Linux

Open Source Geek on every level


I'm going to deviate from my usual ranting by speaking out on geek-dom and Open Source. Good times. Good times.

Many of you may not know but I am currently enrolled in cosmetology school to be a hair geek. Yes, I apply the term "geek" even to hair.  Why do I say "hair geek"? When I look at hair I see it in dimensions. I cut hair better than I color hair because I can see geometry. Thus...geek. When I have a young client and they offer any hint of their geekiness, I drop into geek-mode and chat Linux with them. They love it!

But I want to relate all of this on a more open source level.

During cosmetology school we are required to "shadow" other stylists in salons. One day I was shadowing a rather nice gent who showed me a great way to deal with one type of cut. After he showed me this he looked at me and said:

"I want you to spread this method around. It was taught to me by someone and I do not own it. I feel a responsibility to pass this one and since I, nor anyone, claim ownership to it, it is my responsibility to pass it on."

So I did. And as I taught the technique to others I requested they do the same.  It was the open sourcing of hair.

I do that all the time. Either learn something or create something and pass it on. Or I work on someone's style and, as I chat with them, pass on free knowledge of the Linux operating system (or anything for that matter).

I always remember a creedo (coined by Sir Francis Bacon) that "Knowledge is power." A very true statement that. But is a singular power more useful to society than a power spread?

Knowledge is best when it is freed. Like open source software, the bits and bytes of education must be spread around so that those around us may benefit.

Every chance I get, I educate people in the ways of Linux and open source. I have opened many an eye and heart to these ways. I do not plan on stopping any time soon. There are so many out there ignorant of the possibilities that await their keyboard-tapping fingers. I want to enlighten those and help them understand that open source software is waiting to free them from the confines of computing oppression.

Is that idealistic? Of course. Is it possible to open the entire worlds' eyes to Linux and open source? Of course not. I have come to understand there are those who are just as fanatical about Windows or OS X as I am about Linux.

But I will continue, with every client I meet, to hope to show them the light of Linux.

 

I would ask you to do the same. Spread the word. Help educate those wanting to learn. Be an advocate of Open Source. Be a geek on every level. But how? You can start by doing a little Linux advocacy. You can:

  • Attend a PC group meeting and chat about Linux
  • Hold a good ol' fashion Linux install fest
  • Start a LUG (Linux Users Group)
  • Do some charity work by setting up Linux PCs/Networks for non-profit organizations
  • Talk your friends into trying Linux
  • Bring your Linux laptop to work and show off your coolest desktop
  • Write a letter to the editor of your paper
  • Hold a Linux-only LAN party
  • Wear a "Born To Frag" tee shirt

Whatever you can do, do it on every level. At work, at home, at play...there are so many ways to broadcast your geekness with Linux. And let's face it, fellow geeks will look at you differently when you start talking CLI, kernels, and /usr/bin

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

10 comments
nighthawk808
nighthawk808

"Create a webpage to make it easier for those starting out." http://www.opusforfour.com/no_ms.html "Dive into the source and make it even better." "Write an open source application that makes people want to use it." "Clean up the documentation and make it actually usable by people who don't already know everything about it." Steve Ballmer was right about open source in general, and Linux in particular, being like communism. Although he meant that as an insult, it's only because he doesn't have enough intelligence to realize that that means it's produced in a "from those according to their ability, to those according to their need" manner. Those who can do the arcane kernel hacking, or the device driver writing, or the documentation writing, or the pretty little themes, desktops, and graphics go and do them and release it for the rest of the world to enjoy. Those who can't do these things can submit bug or feature requests to those who can. I fail to see what is so bad about this system that people are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to avoid it. Don't get me wrong; I'm not criticizing your post. Advocacy is at least as important as creating a high-quality product--in fact, most marketers would probably say that it's the most important part. This might explain why Microsoft spends more money marketing Windows than it does writing the code for it (unless you're counting all the money spent in constantly tweaking the Windows Genuine Advantage code to keep it from breaking computers in new, unexpected ways). I just wanted to remind everyone that there are also thousands of developers and geeks toiling away behind the scenes to bring the world the fruits of F/OSS, and they deserve a tip of the hat for what they do.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm just one part-time Linux wannabe, but I prefer sites with a little more "how to" and a lot less anti-Microsoft raving. Why does providing Linux assistance so often require complaining about Microsoft? Any chance I can persuade you to copy the link to the truly helpful "Linux is not Windows" from below and paste it as a replacement to your original "webpage to make it easier" link? http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm

