Linux Criticism

A Personal Opinion

creator: x14km2d | build: 2022-01-09 | update: 2022-01-23

Intro

I already had this article on my old website, but took it offline again for a revision. A lot has changed in the last two years. Not only in Linux, but also in other areas of information technology. I don’t like everything and a lot of it is marketing bullshit which I won’t go into today.

This year I made a decision that I have been thinking about for almost two years. The change to another Linux operating system for my daily work. Until now I had used Linux Mint with Xfce and was incredibly satisfied with it. Especially for a laptop Linux Mint was a good mixture of easy handling and trouble-free working. Unfortunately, some developments were advanced, which I do not find so good. The Snap Store1 I can name here exemplary. Overall, Linux Mint became more and more clunky and unwieldy. Like a desk that is getting bigger, but still not tidy. More space does not mean more organization, rather the reverse has happened. More and more has been added to the OS. Some users may like that, but not me.

At the beginning of January I switched from Linux Mint to Artix Linux. The bare install is exactly what I want. I can build on that. No pre-installed software, from developers guessing what the end users might like and keeping it generic when picking software packages. I have never used torrent in my life. Really. Never. I wouldn’t even use VLC if they offered me money. There are hundreds of good alternatives that you can find information about on the net. However, I still wanted to use Xfce because I belong to the windows kid generation. DWM is great and I love it, but not for my daily work. That’s why I prefer to use Emacs instead of Vim. Everyone can choose what they want and I’m not saying that Vim is stupid, clumsy or bad, it’s just not my software.

But there is another reason why I switched to Artix. Sytemd. I was made aware of (my personal problem with systemd) by a small section in the release notes of the last Linux Mint version2.

(…) The move to systemd caused a regression in ecrypts which is responsible for mounting/unmounting encrypted home directories when you login and logout. Because of this issue, please be aware that in Mint 20 and newer releases, your encrypted home directory is no longer unmounted on logout: (…) #

There are many points to argue about with systemd and I simply don’t care if you prefer systemd or not. Your computer system is none of my business. Therefore, besides many minor points that I will address in a moment, there is only one main point that matters:

systemd contradicts the Unix philosophy

I didn’t switch from Windows in the 90’ to have to continue working with binary files. I find this development, in my personal opinion, highly questionable and shows how much corporations and I want to control everything and hide developers are spreading in various systems of IT. I can understand that and everyone tries to bring his vision of the future somewhere. Everybody thinks his ideas are the best instead of thinking rationally about his own work. The biggest bias is still the own ego. In the three following subchapters I will show my personal views on priorities in Linux development and yes, this is personal with Linus. However, unlike other programmers, I simply consider him mature and rational enough not to give more than a fuck Finnish smile about my rather personal view.

Linux Distributions

In the last years I noticed things with most Linux distributions that I do not like. Among them are for example Flatpak. I think this is such a dangerous idea that it should not be used on a single distribution. This includes AppImage, Snap and Zero Install. Sandboxing is always dangerous and you can never be sure that someone will crawl out of the sandbox and cause damage to your system. Flatpak is a security nightmare and I threw it out of my system immediately. Another point that bothers me is systemd. systemd is a background program for Linux systems. As an init process replacement it is the first process to start, monitor and terminate other processes. There are hundreds of points to avoid using systemd on your system and you can find more information in the world wide web. I reject it, because my technical gut feeling advises me against it.3

But also most Linux Distros are no longer usable. They all want to be the top catdog on the market and offer more and more junk to the users. In most distros there is a lot of junk software preinstalled, so it takes me days to clean it up. Of course you could install Arch Linux every time, but I have friends and a private life. I thought that for a technical beginner Manjaro could be an Arch alternative. No. It cannot. Nobody wants to have a bloat VLC movie player installed when you can use mpv as a bloat free alternative. I don’t want to use clumpy Firefox browser and I don’t want to have to uninstall it because it costs my valuable life time. I don’t want to waste it unnecessarily, just to have to remove garbage from my another systems again and again. Manjaro also offers Flatpak and snap packages and that I really don’t want to have. With Linux Mint I criticize the handling of third-party software. I doesn’t want non-free software on my system and I can use another non Linux systems. All distros are already so big and heavy that it is no fun to work with them. Only Artix Linux can halfway triumph with the suckless philosophy, but it is very difficult to install for beginner Linuxians.

Linux Kernel

I respect Linus Torvalds for his Linux kernel and where he brought it to. But also the kernel, like the Linux Distros, has grown a lot in the last years. If you have a look at the interactive Linux Kernel Map, you can understand what I mean. This is a very personal topic and has nothing to do with the work of Linus and his kernel team. I don’t understand the kernel anymore. I do not like this. Yes, in the last years the hardware has changed so much that it is necessary to keep the kernel up-to-date, but I am a person who likes to look behind the scenes. When I drive a car, I want to know how the engine is built, how the electrical systems are connected and so on. Normal users don’t want to do that and that is ok. But I am also aware that I will never understand everything, because it is technically impossible and my lifetime can only be used for certain information.

