I am what I am

Posted on Tue 16 December 2003 in general

I found this interesting article by Joel Spolsky. He is someone who I've always found interesting to read, even if he did work for the big M once ;-)

The article talks about the difference between the Unix and Windows cultures. I won't repeat his discussion as he does it much more eloquently than me, however a few things did resonate with me. The main thing that explains why I like Unix (more specifically the free variants of it) is its written by programmers for programmers, rather than for users. Thinking back on it it explains a lot about why my
time with Windows was uneasy and ultimately unfullfiling.
Back when I first got involved with computers I could do "stuff" with them. And when I say "stuff" I mean anything - auto-create my D&D characters, evaluate Car Wars turns, make pretty pictures go all wibbly over a screen. As my computers got more powerful my ability to do stuff became more limited until I was running windows. At that point my ability to do stuff was limited to downloading programs that other people had written. To write stuff myself I had to a) Get hold
of expensive tools and b) Go through a lot of trail and error as I had no reference code. If you ever look at the final copy of the old SoS Battle Board software you'll quickly come to the conclusion that I hadn't seen much VB when I extended the code base.

When I discovered Linux it was like rediscovering a lost secret. The reason why I like playing with computers in the first place. The fact that I can do whatever "stuff" I like. And there is a mass of other people out there who will quite happily share with you and (if interested) help you do your "stuff".

Now some people paint be as a free software zealot but its not really true. I appreciate that as a programmer I have different things I want to do with my computer than you do with yours. At the end of the day you are free to run whatever software you like on your machine as long as it doesn't affect me. My only real bug bear is proprietary
"standards" and undocumented file formats that a designed to
force your choice of OS. The phrase "everyone runs Word" is really just flame baiting. Of course it won't stop me from telling you how good life on my side of the divide is ;-)