This is going to be a bit of an odd one. If you're one of the blessed few who've been following my site lately, you've probably noticed I kind of dropped off the map for most of 2022 and 2023. Even though I've kept myself busy updating the site's backend, the frontend has suffered due to time constraints, and a decent chunk of the time spent in 2022 was a complete server migration; since I insist on doing all of my own hosting, I ended up having to reinvent the wheel in a lot of places because prior to now, I really had no experience with Linux as an operating environment beyond occasional failed attempts to get it to run on Virtualbox and scattered research into distros. Now, a lesser man would have gone with something he was familiar with, something like Microsoft Server, but damnit, I insisted on building something that was better than what I was previously running, and Microsoft just wouldn't cut it. As a consequence, I spent the better part of the last two years wrestling with a lot of stupid issues that were mostly my fault, but were also kind of the fault of the operating system for being designed by arcane gatekeepy jackasses who are all, collectively, effing terrible at building anything even remotely user-friendly. I'm far more fluent in Linux-Fu now than I was when I started this endeavor, and while I enjoy it for what it is, I also bloody well hate its developer environment, and I'd like to just kind of take some time in this article to dispel a lot of the mystique of Linux to the best of my ability, just based on what little I know. I'm sure I won't get it all correct - and I'm sure I'll fuck up some terms. Send your flames to admin(at)ftlfw(dot)net with the subject line "Linux", and I'll casually ignore you because I don't fucking care about how Fedora is actually different from Redhat and how both are totally better than Debian because the Yum protocol takes 0.00001% less time to install shit or whatever the fuck you plan on telling me. The technical specifics of the OS backend aren't relevant to any of this - I'll get into them a little bit just because they irk me, but the crux of this article is about how and why Linux has become known as "the dense one nobody likes to use."

Look - I've gotta come clean, this article is a call-out post of sorts. There's an idea that's been germinating in the crucible of my forebrain ever since I started the earliest draft of this page and since I've gotten into regular talks with my good friend Mullet Boat from Vaguely Creative - Linux, and indeed every academic field with levels of "specialty knowledge" from religion to politics to law to medicine to video games to Star Trek Trivia, possesses a subculture of people whose lives are dedicated to ensuring their positions of power as "people with knowledge" are entrenched and unbreakable, through the systemic obfuscation of knowledge such that "people without knowledge" can't easily attain the same level. In early drafts of this article, I called these people techbros for lack of any better phrase, but that's really not quite the case and it's a somewhat misleading phrase. The phrase techbro evokes a kind of manosphere-influenced cultural background radiation, which may be true in some cases but isn't appropriate for a blanket statement. So to that end, I'd like to coin a phrase - nay, a suffix - which I've brainstormed together with Mullet Boat to serve as a blanket label for anyone who participates in this sort of ritualistic Orphic Mysteries behavior:


A person or group of people who have deluded themselves into thinking they are exceptional for knowing something you don't, and will take measures to ensure you don't know what they know. Will try to help you, but will typically leave information out of their help documents. Additionally: Describes anyone who has been victimized by this culture in such a way that their everyday grasp of the technical language is no longer useful to a layman.

ex: "This suggestion that I use Arch Linux with absolutely no elaboration is very beardy"

"I've had it up to here with these Linuxbeards leaving crucial installation information out of the"

"Beardism in the Open Source community is killing it from the inside!"

"These damn Translatorbeards insisting it's Aerith and not Aeris are the real shit"

This suffix works in a multifold fashion - for one, it evokes the sort of stereotypical "beard stroking" associated with academia without explicitly falling into the tired, played-out "all nerds are basement dweller neckbeards" trope that was popular with Hollywood and the broader internet for a brief time in the late 2010s before everyone realized it was actually just as bad to interest-shame people as it is to kinkshame them - and this is important.

A line needs to be drawn between "people who know how to use Linux at an advanced level and are perfectly reasonable people about it" and "people who know how to use Linux at an advanced level and think they're such hot shit, they're hotter than the sun, so they talk in fucking code and never invite you to their epic gamer parties." The former category would fall under the neckbeard stereotype by sheer virtue of knowing how to use the OS at an advanced level, but the latter category only falls under the beard suffix because the possession of said knowledge has convinced that person to act like an asshole to people who aren't in the know. It describes a sort of self-exceptionalism that "techbro" doesn't convey, and "neckbeard" is a perjorative for people who are otherwise innocent in this equation.

Now then, to the meat of the article...

What even is Linux?

You might consider this to be a silly question - this is one of those weird little intangibles I always have difficulty quantifying, and simply for the sake of covering all the bases, it's worth trying to answer even if you already know. Because like, from my perspective, it's difficult to picture somebody who wouldn't be familiar with Linux at least as a term. It's been around since 1991, and there's always going to be at least one asshole who brings it up in any discussion of computer operating systems, but still, something in the back of my head tells me that someone out there could feasibly not know what Linux is.

To get to the heart of it, then, Linux is an open-source OS (operating system) kernel originally developed by and named after Linus Torvalds. It'd be really easy for me to just link you the Wikipedia article, but if you have no idea what Linux is, or even what "open-source" means, or what a "kernel" is in this context, you're not going to have a fun time reading that article. In brief, "open-source" just means it costs no money to use it - this is really the only important thing you as a potential end-user have to keep in mind. Being open-sourced is also a bit of a double-edged sword, because as opposed to something like Microsoft or Apple which are both OSes with proprietary code, Linux's open-source development environment means that literally anyone - even YOU - can develop for it. This has drawbacks and benefits which we'll get into as we go along, but I'd first like to get into the deeper primordial ooze surrounding the origin of Linux.

"Rebels with a Cause", scanned from Maximum Linux Magazine, June 2000

Linux traces its origins to the murky blackness of the end of the ARPANET era, that foul dark age just a couple years before the "Eternal September" - when network connections had propagated enough for a small demographic of random, "average" people to be using bulletin board systems, Usenet chatrooms and software sharing channels, but the "proper" internet and - most importantly - the world wide web wouldn't yet take form for a few more years, and as such, the majority of the userbase was comprised of university students, professors, and overprivileged men. You know - people with the sort of wacky stacks to spend on a computer with a modem to access remote connections to anyone else. Thus, enter our trio - our Rebels with a Cause, as "Maximum Linux" termed them so long ago. We'll start with Stallman and work our way forwards since the GNU Project came first - sort of. If you're wondering, by the way, why I'm digging up crusty old Linux 'zines - it's largely out of spite. See, if I can't convince you that the people behind Linux have always been so utterly full of themselves, so incontrovertibly dense and incapable of designing anything even remotely usable for the modern end user, then in my view, there's no better source to convince you than the words of the people who developed and hyped up the damn thing in the first place.

