Q: Why couldn't the little Goth kid sleep? A: He was afraid of the light.

Linux - the world's most misunderstood operating system

Date/Time Permalink: 03/29/06 01:40:52 pm
Category: General

Like the parable of the six blind men discovering an elephant, who afterwards could not agree on whether an elephant was shaped like an ear or a tail or a trunk, thus also are the business computer magazine's gropings of Linux. It's a real mind-blower, isn't it? "What is holding Linux back?", they scream at each other over and over. And because they are asking the wrong question, they fumble endlessly for the answer - and their attempts get funnier each week.

Behold today's offering, from CNet, and take a long look at the author Peter Quinn's photo, because when this post is through, he'll have a cream pie pasted on his kisser. Linux's latest excuse note to the teacher, this claims, is that Linux is too much about pony-tails and tie-dye shirts and backpacks than about suits and ties and briefcases. Somebody, please tell me we've finally hit rock bottom, here. If I fire up my aggregater next week and read where Linux is "failing" because it's moon sign is in Capricorn, I'm going to grow a beard and join the Amish. So I can live amongst people who at least aren't as *ignorant* about technology, even if they don't use it a lot.

Ironically, said the blogger with a twinkle in his eye as he reached down his sleeve for his hole card, I happen to be mid-way through "What the Doormouse Said - How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry" by John Markoff. And yeah verily, in the photos section scant pages from the current position of my bookmark, are pictures of some of the founding legends of the computer age - bearded, pony-tailed, T-shirted, jeansed (*ack*! I adjectived the noun 'jeans'! How do I sleep at night?), and basically looking like an unmade bed. These are the people who *invented* much of the technology we are talking about today - pity how their sloppy dress code prevented their technology's adoption! OK, they sometimes wore shirts and ties or button-downs and pocket-protectors and sliderules clipped to their belts, too, most likely when the occasion called for it...

Wait a minute! What the heck am I doing even taking this seriously? Since when are we reduced to grading clothing like two gossip-column queens making catty comments about Cher at the Oscars? Like I said, next week it'll be Linux's sun-sign and astrological alignments. I'm *so* ready to be Amish, I could raise a barn...

I guess success, like beauty, must be in the eye of the beholder. To those whom success means that "It is not enough that I succeed - everyone else must fail.", Linux is a lost cause. To those who think you're not succeeding until you've been hauled into court for monopolizing the industry, Linux never even got to bat. Like Johnny Irish said, "How do you like that guy? Can't run six balls and he's President of the United States." Everybody is a failure to somebody else.

But Linux is a perfect example of how to win...just slower. Familiar with the game of Go? How about chess? Chess games exist in which out-and-out victory may be had in as few as six moves. Go games, on the other hand, take a minimum of about 50 moves before either side has enough information even to decide whether or not they should resign. Big brutish businesses gobbling each other up on the Stock Exchange is chess. Users spreading something that's good (and they know it's good, without needing a TV commercial to tell them it's good.), to other users who discover it to their joy: this is Go. OK, so maybe Linux won't take over the world. Maybe BSD or Open Solaris or GNU Itself or Plan 9 from Bell Labs or ReactOS will take the title. But it doesn't matter, because we all play on the same team, anyway. Free/Open Source *will* win the game! It doesn't matter which stone gets to finish the joseki.

Those members of Big Business who have a stake in seeing the world remain their chess board (as long as they don't have to be pawns!) get really concerned seeing the big Go game happening all around them. Win or lose, it's a game they don't know how to play. So they post articles like these, which come in handy in case the casual reader did not heretofore *think* that Linux was a bunch of stoned Grateful Dead fans who haven't showered this Presidential Administration. In that case, it's awfully handy to plant that idea, isn't it?

Coming up next week: HOWTO keep your clothes on when you don't believe in using buttons and zippers.

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suddenly the moon