The Early Adopter Conundrum and Reacting to Comments

by Carmine zaccagnino, at 01 January 2020, category : Opinion Flutter Linux Screen Tmux

When you love new stuff but don’t really want to lose old stuff you write this kind of stuff. It’s about tech stuff that’s old and tech stuff that’s new.

If you asked me a month ago, the term early adopter would have been a term I could identify myself with, especially when it comes to technology and computing.

For example, as is evident if you read any amount of the stuff I write, I’m a big proponent of Flutter as an app development framework and have been for quite some time.

That’s all well and good but, especially when it comes to Linux, I sometimes really like holding onto old and proven stuff. Not really on the desktop, I jumped on the Wayland bandwagon early enough and it has only caused me very minor issues in the early days and now I only go back to X.org the few (not always so few actually) times I’m lazy enough to build some GUI software I need to run as admin for it to work (I know about PolicyKit/polkit, but it’s just easier to not bother with it at all when I don’t have to).

The fact that sometimes that can interfere with being a credible early adopter came to light when I wrote an article for the Fedora Magazine about the screen command line utility.

It was on a topic among the ones they were looking for someone to write and, since I always use screen, I thought many other people may find it useful to have an article explain the most important features screen offers and how to use them.

A few minutes after it was online, it started getting comments on how screen was outdated and tmux was much better, suggesting people to forget about screen completely.

tmux is newer and it’s more likely to be updated in the future and it’s seeing more active development, but screen is still a solid option and it offers a lot of features.

As one of the commenters pointed out, tmux lacks (and may never have), among other things, support for terminals over serial connections, so if your backup in case you can’t connect to a machine in any other way is serial knowing screen may be more useful to you than learning tmux.

But that’s not even my point. Why should I have to forget screen in order to learn tmux? And by that I don’t just mean that I can use both as the difference in feature sets makes one easier to use or better than the other depending on the circumstance. I could argue that most of the people who use screen don’t even have to learn tmux: except for the comment section on that post, I’ve never heard people calling screen unstable and tmux is not much easier to use than it for most of what sysadmins do with screen. It’s always worked and it might keep working indefinitely.

This begs a question though, bringing us back to the start of this post. What about the early adopter thing? Why am I bothered by people commenting on my Flutter posts on dev.to telling people they’re fine using React Native?

It’s because they’re telling people who want to learn Flutter not to do it because they are too lazy to even learn the basics of Flutter themselves. They’re saying Flutter is going to fail. I’m not saying any of that about tmux. I’m not doing any of that. Before this post, I haven’t even written about tmux anywhere: I actually use it. Not as much as screen, though.

I’m not hating on any technology (publicly, at least, I privately express stronger opinions on some software development frameworks/tools) because I don’t believe it’s of any benefit to society for me to tell you to ignore X and Y: I want to tell you all how amazing Flutter is and that’s all.

I’ve got to be clear on this, though: with this post I don’t actually mean to say those comments on my posts telling me how much of a fool I am for being a fan of some old or new technology shouldn’t exist. I love answering them and would much prefer a civil back-and-forth to a single inflammatory comment with no follow-up.

That said, if anyone’s reading around the time I’m writing this, I wish all of you will be able to work with whatever technology you prefer, perhaps learn something new and exciting, and reach your goals in the coming year 2020.