Home opinion-and-analysis Open Sauce LCA 2010: Using a public platform for personal attacks

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The LCA styles itself as promoting sharing and openness. Garrett did not seem to be on the same wavelength with his concept of an exclusive community that restricts itself to the British Queen's language.

The irony of someone like Garrett trying to define what was, and what was not, divisive in the Linux community was not lost on at least one member of the audience. Senior Debian developer Martin Krafft asked him what had happened between 2004 and the present – Garrett, once a Debian developer himself, has a reputation for aggressive and arguably divisive posts on mailing lists aplenty.

Garrett's failure to acknowledge that the Linux community could be something bigger than an (corrected) Anglo whites-only club, was in this writer's view inappropriate. Also inappropriate was his use of the LCA platform to attack someone who has criticised him in the past and at whom he has hit back – yours truly.

One needs to go back a bit in time to understand the context. The FOSS community has seen more ructions in 2009 than it has in many others, the two main ones being the furore over Richard Stallman's keynote at the Gran Canaria GNOME conference which led to allegations of sexism against the FSF chairman and a similar row over Ubuntu chief Mark Shuttleworth's keynote at LinuxCon in Portland, Oregon, which led to allegations of sexism against that august gentleman.

There have been numerous other happenings in 2009 that have led to much name-calling and exposure of factions within the community.

But when Garrett wanted to provide an example of something that had, in his opinion, caused division in the community, he chose to recall a paragraph from a piece which I had written in response to an adult using the f-word to abuse Stallman and what were described as "GNU trolls". The quote was: "When people advertise their ignorance and parade it as a virtue, it frightens me. Sorry, but not everyone is as ignorant as you, dear boy." It was taken from this article.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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