Friday, November 20, 2009

Some People Don't Know When To Leave Well Enough Alone

I've had enough of the hatred spewed at me from the Puppy Linux forums and Puppy Linux users everywhere. I am hounded, week in and week out, including three comments on DistroWatch this week, about my "refusal" to run Puppy Linux and my "crazy review". It never stops, it continues in e-mail and on every Linux forum where I write. Why are the Puppy Linux community members so obsessed with me? Here is the only reason I can think of:

A couple of years back I wrote a very short piece for the old O'Reilly Linux DevCenter blogs stating that Puppy Linux 2.17 (the current version at the time) wouldn't boot on my systems except for one ancient desktop and that made it impossible for me to give it a fair review. The Puppy Linux community got all bent out of shape and it escalated from there, into intimidation and threats, including what many interpreted as a death threat in the comments section of DistroWatch Weekly. Puppy Linux community members also tried to get my writing pulled from O'Reilly. My editor at the time saw the post in question as threatening and backed me up.

I have no clue whether Puppy Linux is good, bad or in between nowadays. I won't look at the code because of the community which keeps after me incessantly. There are different parts of the Linux community which are everything from very good to truly awful. The Puppy community is the worst of the lot when it comes to absolute fanaticism. No dissent or criticism is tolerated.

Meanwhile truly nasty personal attacks on me continue unabated two years later. Heck, they've even got Notorik, a user who insists on DistroWatch that information security is "poppycock", telling everyone there I'm "unbalanced" because I believe security is important. (I wonder if people there still agree after the Puppy Linux website was defaced recently.) The threat, which many others saw exactly as I saw it, is a "demented fantasy". I can do no right and the Puppy Linux community is perfect. Sure, that's it.

I've received e-mail and seen comments from others who have had bad experiences and/or feel the same way. No, sorry, it's not just some delusion on my part.

Don't you people know when to leave well enough alone? I would NEVER, EVER mention Puppy Linux in any context if you'd just let well enough be. That's a message they can't seem to get in what I see as the deepest, darkest, nastiest corner of the Linux community.


Ray said...

Unfortunately, the internet makes people increasingly stupid. The "community" sees criticism as attack rather than as a means of opening communication. If they had real regard for their distro they would work on understanding why the problem is there rather than blindly attacking the messenger.

It seems that this sort of thing is happening more and more and it does nothing to aid the rest of us when we try make out that Linux is not a niche product.

Anonymous said...

Caitlyn, don't let them get you down. Some communities are good, some are bad.. nothing you can do about that. Just take satisfaction in the fact that you are doing what you know is right and you can't be responsible for the reactions of others. Remember, Eleanor Roosevelt once said "no one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Unknown said...

I stopped a long time ago hunting down heathens. Today I just content myself with the knowledge that they will rot in hell if they stay on their unholy path. To be honest I am afraid that I too might fall from the righteous path. I have to prove to my OS that I am still faithful.
Hum didn't work ? NOoOoo my OS has forsaken me .

Caitlyn Martin said...

@xavierp: I agree. Unfortunately, as you point out, this kind of behavior hurts the Linux community and Linux adoption in general.

@Ian: They don't get me down but the constant harassment does get annoying. I kept quiet about it for two years. Now I've decided that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

@Jos: I know your post was meant to be humorous but it really does describe the problem well. Isn't something very wrong when an operating system gets religious devotion?

Good comments all around. Keep them coming,

Unknown said...

I'm confused. So, you shed some light on something that was wrong with a distro. Then the fans of said distro proceed to threaten you and bash you in general over your article. In what world does this make sense?

If someone tells me my tire is flat I don't run them over with my car. I put some air in it.

Anonymous said...

The problem as I see it is, that the internet is a free for all, no holds barred world. There is no accountability and no consequence.
People hide behind anonymous entities, and set about acting and behaving in ways that would be intolerable in the real world.

This is not a call for the elimination of freedom of speech. It is a call to enforce accountability, in the virtual world as in the real.
Without accountability, the future of the Internet is in peril.

In the words of George Burns
"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible."