I want to understand computers. And that is what bothers me a lot. This is not only a typical Linux Kernel System, but also a general technical problem. We use things we don’t understand anymore and that is dangerous. Another point is that since 2005 some 15.000 individuals developers from over 1.400 companies have contributet to the Kernel4. Among them Intel (13,1%), none (8,2%), Red Hat (7.2%), Linaro (5.6%), Unknown (4.1%), IBM (4.1%) and many others. As a trained information specialist and scientist, it is my duty not to accept the work of large corporations without purpose. If Microsoft makes good on their threat and implements a own Linux kernel in their own distros, these new developers will also intervene in the direction of the original kernel. Yes, Linux still has the last word, but even he cannot live forever. After the death of Steve Jobs you can see how big Company is falling back into its old role and degenerating into an IBM copy. Too many products, too little innovation. The kernel community consists of 6000 people and that is in my personal opinion way too big.

Another point is that some parts of the Linux Kernel community wants to rebuild Linus according to their views. Linus should not swear anymore, his language is too rough insulting his sentences. Yes, and? What is the problem? From a great developer and software project manager I even demand such a behaviour. Great developers are sometimes assholes. Successful assholes. I also expect Linus to behave like an asshole so that the Kernel project remains successful. If you can’t handle it, you should look for a different open source environment, because then you are just not professional enough and you just don’t manage to ignore personal attacks. This is not a pee pee princess game. This is a kernel. I expect such a talented and far-sighted developer to curse like a fucking port whore. He doesn’t have to, but should be able to.

Also, I have the feeling and this is now a very personal view, that Linus doesn’t feel comfortable with his own project anymore. I can’t stand to see people suffering either. Maybe I’m wrong, but sometimes it seems that he doesn’t enjoy the project as much as he used to at the beginning. Maybe this is just a job now, a job that someone else can do as well. But as I said, this is my very personal view and I can’t look into the mind of a profesionell programmer. Or I interpret too much into a complex human psyche with the little information I can get from mail lists, videos and articles only roughly.

Non Linux Developers

Then we come to the last topic, which I find massively disturbing. In the last months more and more companies, developers and programmers seem to be interested in Linux. I don’t think much of emulation and find virtual boxes, as mentioned above, dangerous. If I want to use non Linux software, I buy a non Linux computer. If I develop an non Linux App, I buy a non Linux OS. I don’t develop such things on Linux. The same applies to Smartphone Systems. Nevertheless the headlines do not come to a standstill during the last years. Non-Linux in a box, non-Linux translation layer, which allows me to run non Linux software on my Linux computer. Why the hell would I want to do that? I don’t want e.g.  Microsoft Paint on my Linux machine. I don’t want to see X designers and programmers who bring their shit techniques to the Linux community. All this hipster shit can stay on the other distros. If you want to develop software on Linux, develop Linux software. Proton is a good emergency solution for gamers. But a better solution would be if game developers would not treat Linux as a stepmother’s child any more, just because things are going better right now. I find this bugging by Microsoft particularly bad. Oh, the bash can now be used in the Linux subsystem on Windows 10 or a added Microsoft repo in my Raspberry Pi OS. No! Bullshit. I don’t want that. This isn’t right.

Operating Systems will eventually become a super confusing mush of shitware and closed source lobby kernel that will only have disadvantages for users. I don’t want to use proprietary Programming Languages. I am not an proprietary developer. Just because corporations realize after years how well open source licenses could have survived in a crisis-ridden market, they don’t have to jump on this bandwagon. You can just discontinue crappy products that no longer sell. And some proprietary Operating Systems doesn’t seem to be doing so well, when I look at the last Windows whatever version reviews. Maybe proprietary software/OSs just sucks and can’t stay in the market on long tail. Maybe this shitty software can stay on their shitty system and even a sandbox doesn’t make it better, because then you have shitty software in a shitbox. Why should I use ShitOS? Because then I can install Shitbrowser, Shitflash, Shitplugs and Mediashitsoft instant. No. Just no. I don’t want something like that. That’s what I want when I want to program incredibly ugly free Android Apps for Smartphones that don’t sell. I don’t want all those sandboxers to run on Linux and there are only problems that could have been avoided. If you really want to write a proprietary shitstore software, I respect that. But then please buy decent proprietary Hardware. You can stay in your hood with your products. Years ago I had a different opinion on this topic, but I revised it because I had too many negative experiences myself. If you start playing in a sandbox, you will be treated like a sandboxer.

Green Hats

Wow! I have left the sinking Linux Mint ship in time. What is happening right now is so disgusting that I advise everyone to stop supporting Linux Mint5. Who sells his soul like this can join the other shipwrecked distros. And that’s why we come to the next topic, what bothers me about some Linux developers. Green hats work for money. Only for money. Firefox work for money. Some people don’t seem to understand the basic Linux community if they don’t want to give them money or refuse to install certain shareware software. There is a basic understanding problem and I would like to explain it in one sentence understandable.

