Last week felt somewhat quieter than usual on the Linux blogs, and we here at LinuxInsider have a small theory as to why.
Sure, lots of people were coming down off the CES/Macworld excitement, and granted, regular readers of this column might have been busy making preparations for Y2K38. But last week was also notable for another, less-hyped event: Monday was “Blue Monday,” the most depressing day of the year.
That fact may have bounced right off those perky, Vista-cheerleader-type readers out there, of course. But those on the Linux side of things — let’s face it, a more-than-usually introverted crowd — could need a little extra cheering up. That’s why it was with great glee that we came upon the discussion on Slashdot that day of a personal ad (coincidence? you decide) posted recently on Craigslist by a shell user.
‘A Dying Breed’
“There is a sad truth to the world today,” wrote the anonymous poster ofthe ad. “I am part of a dying breed of people known as ‘shell users.’ We are an old-fashioned bunch, preferring the warm glow of a green screen full of text over the cold blockiness of a graphical interface…. The whole ‘Microsoft Windows’ fad will fade away sooner or later, but in the interim, our kind is facing extinction.
“Because there are fewer and fewer of us, I must help keep our lineage alive,” the shell user went on. “I am looking for someone to help me do this. I need a woman (obviously) who is willing to raise a child with me in the method of Unix.”
The virtual stampede of 500 or so responses that followed on Slashdot could be heard miles away.
Busting the Stereotype
“Ok… this is exactly why you guys only have pictures of women,” wrote operagost.
“I know you’re joking, but it’s time to fight the ‘geeks can’t get laid’ stereotype,” shot back Jellybob. “I don’t know if I’m just not in the truly geeky end of the spectrum, but certainly in the area of ‘professional geeks’ (developers, sysadmins, network admins etc.). I know very few who are single, and most of the ones who are don’t have much trouble finding women, they just can’t really be bothered with the dating game.”
Others questioned the shell user’s methods.
“He wants ONE child? Okay, so either he doesn’t want his family to go anywhere or his grasp of the Unix way is very light,” wrote Jesus 666. “Of course he needs MANY children, each good at one and only one thing:
One child can read and write.
One child can do math.
One child knows how to operate a car.
And so on.
“Then, in order to do anything useful he pipes together the children,” Jesus 666 concluded. “That’s the proper Unix way of founding a family.”
The Trouble with GUIs
Admittedly, the discussion did also get around to shells, graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and the command-line interface (CLI) — topics close to many Linux bloggers’ hearts.
Most GUIs are bad, Slashdot blogger yagu told LinuxInsider.
“I’ve not found a single GUI metaphor that is universally intuitive, EVER!” he explained. “More precisely, the assumption that GUI is a drop-in replacement for CLI is dead-wrong, and therefore, probably bad.”
The command-line interface, on the other hand, is trustworthy, and it provides control, power and accuracy, he said.
GUIs “aren’t *bad* but they are one tool, and just one way to do things,” Slashdot founder Rob Malda told LinuxInsider. “It’s like comparing hammers and screwdrivers. You don’t use a screwdriver to pound a nail. You can hurt yourself with a shell, but you can do things in a shell that are difficult or impossible in most GUIs.”
Shell users are a dying breed, Malda added — “and it’s a tragedy because shells are just so damn cool.”
The Human Factors
But, back to the matter at hand: Do Linux geeks need help with the human factors?
“Definitely,” yagu said.
“I hate to make broad generalizations about hundreds of thousands of people, but yes,” Malda agreed. “Yes we do. Please help me.”
Pushing it a step further: Are Linux and women perhaps even mutually exclusive?
“I’d ask my wife if she’d let me out of my box,” Malda said.
Summing up, a post from E-Lad may just pull it all together:
[[email protected]]~$ ./significant-other
Reading configuration from ~/.sorc…
Welcome to GNU Significant Other! It’s Monday, January 21, 2008:
— It is trash night.
— It is recycling night.
— Fault in dishwasher water supply was detected on 1/19/2008. Please address by 1/23/2008
— “Poker Night” appointment in calendar observed. This conflicts with “Movie with kids”
— Snow is predicted tomorrow during the evening. Please ready sho
+ Stopped ./significant-other