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Bad Attitude

Previous: ext4 bug (or not)Next: Analysing ext2/ext3
Assigned keywords: Programmieren

Had a run in with the nerd attitude again. But let's start from the beginning. I am pondering for quite a long time how to get detailed statistics on disk space usage. For Windows, there are nice proggies such as Treesize or SequoiaView, which suffer from the fact that the whole space has to be scanned every time you want to get the statistics.
I started to wonder whether there was a feasible way of getting the information faster by directly reading the partition with the file system, as it can be done easily in Unix-like operating systems. I thought about how the information describing the file allocation in the filesystem would be structured and whether it would be easier to interpret this information instead of recursively traversing the whole filesystem. I did some research and reading, but found no information which I could easily understand. I even did some tests by creating a very small ext3 partition by creating some files in it and hex-viewing images of it, but finally decided that it would be best to ask in a Linux forum, to get the question answered whether the approach was even remotely feasible or, if so, someone else followed it already.

I got two replies, one "No" and the other telling me whether I thought people would make directories "out of fun". I inquired further, but provoked even harsher reactions with the usual stuff that I should do research for myself and so on. I was about to shrug it off and book it under "Most IT-Guys are Assholes", yet this time, I felt not like doing so.

At first, I think that it is a common good idea to treat foreigners with some sort of general respect. At least I do and I think this is something which makes daily life easier, not to speak that it probably prevents people from being at each other's throat all the time. Actually, I even think that most people which make such a big fuss in any online context are quite tame in real world dialogues, because otherwise they'd propably beaten up quite often. At least I don't have the guts to tell a complete stranger asking me for directions in the city that he's obviously too stupid to read a street map.

But apart from that, I really think that these people do tremendous damage on the Open Source Community, which is supposed to live from cooperation and free flow of information. I can actually remember my first "RTFM": I had my first Linux installed and tried to set up a proper environment with Apache and PHP. I couldn't write to the Apache docroot, because Apache was running with another group and user; and if I changed that to myself, Apache couldn't read the files. Of course I didn't know that Apache was running with it's own user and that I could have changed it. After getting a quite angry response from the community, I chose to fuck Linux and stick to Windows. I was lucky that I came to know people personally which already were into Linux and could give me hints in person, so I eventually came to terms with the system. In another world, I would have become a major Windows administrator. The path I took meant some benefit to the Open Source Community, as chose Linux as a solution where I could have used Windows as well, and, even more important, I shared my knowledge with others. Remembering how helpless I felt back then, I always try to be patient with other people - which, in a twist of fate, actually somehow gives those suckers from back then credit, as otherwise I might have grown into someone having the same attitude.

Now those people demand that the Internet is first used before posing questions. Yet I think this is wrong and in no age of man have written texts ever replaced what can be learned from someone more experienced in a certain matter. When answering a question, I usually not just give an answer, I may as well add some caveats or just give an impression how I solve things, and that there might be other ways more suitable in certain situations. This I find valuable and it is not so easy to find on the Internet, especially if the one doing research is new to the topic and cannot yet weigh the answers he finds. Even worse is that matters aren't subject to discussion. I've found so much crap on the Internet. When answering a question, others might jump in, adding something I've overlooked or offering an alternate view. This might enhance my own knowledge, so the effort answering a question becomes worthwhile.


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