“Linux software will never make you rich. Period.”

You will not make money with Linux software, no matter how hard you try. That’s not why you should develop software, because the first rule of a Linux software developer/hacker should be to solve your own problem. This one doesn’t work. I program software project x and now my problem is solved. The final result gets a polish and then I can put it online. But. When I put something like this online I create a need, this need has to be met when you suddenly have a community using this software. Bugs need to be fixed, features need to be implemented and you need to release a fixed update every few months. Many Green Hats stumble here at the own not the reality corresponding wishful thinking, if suddenly a hobby project takes the entire spare time and one suddenly no more vacation can make. Never will a Linux user just throw money down your throat. I have experienced this very painfully on my own way. That’s not how the Linux/Open Source community works. It is a mutual give and take.

You download software for free and at some point you find a bug. If you have enough technical expertise, you can describe and report it. Or you write a nice article about this downloaded software, give a small donation or maybe even buy a t-shirt. This is all voluntary. Nobody forces you to do it. Nobody expects you to give your last dollar out of your pocket because you have a bad conscience. You don’t need to have a guilty conscience. If this software helps you with a problem, maybe something new and special can come out of it. Maybe you use 3D software and create a prosthesis for children who e.g. have walked on a mine in a war zone and can’t afford a prosthesis. Or you download a graphic software and make beautiful pictures which you then put online. Maybe one day a person will ask you nicely if they can use one of your pictures as wallpaper. Maybe you even get some money. But this is not a matter of course. Linux software is based on barter. I trade X for Y. I trade your software for my very important lifetime, because I don’t have to deal with you and your software. Please never forget that in your life. No one in the Linux and open source community is dependent on you. Nobody.

Many developers forget this when they present a new and great idea and then suddenly get a negative response6. In the Linux/Open Source/Hacker community everything is a reputation, if you lose this reputation as a software developer you will never get on a green branch again. There are far too many creative people who are used to solving their problems on their own.

“Nobody forces you to develop software. So if you would like to develop software, then do it for Oracle or IBM or something. Don’t ruin our achievements by association.” Fefe

It may sound unbelievable, but you can take your favorite programming language and create software for Apple or Windows. Create a paid developer account and get started with your project. But then you also have to live with the commercial fees. Taxes. Invoices. Investments and marketing. These are all things that our community does not need. We solve problems in our own way, with our own software. Please don’t try to apply this commercial software culture to our own. This is something that bothers me personally very much7.

Conclusion

These topics have been on my mind for years and I have brought them up here to reflect rationally on them myself. I know that these are delicate issues and people tend to be guided by their feelings, desires and dreams. That’s ok, for you. Unfortunately, not for me. I have to question things and can’t just accept everything without contradiction. Believe me, I would like to but I can’t. Just the last paragraph is written roughly in its expression and that comes from the fact that I have an incredible problem with obvious stupidity.

The way sandboxers behave in Linux is like German tourists who order a Schnitzel with fries and beer in e.g. Paris. You can do that. Sure, no question. But it will earn you much less respect if you always assume that everything you do is right and good. Sometimes you have to jump over your own shadow and learn something new. Sometimes the hardest thing is to question your own position. I know that this is much less fun than taking on everything without thinking. Thinking is exhausting, and reality is not as fluffy puffy as your own comfy zone. But thinking about reality brings a much higher gain of knowledge.


  1. I no longer link to websites that spam me with tracker or cockie notices. UBlock Origin↩︎

  2. You will never get an autistic person to ride in your red car, no matter how expensive, fast or comfortable it is, if the autistic person simply don’t like the color red.↩︎

  3. Linux Mint 20.3 Una↩︎

  4. Jonathan Corbet; Greg Kroah-Hartman, The Linux Foundation, 2017, Linux Kernel Development Report, p.3., p.1↩︎

  5. I switched to Artix Linux and so far I’m quite happy. I also installed Arch Linux support and can now pick the best of both worlds. Yes, Frankly. This is now a Frankendistro but I am pretty good at stripping OSs and melting them together.↩︎

  6. I spent seven hours today stripping Qt5 from my system. Unfortunately, this did not work without further collerteral damage. So I had to remove Geary and Freecad before and find alternatives for them. This happens and was not difficult. I used this occasion to completely remove KDE and GNOME3 from my system and switch to XFCE4. Not only does this make my system run much smoother and use less RAM, but I was also able to delete a large amount of unused software packages from the KDE and GNOME universes. Because. Every unused software package that is uninstalled reduces the attack surface of your operating system.↩︎

  7. Just as Firefox bothers me very much. But so far I haven’t found a suitable alternative for me with which I can work well in everyday life. Everything sucks. Every alternative sucks and for six years it’s been fucking me off. Nevertheless I am not ready to give up. Maybe I’m looking at the whole problem from an unfavorable perspective. Maybe Firefox is not the problem, but just the World Wide Web.↩︎


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