Bus Factor

I was just thinking about how long I haven't had anything other than Linux on my desktop computer. It should be almost 15 years now, because after about a year of testing the Ubuntu version at that time in 2005, Dominic Humphries convinced me with his text "Linux is Not Windows" to give up Windows for good. He explains quite clearly why it is very difficult to switch from Windows to Linux when you think it would be like switching from one car model to another.

"Switching from one version of Windows to another is like switching from one car to another. Win95 to Win98, I honestly couldn't tell the difference. Win98 to WinXP, it was a bigger change but really nothing major.

But switching from Windows to Linux is like switching from a car to a motorbike. They may both be OSes/road vehicles. They may both use the same hardware/roads. They may both provide an environment for you to run applications/transport you from A to B. But they use fundamentally different approaches to do so.


Two different approaches to fulfilling the same goal. They differ in fundamental ways. They have different strengths and weaknesses: A car is the clear winner at transporting a family & a lot of cargo from A to B: More seats & more storage space. A motorbike is the clear winner at getting one person from A to B: Less affected by congestion and uses less fuel."

Dominic Humphries

So I was conscious of no longer sitting in a comfortable car that increasingly wanted to be my extended living room, but rather to get my hands dirty more often in the future when I maintain my Linux motorcycle. But with this motorcycle I can get where I want to go.

Now, 15 years later, I still think about this text sometimes, but I no longer have the feeling of sitting on a motorcycle. It feels more like driving a commuter bus, because one thing quickly became clear to me, I am not driving here alone in my tin can and other people do the same in theirs, but we are all on the same bus. At the beginning it is still the case that every day you ask a little awkwardly in grumpy faces whether "this place is still free". But after a short time these faces become familiar, and you can tell the difference between grumpy and sleepy, between "talk to me and you will be dead" and "oh, where do you want to go today with that bouquet, hey someone will have a nice evening".

After a few months you know who is getting on and off where, and you can tell if someone is sick for 3 days or has had 3 weeks of vacation. And if you are communicative enough you know some of the passengers very personally.

The Linux community feels similar to that. I know a lot of people, usually only their "face" (their profile in various forums) but I get small excerpts from their lives. See who is a night owl and who works early in the morning. Who drinks tea, and who drinks coffee, or beer, or whiskey. And yet this pleasant ignorance remains

We are all united by the goal of getting wherever we want with our bus. And enjoy the trip. Because just like in the commuter bus, fellow travelers sometimes become good friends, whom you wave at when you get off.

PS. If you are on the Twitter-Bus, say hello to owlcasescenario from me.