September 21, 2000

You know, for kids!

Author: JT Smith

By Emmett Plant
NewsForge Columnist

Speaking of GNU/Linux

As Norville Barnes pulls out a crumpled piece of paper from
his pocket
and
presents it to Sidney Mussberger in the film "The Hudsucker
Proxy," he
unveils a simple circle, saying, "You know, for kids!" The
idea goes on
to
make millions for Hudsucker Industries, much to the chagrin
of the
board. Will new Linux distributions come wrapped as Blue
Letters?Norville Barnes is a regular schnook, a total buffoon. No
one on the
board expects him to create the idea that launches the
company through
the
financial stratosphere. They're actually betting on him
burying the
place
so they can buy back the stock for pennies on the dollar,
making them
millionaires all over again. So they bet the company on the
kid. How many Linux companies are doing just this?

Most of the Linux enthusiasts I meet are younger people.
I've met at
least
one 11-year-old Linux user. On the other hand, I know
Linux users
that
are close to 80 years old, but on the whole, the median
is people my

age. If it helps you at all, I was born in 1976. Most of
the people I
work
with are my age, as well. At my last job, everyone on the
core staff was

23 for a couple of months at the same time. I
will say this,
though. The people that tend to get the most excited about
Linux are the

people at the opposite ends of the age spectrum.

There's a weird kind of multi-generational quality to the
Linux
community. A lot of us are young kids not quite out of high
school, and
a
lot of us are part of the older Linux generation, you know,
beards and
suspenders. If you've ever met Jay Sulzberger or "Maddog"
Hall, you know

precisely who I'm
talking about. The people that were working in computers
before Windows
was created are paying attention to the new young upstarts
and learning
to
enjoy it. After all, it didn't cost them hundreds of
dollars to try it
out, and they can run it on their home computers.

There's also a lot of in-betweeners, and this is where I
hear most of
the
complaining. People who say that Linux is for kids, and
it's not for
"real
business." People who say that Linux is a toy. Linux is a
toy? It wasn't

until I installed Enlightenment that I got a real window
manager. If
it's
not for real business, than how come I can do my business
tasks on it? I

don't even own a Windows machine. I do everything using
Linux. Everything. I manage. These people are born from the
Windows age,

and want everything all at once. These people are the ones
that say that

Linux isn't ready for anything, let alone the desktop.
They'll run Linux

(or at least they'll claim to), and complain constantly.

The good thing about the super-young set of the Linux
enthusiast crowd
is
that they're learning Linux before they start learning
about networking,

TCP/IP, file server technology and thin clients. That's a
super-cool
thing, because if you're at that age and you can play with
that stuff
using a gig or so on mom and dad's machine, fantastic.
Spend your summer

and your spare time learning Linux!

I feel good about tomorrow's middle ground. Tomorrow's
Linux Users will
be
yesterday's pubescent teenagers, and they'll have a clue.
They'll
know filesystems and basic system administration like the
back of
their hand, and they'll have some C or shell scripting in
their belt, as

well. Hopefully they won't be running BSD.

See you in seven.

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