Mast Kalandar

bandar's colander of random jamun aur aam

Tue, 31 Mar 2009

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Bus and Taxi

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Now that GNU/Linux has become mainstream, a number of newcomers want to try it. When they hear that support "works through mailing lists" they try to use these channels. Occasionally, (in fact very rarely indeed!) the newcomer becomes frustrated and announces an imminent "return to Windows". How should we handle that?

One of my joys is to be part of the answer gang of the Linux Gazette. We had a correspondent who became annoyed and wrote:

Don't know how to do that in Linux. Can't seem to figure it out.

Judging by how my query [] is being handled I despair of ever figuring out these other issues. Maybe I should stick to Windows. I am just getting more confused by all the jargon.

The gang was kind enough to gem-ify1 the following response:

Here is an analogy that may help you understand the distinction between Windows and GNU/Linux.

A man who has only ever ridden in a taxi decides to take a bus one day. The bus stops and he gets in along with the other people waiting at the stop.

He starts to occupy a seat when the driver (or in India the conductor) asks him to buy a ticket before getting in. He is annoyed: "I have to pay before I get to my destination?" However, he agrees and tries to pay $50 -- which is refused. Other passengers try to help him and suggest that he use a smaller amount. Somehow he manages to find some small change and pay his fare.

He then tells the bus driver he wants to go to the airport. The people in the bus tell him he got into the wrong bus and that he should get off this bus at the next stop and get into a different one. Now he is quite annoyed and has started yelling at people saying that they are making him really confused. He tells them that he has taken shuttle services (which are a shared transport service) and even there he has never been made to do things so differently from a simple taxi ride.


There are many ways this story could end:

  1. One kind old lady says she is going to somewhere near the airport and will get off with him at the next stop and get him on the right bus. The guy calms down and agrees.

  2. The guy finds a booklet in the bus that explains the way the bus system operates. He is fascinated and reads it all the way through. Of course, as he is engrossed in his reading he then reaches the last stop of the bus he is on, but by then he knows the system well enough that he can get to the airport from there by bus.

  3. The guy yells and screams at everybody and gets off at the next stop and vows to always only travel by taxi ever again.

  1. I am inordinately proud of this one as you can see!

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