Right then, Richard Stallman. Stallman is old blood - part of the web's first generation, as opposed to Torvalds who was more akin to second or first-and-a-half generational web. The steaming goo he arose from in the mid-80s was a thick, bilious substance, the collective runoff of nearly ten years of phone phreaking, illicit software sharing, modem hijacking, hacking and, in general, finding every way to avoid paying the ridiculous sums Apple, AT&T, Texas Instruments and Microsoft were all demanding for the use of their operating systems. Rather than simply pirate these systems as everyone else had been doing, however, Richard Stallman proposed an attempted alternative - he founded the Free Software Foundation, an organization designed to spearhead his collected ideals regarding software ownership, digital rights management (DRM), and - obviously - free software. While he was at it, he started the GNU project and penned the associated General Public License. If you've ever looked at the image information for a picture on Wikipedia, you might be at least remotely familiar with GNU as a term - it's tricky to define in one space as it refers to several things. In the context of Wikipedia imagery, they're using GNU as a form of copyright license, and this is where it's preferable to use because of the two copyright licenses Stallman has penned, GNU is the least fucky. The alternative, GPL, is the embodiment of Stallman's idea of "copyleft," and using it in projects designed to make money will bite you in the ass, because it's designed to propagate upwards - especially any version of GPL with the "Share Alike" clause.

If you're wondering what GNU stands for by the way, don't worry, there is no answer. Like everything that was made in this time, it's stupid techbeard recursive backronym shit and the answer is brain poison. Knowing it will only hurt you, but since you keep insisting, I'll let Stallman's announcement from Usenet back in 1983 explain it for you:

"[...]Starting this Thanksgiving I am going to write a complete
Unix-compatible software system called GNU (for Gnu's Not Unix), and
give it away free to everyone who can use it. [...] To begin with, GNU will be a kernel plus all the utilities needed to
write and run C programs: editor, shell, C compiler, linker,
assembler, and a few other things. After this we will add a text
formatter, a YACC, an Empire game, a spreadsheet, and hundreds of
other things. We hope to supply, eventually, everything useful that
normally comes with a Unix system, and anything else useful, including
on-line and hardcopy documentation.

GNU will be able to run Unix programs, but will not be identical
to Unix. We will make all improvements that are convenient, based
on our experience with other operating systems. [...]

Who Am I?

I am Richard Stallman, inventor of the original much-imitated EMACS
editor, now at the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT. I have worked
extensively on compilers, editors, debuggers, command interpreters, the
Incompatible Timesharing System and the Lisp Machine operating system.
I pioneered terminal-independent display support in ITS. In addition I
have implemented one crashproof file system and two window systems for
Lisp machines.

Why I Must Write GNU

I consider that the golden rule requires that if I like a program I
must share it with other people who like it. I cannot in good
conscience sign a nondisclosure agreement or a software license

So that I can continue to use computers without violating my principles,
I have decided to put together a sufficient body of free software so that
I will be able to get along without any software that is not free."

Yeah, you read that right: it stands for "GNU's Not Unix", and if you want to rip out your eyeballs and punch your monitor after reading that, don't worry, that's just the natural human response. The only educational information in that backronym is that GNU has any kind of ties to Unix - you see, on top of being a copyright license, GNU is also a suite of free software based loosely on Unix's code - made possible because the source code of Unix, at the time, was a "trade secret available to anyone who asked." GNU can be used as either an operating system or a suite of software on top of an operating system, and really, most of this information isn't important for you to know. The key takeaway is that Stallman made GNU, and GNU is designed to be Unix-Like. He remained a figure in the Linux development world for a while after Torvalds dropped the kernel, but beyond being "the GNU guy" he's just a historical footnote. He's been spending most of his time in recent years writing some deeply concerning things about minors and Jeffrey Epstein, for whatever that's worth.

Regarding Eric S. Raymond, it's harder to place exactly what made him important enough to warrant existing in the above image. Yes, he maintained the Jargon File (a dictionary of contemporary slang and tech jargon, something I've cited on this very website in the past), but the Jargon File was started years prior by other people - Raymond simply pecked at its corpse and paraded its innards around like some twisted Necromancer from beyond the veil, and honestly, there's something respectable in doing so, but I'm not exactly a great judge of character. I've dedicated an absolutely ridiculous amount of bandwidth to other people's lost garbage, so forgive me if I relate to the man whose entire identity is defined by his scavenging. The article in Maximum Linux which accompanies this farcical illustration didn't have much to say about Raymond's qualifications beyond what Wikipedia will tell you, which is a shame, as I was hoping there was more to what he did than met the eye. Small as it seems, I guess it'll have to do: Eric S. Raymond is the author of The Cathedral and the Bazaar, a roughly novel-length collection of essays regarding the significance of open source development environments and, for context, some of the history of "hackers" (in this case, an outmoded term for "the computer elite" and an early attempt to quantify beardism). His book is a good treatise on what it sets out to cover, but you'd have to travel back in time to 2003 for it to be socially acceptable to display on your coffee table - much like Stallman, Raymond has ruined his reputation as of late by saying some particularly heinous remarks, in his case about gay people and several associated hardline wingnut brainworm ideas surrounding that. He's also notable for leaking the "Halloween Documents," a series of internal Microsoft memoranda regarding strategies for handling the growing open source problem. Reading his book was enough effort for this section of the article, so you'll forgive me if I just assume you'll look at the wikipedia link and save me the time.

Which brings us, finally, to Linus Torvalds.

Are you noticing a trend yet? - Scanned from Maximum Linux Magazine, October 1999

Torvalds is the big cheese, the keymaster, the demiurge, the Everlasting Know-it-All, the epicenter. Linux is his brainchild, singlehandedly developed in 1991 based on AT&T's then-proprietary Unix code - the name is self-descriptive, "Linus modified Unix, ergo, Linux", but you'll hear several pronunciations and it's rare to hear someone actually pronounce it like his name. He was originally going to call it "Freax," and frankly I think we were robbed. I want to live in the Freax timeline, it's probably a spiffier one where Al Gore was president and we pulled out of Afghanistan in 2011 - just think of how much better it would be for the marketing of this OS. We could have T-Shirts and baseball caps and those little plastic buttons and all the other wearable crap you'd buy at Comdex, and it'd all say shit like "Get your FREAX on," "Join the FRESH FREAX," or maybe "FREAX are cool now" and it'd have a picture of one of those nasty little booger gremlins the 90s loved so much. We could all call ourselves Freakazoids, and we'd have a full 30 year headstart on reclaiming what's otherwise a mid-tier insult. You, the sane reader, might think this would only make the insularity of the Linux community worse than it is now - but I'm an optimist. I have faith in FREAX.

