Friday, July 15, 2005
DebConf05, sixth day, 16. July I talked about dress code the other day, and there is something I have to add to that. Among this plurality of not very dressed up Debian-hackers there are indeed codes of commonality. It is too easy just to celebrate the heterogeneity of this “wild bunch” (as New Scientist called them some years ago). I'm not going to try to draw a complete picture. I'll just mention two codes of commonality. The first one is the cotton T-shirt, and not just any kind of T-shirt that half the planet would tend to wear on a warm day. There's the special kind of geek- or hacker-T-shirt. The most common one at this conference is a Debian T-shirt. It has the Debian-sign on it. It might be the T-shirt we got for this conference, or perhaps a T-shirt from earlier Debian- or Linux-occasions. And then there is the self-ironical geek-T-shirt. There are many of them, like this one: One the chest it is saying <.geek.> (without the dots - I had to add some noice to prevent my blog machine to treat this as a real html-tag)
, which means “geek begins” in the html-programming language (just as < .i.> without the dots means “italic begins”). On its back it says <./geek.>, which means “geek ends” (again without dots). Within these tags is enclosed the body of a geek.
There is no strong normativity connected to the T-shirt. No-one makes a comment when you do not wear it. Your operating system, however, will be commented upon. I booted my laptop at the hack-lab the other day. “Are you using SUSE!!”- “The worst!!” I have installed Linux on my laptop, as dual boot, which means that I may choose between booting Windows or Linux. I did this dual boot installation using the German SUSE-Linux, because at the time (some years ago) I thought SUSE was user-friendly enough for a non-geek like me to be able to do it. Debian, certainly, was not.
I don't know what these guys would have said had I fired my Windows, but SUSE was bad enough. They offered me help to install the newly releases Debian 3.1, with codename “Sarge”. I refused but offered them my hard-disk if they installed KDE-Ubuntu (Kubuntu), the new end-user friendly version of Debian. They refused. But I am sure someone will help me to do Kubuntu tonight. (If I need help at all, Ubuntu is not very difficult to install. Except I may still need some help to get the wireless card to run. That is still a hassle under Linux.)
No one will hurt you if you don't wear a proper suit and tie at a wedding, but you may expect a comment or two. Its the same with your operating system here at DebConf. Debian is plain, taken for granted normality, and Debian developers wear their operating system. It is a sign, I guess of knowlwdge, skills and connection. But I have to add: They all wear their Debian (on their T-shirts and laptops) because they are passionately and professionally convinced about its technical superiority.