Ubiquitous Linux: It’s Everywhere

UbiquitousLinuxSometimes I’m sitting here, trying to come up with something to write and I’m coming up dry. It’s not because there’s nothing going on with Linux. Quite the contrary. Linux is always moving, changing. It’s hard to believe just how ubiquitous Linux is. It’s literally everywhere.

The Obvious

Of course, there’s the obvious places you can find Linux. Android phones, the Internet, and of course super computers. Linux has long dominated those markets, and everybody is pretty much aware of that fact.

The Not So Obvious

Some of the other areas that you can find Linux are pretty amazing. Just check out some of these:

  • Japanese high speed rails.
  • San Francisco High-tech traffic control systems.
  • Toyota In-Vehicle-Infotainment and communications systems.
  • DeLaval robotic cow milking systems.
  • The New York Stock Exchange.
  • CERN’s particle accelerator.
  • Air Traffic Control systems nation wide.
  • United States nuclear submarines.
  • DVR devices.
  • French Parliament.
  • Commercial Bank of China.
  • The U.S. Postal Service.
  • Virgin America
  • etc….

Seriously, the list goes on and on. In a world that’s literally so full of Linux, it seems weird that it would be hard to think of something to write about. About the only place that Linux isn’t so ubiquitous is the desktop computer.

Of course this is why those who don’t have the facts seem to think that no one uses Linux, or that Linux is difficult to use. For those of us that do have the facts, it’s obvious that Windows and OSX are used by a small fraction of the number of users that use Linux on a daily basis.

Can you imagine what this world would be without Linux? It certainly wouldn’t be the world that we know. I guess it would be more like the 80s instead of the 21st century. Maybe Microsoft would have more power over us than they do now? Scary thought, air traffic control powered by Windows. Gives the term “crash” a whole new meaning, or maybe it keeps the old one. Either way, I think if Windows were managing air traffic control, I’d fly less.

I guess I don’t have a lot more to say, but just keep this in mind. Next time someone tells you that no one uses Linux, you should tell them how ubiquitous Linux really is.

Linux is Perfect for your Favorite Lost Cause

More years ago than I care to remember, I was born. My parents have had to put up with my crap since then. As a parent myself, I have a great deal of respect for that, especially when I have a better idea than most what I’ve put them through.

You’re Having Trouble with What?!?

That being said, nothing tries my patience faster than trying to trouble shoot computer problems for my parents from over a thousand miles away over the phone. I’ve tried several different ways of taking remote control of their computer, none of which seem to prevent them from hosing it up so badly that my remote methods no longer work. Unfortunately, when it comes to computers, they’re a lost cause.

Then events led me to my most recent epiphany. HP made a tablet. The TouchPad. It was brilliant. Only two buttons on it, one on the front, one on the top. WebOS is a snap to use, and it would give my parents the ability to do pretty much everything they do on their computer in a device that even my parents couldn’t screw up (so I thought).

The price was a barrier though. Of course, we all know how that story went. HP (probably more appropriately Léo Apotheker) so screwed up the release and sale of the TouchPad that it didn’t stand a chance in the tablet market. It was too expensive and didn’t have apps. Pretty soon the price dropped, and then again, and then again. Finally it was announced that it was being discontinued and the remaining inventory sold at ridiculously low prices just to get rid of them. I stayed up till 3am and managed to get my hands on three of them. One for me, one for my wife, and one for my parents. My problems are solved (so I thought)!

You’re Still Having Trouble with What?!?

I want to reiterate here that I love my parents, and they’ve put up with my crap for as long as I’ve had crap to put up with. I don’t want to give the wrong impression here.

OK, now that I’ve said that, my parents can even screw up WebOS. Well, not so much screw it up, but they can’t even figure out the most basic task on it. Just a few days ago, I spent over thirty minutes trying to walk my mother through checking her email. CHECKING HER EMAIL!

How Hard Is This?Seriously, I wanted to send her this picture, but I couldn’t think of a way to do it that was less complicated than email that she could actually do. The only thing that came to mind was printing it out, putting into an envelope and snail mailing it to her.

Here’s where the epiphany comes in. It doesn’t matter what OS they’re using, or what hardware they’ve got, or how hard I try to make it easy for them. They’re just a lost cause, and that means that Linux is perfect for them.

Linux for Lost Causes

All this time I’ve been trying to make everything so easy that even they couldn’t mess it up. It led to more and more complex issues for me, but didn’t solve their problems. With Linux, I can easily remote into their computer, their computer is virtually impervious to all of the weird crap that seems to miraculously get installed even though I’m not sure which if them knows how to install stuff, and I can maintain it for them with barely a flip of my wrist at the command line. If my mother can’t figure out how to open her email, I can literally open it for her. Linux is no harder to use than Windows or OSX, so I can’t think of a single reason they shouldn’t use Linux. Really, any one that has a lost cause of their own should be thinking Linux.