...Oh, and Torvalds did some other shit too I guess. He's the guy you want to blame for "Github," the software website. He didn't make the website, but he designed the software publishing model it follows and went and named it "git." No, Git doesn't stand for anything - this is one of those GNU things, it's just a meta-reference that only Torvalds understands. It's also worth noting since we're here: of the three men I've covered based on a completely arbitrary ordering imposed by a fucking magazine from the year 2000, Torvalds is the only one who (as of the time of this writing) has not yet published or said anything so completely off-the-wall-bananas as to ruin his personal image forever in perpetuity. He's also the only one of these three not to have been born in the 1950s (Torvalds came a decade later in the 60s,) nor was he born in the US (though he became an American citizen around the time he made Linux.) I'm not sure if this says anything about the US or the 1950s, but the observation remains.

Now, you might have gone and read all this poorly-written and hastily-researched hisorical contextualization based on a cringey magazine illustration from Y2K and said to yourself, well, Alpha, this is all well and good - but what in blazes does it have to do with dispelling the mystique surrounding Linux? If anything this just made things more confusing. That's the whole point. The original question spurring this section on was "What is Linux?" And the answer was "Linux is a kernel." Not "Linux is an operating system," but "Linux is a kernel." I could have simply told you this, and I could have simply told you that the kernel of any operating system is the guiding principle of its code, just as Windows and Mac and the original Unix all have kernels - and the actual operating system in and of itself is just the suite of software that interprets the kernel for you. I could have told you this, but then I'd have to mention that Linux is heavily reliant on GNU code and is licensed under the GNU license, and then you'd ask me what GNU is, and the answer is that it stands for nothing because the person who wrote it is a fucking prat, and then I'd have to tell you about Stallman, and then you'd ask me why anyone even cares about open source software when everyone involved is a git, and then I'd have to tell you about Eric S. Raymond's contributions to this insanity, and the fact that the central software distribution API is named git because they were nothing if not self-aware in the 90s. Do you see now? Do you see where I'm going with this? Nothing is ever straightforward with this operating system, there is no "Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak brewed this up in a garage," it's always some ridiculous story of ten people across the nation loosely connected by ideas and networks, which is beautiful in principle, but absolutely terrible from the perspective of telling a linear narrative. Linux is the anti-narrative - even thinking about it will delitize your fingers and render you incapable of writing coherent English.

No, see, I'll tell you the real answer to the question - "What is Linux?" Linux is a label. Nothing more. We could get into semantics about what Linux actually is from a technical perspective, and we could argue for literal years about whether or not it should really be called GNU, or GNU/Linux, or just Linux without any fucking attachment to GNU - but the real answer is that Linux is a label, a story we tell ourselves to sleep at night in hopes we'll forget the real monster we've unleashed for a few fleeting moments. I'll tell you what Linux really is: Linux is Distribution Hell. It's not possible to ask someone on the internet whether or not you should install Linux, because you first have to narrow down which distribution (or "distro") you're looking to install, and nobody is going to give you a straight answer because there is no consensus. There cannot be a consensus, because the sheer saturation of distros since 1991 is such that, if you went to a computer warehouse lined wall-to-wall with computers, literally as far as the eye can see because it's at least a football field deep, you could feasibly install one different distro on every one of those computers and still probably not run out of distros. It is madness, it is lunacy, the fact that anyone wonders why Linux still only holds something like 2% of the desktop market share in installations under these conditions is laughable. Somebody needs to narrow this shit down, and damn if I won't at least try.

I mean seriously, look at this. Look at this insanity. This is just the chart for Fedora! The chart for Redhat - Fedora's root distro - is even larger, and the chart outlining the timeline of every distro's development is over 12,000 pixels tall. If you printed it out, I estimate it'd be somewhat taller than your effing house. There's too much data to work with, I can't build a recommendation to you if we're spending all day quibbling over Moblin or Mint or Manjaro or any of the other umpteen squillion goddamned sub-distros of sub-distros. For the sake of this article, we're boiling it down to Redhat and Debian, because those are the distros with the highest measurable market share and the most online support, and those are the distros I have personal hands-on experience with.

Y'know... Look, I feel like I'm kind of losing myself in defining this to you. I'm trying to demystify it, but I also kind of want to convey to you the root of the problem - why I'm even trying to demystify it in the first place. There's a wonderful website, an evil universe version of Wikipedia, the Simple English Wikipedia. Conceptually, it's exactly what it says on the tin - it's English Wikipedia, written in as simple a phrasing as possible. Let's see how their article on Linux stacks up - because if you've read my other articles, you know me, I'm terrible at explaining things. I ramble, I don't keep a good tally of terms people might not understand.

Alright, so far, so good. Maybe a little too simplified in some places, and they might trip up people by not explaining what a Kernel is, but y'know, sure, it works.

Woah, woah, WOAH! Hold the fuck on! Let's pretend I don't know what any of these things are for a minute - what are these distros and why should I care? What makes them any different? This is critically important information to anyone who wants to use Linux, and right out of the gate from the first sentence they've already fucked up. Y'know how? Have you guesed? I'll tell you: Ubuntu is a fork of Debian. It's the same codebase, it's irrelevant to list both of them as "popular distributions." Is it accurate? Yes, I guess technically, but is it helpful to somebody who needs to use Simple English Wikipedia? NO, and that leads me to...

The Distro Breakdown THEY don't want

you to see

Look, I've been around the block a few times. I know a thing or two about computers, so when I went into this whole server thing thinking I'd install Linux because people say it's the ideal server OS, I thought it'd be a piece of cake. My advice to you: never make this assumption with anything in technology. You will always be wrong, always, without fail. I originally started looking at Linux Mint because Techbeards in forum posts across the net and on youtube consistently, without fail, called it the "best OS for beginners." This is what taught me never to trust the advice of techbeards ever again; while researching whether or not Mint was a good distro for servers, I learned some salient points:

- Mint is just a repackaging of Ubuntu, which is itself a repackaging of Debian, and several of the core features you need to run a server are either deprecated or difficult to turn on by default

- The main thing that makes Mint attractive in the first place is its desktop environment, Cinnamon.