Jan Petersen
Lewisville, Texas

Steve said...

Hi Caitlyn,

It's disturbing how bad some people can behave online. I'm very sorry you were subject to the amount of hate you were subjected to from some in the Puppy Linux community.

It may interest you to know that the founder of Puppy Linux has had his own problems with some in the Puppy Linux community as well. So much so, that I have read him saying that he has seriously thought about giving up his contributions to Puppy Linux all together.

The truly sad thing about all this, is that those people who sprout all of this hatred are not representative of their communities as a whole, yet the entire community is tarred with the same brush because of the bad behavior of some of their members. Which is a shame as I wish those individuals who choose to engage in hostile behavior could be held accountable for it. Puppy Linux, whilst not for everyone, has it's good points. Unfortunately like every community it also has more than it's fair share of jerks. Please don't let the behavior of a minority turn you against the entire community.



Anonymous said...

What did you expect from clowns who forgot to put keyboard switcher in their OS? Those people do not use their head for thinking, but quite opposite body part, it seems.

Anonymous said...

I'm quite sad reading about this kind of people making a bad reputation. There is no perfect community.

Hope you will continue to be so much involved, because this help to make linux a product for all, even strange people.

Caitlyn Martin said...

@Steve: In the case of the Puppy Linux community the people who have gone after me dominate the forum. They attack me wherever I write more than two years later. The leaders of the forum and community could do something about it but it turns out that they seem to be part of the problem. So, sorry, I wrote off Puppy Linux quite some time ago.

@adrik: I make a good part of my living from Linux. I avoid certain parts of the community but I likely will never leave it entirely. There are lots of very good, helpful, welcoming parts of the Linux community as well and I have written about those and will continue to do so.

saiftynet said...

I am sorry about how some people take comments (ill-informed or not) personally, and the mention of some words induce an instant flame war. I guess the issue is that voicing an opinion invites counter opinions.

I have used Puppy myself for a long time. It is an excellent as a LiveCD with persistence. It is without doubt the most useful and the most stable liveUSB distro. There has not been a single machine I have not been able to run it on since 2.17, although once in a while I need to to use VESA mode, and every now and then ACPI needs to be disabled. I can use it to recover crashed Windows systems. I can use it as a transient server. I use it for office work. All this without disturbing the hard drive of the host...

Of course you are within your rights to ignore this particular distro. A more sensible approach would be to ignore the flamers...

carlM said...

I don't think this article is really about linux, the linux community, or sftware. It is about people, and how identification of themselves with some group or tribe controls their behavior. Most of the respondents are Americans, and have had nothing but bad examples from American media and politics. They are just following, like the rabid sheep they are.

Caitlyn Martin said...

@saiftynet: You appear to have a severe reading comprehension problem. This isn't about "flamers". I get flamed all the time for my writing. It's part of the territory and I take it just fine.

I've had a death threat from a Puppy Linux supporter and two years of non-stop harassment. That isn't mere flaming. What part of that do you not understand?

You mean to tell me you would use something where the community around it harassed you for two years straight? I sincerely doubt it.

Caitlyn Martin said...

ALL: Don't even think about defending the Puppy Linux community here as saiftynet did. You are defending the indefensible.

Nathan R. Hale said...

I have been an active member of the Puppy community in the past, (even rolling my own remix at one point) and I never had issues...I'm really sorry you are being mistreated, and I hope it's just a vocal minority. Do you really think this behavior is representative of the general Puppy community? If it is, then things must have changed around there over the past couple of years. Makes me sad, cause I really enjoy the distro.

Caitlyn Martin said...

@Nathan R. Hale: There is an old Yiddish saying that translates to: "A fish rots from the head" Some of the people who went after me two years ago were the moves and shakers, the leaders of the Puppy Linux community and some of the most active members of the forum. These are the people who could have made a huge difference and tamped things down. Instead the contributed to puring fuel on the fire. So, yes, I do blame the Puppy Linux community at large.

