Interview: Tux Penguin

Fake News written by James Baughn on Tuesday, October 5, 1999

from the all-you-can-eat-raw-fish dept.

Tux Penguin is a very elusive creature to contact. When he's not attending Linux conventions or visiting relatives in zoos, he's taking a vacation in sunny Antarctica. Nevertheless, thanks to the diligent efforts of Humorix's Vast Spy Network(tm) and (of course) a truckload of fresh herring, we were able to convince Tux to spend a few hours chatting with us at Humorix's new European Headquarters in Helsinki.

Humorix: So, Tux, how have things been going?

Tux: [munching on fish] Yum, herring. I can't eat just one... Things have been going very well for me. I've just been informed that the .GIF image of me is present on more webpages worldwide than the "Best Experienced With IE" and "This Page Under Construction" icons combined. The penguinization of the Net continues at a healthy pace, I must say.

Humorix: Cool. Does this mean Linux is starting to achieve World Domination?

Tux: Huh? It already has! The WORLD Organization (WORLD Organizes Rapid Linux Domination) has already infiltrated 95% of the world's govern... oh, wait. You know, I probably shouldn't talk about that. Go ask Jon Splatz about it, he's a member.

Don't publish that last paragraph. My official answer to your question is: Yes, it is.

Humorix: Um, yeah. What I'd really like to discuss is Microsoft's latest FUD barrage entitled "Linux Myths". What is your response to this?

Tux: You act as if you're taking that article seriously! I got quite a belly-laugh when reading it. Come to think of it, in some ways, it was funnier than anything Humorix has ever published.

Humorix: What?!?! I'm offended. No more herring for you!

Tux: Sorry. Just gimme my herring and I'll be good.

Humorix: Well, there's still some things worth debunking. The article states, "Linux fundamentally relies on 30-year-old operating system technology and architecture." What's your take?

Tux: So? Windows is based on technology that's a century old... electricity, for example. I don't see anybody running Windows on their abacus or pedal-powered adding machine. (I hear there's a Linux port for slide-rules on the way, though.)

Come to think of it... Windows is even more ancient than that. The Windows Calculator fundamentally relies on mathematical principles devised millenia ago. If Windows really contained "New Technology", it should feature it's own number system and laws of mathematics. Nobody in their right mind should trust their mission-critical systems to a system that uses archaic technology like Arabic numerals.

Humorix: What about the proposition that "Free Operating System Does Not Mean Low Total Cost of Ownership"?

Tux: Let me tell you a little story. My brother, Necktie Penguin, wanted to buy a cheap PC so he could sell his "101 Herring Recipes" book on eBay. I was able to buy an old 486 at government auction, slap Penguinix (my own distro optimized for penguins who have difficulty using a keyboard) on it, configure Netscape and PPP, and turn it over to my brother, who's had only minor problems with it (he keeps wanting to reboot it, which sends fsck into a fit).

The total cost? $75 for the computer, $0 for Linux, and a few hours of my time.

If Necktie had insisted on a PC running Windows 98, I would have had to buy an expensive Pentium-grade box, which would come with a bunch of unnecessary crapware (Microsoft Office For Flightless Birds 98(tm), for instance)

The total cost? $1,000 for the computer, $100 for Windows, and several weeks of my time futzing with the system so it doesn't crash every time Netscape loads.

Penguins will fly before a $1,100 "Total Cost of Ownership" is better than $75.

Humorix: Well, that's enough fudraking for now. What kind of projects are you working on now?

Tux: Well, I've just been hired by Transmeta. I haven't been told much about my new job, other than the fact that my climate-controlled office has a built-in snowmaker. Oh, and I get a "herring account". My new email is; however, it's not operational yet, if you send a message you'll get a response saying "This email account is not here yet."

Humorix: Anything else?

Tux: [munching on a piece of raw fish again] I've filed the paperwork to have my own Nasdaq IPO under the name Penguin PORTAL Power, Inc. I maintain a Linux portal for penguins, along with the Penguinix distro I mentioned, so I should do quite well. If Red Hat can be worth billions, so can I. I am the official mascot of Linux, dammit!

Humorix: Well, now that you mention that, how did you become the official mascot?

Tux: Well, as we all known, Larry Ewing originally wanted to the mascot to be a fire-breathing dragon, representing the flame wars that Linux zealots ignite on Usenet. As this was too similar to Mozilla, he eventually decided on a penguin. As flightless birds, we penguins (unlike airplanes and Windows 98) never have the opportunity to crash.

I heard through the grapevine that Larry was searching for a penguin model, so I faxed him my picture, and the rest is history.

Humorix: One last question... what do you think are the toughest challenges facing the Linux community?

Tux: I'm not worried about Y2K, but I am concerned about the S2K problem... you know, the Slashdot Effect with 2000 hits per second. Just look what happened in the US Congress... some aide sends a spam message, and now a bunch of Congressmen want to ban spam. What will happen if the S2K disaster strikes Congress after Taco Boy posts an article about the latest anti-geek bill to pass? I know: they'll want to ban Linux portal websites!

Humorix: Any other obstacles?

Tux: I worry about all of the wasted time porting programs to different languages. For instance, a group of hackers announced recently that they were going to port Perl to C++. This was quickly followed by an announcement that C++ would be ported to Perl. (I've heard that Larry Wall wants to port Perl to Perl.)

It gets worse. A group of backwards, rogue hackers want to port Microsoft QuickBASIC to Linux so they can rewrite the Linux kernel in BASIC! And then there's a crazy project to rewrite Emacs as a monster bash shell script, using only standard Unix command line utilities.

All of this is bad. Instead of hacking on useful projects (like games) the Linux community is stuck rewriting software to satisfy language holy wars.

Humorix: Well, that pretty much wraps things up. Any parting words?

Tux: Linux rules!

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