If there were really any features beyond the Cinnamon desktop environment that made Mint the hot shit, they weren't documented in human-readable locations, so I installed Ubuntu instead. At first I started with Ubuntu's server edition, but this was a mistake because unlike literally every other OS, every Linux distro packages its server edition as a barebones command line interface. Why? "Because it saves RAM." This is a non-answer. If you've built a server with 16 or even 32 GB of dedicated RAM, it's a safe assumption that RAM is a non-issue. Some maniacs even build servers with up to a TB of RAM, so to say that it's about saving RAM is like saying "it's not gay unless the balls touch." What it's really about is techbeards insisting on finding every excuse to be obtuse, gatekeepy motherfuckers. They wouldn't dare conceive of any reality in which the server in their workplace runs an OS the pointy-haired boss can even remotely understand, for the server is their domain, exclusively in perpetuity. Oh, and don't you dare fucking tell me that your uncle Jerry at Jerrycorp built a server with 512MB of RAM and totally had to use a CLI distro, because fuck you, this is web content I'm hosting, what the fuck are you doing building a server with 512MB of RAM if you're hosting web content? "Oh, but Alpha, typing the commands is so much faster than clicking in an interface!" No! Fuck off! You haven't earned the right to pull that card on me! This is the least of that Ubuntu article's problems, by the by - implying that this is "conventional wisdom" as if everyone who uses a computer knows this is an utterly jackass implication, and they fall into the classic CLI justification trap of maybe your GUI will have security holes. Yeah, maybe it will - maybe my house's copper wire will get stripped and I'll have to send this site to you with smoke signals. It's all mental gymnastics - Windows Server has consistently shipped with a GUI out of the box, as did Apple server back before they utterly gunched it into oblivion. Linux is the outlier - if they aren't confident enough in their own software development to ship a GUI server, how in the name of fuck can you be confident in the CLI server? It's the same sort of people working on it.

So at first I figured, y'know, "screw it, I'll just install a desktop environment on top of this." Which you can totally do, nothing stops you from doing this. So I installed Cinnamon, but the thamn ding started crashing on startup because it was missing key packages that the OS needs to run in a human environment. It was at that point I torched it completely and replaced it with an edition of Ubuntu designed with human beings in mind, and it was here that I noticed something utterly infuriating.

You might notice I've been using the phrase "edition" quite a lot throughout these paragraphs. If you're used to more common, proprietary operating systems like Windows, you're probably familiar with "edition" in the context of something like "Windows 10 Home edition" versus "Windows 10 Long Term Servicing Channel Edition." The former is what you get pre-installed on every laptop, it's utter garbage, and to replace it you'd need to set fire to the OS and wipe the disk. You're exposed to all of the worst consumer updates, and it's loaded with Micro$oft's bloatware. LTSC, on the other hand, is the version of the OS given to OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) people and businesses - it only receives security updates, and if configured properly, has no Microsoft bloatware. It is the superior OS, but if you want it instead of Home, again, you need to completely torch your OS. This is how it's always been with Microsoft, and this is how I assumed it was with Linux because that's just what you assume when you read "edition."

This is not what "edition" means in the context of Linux. Barring an edition of the distro packaged for deployment as a server or in a virtual machine, the only intrinsic difference between any edition is what sort of windowing system it uses - whether it uses Gnome, XFCE, Cinnamon, so on and so forth, and 99% of these windowing systems can be installed on top of one another with no consequences. If you install Ubuntu Gnome but you want to install Cinnamon later, you can do this! Literally nothing stops you, and nobody tells you this. They will, instead, tell you that Mint - a less feature-rich distro - is "the good beginner OS", even though the only thing that makes it such is its use of the Cinnamon windowing system, something you can install on Ubuntu: an OS with more features. Argh.

So by this point, having noticed that editions in Linux are utterly meaningless, I opted to just install a consumer desktop OS instead of an actual server OS, the thinking being: I already know what software a server needs to operate at peak efficiency, but I have absolutely no clue what software an operating system needs to even be remotely usable by a human being. It might take me several months to get a server running with Consumer Ubuntu, but it'd take years to do it on Server Ubuntu, in other words - and lo and behold, this line of thinking was the right track! It took way longer than I'd have liked, but I got mostly everything up and running. The main hurdles were in adapting to Ubuntu's stupid bullshit methodology - my previous server ran on OS X, and since Apache restructures its entire filesystem based on your OS, I had a harder time with Ubuntu than I would have if I had chosen something like CentOS, which uses a similar internal filescheme to OS X.

This was just my experience getting it to work as a server, though. I also installed it on a laptop in parallel just to get a feel for how it runs as a general use OS, and for what it's worth, it's one of the smoothest operating systems I've ever used. It quite literally breathed new life into that laptop, which I was about to write off as a loss - Windows 10 was bloating it to such a comical degree that I was beginning to think the hard drive was dying, but no, it was just the OS being an ungodly resource hog. You'd think I'd want to recommend it to you based on that alone, but no, there are still little infuriating things lurking in the shadows.

For one, no single program written for Linux has clear installation instructions. Most programs will leave out instructions for dependencies you need to install, or will only provide the installation command for one distro (usually the wrong distro, I.E. the one you don't have installed - this is usually easily solved by replacing either "apt" or "yum" with its opposite, but sometimes assholes will trip you up with shit like "pacman"), or not provide any installation commands at all and will instead leave vague instructions like "just do the install dance." (this particular example leaves out many dependency installation commands that FSV requires and not all terminal installers will catch) Most of this buggery takes place on Github, a wretched hive of scum and villainy. If you've ever read a on Github, you know my suffering - the people who write readmes on Github are true bastards, sired out of wedlock and all - they will, without fail, presume too much of you at one moment and not presume enough in the next. But this isn't the greatest sin - no, the greatest sin of all is their constant and infuriating failure to tell you that modern versions of Debian and Redhat have their own software installation wizard.

Yes, you read that right: if you're lucky, you don't even have to dick around with the command line to install software. Modern Debian and Redhat distros usually come with an "app store" of sorts that allows you to install a wide selection of commonly used Linux applications, but the other function of this store is to manage the installation of .deb files (debian packages) and .rpm files (redhat package manager files), the Linux equivalent of Microsoft's .exe format. Where do you find these? Good question! I'll tell you this, it's almost never on the front page of a software project's github. The front page is usually the, and we've already established those to almost always be useless to the common end user. No, what you actually want to do is inspect the github's files and look for any .rpm or .deb file (depending on which major distro you're using,) download that and open it. It should automatically open in the software manager and try to install. If it fails, then you try screwing with the command line, but it should install in the software manager 99% of the time. Why do techbeards shy away from telling you this crucial piece of information? Hell if I know! Maybe the command line is faster or more secure or some craziness like that, but that's really no concern to you if you're not running a server. You don't have to memorize sudo apt-get like I did.

"But the Command Line is faster," you scream, "But the Command Line is more reliable," you yell, "But the Command Line is more secure," you wail - y'know what? Fuck you. I'm sorry, but seriously, fuck you and the browser you rode in on if you're going to come back with that shit. You're the reason why Linux isn't widely adopted as a consumer operating system - you're part of the problem. Do you not understand why? Do you not get why I'm emphasizing the importance of the GUI to the average end user? The Command Line is too linear. Much of the workflow is tracked in headspace - the average computer user is not a techbeard. Tracking the motion of an abstract file in the command line is a deadly notion to these people - it's like working with SQL. You could do all of it in the command line, you could use commands like alter-table or add-column to punch in complex SQL edits one line at a time, or you could install MySQL Workbench from the snap store and save yourself precious weeks of your mortal life otherwise spent reinventing a wheel somebody else has figured out. But maybe the workbench will get hacked! "But maybe the workbench will corrupt your database! But maybe the workbench will -" Yeah, maybe my toilet will break and I'll have to shit in a hole. We have modern amenities for a reason.

