February 16, 2019

Editor's Note: Linux Amongst the Masses

"Everyone Knows That Linux is for Geeks and Servers."

  • December 13, 1999
  • By Kevin Reichard

True story:

So there I was, standing in one of those seemingly endless lines at CompUSA, waiting to purchase a Christmas present for my son. Anyone who's ventured into an actual brick-and-mortar retailer this season know that the trend this year is to clutter the check-out area as much as possible--even to the point where it's a physically uncomfortable situation.

As we were standing there, my wife pointed out a copy of TurboLinux 4.0 sitting on a bottom rack, mostly because she suffers a heightened sensitivity to penguins as a result of me dragging home every possible penguin plushie and figurine from trade shows. (OK, I might have gone overboard when I picked up some penguin ornaments for the Christmas tree at Target.) Before I had a chance to respond, the guy in front of me in line blurted out, "Yeah, I wish I had some of that stock."

Of course, TurboLinux, Inc., is a privately held company, and I pointed that out to the bearded stranger. "Whatever," he replied. "I meant that I wanted a piece of Linux stock," pronouncing it as "lie-nux." "Did you see what it's selling for now? Unbelievable."

Sensing that any discussion of the subtleties of Linux involving distributions, hardware vendors and software developers would be lost on my fellow prisoner in line, I concurred that Linux was indeed a hot commodity on the stock market and definitely one worth watching. I asked him if he used Linux.

"Heavens no!" he quickly replied. "I finally have my Windows machine set up just the way I like it. Besides, I'm really only interested in it for my stock portfolio. I have no intention of running it."

I expressed some surprise at this, pointing out that I was running multiple Linux boxes both at home and at work and was generally pleased with Linux as a desktop operating system.

"Bet you still have one machine running Windows," he said. "At one point I looked into running Linux, but I found out that I can't run Quicken or QuickBooks on it. That's when I decided to stick with Windows."

Sadly, he was right: my family does all its personal finance on Quicken, and I run my business's accounting software under QuickBooks.

"And besides, everyone I know who's interested in Linux comes from an investment viewpoint, not a user viewpoint," he quickly added. "Everyone knows that Linux is for geeks and servers."

True story.

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