Friday, July 29, 2005

I gave my boss a Knoppix 4.0 DVD and a Knoppix 3.7 CD today. He was a little *nix-curious. I also read a lovely article on Honestly, I'm not sure how much I like the writing style overall, but that having been said, it certainly has it's good sections...

"Unix, in short, is the wheel. As in “don’t reinvent the wheel.” Its design is rich and primal. It comes from a time before mice you could plug into a computer, before computers could make sounds greater than a single tone of beep. Before icons, before graphics entirely.

Only words.

When I finish the first draft of this essay, instead of dragging a sheet of dog-eared paper from a floppy disk to a hard drive, I’ll type:

cp /mnt/floppy/geek.txt ~/words/crunchable/

And the end of the world is only one sentence away:

rm -rf /

The commands are obscure and sleek, the way poetry is. If you want pictures of pieces of paper and hard drives, there is software that will give them to you. But the words at the core of Unix will never be erased. Because of that, the pictures eventually feel like vanity.

"But I also like it because its spartan nature is a boon, in a strange way. I can’t really browse the Web very well with it, and shooting people on the Internet would be more slide show than massacre.

In other words, I can only do things with it that matter.

I can write.

Geeks ask a lot of their computers. We learn about new uses for computers and immediately want to try them out ?�� we want to make our machines do things they never even thought of wanting to do before. We want more than the reasonable. We want five kinds of fantastic all happening at once.

Typing these letters on this computer in the dark is different. There are no distractions. Nothing teasing me away from my thoughts.

Only words.

Operating systems are just like anything else in this world. They come in different materials, and different qualities. In windows, everything may be shiny and it may even work sometimes, but it's all made out of plastic, the same as everything else served to consumers in this country. There's always the threat that if you push it or pull it or bend it or press it, it will break, and there's nothing that you can do about it.

OS X feels like aluminum to me. It has a light feeling, not the heavy steel that made up OS 9. It's strong. There's always the assurance that if you want to break something, you're going to have to work damn hard. OS X is sturdy.

Linux is, and will always be my favorite, though. Linux is like deep, rich wood. It's something that you can work with. Don't like a section? Shave it off, round the corners. Make a completely new replacement section. It doesn't always come out right, and it's a lot of work sometimes. You can get a version that's already nicely polished and varnished and ready to be used. But nothing compares to the joy of doing it yourself.


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