There are all sorts of takes on just what the "Linux community"
is: Is it kernel hackers? People who've developed the most used
applications? Anyone who's ever contributed anything? All of the
above and the users, too? It's actually a lot of little communities
of people led by common interests to become friends, as Dennis E.
Powell was reminded while trying to learn the best way to burn
"...Each little community has its own flavor. The KDE
developers list has its own group of personalities. The KDE user
list likewise. Both are fine lists, but had I asked there, I would
have been pointed to the KDE application for burning CDs. I like
KDE, but my quest was for an application that would do the job, not
a KDE application that would do the job. (There is a KDE app,
KreateCD, that is very promising; I built it and abandoned it
because it wanted to use a goofy, almost unreadable typeface,
probably because I have font anti-aliasing enabled.) But those
lists are both very helpful, and, though to a lesser extent than
the Caldera list and some others, people there can get to know each
other. This is important: You have a configuration problem and the
solution is a little bit complicated. On a big, nameless list or
newsgroup it's easy for the person who knows the answer, and who
maybe has posted it a time or two before, to go on to the next
message. But if that person has gotten to know you, has maybe
shared a joke or two, he or she is far more likely to take the time
to write it all out.
Linux, maybe more than the mainstream operating system, tends
toward community. Some of it no doubt comes from a shared sense of
being under siege, though the community was there before Microsoft
launched its silly little assault. There is, too, the fact that by
definition Linux users have chosen to be out of the mainstream.
Mostly, I think, it's because in what one would think would be a
totally technical sphere, we want to make it clear that though
we're talking about machines, we're not machines ourselves. (For
much the same reason, developers I know really appreciate it when
they get thank-you notes from happy users.)
Each little community has its own tone, its own flavor. The
Caldera list is, like the distribution that spawned it, pretty
mellow. The last time I was on the Red Hat list, it tended to be a
little more contentious, which is consistent with the
distribution's sometimes-too-bleeding-edge character. I've not been
on the Debian list, but from what I've seen of messages there it
seems to tend toward the legalistic and is more technically
oriented than some of the others. This is not to criticize any of
them but instead to suggest that there's a place for everybody
among Linux's multitude of communities. It's surprising, sometimes,
the extent to which they will go to solve a problem, to share
happiness or grief, to behave like non-virtual communities ought to
behave but seldom do."
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