Helen McCall helen at dinoflagellate.demon.co.uk
Sat Jul 15 14:09:56 BST 2000

Hello Aled,

On Sat, 15 Jul 2000, Aled Morris wrote:

> >The freebsd-users list does not help in this, with its "Beer and Curry"
> >clique appearing to totally dominate any discussion.
> I think it is inevitable that you will get a "core" of regulars (along
> with their in-jokes) sustaining a discussion list, which is the definition
> of a clique, but it isn't necessarily a bad thing.  One puts up with it
> because the quality of the "content" of the list outweigh the "noise".

Having a core of contributers with their in-jokes is inevitable as you
say. But referring to meetings of the User Group as "Beer and Curry"
nights only creates a total clique image. It has certainly always put me
> >I find the general ethos in the freebsd world so embarassing
> I, like I guess most people reading this, are amazed and stunned that you
> think this.  The FreeBSD project is different from the mainstream open
> source community because of the professionalism of the participants and
> quality of the product.

The FreeBSD project does have very professional participants who produce a
very excellent product. Likewise for the other BSD projects, and many of
the Linux projects. However I have yet to see a Linux group referring to
their regular meetings as "Beer and Curry" nights. Nor have I ever seen
anything like the freebsd-users list's regular abuse thrown at the Linux
world. The only negative comments about FreeBSD I have seen on any Linux
list have been merely the comments that for most Linux users, FreeBSD can
be very difficult to learn to administer properly. This is simply because
some of the Linux distributions use GUI based setup programs which
separate the user from the actual administrative detail. Therefore you get
a lot of Linux users who have no real understanding of the system they
use. However for FreeBSD, Debian, and Slackware the user needs to know
what s/he is doing to administer the system effectively.

> > that I do not
> >like mentioning the name "Freebsd" to my commercial clients, preferring to
> >refer to it as "Berkley UNIX" instead.
> Actually I have the same problem for different reasons.  Most of my
> "corporate" clients haven't bought into open-source, so the name
> "Free"-something puts them off.  I am trying to introduce FreeBSD systems
> as embedded, standalone devices (DNS, TACACS, SYSLOG etc), but it is an
> uphill struggle that isn't helped by the name.

I used to find this a problem with all "Free" software. However, until the
mid Nineties, anyone in the UNIX world had a healthy respect for "Free"
software. The bad name that the DOS world brought to "Free" software in
the Eighties, is now slowly dieing out. I now find that it is only the
clients with poor management skills and closed minds who reject it. And I
do not really want those clients anyway. :-)

> I urge you to attend the next meeting, and I am sure that as the meetings
> become more formal there will be a more formal dining arrangement!  In
> fact, I'm sure that the organisers would welcome your contribution in
> helping to arrange such an event at the November meet.

I will probably not be able to come to the November meet because of some
e-commerce projects I am working on at the moment, and the commitments to
some marketing sessions with them later this year.
> >Even the very professional Debian project tends to put women off with the
> >amount of flaming on the developers' lists.
> To be honest, I would expect the Linux community to suffer more from the
> image you describe of inexperienced youths dominating the proceedings.  I
> don't think I've ever seen a "flame war" on any FreeBSD mailing lists.  

Yes! Flaming is a major problem in the Linux world, along with the problem
of very unprofessional abusive comments and names for MS products. 
However a lot of people are working hard to remove it. The FreeBSD
problems are mainly the "Beer and Curry" image, and the abusive comments
about MS and Linux. 

> freebsd-hackers is a truly civilised place for professionals to discuss
> the technical details of the operating system which has rightly earned a
> position of respect in the community.

Yes! great respect. As has Linux. These two kernels and operating systems
can both stand up to any criticism because of the excellent quality of the
products. The project workers in all of these volunteer projects can stand
up proudly. With two very different systems like these being developed
seperately, neither can ever be accused of trying to create a monopoly,
unlike Microsoft.

However, to obtain even better respect in the world, neither the Linux nor
the BSD people should be using abusive terms about each other. And neither
should they be using abusive names for Microsoft and its products. Let
Microsoft be the name caller. BSD and Linux can stand on their quality,
which is more than Microsoft will ever be able to do in my opinion. Name
calling is just childish and unnecessary.

> Believe me, if you come to a FreeBSD meeting, most attendees will join you
> in a Unix version of the four Yorkshiremen sketch.  Tell that to the kids
> of today, and they won't believe you.

If that is a promise, I might turn up to one in future! ;-)

There was the day when someone dropped a stack of cards, and after
carefully arranging all the picked up cards in numerical order, went on to
load the Fortran program backwards............ ;-) 

Best wishes,

Helen McCall


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