It's certainly true that the community contains people, probably many, who have taken no part in the harassment, intimidation, and the threat. However, they have tolerated and not spoken out against it. In addition, when others have written negative things about Puppy Linux (i.e.: Mark South on DistroWatch) the venom that followed was pretty darned nasty as well. Thee may not have been the sustained hatred there is directed at me bu, unlike Mark, I still write for DistroWatch, Others have reported the same.

I've written about fanaticism in the Linux community as a whole but the Puppy Linux community takes it to an entirely different level.

Mirshalak said...

In terms of the proverb you quoted, in this case that is equally correct.

I know well what the source of this kind of toxicity with the Linux community in general is. It is not hard to find.

Although you will never hear him admit this publically; every time a Linux user issues a dissenter with a death threat; every time a Linux user harasses a journalist who writes a critical editorial, and calls them a shill; every time a Linux user engages in psychological abuse of any form, with the intention of silencing dissent...said Linux users are carrying out the will of their master, Richard Matthew Stallman.

Where the Linux community is concerned, Stallman is the proverbial black heart from which the dark blood flows. If the FSF were abolished, the behaviour of the Linux community would improve overnight.

Unknown said...

Wait...I remember that article. You mean they haven't stopped whining about it? For the love of god! It was one (1) review. Move ON.

Take care of yourself, Caitlin.

Caitlyn Martin said...

@Mirshalak: WHAT??? Show me where RMS engages in activities like the ones I describe. I don't think you can. Show me where the Linux community blindly follows Mr. Stallman. Considering how often Linux Torvalds disagrees with RMS and the long standing division in the community between those who espouse FSF ideology and the pragmatists who don't believe software can be "unethical" it clearly isn't so.

Sorry, but please don't try to use my blog for character assassination unless you're ready to present facts to back up your assertions. I see what you wrote as no better than some of the nonsense coming from the Puppy Linux community and I see you as no less a zealot than anyone at FSF.

@Wahiaronkwas: Considering I haven't written about Puppy Linux since then, more than two years ago, yes, indeed, all the harassment stems from that. Now you understand why I use the word "obsessed" to describe the attitude of some in the Puppy Linux community to me.

Caitlyn Martin said...

@carlM. I'm American too. I've also traveled the world on business and because my family is scattered all over the globe. I don't think the U.S. media is worse than that in Europe, in Israel, or much of anywhere else I've been.

This most certainly is about the Puppy Linux community. I've been running Linux for 14+ years and have interacted with the community all that time. No other part of the Linux community is anything like the Puppy Linux community. It is unique and what I have described (two years of harassment) isn't something other Linux users, however enthusiastic, would engage in based on my experience.

I also really, really, really resent your anti-American bigotry. Most Americans I've meet in my nearly half century on this planet are civil. Indeed, I find American culture to be far more civil that that in many other countries.

saiftynet said...

Oh dear, sorry Caitlin about your rather troubled encounter with Puppy Linux users. I don't intend to defend death threats or harassment. These should get the attention they deserve; it may be that one or two people lack the eloquence to argue a point and express it as a death threat. They are fools and should be ignored.

The sad thing is that you have become so affected by them that you are allowing them the victory of provoking a the extent that now you sound angry and bitter and respond rather aggressively to any one who might suggest that Puppy was useful. But if I have caused offence because I did not appreciate your distress, I apologise.

Caitlyn Martin said...

@saiftynet: There are some points you seem to be missing. It isn't just one or two users. If you look at the original article from two years ago in the comments, at the Puppy Linux forum, etc... you will see that is is a fairly large group of users including many of the movers and shakers in that community.

Second, I didn't write about this for over two years. I basically ignored it and hoped it would go away. Instead, now more than two years later, it escalated. Ignoring it didn't work. Maybe some really bad publicity for Puppy Linux will make some realize that I am not going away and that I am not just going to take it.

You suggest that by writing about it I am giving a "victory" to the Puppy Linux community. I don't see how. What have they gained? Don't you think that after two years it was time for a change in strategy?

I think you overestimate how much this affects me. It really doesn't touch my daily life, does it? Having said that, yes, I am pissed off that it's been brought up yet again in a public forum.

