Linux Holy Wars and Romance
Fake News written by on Tuesday, April 6, 1999
[Note: The "James Baughn" referred to in this article is not the same James Baughn that is the editor for Humorix. Dave is referring to somebody else. I hope. -- The Editor]
Everyone has one. Their favorite text editor. Their favorite desktop environment. Their favorite C library. Their favorite endian byte order. Their favorite Linux humor web site. It can be confusing wading through sites like Slashdot and newsgroups like alt.os.linux.advocacy to find out information on their favorites. How can an opinionated geek pick their preferences based on initial experience and half-baked assumptions with all that information out there?
James S. Baughn, author of Humorix, once lamented to me in a personal email, "Dammit Dave! Quit e-mailing me your dumb jokes and not-funny Linux humor articles! Oh, by the way, thanks for the roses." While this statement had absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand here, I can assure you the real issue that was on his mind while rejecting my hand in marriage was "Is this actually legal anywhere in the U.S. outside of San Fransisco? And should my data be stored first-byte-first or first-byte-last?"
These important questions, and many others, are apparently of life-or-death importance to many geeks and nerds out there. We here at Humorix hope to shed some light on the situation. After you read this article, we hope that you can pick your preferences easily and then defend those preferences with a zeal that would make any Crusades-era Christian turn pale with shock and disgust.
We should describe the various levels of zealotism in greater detail. Novices or "lamers" as they are often called in hackerspeak will often quietly slip into a newsgroup discussion and proclaim that everyone is an idiot. More advanced students will declare their favorite OS/GUI/endian and then declare that everyone else is an idiot. There are rumors of a Ph.D. program available for those who wish to master the fine art of software/hardware bigotry. Once passing these series of courses, many of these people will go on to earn the title "Microsoft Executive".
Of course, even we, just like many other publications, politicians, and corporate takeover planners alike, like to put a scientific facade to cover up the audacity of our claims. So in order to appear scientific, we hired two of the most brilliant minds out there: two contenders for the Guiness Book of World Records for the world's best memorization skills. We then locked them into two seperate rooms, both containing a computer. One computer had vi loaded on it; the other, Emacs. We threw these two people into these rooms and locked the doors (to this days I still fondly recall their screams and cries for help in my dreams).
Two days later we opened the doors and peered inside. In the vi room, the memorization expert simply wept and begged for mercy, exclaiming "I managed to memorize 300,000 digits of pi, but this vi software is too much!" In the other room, we were shocked to discover that a freakish space-time anomaly occured due to the Emacs software loading up off of its 15 terabyte disk storage unit. Apparently the bulk of the text editor was so great that it caused a wormhole to open up when it was loaded. The other memorization expert was then replaced with Captain Janeway of the starship Voyager. When asked what happened, she replied "Cripes, I hate it when this happens." She then set her phaser to stun, shot me, and mumbled "Prime Directive be damned." She was never heard from again until the following season.
To further solidify our findings, we then abducted Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond. We tied Eric to a chair and forced him to listen to Richard Stallman sing the eerily enchanting "free the software" song. Eric at first protested and squirmed fruitlessly to try to get out of his bonds, but then he grew quiet as the life force slowly drained away from his body until there was nothing left of him but a charred broken husk. While this didn't settle the Open Source vs. Free Software debate, it certainly was mildly entertaining to watch.
All in all, it doesn't take much to be a software/hardware bigot. Usually all it takes is the right kind of nerve, a certain pig-headedness about life in general, a bottle of whiskey every night, and the ability to say "But I like to dance naked on your car, officer!" without shame (this last bit is best uttered while actually dancing naked on a police officer's car; I speak from experience here). It worked for me, and it can work for you, too.
And to settle the other important question brought up in this essay: No, it isn't necessarily legal outside of San Fransisco, but to heck with the law! Gimme some sugar baby!