Monday, August 07, 2006

The Romance of Subversion

The Kino video editing workshop I ran last Saturday wasn't quite the success that I hoped it would be. Kino, k3b, ffmpeg, vcdimager, and my own Thinkpad had their share of glitches so that I ended up with demos that were less than smooth.

At the same time, there were only eight of us in the session, a very significant drop from the over thirty who attended the very first one. I suppose everyone else had better things to do, or didn't find what they were expecting to find in a small Linux users group ("free consulting"), or had just given up ("I'll just use my pirated Windows"). Or maybe I really just lack the charisma to pull together a LUG. Whatever.

Still, giving that little workshop for seven other guys -- whom I'm very thankful came, by the way -- made me think a bit about the early Christians.

Yes, we've all heard that old saw comparing operating systems to religion. So here's another comparison: promoting Linux in a Windows world is like being an early Christian in the Roman Empire.

At the height of their power, the Roman Empire had already established itself in much of the known world. It provided order, working institutions, and an iron grip on its citizens. And while it was quite tolerant of small sects that were no threat to its imperial power, at some point it came down hard on the Christians because they were becoming a threat to their political power. That would have signalled the phase when Christians went underground, meeting in as small and secret cells with the threat of persecution over their heads.

Of course, there's no threat of persecution in promoting Linux (unless you're in a position to make decisions, in which case, watch out), but I couldn't help but feel the thrill of the romance of subversion. So there we were, just eight guys, getting together to exchange ideas on something we genuinely liked, going against the grain that the world was running in. Apart from the appeal of the message, was this some in some measure how the early Christians felt? The thrill of doing something new and something not quite in line with the rest of society?

I don't know if ONeLUG will survive given these numbers, but I'm already committed to keeping it alive as long as I can. I just wish we had someone with more charisma and organizational skills.

Regardless, Saturday wasn't a complete loss. I did manage to show the essential features of Kino so I did meet my basic expectations. We even put together a very creepy video of Joel Balajadia maniacally assaulting an LCD projector. And we've already set a date for the next meeting and I have a volunteer for another lecture.

Gotta keep the faith, y'know.


  1. It could be worse... You could have Roman centurions hunting you subversives down. ;)

  2. Lemme know more about your video projects Dom. I've done quite a bit of work on DVD authoring technology and am able to make fully interactive DVDs including books, arithmetic exercisers, music...anything to do with dvds, I can do. studying the bluray/hddvd standards now...

  3. Hi, Chaz: I don't know which is worse, persecution or apathy. Sigh.

    Hi, Dean: thanks for the offer. Pretty cool stuff you're doing. Are you going to post links and tutorials?