Friday, January 2, 2015


BSD Community is Too Insular

First of all let me say I really like BSD. I enjoy studying it's history which extends back to 1978 when it was a mere add-on to Bell Labs Unix version 6. The longest uptime I've ever had on a computer was with OpenBSD. It's a fine piece of work.

On the other hand when I look at the BSD community I see a less than friendly environment. It is rather like a gated community where you need to be invited in. Often when one goes to BSD forums one gets some mysterious error message and no access. IRC channels related to BSD are also invite only.

When I re-entered the Linux community in 2003 there was a strong feeling I was less than welcome. As an old Xenix user I thought I would be treated well enough, instead I was barely tolerated. Eventually I felt I was accepted, at least to a certain degree (I also developed a tougher skin). Some of the rudeness seemed to be part and parcel to being online. Manners on the internet have never been very good, but lately things have really deteriorated.

In the case of the BSD community things really do need some improvement. While in the Linux world it's true that people are treated with faint rudeness and a certain amount of condescension, it's still preferable to being utterly locked out of the BSD community. One wonders what rites of initiation are necessary to be accepted into the BSD world and if it's worth the trouble.

I consider the various BSDs to be closer to the original Bell Labs Unix. In some ways I prefer the BSD way of doing things. It's good that we have a varied ecosystem of software. Nevertheless the BSD community really needs to try to become more welcoming to newcomers. This is also true of the Linux community to a lesser degree.

The original programmers of Bell Labs Unix were undoubtedly writing an operating system for other programmers. Programmers are not the friendliest group of people in the world and sometimes this can be very discouraging for young people who are getting used to Unix type operating systems for the first time. An extra effort needs to be made for the BSD and Linux communities to be more welcoming and less insular.


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