Is Puppy Linux useful? Who knows? Who cares? Anything with a community like that is worth avoiding. There are plenty of other lightweight Linux distros around which have friendly, helpful communities instead.

Unknown said...

Hello. I have read your blog and your column about the reviews of puppy linux and open suse. I think your reviews are objective and clear.

The real thing about the community is the "fanaticism", yes they know how to do things in "their" distro. Honestly, i don't know if there are IT pros in the "fanatic" crowds, because IT pros, almost all of them, hear the problem, look for the problem and fix the problem, and they are not looking for who has the fault.

Persons sometimes say things without hearing, or even without looking if the problem or the issue really exists.

The real thing is, for a mature person, IT pro, etc, is to hear, read the reviews of "their" distro, and look to fix the issues that are mentioned in the reviews, some are quickly fixed, some will take time to fix them.

And linux is freedom, you choose the distro that feeds your needs, no distro is better than other, they are the same, they are linux, and it gives you the freedom to add the tool you want to keep your work going.

Thanks for your reviews, keep on the good work.

claudecat said...

Caitlyn - I definitely empathize with your issues with the Puppy community. While I have used and liked Puppy versions over the years, there is no excuse for vitriol... and death threats?!?! Wow... I completely agree with your stance regarding the Puppy community when these facts are plain to see. I have always enjoyed your writings on Distrowatch and elsewhere, and I hope that the linux zealots (of any stripe) don't cause you to take up another line of work. You are far more important than the detractors... or even tractors :=}

gnumber9 said...

I've been physically threatened on line in a political forum. It was a nightmare that he started and was all about assumptions he made. What he didn't understand was that we agreed! That was the level of ignorance I faced.

I've had some minor flame exchanges in Linux forums, but never to the extent you describe, which is unwarranted.

I worked for years in the RTP. Currently I'm raising my newborn in Eastern NC. I've been running Linux (not to promote O'Reilly) since 1999.

Andrina said...

Sorry to read about your 2-year ordeal at the hands of idiots. Unfortunately,given the probable age & sex of the offenders,I'm sure they're using their testicles,rather than their brains to communicate.
I really admire the way you've taken the trouble to reply to many of the comments here - surely part of the solution to the hideousness that floes unchecked in many comments sections,often in response to an originally inoffensive post or article.As the internet has emerged from academia and become a truly mass medium, new users need to be socialised on the net, just as they are in wider society

Unknown said...

"The problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people are full of doubts."

Dan said...

You know who they remind me of? The AGW crowd.

IT Crier said...

Just remember one of my 10 undeniable trues concerning human existence:

Ignorance is manifest in all of her children and lately it seems she has played the harlot!

Joseph Cagle said...

I'm sorry to hear that. I'm a former Puppy Linux user and was rather happy with it. I'm an Ubuntu user now, but still use Puppy from time to time for certain things. My experience with the community has been pretty good. But it's lame that they're attacking you like that.

So you had issues with Puppy, wrote a review about it, and the Puppy Linux community hates you. They should have taken it into consideration what you had to say. I'm sure you didn't have any intentions of attacking Puppy Linux.

Puppy definitely isn't perfect. I like it, but it's not perfect, and it needs critics to review it and point out what works and what doesn't. And the Puppy developers need to think about the users who are having trouble with certain things.

I didn't read your original review, I think. I'd love to check it out.

ModernityBlog said...


Sorry to hear of your experience.

But please ignore those aggressive idiots, and do keep on writing on Linux.

M3EEKS said...

There are too many dunderheads out there who don't want a better Linux or better OSS; they just want to feel bigger, better & smarter. There is no room for improvement, apparently. If you're not going to pretend everything is at a state of perfection, then you must work for Microsoft.
Wait a minute....I must be a TROLL!!! I hate me.

Unknown said...

Sounds like some of the more fanatical folks from the old OS/2 community (that many of us in the OS/2 community also hated) have moved to the Puppy Linux community.

That's sad. Puppy is good even if a few of its more vocal supporters are not.

Unknown said...