So even putting aside minute differences in the codebase and development philosophy, knowing the general differences between Debian and Redhat, we can expect a general breakdown of the main, most popular distros to look like this:

In other words, y'know... If anyone even brings up anything other than Debian or Redhat (and their child distros) in a conversation remotely adjacent to recommending a distro for you to start with, blacklist that person from all of your social media, because they will never be helpful to you in any technological conversation. In fact, as an ordained minister, a man of the faith, I personally declare a holy crusade against techbeards who insist on plunging Arch down the throats of potential Linux converts. The Platinum Age of Piracy is now, and more than ever, we need a refuge from the ever-encroaching tendrils of proprietary operating systems, and not a damn soul is going to convert to the Open Source Side if we continue to insist on treating Linux like the goddamn


So you might've been reading my loosely conjoined ramblings up until now - you might've even agreed with some of it, but there's been a loose theme connecting all of this: vague, weasel-wordy references to "techbeards," some "insular community" that's been holding Linux back somehow. Maybe there's been some scattered link here and there (I couldn't tell you now, as I usually do such things in post,) but in general it's been pretty sketchy. Maybe the Linux community is like any other software dev community? You think to yourself, reminiscing on that time you tried to troubleshoot an error with the Dot Net runtime and found yourself lost in an ocean of support threads that raised more questions than answers. Maybe Alpha's just salty because the learning curve bit him in the ass or something. Look, I'm not going to discount what you're saying, imaginary reader, but just... Hear me out on this one. I have some compelling evidence I've been saving, just for this moment.

I want to start with the man who tipped me over the edge - he's perhaps not the god, emperor or even king of the Techbeards, but he's certainly a Lesser Duke. I watched a video from this man at the very dawn of my journey into putting the new server together, and he really set the stage for my attitude towards the people who maintain, promote and use Linux. I won't link this man's video because I don't think he deserves your attention, engagement or ad revenue - in fact, I highly encourage you to boycott this man if he's someone you watch. Despite his best efforts to promote Linux, he remains, thoroughly, part of the problem - and this video, this fucking video, really encapsulates what I'm talking about here.

If you recognize him, it's quite likely you're primed to disagree with me - this man has few people in his audience who aren't already entrenched in tech, be it at an intermediate level or an arcane beardist level, and established audiences have a tendency to echo. If you don't recognize this man, it's likely you might disagree with me anyway - he's a very specific and arbitrary target, and much of what I have to say is colored by a blind vitriol that's been percolating at the base of my ancient reptilian brain for a year and a half.

But oh my god, this guy. This fucking guy - I actually used this guy as a tech news source for a little while, and y'know what? For that, he was legit. Maybe a little abrasive in his presentation and a little rambly, but I mean, damn, he delivered the news most of the time. But fast forward to the news cycle for Windows 11's release, and my friend links a video from this fucking guy titled

and this video is 34:53 that I'm not getting back. The first like ten minutes is a meandering breakdown of a camera requirement for Windows 11, and the remainder of the video is an attempt to recommend Linux to viewers who have no experience with it. The problem inherent in this is it's evident this man has very little respect for new Linux users, nor is he really making this video for them. It's an attempt at a recommendation that only succeeds in filling the layman with revulsion towards Linux. We'll break it down as best we can:

This man's video is divided into convenient little chapters. The prologue, in which he rambles about Windows news, winds down into a summary of the current economic climate that allowed Windows to acheive near-total dominance. In this man's view, Linux only controls 2% of the desktop market share because Windows is "entrenched" - everyone is already familiar with it, and thus unwilling to switch. There's a sense that he's almost aware of the lunacy, the paradox inherent in this logic, but he just barely misses the mark. Those people occupying that 2% are "people who switched to Linux years ago" - in their own way, they're entrenched. Linux is caught between a rock and a hard place - people on Windows are too afraid to switch because Linux is unfamiliar to them, and people on Linux are too familiar with Linux to adequately explain it. There's also some token snobbery directed at Apple - and yes, I get it, Apple computers are expensive and it's difficult to run Mac OS on non-Apple hardware. Don't buy Macs new? That'll certainly solve the price issue.

From there, he suggests using a virtual machine to test your Distro before committing to an installation. Passable advice, maybe not workable if your machine has absolutely crap specifications for virtualization. Remember way at the beginning of the article when I said my first few experiences with Linux were failed attempts at running it in a VM? Yeah, this is where this guy's techbeardism is sort of showing. On paper it's good advice to virtualize the OS before committing to hardware - in practice, a virtual Linux is beholden to way more stupid bullshit than a proper hardware copy. I've never once gotten a virtual Linux box to run consistently without either a guru meditation or some application causing the whole thing to slow to a complete crawl - and since I was a Linux layman, I just figured hardware Linux would operate the same way. It doesn't.

Moving on to the first proper chapter of his feeble attempt at introducing users to Linux, he poses the question: "which version of Linux should I use?" A reasonable answer for reasonable people, but immediately out of the gate he opens up the full, uncut version of that distro timeline I sourced from Wikipedia. Yeah, the 12,000 pixel tall one that's bigger than your house. All laymen have left the building, buddy - I'm sorry. I guess it's to try and provide some kind of historical context, maybe give the viewer an idea of how many distros there are, but he's missing the forest for the trees - somebody asking "which Linux should I use?" doesn't actually care or even want to know that Linux is the most fragmented damn dev environment in the universe, in fact they're asking this question because of the infographic. What people really mean with this question is which version of Linux is the most user-friendly? This guy spends a solid five minutes on the distro timeline, five minutes that were never warranted because nobody asked for them.

He also drives a point home, and this is a curious thing because this is a point that only seems important to him - it's a point he repeats in seemingly every video in which he tries and fails to recommend Linux to new users - he insists that avoiding listicles which recommend Linux distros is imperative. In his world, in his mind palace, looking up "what version of Linux should I use" will get you a swath of seemingly AI-generated listicles pointing you to "bad distros." In another video, he brought up one of these articles and brutally attacked a recommendation for Pop OS - a fork of Debian - and in the space of only a few minutes proceeded to recommend Ubuntu, also a fork of Debian. They are basically the same operating system. To him, these listicles are a plague on the spread of information, "always the first thing you see when you search for"- Hang on...

