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Some thoughts on recent elitism (not sure elitism is the right word, but I can't think of a better one right now) I heard on Late Night Linux. ☹️

kevq.uk/this-is-whats-wrong-wi

@kev I actually feel like this extends to techies/tech-nerds/whatever you want to call us/them. Can't tell you how many people claim to have the "best" solution only for the overwhelming majority to discover that it's overly complex and cumbersome. It is elitism. We should just call a lot of things "good" solutions, and not let perfect be the enemy of good. occasionally it's a good exercise to scroll through stack overflow and discover some of those "best" solutions lol.

@kev also what's the old saying? the best solution is the best one that works for you? something like that.

@kev IDK, I think there's a difference between saying "this is the best way" and "this is the way everyone needs to do it".

I would actually agree that self hosting a UI like round cube is better than an installed app like kmail or something, but I'd be very wary of who I suggested it to.

@kev as an aside, I didn't enjoy Jim's participation at all. he came off as arrogant. that's fine, I'm sure he's a great guy, I just usually enjoy the LNL banter immensely and he had a completely different flavour.

@kev

aside II:

spinning up round cube isn't as easy as installing an app, but its nowhere near as complex as a lamp stack. I've used their docker container in the past, can spin it up with a one liner:

github.com/roundcube/roundcube

@levi docker containers are a whole other thing that come with their own complexity.

@kev containers can be complex, but running roundcube in a container is not particularly so.

@levi I’m glad it’s not just me. That’s why i stopped listening to 2.5 Admins. He comes across as very arrogant to me too.

@kev same here. And his abrasiveness is accentuated by how chill Allan is.
@levi

@fedops I really like the way Allan conducts himself, but then Jim pipes and almost undermines him. Yeah, not a fan.

@levi

@levi i think it’s all subjective, right? All depends on what someone’s needs are i suppose.

Personally, I’d recommend the standard webGUI over a self hosted one. Pretty much email services come with webmail these days. Don’t see the point in reinventing the wheel.

@kev @levi I see your point but I think its worth pointing out that native clients were a thing before web based ones, so they were the ones reinventing the wheel

I kinda wish that never happened, because it would mean that native clients would be a lot better today!

@levi @kev best is just way too loaded of a word. It's very presumptuous. I think the world would be a lot better place if people had a little humility. There are only a select few people that are expert enough at something to say what is the best way, and even then, as @kev puts it, it depends on the user. Also, there is an often forgotten principle that oftentimes when people become experts at things, they forget how to teach or learn, and thus really have no business lecturing on "best"

@levi @kev I wonder which is harder to set up effectively: roundcube or mutt? The complexity of the former might be hidden in the packaging in some cases.

@kev You're right. Making people feel as if they're too ignorant for Linux or won't be welcomed by the community, or as if running Linux is a full-time job, is an excellent way to stop them using it.

@kev unfortunately I can’t agree more, I find it particularly concerning when it comes to FOSS elitism, not everyone will want to use 100% FOSS 100% of the time

@LinuxLounge @kev

While Kev's linux phenomenon may best fit the bill of elitism, in the case of FOSS 'purism' may be better.

People that are promoting the use of FOSS - which can be very user-friendly, not elitist - but aggressively blame others for using too little of it whenever they spot the use of some 'evil' non-FOSS.

The advocacy follows a "Purity Spiral".

(See definition I extracted from an article, and recognized + encountered in a FOSS context on e.g. fedi)

community.humanetech.com/t/soc

@kev Honestly, I find that this eliticism is less bad than it used to be when I started in the 2000s, and I doubt it's a Linux problem: Some humans just need to brag and depreciate others. I feel sorry for them.

I also wasn't a fan of the LNL discussion, but more for the fact of simply not mentioning good old solid boring Evolution (and loads of other desktop software). It just was a spontaneous discussion.
Still, I might try and setup Roundcube once I have the time to do so.

@kev If you want to see what real LinuxElitism is, look at

sysdfree.wordpress.com

But seriously, there is a problem with Linux, but elitism isn't it.

Ubuntu was the poster-boy for easy-to-use Linux, and it and Mint are reasonable ways to ween computer users away from Windows [the real villain here].

The problem is that Linux has become too bloated through corporate influences. Sysdfree is a reaction to that.

I have a rant capability, but life is too short.

@kev good post, and 100% agree. And it is everywhere (e.g. programming languages - who hasn't heard “X is rubbish”, said even in front of people whose entire career is based on using that language).

You might not be sure of what the point of the article is. To me, the outcome is we should be more humble and respectful. I think this is getting increasingly annoying in our field.

