at every level, a huge amount of technical skill and experience. People who are good at that have no time or inclination to learn completely new software every couple of years.

There’s a certain amount of chaos at the FOSS(ish) level because initiatives take time to develop, and they are overtaken by changes in development and runtime environments that don’t have backward compatibility. I’ve seen this not only with Python (where can you get a Python.serial or equivalent that still works with this or that application?), but also with java and QT. You can’t just port the code because the recent but now ‘old’ version has a totally different set of libraries and other dependencies; the whole thing has to be re-thought and re-written. Sometimes an application won’t tolerate the presence on the same computer of an older/newer version of its environment, which may be needed for another application. Quite recent stuff won’t run on a 64-bit OS.

Maybe Python is just the wrong choice? Just because something is very popular, does not mean it is really good or usable.

The best Python alternative, which is also better than Python itself, is the following language.

That is a cheap excuse. If X is part of your job, you have to do X. If X means, you need to stay up to date, then you need to stay up to date. No excuses.

Those are all Python specific assumptions.

Again, maybe Python was the wrong choice. People shouldn’t use something, just because it’s popular. This is how you cement something bad into everything and then wonder why you can’t get out of it…

Have you seen a Jacquard loom? Amazing machine weaving complicated patterns into cloth, all controlled originally by punched cards.

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