Girls Love Linux

If you think that Linux is only "for the boys", then think again. Did you know that there are women-oriented Linux communities that are created to provide both technical and social support for women Linux users? The most well known among them is called LinuxChix, and I’m not kidding. To know more about LinuxChix, I have collected some interesting facts about them so read on.

LinuxChix was founded in 1998-99 by Deb Richardson, who was a technical writer and webmaster at an open source consulting firm. Her reason for founding LinuxChix was to create an alternative to the "locker room mentality" of other Linux User Groups and forums.

LinuxChix started out as an electronic mailing list, but soon graduated into a community with regional chapters in several places around the world. In 1999 LinuxChix consisted of a single mailing list, grrltalk. The growth of this mailing list led to the establishment of other mailing lists, beginning with techtalk for technical discussions and issues for discussion of women's political issues. LinuxChix was first noticed when ZDNet published an article on it, which was cross-posted on Slashdot.

LinuxChix allows local groups following its principles to use its name. By 2002, there were 18 LinuxChix regional chapters in the United States, six in Europe, and five in Canada and two in Australia. In 2004 a new chapter started in Africa and 2005 saw the formation of LinuxChix_India. In 2007, the New Zealand chapter was established. In March 2007, on the International Women's Day, Australia's two LinuxChix chapters united to form a nationwide LinuxChix chapter called "AussieChix".

In 2006, LinuxChix inspired the creation of WikiChix, a wiki and mailing list for female wiki editors to discuss issues of gender bias in wikis.

LinuxChix may sound like a girl band to some of you, but don’t mess with these women because most of them surely know how to hack :)


  1. Great! I didn't know that that kind of organization exists. It's like girl power and all. Awesome, just now I realize that I wanna be a girl :-)

  2. Comments from Digg:

    by weizbox:
    So instead of her influencing and changing this "locker room mentality" that she was seeing by participating with the majority of Linux users.. she decided to try to separate girls from the the guys? Why create division? I personally haven't seen any signs of this 'locker room mentality' on any of the Linux forums that I visit... but perhaps Deb was going somewhere I wasn't.

    'LinuxChix is a community for women who like Linux and Free Software, and for women and men who want to support women in computing. '
    So... they're all go for only helping women, but not men. Men can help women.. but the goal is only to help women, and not men. How sexist is that? Why just focus on helping women? I'm pretty sure the inverse of this idea, or the same idea based on race instead of sex wouldn't go over too well.... and if that's truly the case, it looks to be a double-standard.

    Lets just help people with Linux, regardless of sex/race/religion or anything else. Is that so bad?

    by rootneg2:
    You make a valid point; in that we cannot combat "classical" sexism with "counter" sexism. But that isn't what this is about.

    If you are a male and would like to help LinuxChix and join the community I think that you would be more than welcomed; they are not trying to "exclude" men. And while (hopefully) with true gender equality of opportunity, we would not *need* programs like this, and they would in fact be detrimental; at the moment there *are* significant undercurrents of gender bias, especially in tech arenas and the "hard" sciences. Because of this, it *is* helpful to provide a "safe" environment for ostracized minorities to find support without the fear of subtle gender biases affecting interaction. While programs like this cannot alone solve all the problems of gender inequality (of opportunity) they can allow a girl who might otherwise feel discouraged early on, having her undeveloped ambitions nipped in the bud, to gain that first step of confidence and allow her to go on and compete on equal footing in what you might call "the real world". Programs like LinuxChix or GirlStart or various programs that encourage girls in math, science, and technology are never meant as a "shortcut" or a "cheat", but merely a positive environment that they might not otherwise find.

    It's true that largely, no-one has the audacity to outright and blatantly exclude women anymore (although blatant, overt sexism *is* still a problem in various countries around the world, most notably in Africa and the Middle East) but take, for example, the various "name studies" in which the same article or resume is sent to various academic journals or prospective employers, the only difference being the name at the top. Invariably a female name will perform more poorly than a male name (subconscious racial bias is also apparant, with typically "ethnic" names performing worse than typically "white" names). This, to me at least, makes it clear that there are still many gender (and class, racial, etc) bias issues that need to be solved. Racism is still undeniably a problem, even after slavery was outlawed, blacks gained the right to vote, and segregation laws were repealed; legislation is not the end-all and be-all of discrimination. Since most of these legislative milestones were gained by women decades after the same milestones were passed for black americans, I can only imagine that the *cultural* biases are likewise a few decades behind.

    Saying "Sexism is no longer an issue; women are free to do anything a man can do" does not accurately portray the full situation, and is overall a detrimental viewpoint to hold in that is allows people to feel comfortable with simply ignoring the issues.

  3. Girls suck. We all know that.

  4. I don't understand how this can be a significant issue in online discussion forums where the gender of the poster can not be reliably determined. If you are a woman and believe there is some subtle, or not so subtle, bias against women on a help forum, no one is forcing you to reveal your gender.

  5. haha, the comments left on this post are proof positive of the necesity of this kind of org. Especially considering how often women are expected to not be good with tech, or be afraid of it. Every women in tech jounralism is used as eyecandy, even if they do have a qualified viewpoint.

