Is the Linux Uber-Geek "Administrator" Alive and Kicking?

by Sam Dean - May. 24, 2011Comments (0)

Are users of desktop-focused Linux distros still best thought of as "adminstrators," who cherish the idea of performing complex tasks when it comes to maintaining their operating systems and applications? That concept is not a new one. In fact, it's old.

Linux users at large are no longer cave-dwelling uber-geeks clinging to their command-line pasts. However, the idea that they remain that way is alive and kicking.

LXer has an interesting post up, titled "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Linux World Domination," and it argues that the idea of Linux users as uber-geeks is going strong. According to the post:

"Bear in mind that practically every Linux home-desktop user up to now has been, in some sense, a Linux administrator, if only to the extent of administering a personal system on a home computer. For those self-administrators, it has always been a conscious choice to accept the responsibility of maintaining a self-service system. They regard it as a personal achievement involving study, effort, and patience that pays off not only in a smoothly working, versatile system but also in a well-earned sense of pride in the accomplishment."

I don't know about that. For quite some time now, popular Linux distributions such as Ubuntu have become more and more graphical, easy-to-use and similar--at least in administration terms--to other leading operating systems. The LXer post concedes that there are more Linux users interested in transparent administrative experiences:

"There has recently arisen a huge and growing population that uses Linux personally without knowing what it is or how to service it. They are the multitudes who have been eagerly snapping up Android smartphones and tablets. They have willingly and eagerly learned to navigate though the pure GUI interfaces that offer a choice of specific preset actions, like viewing news and entertainment or communicating with friends."

Here is where I heartily agree with the LXer post:

"[Linux's] success is most notable at the level of function rather than fame: on the global stage its triumph has been won, though its name is seldom spoken. I suspect that will continue if and when desktop Linux becomes widely used: it will be called by some name we perhaps haven't yet heard. Apparently Linux is well on its way toward World Domination Through Anonymity!"

Indeed, Linux is marching forward as the core platform driving solutions such as Chrome OS and Android that impose none of the historical administrative hurdles on users that some Linux distros used to impose. Graphical environments for interacting with Linux, ranging from GNOME to Unity, are reaching millions of users. For many "Linux users," Linux--in the old "administration required" sense-- doesn't enter the equation anymore.

That level of anonymity, and seamlessness, is a giant shift for Linux, and a big part of its future.

John Mark Walker uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


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