James Governor's Monkchips

Linux’s Virgin Perception

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So I was flying home from California last night on Virgin Atlantic. I was tired and ticked off that I was given a middle seat. No miles on the darned airline. I hate middle seats. I am an aisle man through and through. But after a gin and tonic I started to unwind into the journey. Thing about Virgin is that even in cattle class the audiovisual entertainment system is just awesome. 52 movies – with real video on demand – rewind, pause, whatever. Neat video games and a ton of good CDs and radio stations. The free earphones don’t even suck too bad—and Virgin lets you keep them at the end of the flight. So far so good. I was just settling down to an email Kung Fu tournament against my fellow travelers when the system crashed. It just cut out. Nothing nada zip. Everybody on the plane looked at everyone else. I turned to the guy on my right and I winked and said “I bet that’s Microsoft”, he smiled and replied – yeah you expect one of those blue screens.

Soon after, an announcement came over the tannoy that the system needed to be rebooted. Along came the boot sequence and I took another look – that isn’t Windows. Loading fonts. And…. A penguin appears on my screen for the rest of the file uploads. So this awesome inflight entertainment system is Linux-based. And it crashed. So much for Linux reliability. So much for Windows as a multimedia hub. Perception is a funny thing. The experience gave me some food for thought. It was better than the food on the plane. I am neither a Windows not a Linux bigot but I do some pretty clear expectations; or should that be prejudices. For me the experience was salutary; more powerful then any number of Microsoft “Get The Facts” studies or rants from open source religious nuts.

We all carry prejudices around with us, whether we admit it or not. We didn’t have any more problems for the rest of the flight, but there is a lesson there. As Linux experiences get richer so stability will in some cases suffer. One reason Windows has not been as stable as it should is because Microsoft drives so much richness into the base platform. When is an OEM going to deliver a rich media Linux PC? I actually look forward to some more small penguins of death; it will be a sign that Linux is making its way in the world.


  1. I never been on a virgin flight, is it really that nice?

  2. in upper class unbelievably good. at least 20% better than any other service i have been on.

    sadly – the econmy service has lost a lot of momentum due to cost cutting. upper class though is the ultimate way to get from San Francisco to London, imho.

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