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On The Outside Looking In


I'm feeling isolated and on the outside of the mainstream computing world.

The last few months, I've toned down my rhetoric on promoting Linux and Open Source, simply because most everyday people just aren't all that interested. For the most part, they don't care if you have a Linux, Mac, or Windows laptop.

Fortunately, nobody usually notices that the Word or Acrobat document that I send them is really produced on Linux with OpenOffice.org. Or that they receive my email thanks to SUSE Linux 10.0 and Thunderbird.

As a consequence of living a Linux lifestyle, a couple of interesting things occurred to me.

First, I really don't know that much about Microsoft or Windows any more. Family and friends ask me technical questions about XP or some Windows-only application and I'm not always sure how to respond. Just reboot the thing and see what happens, I say.

That brings up a another point. Dad asked me about anti-virus software a while back. I know viruses are a problem, getting into email and Web pages. But, I don't buy anti-virus or firewall programs. I don't buy office suites. I don't buy audio or video players or editors. These things seem to be a concern to the mainstream computing population. I just hadn't given these topics much thought. How strange.

Here's a conversation stopper for you. How do people at parties respond when you talk about downloading files from your internal web server to your iPAQ? I guess I kind of take it for granted that everybody is running Apache on their home server, along with Cups, SSH, Samba, MySQL, and PHP. SSHing into a headless machine really sends them off.

The point of all of this is that it's a little weird living in a Linux world. I sit at my computer and do my work, whether I'm at home, at a cafe, or with a client, without any difficulty. My desktop works great and I have all the tools I need... and then some.

I kind of assume that everybody is on a Linux box, too.

For the most part, that isn't the case.

Hmmm, what an odd feeling.

Rob Reilly is a consultant, writer and trend spotter, specializing in portable and business oriented Linux computing. He is also a contributing editor for LinuxToday.


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