[sf-lug] Edward Janne's Final Questionnaire for Cultural Anthropology

Jesse Zbikowski embeddedlinuxguy at gmail.com
Tue Aug 4 14:33:35 PDT 2009

Seemed like a slow news day so I thought I would share my answers to
the first half of the survey.  As a general thought about community
identities, I feel it's good to have several so as not to take any of
them too seriously.  For example I'm also proud member of the FGBG
(Fat Guy with Beard and Glasses) community with which the Linux
community has significant overlap.  We hang around and talk about our
favorite frozen dinners in the aisles at Ralph's.

1: What are the characteristics of a Linux user?

Linux users are generally technically adept and independent minded people.

2. Why did you first use Linux?

I ran Linux on my first PC because it was like the Unix systems we
used at school.  I've never regularly used a non Unix-like OS except
for my Commodore 64.

3. Are there different kinds or levels of Linux user? How would you
describe them?

Raw novices won't know how to use the command line and often have
their Linux partition as an experiment.  If they don't learn the
command line they generally quit, unless they need to use Linux for a
specific application on a specific machine (e.g. at work or school).
Of those who learn command line, the next level is customizing
configuration text files, followed by people who can script (e.g. in
Bash or Perl).  Above these levels are experts in particular aspects
of Linux such as administration or systems programming.

It would be interesting if people used more GUI system tools to
advance as a Linux user without the command line, but this does not
seem to be how it normally works.

4. What programs do you run on Linux? Does software that starts out
exclusively Linux often get ported to other platforms? What is the
motivation for this? Beyond being open source, is there functionality
that is unique to Linux?

I use Firefox, Bash, Emacs, mplayer, ffmpeg, GNU tools, Perl, wget,
and filesharing applications.

Ports of popular Linux software are fairly common.  In the case of
open source software, this may be because some of the developers
sometimes use a different operating system, or because there is a
commercial market for supporting the software on another OS (e.g. GNU

Useful Linux developments can be ported to other operating systems
fairly quickly, so there is something of a feature parity.  Linux is
perhaps unique in the extremely broad range of devices and
architectures it supports.  It may also be unique in the quality of
free support offered by its community, at least at the expert levels.
As a piece of engineering, Linux offers a balance of stability,
performance, configurability, security, extensibility, scalability,
and bleeding edge features that make it an optimal choice for a
variety applications.  If all the operating systems in the world were
to be destroyed by a giant fireball, and only one could be saved to
run on every processor from cell phones to supercomputers, I believe
that Linux would be the logical choice.

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