Think I’m wrong? Give me an earful.


YOur a Troll

Linux Rants is a Troll!

<RandomInternetGuy> YOur a Troll.
<LinuxRants> Uh, it’s “you’re” actually.
<RandomInternetGuy> What?
<LinuxRants> It’s “You’re a Troll”, not “Your a Troll”. “Your” is the possessive.
<RandomInternetGuy2> STOP FEEDING THE TROLL!1!!

I get called a Troll quite a lot. And not just Troll either. I’ve been called “useless”, “a puke”, “dead weight”, and many other even less polite names. I’ve had my posts intentionally edited (and not even subtly) by site Admins because they didn’t like what I had to say. I’ve been Ignored, Banned, and had my accounts deleted and/or submitted to an Administrator to be disabled. There are a more than a few people that don’t like me very much.

Wrong on the Internet


The above conversation would be uncommon for me, since I don’t tend to correct people’s spelling or grammar. If I did, I could be at it all day. To be honest, my spelling and grammar isn’t that great either, so attempting to correct others would be a touch hypocritical. As long as I can understand what you’re (See? “You’re” not “your”.) saying, I’ll let it ride. I don’t go out of my way to troll other people’s conversations, but sometimes when I feel that something has been said that is egregiously wrong, I’ll say something. I’m also very passionate about my opinions, and if someone says that I’m wrong, they better damn well be able to prove it.

Not Agreeing is Not Trolling

I don’t believe that the fact that I may reply to a comment that I don’t agree with automatically makes my response trolling. Quite the opposite in fact. I think half the reason that people call me a troll is because they don’t like what I have to say, but don’t have the facts to back up their own position. But what is a troll anyway? Well, on the Internet, the way a troll is defined is like this:

In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. The noun troll may also refer to the provocative message itself, as in: “That was an excellent troll you posted.”

Looking for Agreement

Disagreeing with someone’s opinion is not being a troll. Sticking to your guns despite lame counters is not trolling. When someone says, “OSX is based on Linux”, correcting them is not trolling. To me, what you’re (See? “You’re” not “your”.) saying is this: “I don’t have an argument, so how can I walk away from this looking like the winner?” The Internet has become a place where people go when they’re looking for reinforcement. They want to throw their opinions out on to the net and have “The World” tell them “You’re so right”, and “What a brilliant mind you have!” What they don’t want is a challenge. They’re looking for agreement, so they get sensitive very quickly when they don’t get it.

Quit Whining

I just want to close with this message to these people. Quit your (See? “Your” not “you’re”.) damn whining. Not everybody is going to agree with you. You’re not the smartest person on the planet, and all of your opinions aren’t right just because you have them. I realize that I’m not always right, and I actually appreciate it when someone legitimately points out a failing in my logic. It makes me reevaluate my position with this new information, and that makes me better. Hiding behind your name calling and ban button makes you less. I also become a better person every time someone blocks me. No longer being subjected to your idiocy and cowardice is better in the long run.

Are We Overworked?

First of all, if you’re looking for Linux, this posting isn’t about it. Sorry. Today, I’m feeling overworked, which has very little to do with my operating system of choice.

First, a brief little anecdote.

This morning my kids drug me out of bed just shy of 9 minutes before my alarm clock was suppose to ring. They were a little rambunctious, so we played a bit before I managed to divert them with breakfast so I could go take a shower. I was ready to go 15 minutes later. Showered, shaved, and dressed. Got the kids in the car was headed off to work. My kids unfortunate timing this morning led me to be a few minutes later than I usually am. I got my first call of the day while I was still in the car. Of course, I told them I’d take care of it as soon as I was in the office as I wasn’t able to take care of it from the car. Of course that’s not entirely true as I could have sshed to the server on my phone and taken care of it, but then I would have had to stop driving. I rolled into the office about a quarter to 8:00.

I planned lunch with my former boss (I’d been reassigned to another department due to some restructuring), but I ended up having to work on something that came up at the last minute, so I grabbed a frozen burrito out of the company fridge and ate at my desk. I finished up work tonight about 8:30 after resolving an issue with a stored proc.

After work, I went for a run. As an aside, I know that many people love to run. I hate it with a fire that burns brighter than a thousand suns. Literally. I do it because if I can force myself to run, there’s not much else in my life that I can’t force myself to do. Over the course of my run, I thought about an issue I’m having at work.

How stupid is this?

I make an OK salary, but it’s sure as heck not enough to warrant a 12 hour day. The thing is, this isn’t an unusual day for me. I’ve talked with other people who are in the same line of work as I am, and it’s not unusual for them either. I’m not the only one pulling this kind of stuff in my office. Not even close.

