Sometime in 2006, some of my friends (SIGMA rox!) and I got to organise the India GPLv3 conference at IIMB, along with the Bangalore FSUG. A series of incidents irritated us no end, and culminated in the disastrous open session we had.
Earlier in the day, an idiotic engineering student with the Bangalore FSUG, (I shan’t name him, though everybody in the Bangalore FSUG would know who this jerk is. SK should remember him; he shared a bed with the jerk, one night.) was being a constant PITA by cribbing about service quality levels in our organisation of the event. I flipped my lid when he asked me for the DVDs he had asked for 10 minutes ago, and started cribbing in a loud voice that the IIMs suck. I gritted my teeth, trying to hint to him, how close to strangulation and ritual disembowelment, he was at that point of time. I replied as curt as I could bring myself to be, if you want your frigging DVDs, you can go and get them yourself, or else you have to wait for another half-an-hour. We are not your frigging servants. Then I swivelled on my feet, and started walking in the opposite direction, which would look very cool in slo-mo, pukka Gopi, Suresh Gopi(*) ishtyle. This was very unfortunate for me, because that idiot caught me on my way to the loo, and I had to walk all the way to the other side of the block to relieve myself.
*Suresh Gopi is a National Award winning Mallu actor who is famous for his up-yours gestures and expletives.
After that, there was this ardent “socialist”, who had no clue about economics, who was trying to convince me, ME of all people, in IIMB, that the stock markets were evil because a lot of people made arbitrary profits. The most irritating bit about this particular idiot was that he kept on rebutting my excellent arguments supporting the capital markets with the sentence, “No maaaan, you capitalists will never understand…” It was all I could do to restrain myself from carving the Sensex onto his face with my bare finger-nails. (which reminds me, here is an excellent resource on the ARMA-ARCH-GARCH model).
In the morning, when I had gone to pick up Dr. Richard Stallman from his room, he cleanly ignored my “Good Morning”, and danced on his tippity-toes. That and the 2 hours of his insulting arbit junta (including a prominent prof. of our institute) because they asked questions like ‘why should “proprietary software” be evil’ and impaling them, with classic one-liners such as “That is not even related. That’s something like garlic and.. and.. and.. and.. this microphone!”, set the tone for the day. I was beginning to dislike them intensely.
The last straw was when the convener snapped at me, saying he would never use “proprietary” software, when I offered him my Windows laptop so that he could send email, and he looked at me as if I had committed all the 7 cardinal sins, all at once right in front of the morally uptight jackass.
There was an open session at the end of the day, where we were to discuss the various issues facing Linux in the present day then. We (SIGMA) were sitting in one corner of the auditorium, sniggering to ourselves, that these idealists were wasting their time at IIMB, and discussing the different idiots who had come to attend the convention. (A couple of Japanese students flew down to Bangalore all the way from Tokyo, and brought along with them a device that displayed the entire GPLv3 on a scrolling LED display.)
It was all fine till the discussions were limited to “their” world. How Linux was splitting up, Tivoisation, etc. etc. Then some wise-ass decided to drop a question that rankled us. “Why don’t the IIMs do something to increase the adoption rate of Linux in the IIM, since they are institutes of national importance?”
They were asking for it. And did they get it.
Before the wise-ass could elaborate on his questions, I stood up and poured out all the emotions that had festering in me the whole day.
“How can you expect the average person, who doesn’t care/know what software is all about, to choose Linux, when even some so-called technical experts don’t have a grasp on Linux?”
“That’s not true….”
“Why should the average person even be bothered to find out what swap or partitioning is, when Windows does the job for him?”
“How do you expect the average person be bothered about whether he can or cannot code his software, when the average person doesn’t know how to code?”
“What will he do with the bloody freedom? If I say you are free to fly into space, how are you affected by it till you are given a rocket and told how to operate it?”
Convenor: “I was a philosophy student at (famous engineering institute), and I never faced any problems with using Linux.”
Other Sigma members get up and start bolstering my lone fight against the attack of the clones.
“You were in an environment which promoted Linux anyway. Why don’t you come to the business world, and try using Open Office/LaTeX over there. Do you even remember how many manuals you had to read through before you could start using Linux in a useful manner? Compare that to Windows.”
Original question asker is now wishing he hadn’t brought the question up.
“Besides, have you ever been on a Linux forum as a newbie? They treat you like shit, if you don’t ask your doubts in the proper way, and the programmers/supporters justify by saying they don’t have enough time. You expect people to give your movement enough time when you don’t have enough time for them?”
Convener is unbuttoning his collar.
“How many people really care whether they know how to Vim-script to count the number of commas in a file in under 5 seconds?”
Prof. steps in: “OK guys, I think the idea is to bring out the issues to solve them. Unless we are able to solve them, we will never get Linux into the mainstream…”
We all sit down smiling. Mission accomplished.