It is a sunny day in the mountains, Glarus. I am on the train, reading what is going on in the Internet. Reading my private, self aggregated "newspaper". Lennart is complaining about how bad the FOSS community is [to him], which made me feel sad for him. This blog post is devoted for him and everyone who is feeling being traited unjust in the FOSS community.

A short word about me

You may have not heard much about me, as I used to keep out of public discussions for a long time, especially when they are not fruitful (2nd meaning).

I am the maintainer or author of gpm, an init system, a backup utility, a configuration management system and some more software. I am the CEO of ungleich and have been active in the FOSS community since 1998.

People who use my software have shining eyes, usually contribute the software in form of ideas, code or even better: in form of praise, which motivates any FOSS coder.

In short: I love the FOSS community, because they do good to me.

The FOSS community

In my opinion the FOSS community is very friendly, open minded and helpful. It consists of many geeky people, introverted and extroverted, developers, sysadmins and also the users.

There are many great tools being developed, beer being drunken and also heated discussions led, when it comes to personal opinions.

How I experience the FOSS communit

I receive pull requests for the software I have written on a daily basis, discuss how to integrate them, into which direction we should develop. (Virtual) friends pass interesting links to me, we compare software and find out which architecture is superior in which regards to another.

Questions from newbies are mostly answered by the community around me and our newbies turn into gurus and begin to answer questions to newbies (read How To Become A Hacker and How To Ask Questions The Smart Way to understand how it works).

The alert reader may have noticed I am not talking about the Linux community as Lennart does. Why not? Because in my opinion there is much more than just Linux in the FOSS community.

Linux is a small part of the existing FOSS

Linux is one successful FOSS project, but everyone being in the FOSS community knows that there is much more than just Linux. The BSDs are developing pretty cool architectures and great software (like OpenSSH) and in my opinion there is a great potential to work more closely together. I am not going to name all great software here, however if you are coming from a Linux only world, it may be helpful to know there are other worlds that form the FOSS community.

Everytime I develop software, I have take care of how to make it portable to other Unices. I think it is rather closed minded to focus on Linux only software, especially when a great standard (The Open Group Base Specifications Issue 7) exists that allows us to easily write portable software.

So in short, if you consider Linux being the only plattform to develop for and do not respect the work of others (there is a reason for Posix), people may not respect you either.

What goes around, comes around

You probably have heard of the idiom What goes around, comes around, it is rather old (wikipedians: cite needed) and it means "the way you behave towards other people will be reflected by them and it is how they behave towards you".

So if you are yelling at someone, trying to force someone to do something or rant about other's software, you are likely to experience this as well.

A question of life and attitude

Dear reader, did you ever have a (car) accident? Or have you watched one? Maybe you will have noticed that the two involved parties usually have a completly different picture of what just happened. This is true for every situation in life, how you see a situation depends on your point of view, on your situation. So a lot of how your world is depends on your view. It is also important to note that there are two sides to every question and it is about you, your attitude and experience to see the right side.

A pinch of spirituality and scout behaviour

I will not go into beliefs here, but if you have met spiritual people in your life you may have noticed a lot of them being positively. You may have asked yourself if it is it because of drugs or the way the live?

If you have been a scout, you may remember the maxim do a good deed every day - imagine everyone does this, there is a high chance somebody will do something good to you, every day.

Summary and suggestions

So why do people love software I have written and don't collect money for hitman to go after me? Maybe I am brilliant and they have fallen so deep in love with the software I wrote that they don't think about it - or maybe it is because I treat people with respect. I think being able to to learn from critics is also very helpful and to expect the best, prepare for the worst when you are communicating can change your life to experience it very positively.

So anyone who is unhappy with how you are treated (by the FOSS community), here are some suggestions for you:

  • Be friendly - and the echo will be the same
  • Have an opinion, but don't force it to someone else
  • Think twice about what you write, especially if it can be interpreted offensive
  • Don't be ignorant, treat people with respect


If you want to add some suggestions or have other improvement ideas, you can either leave a comment on hackernews or @NicoSchottelius.