It's sad when good software like Puppy lose potential new users because a few of their most vocal fans are fanatics.

It happened with the Mac and the Amiga back in the MS-DOS and early Windows 3.x days, it happened in the days of OS/2 in its prime, and it appears to be happening now with Puppy Linux.

I don't blame you for not trying Puppy again based on your experience with some of its users, but I would also like to say that I doubt your actions have any impact at all on their behavior. Idiots are idiots by nature. :-(

Hopefully they will leave you alone eventually. I have no idea; I can't relate to such people. I simply like techie stuff for its own sake, and in my case that includes Puppy...

Jimmy_Dürr said...

An endless endeavor it is to reach total harmony in the world of GNU/Linux users. A dirty fight that last for two years fueled and kept alive by a few fanatics of a distro worth absolutely nothing in the big scale of things - Now. What does that remind you of? Exactly - Microsoft. Except this time they creates the attacks from within the community of users itself. But you can't see that, can you?

In the MS-world bad publicity is better than no publicity at all. And that's just what you're giving them.

I do not say that MS is behind the fight against you, I have no proof of that. But the means used in this fight is similar to the means seen elsewhere. And they love us to death for that. As long as we, the users of GNU/Linux, no matter what distro you use, fight each other, they carry on ruling what's left of the market and we give them the peace to exploit every inc of the market they can get their hands on.

Why don't we just put those attacks on ignore and concentrate on bringing GNU/Linux to the people?

Caitlyn Martin said...

@Jimmy Frydkær: I tried ignoring the attacks for two years. They continue unabated. I had to try something different.

No, this does not remind me of Microsoft in the least. I've never found anything like this among Windows supporters and as far as I know their corporate behavior doesn't include death threats.

Sorry, Jimmy, no sale.

Caitlyn Martin said...

ALL: I am gratified by the level of response this has received. I generally believe that sunlight is a great disinfectant. I thought that might at least create a pause in the vitriol from the Puppy Linux community. Sadly the contents of my inbox this week show no change.

I had one person suggest that if I just write a positive review I might "bury the hatchet". The community around a distro is always covered in a review if I've had any interaction with it. All of my reviews are mixed because no distro is perfect. In order to write a wholly positive review of Puppy Linux I'd have to compromise my integrity. I won't do that. If I write anything negative at all I can imagine the response.

While I religiously avoid the Puppy Linux forum some quotes were sent to me by e-mail. They included a denial that this is happening and a claim that nobody sees it but me. Funny, I clearly wrote that they could look in the comments section of last week's DistroWatch Weekly and find three such attack posts. Of course, a look in their forum is all they really need.

Oh well... Maybe I need something stronger that sunlight.

Oh, and no, I won't stop writing about Linux. No amount of intimidation will make me go away.

Anonymous said...

Puppy Linux is actually a very bad distro, its not up to par with other distro's at all, nothing works, everything is out of date and childish looking like their name. They have by default the root account just so things work properly, which goes against everything linux is about. I will never use it and I continue to tell friends and family and anyone that will listen to stay away from it. There are other distros that will work as emergency os's as well .......put the pouch to bed.

Pule Thamex said...

Caitlyn these plonkers are no better than religious fundamentalists if their rabid behaviour is as you say, and I've no reason to doubt you at all. I like your blog and I like the way you write and that's all that's important for me. I'm sorry that these deranged cretins treat you as they do, you have my sympathy, and they have my uttur contempt.

Kevin, your comment, combined with the deplorable treatment of Caitlyn as described by her, puts me off Puppy Linux forever. And I shall endeavour to dissuade people from using it, or even from considering its use, whenever the opportunuty arises. There are so very many distributions available that one needn't consider them all in any case, even if one had the time to do so.

manikantanr said...

Hi Caitlyn
I came by way of Penguin Pete, sad to hear such vile vicious things happen in the Linux community.
Many linux users tend to be loners. We don't necessarily communicate much. Its deplorable and damning that the Puppy community haven't figured out a joint response to your situation. I guess Puppy is off my list until your problem gets addressed.