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07/20/2006 Archived Entry: "The "Macumba Hacker" on Linux and W*****s"

BRAD, OVER AT McBLOG, does a spot-on hysterical job of mimicking the famous Mogambo Guru. Instead of frothing over the insanity of the money world as Mogambo does, the "Macumba Hacker" turns several shades of purple over Bill Gates and wonders even more colorfully why we aren't all using Linux.

LOL. Well, I loved the column, Brad. I couldn't have written it half as well as you did. You channeled Mogambo and dun him one better. But after just spending two full weeks coping with the crazoid insanities of both W*s and Linux, I can tell you why the zombified masses are still using W*s. I can tell you why only a bold, brave few non-geeks love Linux.

The fact is that all us non-geeks are just sitting around waiting for somebody to invent a really good operating system.

Yeah. W*s is a pest-house, oozing with infections that make siphyllitic chancres, anal fissures, and Bush administration foreign policy look wholesome by comparison. No doubt about it. You can fight the good fight with firewalls, anti-spyware, proxies, antivirus scans, and non-Microsoft browsers and email programs. And it won't do ya a bit of good. Because if some other Windows-besotted idiot isn't careful, your address can be seized and spoofed to send out a gabillion spam messages (happened to me last week). Or some vulnerability nobody's discovered yet can turn your entire computer into a mass of squiggling slugs, trailing slime from every electron.

So true.

But then ... there's Linux. Yep, a lot of us non-geeks are using it because it's super-secure and you can't beat the price (starting with free). It comes with apps like the GIMP and OpenOffice whose W*s analogs would cost you enough to pay off the federal debt, including the Medicare and social security parts they don't like to talk about. And Linux gurus abound, always willing to lend a helping hand to each other and to newbies alike. (Never mind that English never seems to be their native language, even when they were born in Tuscaloosa or Tucson.)

I love Linux!

BUT ... Linux is still frickin' weird. Here's a favorite: You install a software package which -- the moment it enters your computer -- disappears!!! -- without a trace -- vanishes more completely than Jimmy Hoffa. It's not on your desktop. It's not in your menus. Your brand new, shiny app appears to have been abducted by aliens. So you figure you'll try to add it to the menu manually. You hope Linux will let you browse to some nice new folder labled "User's Shiny New App" so you can get at the thing and activate the program. But Nooooooooo. Linux expects every single poor beleagured and bewildered user to already know exactly where to find the single executable for that app buried deep within the filesystem.

And guess what? It's almost never inside any folder that seems even vaguely related to it. Like, you know, you might expect that newly created folder "Gnorf" to contain the executable that launches the program "Gnorf" that you just installed. But hahaha, you'd be so wrong.

No. The file that actually launches User's Shiny New App is deep inside something called "/usr/bin." Or hey, maybe this time the developer put it in "/usr/lib." Or how about "/XllR6/bin"? Now there's a nice, logical place everybody would just automatically think of looking in, right? Or maybe your new software is in "/dev/abductedbyaliens." (I have had many /devs, over my Linux years, abductedbyaliens.) Or maybe the developer of this particular app had a real sense of humor and put it someplace that only a 15-year-old with terminal acne and no social life would ever think to look!

"Okay," sez Mr. or Ms. Average Computer User. "W*s sucks. But I should switch to Linux so I can spend 12 hours a day hiding in my basement, slathering Clearasil on my face and reading online HOWTOs written in Lower Swahili as spoken in Lapland?"

And that, Brad, is just one of the many delightful Linuxian reasons why only the bold few non geeks among us abandon Microsoft. It's not merely that the rest of all computer users are mindless robots controled by the Evil Empire of Gates.

Although that, too, of course.

Posted by Claire @ 08:43 AM CST

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