The "meritocaste" and the failure of Linux

The meritocaste harmed the development of Linux

On the 32nd anniversary of the creation of Linus Torvalds and about to celebrate four decades of the GNU project, it is a good time to take stock. Mine is that the consecration of the "meritocaste" and the failure of Linux are inevitable causes and consequences.

Of course, for readers to confirm or refute my conclusion, I first have to explain the neologism and second describe what would be the failure of Linux.

From meritocracy to meritocaste

The history of the GNU project has its roots in the work environment Richard Stallman found when he entered the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab and how that environment was lost as corporate funding became more generous. I ask you to take note of this point because it is a topic that will reappear.

Stallman says that there was an open-door culture in that place, anyone could take what they needed and had access to the information they needed to do their job. Whoever became aware of a problem solved it and the work to be done was decided by all.

Over time, Stallman's peers were tempted by private business, and those who replaced him were not supporters of an open culture. Software development was outsourced.

What put an end to Stallman's patience was that when it became necessary to connect the equipment to an external computer network and to MIT's internal network, no one in the lab was able to modify the software and the manufacturer had no interest in doing so. . Finally, Stallman got fed up and decided to develop an operating system from scratch.

The path to GNU
Related article:
The path to GNU. Why Stallman Created a New Project
The birth of GNU
Related article:
The birth of GNU. Stallman and the road to Free Software

The first communities born from Stallman's proposal adopted a model inspired by the team that developed the first communication protocols between devices.  It was called Request for Comments, and it aimed to “achieve general consensus and write code that works.

The communication was through memoranda that were considered as something temporary, not dogmatic and definitive and that authority was derived from merit and not from hierarchy.

The pioneers of the Internet
Related article:
Internet pioneers and their influence on the Free Software community

The problem is that meritocracy works in small groups, But, when you have to coordinate large and customized groups scattered throughout the world, problems arise. And that's when the meritocaste arises.

One of the meanings of the RAE for the word casta is

. In some societies, a group that forms a special class and tends to remain separated from others by race, religion, etc.

Originally, the groups reached a consensus because they had similar ideas, but when other points of view are incorporated, the original members feel threatened and the evaluation of the merits of an idea is based on the scale of prejudices of those who make the decisions. . Many good contributions to free software projects are rejected simply because they did not come from the right class or because they do not serve to flatter the vanity of their highnesses the programmers.

The "meritocaste" and the failure of Linux

I invite you to look at any of the release notes for any version of the Linux kernel. If they can find some feature that really changes the life of the common user, they are much smarter than me.

Not only did the long-awaited year of Linux on the desktop not happen and we definitely lost the battle for mobile. The future goes to cloud applications whose source code we will never see and where the security of the data depends on other clouds (In which our guardian angels dwell)

That is the fault of the misunderstood meritocracy that privileged programmers, despising graphic designers, marketing specialists, professional writers, but above all the common user. The opportunity for independent funding of free software was lost forever.

Thanks to that, today the development of Linux is in the hands of corporations that are the ones that determine which projects continue or not. The principles of free software are illusory if there is no funding to support a project.

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  1.   miLo said

    Oh really? Mr. Linus Torvalds, has it been 32 years since you were created? Well, let's see if the man takes care of himself a little more, who seems to be a few years older 😂