So yeah, this guy recommends Linux Mint, which is also a fork of Debian, just like Ubuntu and Pop OS. He prefaces his recommendation with a completely unnecessary and unwarranted declaration that he uses Arch Linux, and that Arch is for "medium to expert-level" users, and that he wouldn't recommend it as "baby's first" distro. This is perhaps an attempt at humor, but it comes across as this guy's rampant pro-CLI bias seeping through the cracks - he's trying to recommend an OS for you, but you can tell he doesn't respect you or anyone who uses a similar OS because it's not Arch, and he's just "better than you" because he can operate the command line at the level Arch demands for daily use. He can drive stick, you still need to drive manual. Moreover, immediately after his pointless Arch flexing, he plugs his nose and imitates an imaginary strawman - a presumed response to the video - claiming that Mint is "easy mode Linux." Nobody is saying this, I don't think anyone even thought this - this is a thought conceived entirely by this man of his own volition because he personally holds this belief, and I'm not even sure he's aware of the words coming out of his own mouth. Words have meaning - you can't just toss them around like this. His jabs at Apple's desktop environment come across a similar way - he compares the windowing system to Fisher Price, and it's just like... Guy, you realize Apple's environment is a formula people want, right? The XFCE environment is similar in design principle - if I were suggesting Linux to a long-time Apple user, I'd recommend something with XFCE built in rather than Cinnamon. If anything, recommending Mint and solely Mint is very tunnel-sighted.

Oh, this will be fun.

Step One: There are 15 billion different Linux distributions. I use a distribution that doesn't use graphics, so that makes me a better person than you because I know how computers work, but if you want to play with baby toys, I'll pretend I want to help you. Don't trust articles, only trust me, I am the most important source of information, me, only me.

Step Two: I assume you are using Windows and not Mac because Macs are for children and people who go to starbucks. Since you're familiar with Windows, I'm going to recommend you use Linux Mint. I've shown you Ubuntu, Debian and Manjaro in other videos. Have you seen those videos? No? Then you don't know what those things are. I guess I'm an asshole for listing them. Like and subscribe and ring that bell. Mint has an XFCE edition but you shouldn't get that and I'm only gonna dedicate a token sentence to it. I'm also gonna assume you're a gamer and have a $3500 computer and can run the most resource-intensive copy of Mint, so download the latest and beefiest one. Don't download it directly from their server, use the torrent. I'm not gonna elaborate on how to torrent but I will mock you ruthlessly for not wanting to torrent because you had a bad experience with your ISP in the past and you don't want to go through the rigamarole of setting up a VPN

Step Three: Own an 8GB flash stick, if you don't own one of these things, I don't even want to associate with you, this is conventional wisdom. Download an ISO burner program and burn the ISO image - I'm gonna namedrop one and show the other, and leave it up to you to guess where to find either of these things.

Step A: I will now ruthlessly mock people who think Linux is difficult as I show you the graphical user interface for installing Mint. This is supposed to be funny, but it's really just turning off anyone who thought this would be helpful in any capacity. Follow the onscreen instructions - please note the command line that flashes briefly, I do so love its presence, it teases me like a stripper.

Step B: Your Linux is still installing in the background, but now you can dick with it and potentially fuck shit up. I'm going to demonstrate this live environment and flex some more about how great I am at computers. Did you maybe want to go back in time to 1999 when you had to keep track of a fucking floppy disk or other kind of bootable medium to turn your goddamn computer on? Well I have good news! Now you can do this with Linux! You can put the whole damn OS on a removable USB and then lose it and never regain access to all your important documents because - get this - the data never stores on the hard drive. What? You don't want to do that? You think that's utterly ridiculous? Well you just don't understand what it's like to get your dick sucked by a terminal prompt at 3 AM.

Step C: Press the "Install Linux Mint" button and follow the onscreen instructions. I will now ruthlessly mock people who get tetchy at the sight of an "erase disk" prompt because I eat hard drives for breakfast. Did you know you can dual boot Linux? This is useful if you want to play Call of Duty or Rainbow Six Siege natively. (I'm not making this up, he really says this.) Erase the disk, get yourself some G-Fuel (he really says this) follow some more effing on-screen instructions (You don't know what I'm up against)

Step D: Fucking give up on this clown, honor has been satisfied, the audience gets it, look at it

Look at it

We are long past three

There's too much to cover here - this is a large, meandering article, and I don't want to spend more space on this man than is necessary. I had some scattered thoughts on the latter parts of his video that I workshopped with the usual suspects, but most of them weren't really good for prime time. The most salient, I think, is when he discusses the software manager - he goes out of his way to tell the user that you can install software in the terminal in parallel with the software manager. Okay? Sure? Why? Nobody wants to open the terminal. Yes, you can, but why would you want to? And I mean, all credit to him, he at least covered the software manager - his explanation of how it works was complete shite, but he covered it. When I originally watched this video, I was in a blind rage from this guy's presentation and his Arch superiority complex, so the whole thing with the software manager flew past me. Like the rest of this video, he's missing the forest for the trees - he's addressing its existence, he acknowledges it's there, but he doesn't really care for it or helping you understand it - he could have told you .deb files are treated by Mint kind of like .exe files in Windows, but instead he just kind of glazes over it. "Oh yeah, they're package manager files. Anyway, you can open the terminal and install programs in parallel!" No! Laymen didn't come here for this!

Frankly, did any beginners come to this guy at all? Moving on a bit from eviscerating this man's personal style as a techbeard youtuber, I think it's prudent to loosely examine the comments for one of his videos - just one - we could go deeper, and frankly should, but this article is quite long as it is.

If you've been skeptical of my repeated claims of Linux being held back by gatekeepers who insist on a development environment that discourages user-friendliness, this brief exchange - cherry-picked as it is - is the Fantasy Football in action. "Canonical's obsession with Snaps"? What the fuck are they talking about? Yes, they're obsessed with snaps because they're a good way to quickly and graphically install a program with little resistance, of course Canonical's obsessed with snaps. "Idiot proofing limits it"? You realize this is Linux you're talking about, right? Comparing an idiot-proofed Linux to Apple is literally apples and oranges, it is not a workable comparison.

This one stood out to me - not because of the OS support issues this guy highlights, but the implied reasoning behind them. Using a VM as the guy claims to do is a workable solution, of course, and it's unfortunately one of those things you need to learn to do if you want to use Linux as your everyday machine. No, what was funny to me was how intensely this reinforces the stereotypes surrounding "techy" people - this has been a gruesome, inflammatory article fueled by a burning hate for an intangible, unquantifiable group, but if nothing else, I've tried to reinforce throughout that I have the qualities of one of these people, and these people are human beings like you or me - they aren't all going out of their way to turn the OS into a club for the good ol' boys. So when something like this rears its head, it just strikes me as bordering on the absurd, like I don't even have to try to paint these people as living stereotypes when they're doing it to themselves.

Look, do I have to fucking spell it out? It's right there in the screencap! Game music! Chiptunes! Electronica! That is all you can compose out of the box! Anything remotely resembling sound produced by a "real" instrument isn't supported to anywhere near the same degree. You can't make this shit up.