@kev I bet you 20$ that the eBay guy doesn't even use Gentoo.

@kev great post, i enjoyed the content. I also think it is partially true because self imposed rules and elitism might be a way to push yourself further (weird, right?). I am sure that there is another way but maybe this is the root for some peopke sounding like that? Just a thought here :-)

@kev

You are not wrong, I think there is a cycle of being a Linux user, that becoming an elitist is typically a shortlived part of, I know I've been 'that' user in the past, some folks, it seems, never grow beyond that stage, perhaps enjoying the attention it brings them.

As for email clients in Linux, im suprised he went the route of running roundcube, and not somthing like Emacs with mu4e, or vim and imapsync neither of which are easily set up for a new user.

@kev I agree with him that email clients have not aged well. Since everyone uses webmail by Google these days anyway, a lot of development seems to have stopped.

It's interesting they mentioned Mailmate, which is one of the most feature rich and still actively developed email clients; alas available only on Macos.

Personally I hate webmail and the thought of storing emails in a database makes me cringe. That's why I stick with tui mail clients.

But as you say - there is no best way.

@kev IMHO most of the Linux elite is judgmental and doesn’t try to understand other people’s needs and abilities. If everyone would be more curious about one another’s circumstances, the linux community could be much more helpful.

@seb @kev as it has always been with unix.

"how can you not have just known that spkfbpf was the command to prevent the computer from deleting all of your files?"
for some people, opening the terminal is too much for them..., so even a one-liner is out of the question. That doesn't make them a bad user, it just means they aren't an operator, which is just fine.

I like roudcube. I think its a good solution, however, I prefer #aerc myself. Still, I can see why Thunderbird, Geary, or Kmail are better solutions for the more graphically inclined. Its all just choices though, and that's why I like the Linux ecosystem (Gnu or not) because I get choice, I can build my environment to suit me. For some users their level of customization relies heavily on the choices made for them by people who understand the underpinnings and can create smooth workflows. This is OK too.

Different choices are NOT lesser choices. They are just different. The Linux community has many noisy people(myself included) who throw their opinions around and cast judgement on the choices of others, the state of projects, etc. I think the solution to this is actually from the silent majority, through encouraging bystander intervention. To call it out when they see this happening. Thanks for intervening @kev
@charims
>for some people, opening the terminal is too much for them..., so even a one-liner is out of the question. That doesn't make them a bad user...
Disagree
@kev

@charims @kev

Well said. I am the kind of person who can use a terminal to some small extent, but just for some function here an there. Yet I fully understand why many people would not dare trying an operating system that requires lines of terminal code at times, as they worry to have a computer that they cannot make run theirstandard applications 🙂

@charims @kev

The Linux (and open source) community more general is both precious and an unbearably stereotypical example of (male) nerd introversion

Precious, because if there is any hope of a "free" digital society it is this. Unbearable because... well lets start with Linus :-)

More gender balance would help, but i have no clue how one could reach that.

@kev it is one thing to assume that everyone can deal with messy installs, but... it's the same attitude that prevents us from making said installs less messy, too

most of it should have been simplified away, but we keep thinking "don't worry, only sysadmins will do this anyway"

(actually, simonsafar.com/2021/installing is kinda about this; I should probably rewrite it to be half as long, but then I still got to produce another 56 of these first :D)

@ssafar @kev lol love the disclaimer at the top :) Have often felt like that as I chug through the challenge!

@kev That was a nice and fun blogpost to read. Thanks! The ebay guy was hilarious.

@kev I had similar thoughts while listening to that episode. I also didn’t enjoy it at all, which is rare.

This overly complex thinking is rife, as others have already said. Why use a desktop app when you can spin up a Kubernetes cluster with 23 docker containers and a VPN for your web based text editor…

@gray @kev It's probably not a good solution to that particular use case (email), but web based ui makes a lot of sense in some cases: this is an alternative to gui that works cross platform (think qt) without all the gui libraries you (as the developer) need to deal with.
in the early 2000s there was a open source project called POPFile, it's written in perl, provides a pop3 proxy to do bayesian classification for you, and a web UI to control it. it works nicely cross platform because perl+web.

@gray @kev This proposition could be the next level for Electron-based text editors. 😅

@kev Ubuntu is used by Google and Based on Debian which is Quite mature and Stable in itself. Well There are Advance users of MAC-OS and Windows, I agree to the Point.
Linux has suffered alot and Microsoft has again taken advantage by Making WSL and Docker likes part of Windows.
Hopes of Desktop UI are gone with Android Being mostly Mobile Centric.

