Originally Published: Sunday, 26 November 2000 Author: Emmett Plant
Published to: daily_feature/Linux.com Feature Story Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

I Want My Tub Back

Windows 2000, Linux and popcorn. What do these things have in common? Have you been to a movie theater lately? Have you had enough of poor service and stale popcorn? Check out this week's editorial for Emmett's opinion.

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Okay, okay. I'm a little upset. I recently went out with friends to see the Evil Dead Trilogy on the big screen. Andrew and I waited in line at the concession stand while the ladies went in to save some seats. When the big moosie in front of us had moved aside, I realized what was wrong. The popcorn popper wasn't popping, and it was nine o'clock in the evening!

Not a sound. Sure, the popcorn bin had a good amount of popcorn in it, but there were a lot of people in line! I used to manage a movie theater. When you've got a huge crowd in the lobby, that popper better be moving like a freight train. 'What if they run out,' I thought. It'll be a riot! A movie theater without popcorn? Insanity! My eyes moved to the left of the popper, and my question was answered.

There, in massive glass cases, were big bags of popcorn, previously popped and ready for customers. Although all the popcorn was ready and available, it just didn't seem right.

You see, I'm a purist. When I come to the movie theater, I would like a big tub of popcorn, freshly popped, with a good amount of buttery slime on top. There's a reason I don't like matinee shows. The poppers are rarely run in the morning; chances are good that the popcorn you get at a matinee was the leftover popcorn left in the bin from the night before, stored in huge plastic bags behind the concession stand. It even tastes a little off.

The days of the large popcorn tub are over. In an effort to save money, movie theaters in my area have moved to the 'big red bag theory.' The tub is gone, you get a big bag that can barely hold the buttery slime, and chances are good that you're getting old popcorn, even at night. I want my tub back. I want to eat popcorn during the previews, and then toss a bag's worth of plain M&M's into the tub to mix it up a little bit. Not anymore.

It's sad. If I'm paying thirty-eight bucks for popcorn, it better be fresh, it better be in a tub, and someone should put the buttery slime on for me instead of directing me to the nearest 'buttery slime machine.' But no. I get a big disgusting bag of old popcorn, and I've got to put my topping on myself.

Okay, I'm a popcorn snob.

Whatever happened to the glory days? They're gone. They're tossed aside like last night's popcorn, ready to be served up, stale and cold, the following morning.

In the old days, you would go to a computer store, and buy software. The software would come on media, first on floppy and then on CD-ROM, and it would be packaged with a beautiful manual, maybe a nicely-bound book, and it would be shrink-wrapped in a big, beautiful box.

I can still buy software like this, if I want. I can go to the store, get a big, pretty box, get a nice little manual, even get the CD in a cool colored jewel case so I can fit it in a rack with my other CD's. The shrink wrap will lovingly stick to my fingers as I pull it loose from the box. The top of the box will be tabbed so it's easier to open than a box of Grape Nuts. It's wonderful, isn't it?

It's wonderful, but I don't need it. You see, I'm a Linux user.

If I need a copy of a Debian CD, I can call my friend Chris, and he'll come bouncing downstairs with CD's in hand. More often than not, these CD's will be burned by himself, with his handwriting on the front of the disk, telling me which CD it is. It lacks style. It lacks panache. It's ugly. It's not a gleaming silver CD, it's a strangely colored CD with a different color on each side.

It doesn't matter! I'm a million times happier with that beat-up Linux CD than I would be with a gleaming boxed copy of Windows 2000. Why?

First of all, the chances are a lot better that I'm getting the digital equivalent of freshly popped popcorn. The CD was probably made from the latest ISO available online, whereas the copy of 2000 was probably boxed months ago.

Second of all, it's Linux. If I want to add to it or delete from it, I can, and it's encouraged. I can perform the digital equivalent of adding my M&M's to that popcorn, and everything is cool as long as I tell my friends that I added M&M's, and how I liked the taste.

So, I'm not getting my beautiful tub of beloved popcorn, but I am getting a much better quality of popcorn, I didn't have to wait in line, and I didn't have to pay an exorbitant price for old, tasteless garbage that was created months ago.

What about the cool, bound manual? Thanks to the Linux Documentation Project, I get fresh, updated manual information for free, and it comes in a nice, free digital format that's a lot easier to use and search than a hard copy manual.

If I go to the movie theater to complain about my old, stale popcorn called 'Windows 2000,' he'll tell me to wait for a few months, and he'll promise me everything I wanted and more. I'm impatient. I know that he won't deliver what he promised, and if I asked for a tub, he'd just give me a different colored bag.

If I go to the movie theater manager to complain about my popcorn called 'Linux,' the patrons waiting in line will turn to me and say, 'Hey, man, have some of mine!' They'll show me how to make my own tub. They'll show me where they farmed the popcorn, and they'll show me how to operate the popper. Moreover, they'll say, 'If you can find a better way to make this popcorn, go for it. If it works, we'll do it your way.'

The difference between Linux and Windows is difficult to convey to the average computer user. They both sort of do the same things. I mean, they're both popcorn. But making the choice between Linux and Windows is the choice between getting what you want instead of what the movie theatre managers think you need.

Anyway, that's my editorial for this week. Don't forget your ticket stub.

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