I was flipping through channels on my radio the other day, and I ran across (involuntarily) that old Dolly Parton song, “9 to 5″. That whole song is complaining about how rough that 9 to 5 job is, but the first thought that crossed my mind was, “Man, I wish I worked 9 to 5.”

What do you think? Are we working too hard, or am I just being a whiny loser? Let me know what you think down in the comments.

If Linux was a car (Hater’s edition)

Originally posted on October 23, 2011 by Michael Hall on Michael Hall’s Blog.

There have been several humorous variations of the “If Linux was a car…” theme, but a recent rant against Linux made me wonder, what would the stereotypical hater’s opinion be on our modern automobiles?  Here is how I imagine it would go:

I’m giving up on cars.  Every few years I test-drive a car, to see if they’ve reached the point where they are usable to every day people, and every time I am disappointed.  Sure, maybe coverall-wearing mechanics and uber-elite NASCAR drivers can figure out how to operate them, but they’re just too damned complicated for your average joe.


To start off, there are literally hundreds of different kinds of cars, and they’re all different.  How do car makers expect a non-expert to be able to select one?  Most manufacturers even make different “models” of their car, so it’s not enough to just say you want a Ford, now you have to decide which Ford you want.  I don’t know ahead of time whether I’m going to want to move furniture, go off-roading or cruise the Autobahn, why should I have to pick one?  Why can’t they just make one car that does everything?


And once you finally do pick a car, it’s nearly impossible to maintain.  You can’t even replace the air filter without opening the hood!  My Grandma isn’t going to open the hood. Even regular maintenance can ruin your car if it’s not done in exactly, EXACTLY, the right frickin’ way.  After test-driving the latest version of some Toyota, a light came on telling me it needed more fuel.  Okay, I thought, there’s a fueling station right down the block, this should be easy enough.  But no.  First of all, I don’t even know what side of the car the fuel opening is on, so I pull up to a pump only to discover it’s on the other side! (I later found out that there’s a nearly hidden message on the dash indicating what side it’s on, but it’s certainly not made abundantly clear).  After pulling around to another pump, I’m greeted by not one, not two, but four different kinds of fuel.  At this point I probably should have spent an hour reading the car’s manual to discover which of these mystery liquids is the right one, but I just want to drive, I don’t want to become a freakin’ mechanic!  So I pick the one with the nicest looking handle (a pretty green one called “Diesel”), and don’t you know it, the stupid thing doesn’t even fit my car!  Luckily the convenience store sells fuel containers, so I can at least pump five gallons at a time into that, then pour it into my car.  It’s a horrible user experience and an lot of work, but at least now I have a full tank right?  Well not so fast, evidently this fuel sucks, or my car sucks, or something, but it’s making an awful lot of smoke and driving slow.  Who’d have thought that something as simple as refueling could wreck this thing?


So that car is a lost cause, but I want to finish my review of automobiles, so I borrow one from a colleague who is always telling me that his works just fine.  Luckily for me it has a full tank already, so I don’t have to try and navigate that minefield again.  His car runs fairly well, but it doesn’t have much “bling” if you know what I mean.  I decided to install some features that I’ve seen on other cars, so I go to my nearest big-box store and immediately I’m hit with another huge list of options.  Seriously,  how many different CD players do we need?  I just want one that plays music.  I don’t really know which one is best, so I just grab the cheapest one they have only to discover that, yet again, it doesn’t “Just fit”.  This thing is about an inch too tall for my co-workers dashboard.  This time I consult The Google, and find a video tutorials for installing this thing.  So I grab mySawzall and some plywood, and follow along.  The end result isn’t pretty, and it has a faint burning-plastic smell when I turn the volume up, but at least I got somethingworking.


So now I am cruising around town with my Katy Perry blasting and the windows down (because that darn burning plastic smell makes me dizzy), only to be stopped by the “traffic police”.  What nobody bothered to tell me when I was looking at using a car was that evidently there are rules you have to follow.  There are so many rules, I later learned, that there’s an entire manual devoted to them.  And a test too!  Do people really expect that their parents will be able to remember all of these crazy rules?  Any why does my car even have the ability to go 120 MPH if I’m not even allowed to do it?


So that’s it, I’m giving up.  Cars are just too damn complicated for normal people to use.  There are too many choices, most of which will end up breaking your car.  There are too many rules, and by the time you follow them all driving it’s even fun anymore.  To top it all off, my brand new CD player ended up causing a small fire even though I followed every single one of the YouTube video’s instructions.  So I returned this smoldering pile of junk to my co-worker, and as he was muttering something about “theft” and “pressing charges”, I promised myself that from that point on I was sticking to my good old trustworthy horse and buggy.

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