Linux, How Do We Love Thee?

Valentine’s Day may be over, but that doesn’t mean the love has to stop there.

Indeed, judging by the emotion that gushed forth through the Linux blogosphere on and around the holiday, Linux geeks have a serious pent-up supply of love to share. Interestingly, a remarkable amount of that affection was expressed through — or even for — Linux itself!’s David Williams, for example, wrote a very touching article titled “Linux, the Language of Love” in which he described all the many ways Linux can help people show their love for one another.

Wooing Without Windows

Using the banner command to say “I love you,” for instance, was one big method Williams predicted would be “met with squeals of delight and praised for its pure creativity” by that special someone.

Don’t try this at home, Windows users!

Creating something with open source software such as Audacity, Open Office, Inkscape and Scribus was another technique Williams recommended for wooing your heart’s desire, as was telling some old Unix jokes, such as the classic “make love” one-liner. Now that will *definitely* break some ice!

A Linux Valentine

As an inspiring example of Linux-driven eloquence, Williams pointed out a romantic open letter to Linux that a truly passionate “secret admirer” at LinuxHow2 recently penned titled “A Linux Valentine.” The enamored author of the letter enumerated five key ways in which he (or she) loves Linux:

  1. You breathe new life into old hardware.
  2. You run so very fast.
  3. You’re just easy to get along with.
  4. I feel safer with you.
  5. You’re the best.

That the love expressed in the letter is for Linux, and not another human being, should come as no surprise, given geeks’ widely admitted discomfort with the human factors (for those who missed it, “Please help me” was Slashdot founder Rob Malda’s plea in our recent column on the topic).

Why Linux?

Indeed, as we bid goodbye to Valentine’s Day and all its associated romantic pressures for another year, it seems entirely natural to turn our thoughts to more comfortable ground and the question of why, exactly, we love Linux so much.

“It powers my servers and makes it possible for me to have a job that doesn’t involve a paper hat, so there is no end to my love for it,” the selfsame Malda told LinuxInsider. “I think my name is still buried somewhere in the source code, too.”

Slashdot blogger yagu had a harder time containing his list of reasons.

Let Us Count the Ways

“I could go on and on about things I love about Linux,” yagu told LinuxInsider.

For instance: “I love that Linux is more Unix than Unix sometimes,” he said. “The standard suite of tools with virtually every distribution includes GNU software that extends POSIX functionality while staying true to the Unix philosophy. Many commands have extra ‘sweet’ options making life easier, such as color output for the ‘ls’ and ‘grep’ commands.”

Choice is another reason yagu loves Unix, such as between Damn Small Linux (DSL) for some contexts and Ubuntu or others for feature-rich environments, as well as the “unlimited and unfettered configuration choices,” he said. “It’s all free, and it doesn’t break Linux — try customizing a Windows environment cheaply, safely and with less hassle!”

Linux’s technical flavor is another reason to love it, as is its full spectrum of available packages, yagu added. “I love the choice of command line interfaces. I love the shell. I love the bash shell. And I really love the z shell! I love that I get to pick.”

Just try finding someone who would use the word “love” so many times in succession for another human being!

L for Lovable

“I love that Linux doesn’t bring my old machines to their knees,” yagu went on. “I have XP boxes that pretty much require 1G of memory just to maintain decent responsiveness. But I love that I still have some machines sitting around the house that have 256M – 512M that outperform the XP boxes, handling the same kinds of tasks.”

The GNU extensions for command line long options are also lovable, yagu said. “It may seem like a nit, but having long options makes the complex myriad options for so many commands much easier to remember, and much more intuitive to use,” he explained.

Finally, “I love (and almost can’t believe) that it’s free,” yagu said. “I love its community of dedicated, smart, creative, and interesting players.”

Free, and FREE

Of course, there’s free, and there’s Free, as Linux aficionados well know.

“I love GNU/Linux because it’s Free Software,” Monochrome Mentality blogger Kevin Dean told LinuxInsider. “Some people feel the need to reject that it’s about Freedom, yet they mention things that are side-effects of Freedom.”

The above-mentioned “Linux Valentine,” for example, mentions “breathing life into old hardware” — something that “wouldn’t be possible if the source weren’t there and people didn’t have the right to share it,” Dean noted.

“It is because we’re free to share GNU/Linux that distros like Damn Small Linux are able to keep systems functional that are less powerful than a modern cell phone,” Dean added. “It is the freedom for anyone to share GNU/Linux that gives us central software repositories where we can ‘apt-get install’ an application rather than find it, scan it for virii, double-click, agree to a wordy and restrictive license agreement and then use an application … for 15 days until the trial expires.

“It is the freedom to share that makes GNU/Linux more stable,” he went on. “If not for the ability to share fixes for bugs, we would never close them.”

In short, “I love GNU/Linux because it is Software Libre, and that just melts my heart,” Dean concluded.

We don’t know about you, dear readers, but we here at LinuxInsider are having a hard time keeping our eyes dry!

Something Fishy

Before we close, then, let’s turn our thoughts to lighter matters. Williams’ post also made several references to “Tux,” the Linux penguin, and his widespread appeal.

“I’ve always liked Tux as a mascot,” Malda agreed. “He’s full of fish and happy — how can you not like that?”

Williams notes that Tux e-cards, Tux plush toys, Tux sewing patterns and gummy Tux candies all serve nicely for gift-giving purposes.

Something to keep in mind as springtime approaches and thoughts begin to turn once again to that tenderest of emotions, Love. 😉

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