@kev Same goes for guides concerning linux. The comandline is great for advanced users but it will throw of anyone who is used to Windows or MacOS and some guides dont even mention GUI based solutions. The addressee of those guides is clear: Advanced users

@AaronTheIssueGuy is that true though? What's the difference between explaining someone which buttons to press and which command to type in? If they don't understand what they're doing I don't think it makes much of a difference.

I agree people have been /conditioned/ to expect GUIs, but does it really do them a service?
@kev

@fedops @kev I think both ways of doing things should be highlighted in a guide. Its a fair point that it might not be the easiest way to solve a problem, but command lines are an instant turn of for most people. I bet you had a non-tech friend next to you asking you what secret magic you are performing while installing something through the command line. Nowadays a GUI solution should always be an option.

@AaronTheIssueGuy yes, I completely agree - a GUI should be an option. Ideally as "just" a frontend, so things can be easily scripted and automated when the need arises.

My gripe is with our computer education unjustifiably scaring people away from the CLI, as if it would bite them. That's not true, and in some ways is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We as a whole should change that.
@kev

@kev this is why I no longer touch Linux. I LOVE the ideals, but the technical expectation is often simply ludicrous. IF any distribution were to fully embrace the expectation that typical users hate computers and never want to address settings or configuration options, I think that it would do really well.

@kev
I simply find it odd that they say to use a webmail service... doesn't that defeat the whole point of having a client? Why not just use the web client for your email service to begin with?

@herag @kev

One solution does work offline the other does not.

With a local (web tech based) client you can manage muliple different mail accounts. In contrast, with gmail webclient you cannot manage mails from any other mail provider.

@ghost_letters @kev I guess I don't understand then... why not just use a native client? Maybe I'm just not in the same mindset as the dudes from that podcast... actually, I know I'm not. Everytime I listen I am just out off by their whole tone about Linux to begin with.

Just not my cup of tea I guess.

@herag @kev

I would say it is just a matter of different assumption how the tech stack should look like. Having the frontend in a browser has its own advantages.

Actually I like the idea of having a local server and reuse the browser for rendering the UI.

Of course native clients have also benefits, but I think the pros and cons are not really the topic here. Still I like the architecture. Let me know if you wanna discuss this further. :)

@kev I use rainloop as my webmail front end. It's on top of a LAMP stack which I just happened to have lying around. It's not a solution I would recommend to my mum (who actually does use Linux on an old iMac I found in a skip), but for an enthusiast who likes to tinker with things, it's a fun thing to do (also I run my own mailserver so I do actually need a webmail front end for certain circumstances).

I get that Linux shouldn't just be for nerds, but it's not **just** for complete beginners either. A podcast which caters solely to the type of user you're describing, and doesn't have at least one fun, slightly-technical option would have maybe three listeners.

For the hobbyist user such as me, and I suspect most Linux users are hobbyists and tinkerers like me, random over-the-top solutions are the kind of thing which would get me engaged.

Disclaimer: I haven't actually listened to the podcast, but I now plan to.
@kev Side note: I just installed Thunderbird to test something and my suspicion was confirmed.

I installed Thunderbird just now and hooked it up to an old Gmail account. I used it to send an email to a GMX account which I accessed through the GMX webmail webmail. My own mailserver was not involved.

Inspecting the metadata gave me my own domestic IP address as the sender - this is standard if using an email client rather than webmail.

If you someone sends me an email using a client, I can tell roughly where they are. If I'm of a mind to, I can probe their ports, DDoS them, and get up to all kinds of mischief. (This is not a threat - I've never attacked anyone).

I have actually written about this before, but used Hotmail as an example.

https://thecrow.uk/email-metadata-tells-all-about-you/

The best option for most people is the web interface of Gmail or whatever.

@david that’s interesting, but nothing anyone couldn’t find by other means if they were motivated to do so. Please don’t DDoS me, I won’t be able to watch Netflix or post my drivel! 😂😂

Get your points about beginners vs tinkerers and I wholeheartedly agree. It isn’t that which I take umbrage to. It’s the fact it was being sold as the best solution. Plus, LNL is often touts itself as a means of enticing folk to Linux, so I think my point was valid. 😊

@kev the conversation you quote would have been so much different if instead of asking like an elitist prick and making assumptions based on tools you use, they'd have said "nice, what do you like about them?" and both not make assumptions and allow for a far more interesting conversation.

People are weird, you do you, it's great .

@kev The eBay story is just bizarre to me. I was thrilled when Linux distros matured to the point where I didn't need to compile my own kernel anymore...15 years ago!

I guess by that guy's standard I'm still a noob too! :blob_dizzy_face:

@KelsonV i thought it strange too. Clearly he has lots of free time. 😊

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