Wednesday December 5 2018

On objectivity

I was prompted to write about this topic from a rather short remark one attendee at a meeting made today.

Anything not Red Hat is better.

That struck me immediately. I lost any sense of respect for the individual in that moment. It’s a confession that one cannot think objectively.

I’d be one of the first to admit that I’m skeptical of many products and of the quality software that Red Hat has been putting out the past few years. Especially with the advent of systemd.

I also cannot deny that they’ve made a lot of good products and spent a lot of time and money making Linux, and open source software work not only in other businesses but as a business model of its own. They’re able to continue selling the products and the main OS offering is still quite stable.

In much the same way I can’t deny that Microsoft has some great products that are reliable and fill needs. Who else’s desktop operating system are you going to put on a high school’s computer lab machines? Nine times out of ten it seems to be a variant of Microsoft Windows. With good reason, Active Directory offers Group Policy which fills the bureaucratic needs and it doesn’t require much cognitive skill to configure.

So how is this a confession they cannot think objectively?

A person thinking objectively about the situation will not attack the creators of the product without relevant justification, e.g. “Don’t buy that because of the owner’s restrictive and costly licensing.” In the quote above the product was deemed lesser because Red Hat is implicitly being defined as “lesser” without any proof, examples or reason.

I mentioned systemd above, a somewhat objective remark in opposition might look something like

Red Hat’s OS isn’t a good choice, systemd has way more features than you need and there are more simplistic and reliable alternatives out there.

In retrospect I should’ve asked him:

Do you have any examples to back up that claim?

If you ever do this, or state your “feelings” on a technical matter. You’re not helping the situation. Stop it. Start thinking.