11 Apr 2013

The truth about being a full time geek

When I was at school the term geek was a derogatory word directed at people who spent a lot of time on a ZX Spectrum, was part of a chess club or played a musical instrument in the school orchestra. Unfortunately I was one of those people who fell into all three categories.

Nowadays the term geek is considered cool. Being a geek means you are knowledgeable in a particular subject and that you have spent a lot of time within the specialised field for which you are termed a geek.

What does all this have to do with Linux? Well the true geek, the one that played chess every lunchtime so that they wouldn't have to go outside and play, they still exist and the geekdom weighs down heavily on their shoulders.

You see a lot of people didn't stop using Windows and use Linux just because it was better. That was never the plan. The true geek used Linux when it was a mere shell of an operating system and being a geek doesn't actually mean you are knowledgeable about the whole thing and that you know what you are doing.

The inner geek wants to play and Linux is the ultimate playground. There is so much choice. There are a dozen different desktop environments and hundreds of different distributions each with their own unique slant on the way a computer should be used.

The trouble with being like this however is that no one distribution is every enough. The term distrohopper has been invented for people who continually jump from distribution to distribution and we don't do it because the distribution we are using now has anything wrong with it. We do it because first of all we can and secondly it is the need to know. Is there something in that other distribution that isn't in all the others?

A true geek will have attempted Linux From Scratch and will have repartitioned their hard drive on multiple occasions. The true geek appreciates Ubuntu for what it is but hasn't actually used it in quite some time. The true geek owns a Raspberry PI. Why? It is the ultimate toy. There is a new game to be played. Who can do the most impressive thing with the Raspberry PI?

Of course being a geek doesn't mean you are particularly any more intelligent than other people and your level of ability may be insignificant to other great minds who just seem to be able to build amazing things with the minimum of effort. It doesn't stop you trying though.

Being a geek is both a blessing and a curse. How I got married I will never know? I'm constantly complained at for being on that blasted computer.

Linux is there for everyone. It is so easy to use now that anyone can do it. For the chess club members and Sinclair Spectrum programmers of the past there is still a big enough maze to get lost in. A place to hide away from real life.

This is a guest post by Gary Newell, which won the 1st prize in the joint contest of Linux notes from DarkDuck and Zinio. Gary received a subscription to his favourite magazine and a disk with his favourite distribution Mageia 2 KDE from Buy Linux CDs.


  1. Well said. I feel the need to constantly challenge my technical and analytical skills and open source and Linux (excuse me, I mean GNU/Linux, Richard) provide that challenge.

  2. Brilliant thoughts!