There’s a saying among surfers — especially the older ones — in my home area of Santa Cruz, California (I don’t actually live in Santa Cruz, I live in the mountains in Santa Cruz County, hence the fact that I don’t end every sentence with “. . . dude.”). The saying is simple: “Old Guys Rule.” In the surf-mad area of the Central California coast, it just means that the kids can have the latest equipment — short boards and the like — but it’s the “old guys” — the old style longboarders who tend to be a generation older than the kids (at least) — that are still “top dogs” on the gnarliest of Santa Cruz’s waves.
What, you’re asking, does this have to do with Free/Open Source Software? Well, duuuuude (er, sorry), the Inquirer’s Fernando Cassia wrote an article last week about Dr. Michel Xhaard, who single-handedly wrote 235 USB webcam drivers for GNU/Linux on his own.
You would imagine that one who sits down and writes 235 drivers of any kind, let alone USB webcams, would be a younger man taking time from the rigors of Half-Life in order to complete this herculean task. If the recent Novell survey is any indication, one would expect most developers would be young males (despite the fact this this isn’t necessarily true).
But that’s where Xhaard, a French physician, breaks the mold. At nearly 60, this driver guru throws out all preconceived notions that developers have to be young guys.
In other words, “Old Guys Rule!”
Merci and salut, Dr. Xhaard and I lift a glass of Chardonnay to toast your achievement.
Well, I never said I was perfect. But I reported a story in Open Source Reporter, taking the lead from a blogger, that Red Hat would be the distro of choice in the Dell family of hardware, and imagine my surprise — okay chagrin — when they chose Ubuntu instead (You can read the story by going here; it’s the top story in OSR today).
The marriage of Red Hat and Dell sort of made sense. If Dell had, um, “issues” with providing support for the 500 or so flavors of GNU/Linux out there, business smarts would dictate that they would go with the distro with the deepest customer service. Plus, Red Hat’s enterprise wing could, in theory anyway, seamlessly work itself into that part of Dell’s offerings to businesses who run servers and the like on GNU/Linux (and many who are running on RHEL, like my employer, but I digress . . . ).
However, Ubuntu is an excellent choice to represent GNU/Linux for Dell. Ubuntu, too, has an extensive customer service department — probably to become more extensive thanks to this new arrangement — and it will be interesting to see if and how (especially how, if the “if” is a “yes”) Ubuntu can serve business accounts, if that’s the plan going forward.
I’ll take my crow, fork in hand, with a lot of spices and a significant amount of condiments, please. And in the words of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Jon Carroll, “mea damn culpa” for getting it wrong.