"Use Arch"

Fuck you

Argh - look, I'm impotently shaking my fist at random people at this point. These are people with feelings, lives, pasts - do they all, universally, truly mean to contribute to this problem? Obviously not - but they do, and that's what's frustrating about it. This man may not mean to make matters worse by passive-aggresively dissing human-readable desktop environments, but the fact is he does, and this is just the one man and the one audience. The Linux development community is filled with people like this - this is why I can't recommend Linux to you. This is why this article has been about


The Recommendation I Can't Make

I suppose the rationale behind the title of this article may not have been made entirely clear so far - if anything, I may have given off the impression that I don't want to recommend Linux to you. Quite the contrary - I do. It's one of the most pleasant operating systems I've ever used, or at least the particular distro and flavor of Linux I use happens to be, and that's the problem. Linux is too fragmented - there is no "pan-ultimate Linux" that is just Linux, I can't point to any single OS and tell you that is the homogenous experience which will be the same for everyone. It's a puzzling phenomenon which doesn't echo across the competing platforms - Windows, for all of its faults, has remained basically the same under the hood for the last 30 years - the interface has been forcibly changed as of late and certain questionable decisions regarding updates and data collection have been made, but overall it's the same experience for everyone, especially once newer versions of the OS are reskinned to match older editions. Mac forces occasional UI changes that can't be reversed, but the overall experience has been virtually the same for everyone since the shift away from OS 9.

So I want to recommend Linux to you, but a very specific Linux. I want to recommend the flavors of Linux that are curated and designed to be used by laymen - either Debian or Redhat, and since two flavors is still not homogenous enough for the average user, for sake of argument we'll just boil it down to Debian and its child operating systems, and we'll refer to it as "Debian" from here on out for sake of simplicity even if you're installing something based on it. If anyone recommends anything else to you, consider them to be wrong. If it's not Ubuntu or Mint or Debian or Pop OS or whatever the hell, punch whoever you're talking to in the face - you have my divine authority in this matter. Remember, I'm ordained.

The reason why I can't recommend Debian to you should be self-evident by now - let's say you want to drop Windows entirely as your day-to-day OS and install Debian because you've heard it's "better." Well... In some respects, it is, sure. But the thing is, techbeards tend to look at Linux through rose-colored glasses. What they aren't telling you is you're just exchanging one form of self-punishment for another. Because like, the bottleneck: Most people who switch to Linux seem to do so because Windows or Mac got fucky for them in some way and they wanted a better option, but Linux is still fucky.

Mystification of Linux as an OS began early - Maximum Linux Magazine, 2000

You won't experience the same problems you had on Windows, sure, but you'll be saddled with a completely different set of problems - many of which stem from the toxic development environment. The minute anything starts behaving strangely on the OS and you decide to look up how to fix it, it's off to Beardland, a hell beyond imagining where everyone speaks in riddles, half-truths, and one-upmanship. Within the same support thread, it's not uncommon to find three conflicting solutions to the same problem on the same operating system, and it's equally common to find people insisting the way you're doing things isn't "the correct way," even though the Linux dev environment is so utterly fragmented, it can scarcely be said there's any truly objectively correct way at all.

So, I can't recommend it to you because the 'beards have ruined the support environment, and those same 'beards are the people in charge of developing the OS. It's a conundrum - the more I've thought about it and discussed it with Mullet Boat, the more I've realized this dark chapter in the history of open source is the fault of the human condition. Techbeards weren't born assholes, they want validation just like anyone else, so this continued mystification and fragmentation of Linux is their way of making themselves feel special in a cold, desolate universe.

Let's pretend for a moment, though, that I could recommend it to you. That man from YouTube did an utterly abysmal job of explaining Linux to a layman observer - his video was made for 'Beards, with the average user left only as a token consideration. Using his video as a template of what not to do, I think we can streamline things somewhat... I say, having spent many tens of paragraphs to actually get to this part of the article.

- Step 1: If you're a PC, go to and download the .iso image. If you're a Mac, go to and do the same.

- Step 2: Burn the ISO image on to a DVD

- Step 3: If you don't have a DVD or if your DVD burner bitches about the image being too huge, download this program and follow the onscreen instructions

- Step 4: Back up all of your shit (though preferably, install this somewhere else)

- Step A: Follow the onscreen OS installation instructions (for dinner)

- Step B: Open the start menu (it's located in the same place as it is on Windows)

- Step C: Find the Snap Store or whatever the hell it's called on your end, and pin it to the taskbar

- Step D: Experience Bij

- Step E: Enjoy the operating system because you now never have to touch the fucking command line ever in your life unless something goes wrong, in which case, go back to Step D. If you feel the need to use the command line, look up "How to Install (insert program name here) Ubuntu" on the internet and copy and paste the command. If that fails, look at the support thread for some other asshole's interpretation of the command, if that fails, look at the software's github page (where applicable) to see if it has a .deb file.

So I mean, there you go. Was that helpful? Was it maybe more concise than the other guy? I tried not to editorialize too much, I tried not to mire the tutorial too much in responding to people who don't exist, detailing historical or technical background information that's otherwise irrelevant, or pogging over the damn command line like it's the hot shit. But like, again, I dunno. I'm no longer a layman - I have that kind of techbeard problem, I have issues relating this sort of information to an uninitiated audience. So if this isn't any more helpful than the other guy's take on it, I mean, tell me.

Y'know, it wasn't always like this. Linux wasn't always viewed as this impenetrable, dense wall of tech reserved only for the most devout technopriests of His Divine Shadow, its source kode carved in Latin on a pillar somewhere far away in the Alps and guarded by a reclusive sect of techbeards and shadowlords who think in code and don't need computer mice to interface with machines because they've acheived technological apotheosis. No, believe it or not, Linux did not always have this optic - Linux used to be something retailers were confident enough to sell in stores. Not for very long or even very successfully, I'll grant you, but the optic was certainly better enough from where we are now that people were willing to try! I remember it happening - I was there. I can't find footage of the computers on display, but for a glorious moment in history, there were Linux desktops for sale right next to the Windows machines - Everex released a machine called the "gPC," and damnit, all I have to show to prove these were sold in real places is the above illustration. But I mean, trust me, it was there. Wal-Mart sold it from 2007 through 2008, when they pulled it from physical shelves due to lack of consumer demand. But I would swear, I remember seeing this or something similar at Staples and Best Buy. It was real, I created it, it's ancient knowledge...

It wasn't limited to physical retail either, of course - there used to be services that would assemble and mail you a custom Linux machine so you wouldn't have to go through the bij of making one yourself. I've been dogging on them off and on throughout this article, but Maximum Linux Magazine advertises exactly this kind of service, and I mean, fuck, say what you want about the insularity of the Linux community dude - at least back then they knew not everyone wanted to assemble all this shit on their own. Canonical also used to sell installation media for Ubuntu - it was a nice way to donate to the project and bypass the torture of making an install stick yourself, but they stopped, perhaps for the same reason Wal-Mart stopped selling the gPC, but in reverse. Ubuntu knows they're selling to beards and for beards, but that's also the problem - beards already know how to make installation media, so why would they ever buy it, even if it's to support a project they love?