  6. I like the idea of specialized LUGs. More focused that way as long as everyone gets along.

    I fixed your Wikiepedia entry as it hadn't been updated since last year's cat fight.

  7. I would say: Women loves GNU/Linux!.(flame me!, flame me so i get hotter!) Reine.

  8. Do they get updates PERIODically?

  9. AnonymousMay 08, 2008

    Weizbox said: " I personally haven't seen any signs of this 'locker room mentality' on any of the Linux forums that I visit... but perhaps Deb was going somewhere I wasn't."

    And then Xstaty said: "Do they get updates PERIODically?"

    Does anything else really need to be said to prove the existence of a locker room mentality?

    If you can't see it, you've probably never had to deal with it from the side of the other. It's there, it exists and for those of us that are women in tech...we deal with it constantly. Having space on the Internet where we can be viewed as individuals and not have to deal with the kind of attitude behind so many of the comments on this blog post is absolutely essential.

    I cannot wait for the day when Linuxchix is no longer necessary - that has always been the ultimate goal.

  10. AnonymousMay 10, 2008

    Uhmmm....linuxchix was never necessary. I find it quite emberrasing.

  11. AnonymousJuly 19, 2008

    "no one is forcing you to reveal your gender".

    Have you ever been put into a position where you've felt uncomfortable revealing your gender? The fact that women sometimes do find it necessary to hide the fact that they're women --- or, alternatively, don't hide it and hence have problems because of it --- just proves that there is a problem with sexism. "Don't reveal your gender" isn't a solution.

  12. AnonymousJuly 20, 2008

    And stop with these "we don't discriminate religions", DO discriminate religions which are the MAJOR source of sexual discrimination, (the contrary is yet to be proved!. Reine.

  13. "Lets just help people with Linux, regardless of sex/race/religion or anything else. Is that so bad?"

    thats what i thought when i saw this site. No offense but this seems kind of sexist. :/

  14. As a man who uses linux for over 10 years, and in fact; however politically incorrect - I like girls. Better than sitting around with more pocket-protector wearing eggheads like myself. they smell better too...

    The more, the merrier. At least some of us are not following the "naked empire" and blinding accepting what M$ throws out, but choosing to think for ourselves, view, and enjoy the unlimited possibilities of technology.

    Happy computing, Ladies.

  15. "In 2006, LinuxChix inspired the creation of WikiChix, a wiki and mailing list for female wiki editors to discuss issues of gender bias in wikis."

    ".. beginning with (..) issues for discussion of women's political issues."

    Wow, THAT's gonna make women computer literate! While you are wasting your time discussing the issues involved, the guys out there use the slack to be even MORE computer literate, widening the gap.

    So stop DISCUSSING it and simply DO it. Because the cause of women lagging behind is that they are merely DISCUSSING it, instead of DOING it.

    FOSS is a meritocracy and you don't get any merits for throwing a tea party.

  16. hi this is Very Good.

  17. I disagree with the idea of even using the term ¨female linux user¨. Much like using Special in front of Olympics, or female in front of astronaut. You either are or you aren´t.. The people who compete in the Special Olympics are Olympic athletes, period. Women who are astronauts (or cosmonauts, depending on your preference of term...), are just that - astronauts (or cosmonauts...). Throwing the word female in as a kind of, I guess, quasi title is beyond me... I simply don´t get why it would be even slightly relevant to have to clarify your gender.. According to that logic, if I were transgender, would I point it out before I identified as being a linux user... no. Because, quite frankly, who would that information benefit? Or if I were 600 pounds, bald, a coffee drinker, a person who wears shoes, whatever. I think it akin to saying, ¨Yes, I want to be just like ´one of the guys´, but first I am going to separate myself by declaring my gender!¨ Women are more than welcome to attempt to enter into any industry that they see fit, and sink or swim based on their skills and anything else that is pertinent. Plain and simple, if you can cut the mustard, cut the mustard. But, I ask you, no.. I beg you..Stop using female as a precursor to identifying yourself as a linux user. You ARE a Linux user. End of story... A girl I knew in High school was voted one of the smartest people in the city, in the city newspaper. Smartest people, not the smartest female.... One of 50 smartest people in the city. She was writing perl and working at the biggest ISP at that time. She was and still is an incredibly intelligent and overall a really good person. She never once adopted the term female in front of her job title. There are times when being seen as a woman is helpful, sure. I don´t, and feel free to vehemently disagree with me, think that the realm of computers is one where you need to broadcast to the world that you are female. If you are a woman and you disagree, consider this.. Do you go for a job interview as a candidate for the job, or as a ¨female job candidate¨? If anyone can name and offer proof that there are males that refer to themselves as ¨male linux users¨ as opposed to being ¨linux users¨ then I will eat my hat.. my hat btw, doesn´t carry a gender.. it does identify itself heavily with baseball, however. And don´t think I am opposed to women being involved in any aspect of the world, but unless it is going to save your neck somehow, then I find it unnecessary to bring it up,to mention that you are a woman with linux in the same breath. So what? It is especially unneeded if you have a feminine name, e.g. Carol or Rachel or Susan. You can differentiate yourself from others, in a better way, when your basis on what is between your ears, as opposed to what is between your legs.