apotheon
apotheon

"[i]Steve Ballmer was right about open source in general, and Linux in particular, being like communism.[/i]" Actually, it's fundamentally free-market oriented, rather than communistic, in its natural form. Its natural form, mind you, doesn't have artificial restraints placed on the way you can distribute software. For instance, the GPL restrains your redistribution by forcing you to redistribute source code along with binaries in all but a few circumstances -- and in those circumstances, if you don't distribute the source code, you may be condemning the person to whom you're distributing it to never be able to legally redistribute it. The GPL is pretty damned communistic. Open source software in general, however, is a more free-market phenomenon. People aren't donating their development time for the purpose of providing software to those who "need" it. They're doing so for their own individual benefit. What they get out of it: recognition useful software greater software security the ability to make a living supporting and improving software without having to write it from scratch help from others social networking et cetera It's actually fundamentally selfish (in the "enlightened selfishness" sense, not the "viciously self-centerd" sense), and that's why it works so well. Anything that is built on emergent phenomena arising from self interest is more likely to succeed than the alternative, all else being equal.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I know you're sincere, but this is the kind of post that makes potential Linux users wonder if they're installing an operating system or joining a cult. Phrases like, "opening many a ... heart", "free them from the confines", and "show them the light" send me to the medicine cabinet hoping I refilled my prescription for cynicism pills. I had flashbacks of hiding behind my front door hoping the local "God Squad" would quit ringing the bell and just go away. Mind you, I'd have the same reaction if you replaced "open source" with "Windows" in your testimony. Or "Apple". Software is a tool, nothing more or less. Imagine you found a better screwdriver. Would you host screwdriver fests, or start a Screwdriver Users Group? Would you bring your screwdriver to work to show it off? Wear screwdriver T-shirts? Okay, that did get a little silly, but I've got real concerns about a couple of your suggestions. "Attend a PC group meeting and chat about Linux." Can you see the reaction when a new guy shows up and at his first meeting starts talking about an operating system most of the members haven't heard of? You may get a better reception if you attend a few meetings and get to know people before you start raising this (or any other) topic. Think of it like lurking in a newsgroup for a while before posting. "Host a Linux-only LAN party." I've never attended a LAN party, but I'm under the impression they're held almost exclusively to play games. I'm also not a gamer, but the "Linux vs. Windows" discussions I've read here usually include something about many Linux aficionados still keep Windows for gaming. Besides, a Linux-only LAN party will contribute to the image of Linux users as elitists.

Kevin W. Graham
Kevin W. Graham

WTF?!Palmetto this is your usual mad ranting! Linux is a lifestyle choice just like homosexuality. You have to commit yourself fully to Linux and what it represents because you will have to put up with it's inferiority compared to apple mac OS! Linux is growing by leaps and bounds, and it only makes sense that the organizations that track and guide its growth are finally getting together. It really is the right idea at the right time. The Linux foundation is admirable in its foundation

statykserver
statykserver

QUOTE WTF?!Palmetto this is your usual mad ranting! Linux is a lifestyle choice just like homosexuality. You have to commit yourself fully to Linux and what it represents because you will have to put up with it's inferiority compared to apple mac OS! QUOTE Interesting analogy you chose to use ... but I differ. You don't have to commit yourself to any Operating System because just as there is Linux there are other options like Windows or Mac. You choose which Operating System you want to use.... meaning You weren't BORN to use that particular OS. Tangent Joke --------------- Now homosexuals for some reason feel they have to announce to the world that they are gay and must be heard, however I don't know why they do this... how often do you see heterosexuals running around pronouncing they are straight? ------------------- So inferiority seems to depend on ones point of view. If people think it is inferior because it lags in gaming then it is inferior to them, but I have never used my computer as a gaming platform and have used instead my PS2 so to me my linux system is Superior.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Interesting", in the same sense that Loraine uses it in "Back to the Future", just after Marty's guitar solo at the dance, when she says, "Marty, that was interesting music." I'm not sure how a guy with a week-old membership can comment on my "usual mad ranting". I also question whether homosexuality is lifestyle choice. I make this comment only so my silence would not be misinterpreted as agreement. For giggles, let's look at the second paragraph too. "Linux is growing by leaps and bounds, and it only makes sense that the organizations that track and guide its growth are finally getting together. It really is the right idea at the right time. The Linux foundation is admirable in its foundation" I'm not sure why he's dragging organizations in at this point, since they weren't mentioned in the original article or any of the subsequent posts. I don't track Linux standards organizations so I'm not really sure which ones are tracking, guiding, or getting together. I'm also not sure what he means by "The Linux foundation". I'm ready to start ignoring anyone who doesn't accept private e-mail from other members. We now return you to your usual mad ranting.

binarypc
binarypc

You know what, I'd love to see a way to get my Windows based games on to Linux, easily. See most of the apps I run locally are Open source and readily available for Linux anyways. Pretty much the reason I still have Windows today is gaming. When I go to Vista, that will be the reason also. Give me a gaming solution and Windows will end up relegated primarily to a VMware Window for compatibility with my job, and then we are good.

jlwallen
jlwallen

as much as i hate to say it, gaming will probably always be a thorn in the side of linux. unless the new virtualization in the kernel gives this a boost, linux will always lag in games. remember loki, the company that attempted to bring gaming to linux? i still have about 5 of their games. they were great - while they lasted. but unfortunately the linux community is locked on the idea that EVERYTHING surrounding Linux should be free - so no one was even willing to pay for games. that was a shame. at some point SOMEONE is going to have to make money in order for Linux to catch up the gaming market - otherwise we'll be related to the equivalent of "whack-a-gates" and Tux Racer. it's a good thing that Cedega and Wine are out there but they still lag and cause people to spend some extra scratch if they want to play the game on linux. maybe the company who created Cedega needs to get with the gaming industry and include versions in the mass-market games to bump up sales and bump up linux gaming. who knows. but it's really sad that gaming is keeping so many from switching over 100%. but it's a reality.

statykserver
statykserver

That has been the main reason for others as well. Some would argue that there are programs like Cedega or Wine on linux to get your windows games running. Others would say that there are great native games for linux like Enemy Territory, UT, and commercial games available for linux. My favorite is that any true gamer would know that nothing beats a gaming console. What works for some is to dual boot windows and linux using windows only for those games that they have to have and use linux for everything else. I guess in the end since gaming is somewhat of an issue for some the options are there for them and they can choose which works best for them.

Editor's Picks