Bottom line, there's a measurable sort of peak in popularity for desktop Linux, a time when it was the hot shit. Everyone knew what it was and everyone was willing to go for broke trying to sell it, and Linux's prominence shrank during a time when desktop computer usage was at an all time high. So... What the hell went wrong? I guess there's something to be said for why Wal-Mart pulled the gPC from store shelves - it was far more popular online with people who already knew what Linux was, so it was more appealing to people who had already exited the walled garden - or maybe more appropriately, entered a new walled garden. The people in the Linux garden recommend it heavily, but they don't quite understand: most people who buy desktop computers today are either looking for glorified office furniture or a gaming rig, and Linux as a fragmented platform is alienating to both of those audiences - the people who want glorified office furniture just want a workstation that will turn on, browse the internet and run the workstation programs they need it to run, typically something like Office or Photoshop or an audio workstation. The people who want the sick gaming rig generally just want a game console that can run every game - they want to turn on the computer and make video games happen without putting in much thought to making them run. For the former audience, Linux isn't going to run most popular workstation programs natively - it'll run them in a virtual machine no problem and might run them through WINE, the former is effort that a layman probably won't have too much trouble with but I have issues with WINE and I'm no spring chicken with computers, so that's off the table. The gamers are going to have similar problems - a lot of programs don't have native support. It's better now with stuff like Steam's Proton, but somebody unfamiliar with Linux is going to look at "a lack of native support" at a glance and opt out of it, even when there's a compatibility layer that could make it work.

And yes, of course, Linux still has a large presence outside of the desktop market. I know. Chromebooks are built on a fork of Linux, Android is its own mobile-specialized version of it, the Steam Deck is built on some distro or another... You notice how none of these devices openly advertise their ties to Linux? Excepting maybe the Steam Deck, grant you, but go to any mobile store and look at the placard for a Droid phone - I'll bet you dollars to donuts "Linux" isn't listed on the little system specs placard next to the display model phone. Oh, it'll tell you what version of Droid it's running, but it won't say Linux. There's a kind of brand whitewashing going on - a reluctance to openly call anything Linux because Linux is scary to people. People understand Android, they understand Steam, they understand Google Chrome - but for some reason, Linux carries a connotation of complexity, even though a properly developed and supported distro like Debian is just as simple to use as any other desktop OS.

There's an existential dilemma that's been orbiting this article, infesting the very core of it - see, I've been trying throughout this article to come to terms with why I can't recommend Linux to you, at least not in good faith. It's a problem that runs deep into the core of humanity - Linux is just like this because people who possess specialty knowledge find it easy to fall into egoism, vanity and beardyness, and that's a problem for anyone who wants to spread Linux as an ideal alternative OS for desktop users. Hard questions start coming to light - questions like how did Linux become scary? Or maybe how and why are we killing Linux? But very broadly and crudely speaking, I feel like I know the answers to these questions, and I feel like a better question to pose should be can we teach the techbeards to be better people, and is it too late to salvage the optics of Linux?

I'm an optimist. Maybe that's a mistake, but I like to think most techbeards are well-intentioned at the core, in spite of all the truly hateful things I've said here. I feel like the road to healing can start here - whether or not it's too late? That's another matter entirely, but I suppose if I had to lay out a series of best practices to improve beard/layman relations...

- Never even consider the command line when telling a Layman how Linux works. I know you love it, it's going to be hard for you to let this go, I know you want to tell me "everyone will use this at least once using a computer." Stop immediately - you're under this illusion that the command line is giving you better control, that you're somehow closer to the heart of the computer because you're typing commands like a hacker. Nothing much really changes in the way the computer handles the request - you're acting like somebody who prefers stick shift in the automotive world. Yes, you technically get better control under certain contexts, but it's at the cost of having to use goddamn stick shift. Doing everything on a black screen with difficult to read text doesn't really put the layman any closer to deeper commune with it all.

- Treat the layman with respect. I know you think you're the hot shit because you can use Arch Linux and you've memorized sudo apt install and you've soldered your own damn computer chips and you can code in C#... Just, fucking cool it. You were probably this person once - I say "probably" because I can't say with certainty when you started using computers. Maybe you're a lucky bastard like me and started using computers the day you became sapient, I don't know, I can't say, but for the majority of you - try to have some basic empathy. When you write a, consider the people who really won't know what you're talking about - when you try to recommend this OS to someone, try not to editorialize and faff around the point, and above all else, try not to talk down to people because they want to use something a little more user-friendly.

- Be patient. Yes, it's very often the user's fault for things that go wrong in Linux, but that doesn't give you carte blanche to be a bitch about it. When doing a tutorial, answering a tech question or otherwise offering your knowledge in general, remember the person on the other end is a thinking, feeling human being who is in a very bad place emotionally because their computer isn't doing what they want it to do - so when you tell them something like "this is a very simple problem that anyone would have figured out on day 1 of Linux" or "it's conventional wisdom that you should never do this, maybe try the command line instead" or some other such dross, remember: they aren't here to be told it's their fault or that an alternative method of approach is "better." They want a solution, and they want a solution that fits within the parameters of their production environment. So don't provide alternatives unless they ask for it, or unless they really are doing something so utterly batshit insane that they have to change it immediately for the sake of their data's safety - and even then, tell them this with tact.

- Try to put things in terms of what they actually get you rather than in technical jargon. Be goal-oriented in your tutorials and support posts - most laymen don't approach computers for the love of computers like you do, they do it because whatever they're doing, they're expecting a specific result. Why do you want to recommend the command line? Can something else more graphical do the same thing? Who are you? What are you? Why are you here?

Where this leaves us

There's something Captain Kirk said that sticks with me - in Mirror Mirror, when he's trying to convince Spock to plant the seeds of Federation ideology in the hellworld of the Terran Empire.

In every revolution, there's one man with a vision.

I don't think I'm going to change the world - the Linux community is pretty entrenched in its ideals, the internet is pretty echo chamber-y, and I've frankly been quite rude and unprofessional throughout this whole article. I'm hardly the first person to observe the tech world to be insular - maybe the first to apply such a convenient label, but hardly the first to observe. True change lies in memetics, and I barely even know who's reading my website or if they're even real people - I'm hardly in a position to kick off 'beard as a proper suffix.

So no, Kirk, I'm sorry. Logic suggests that one man can't summon the future.

But... I dunno.

A girl can dream.

"So easy, a child could do it." So they imply... (Again, as always, Maximum Linux Magazine)