March 11th, 2005

monkey pirate

Wild, wild, Linux

What I love about Linux is this - elegance.

Sure, it's an open-source movement with a huge and active community all over the world, dedicated to superior computing and development that allows business success without cutting corners for the sake of profit. Yeah, that stuff is really cool.

But it's the elegance of a good hack that I really love. Anytime, anyone, anywhere has said, "I've got this task that I do, and I can think of a way to do it better" - someone, somewhere has done it. And once they do, they share the results, and a ton of people jump in and say, "I can think of some sweet hacks to make that more efficient. Also more secure. And yeah, let's throw in all these extra utilities, even if they're just potential hooks so that when someone else takes it, they can add functionality easily. Oh, and let's make sure we document the FUCK out of it."

And then someone else says "You know, that's good, but I can think of a few tweaks to make it even *sweeter*." And then it is done, and it is good, and all the good little hackers gaze upon their works - which are not mighty, not proud, not overweening - but instead are sweet, elegant, and efficient.

Linux is a cult of elegance, with huge dashes of community and practicality thrown in, all in a webspace that's basically lawless, but governed by a very real code of honor. It's like the Wild West - only in this case all the gunslingers get together and compare notes on their fast-draws. And Tex says, "You know, I tilted my holster forward a little, and I find that the center of gravity of ma' hog-leg makes it fall into ma' fist fer the purpose of airin' some smoke just a fraction of a second faster."

And then Wyoming Slim says, "Yeah, that's good stuff Tex. But check this out - I put a lil' gun oil on the rim of my holster after I tilted it forward just like you, and look, A'hm even a fraction of a second faster at fannin' out my hail of lead."

But then instead of a gunfight, Tex and Slim publish their results on the Web, and all the other gunfighters add their two cents, and ultimately they come up with a free-to-use super-fastdraw holster that anyone can make for themselves. And then all the cowboys gather 'round and admire each other's elegance.

Hmm, that last bit kind of clunks, doesn't it?