Bonus Linux Snark Blip

April 16th, 2007  |  Published in etc

Why Linux is the perfect system for people who hate computers :

It’s a delicious paradox that Linux, which was for years the system for people who really enjoyed fiddling with their computers, should have developed to the point where it’s the best system for people who hate the bloody things.

It’s a “delicious paradox” the same way it’s a “delicious paradox” that concrete, which for so many years has hurt people when it falls on their heads, is now America’s most-beloved snack food because it tastes like cotton candy but has the mouth-feel of a well-buttered scone. Which is to say that its paradoxical deliciousness is limited to the bizarre alternate universe swirling around inside the author’s head.

A Granny computer will only be asked to do two things, so it should have at most three icons – one to read and write email, one to write letters and one to look at the web.

This is in fact 50% more icons than the ideal Granny desktop. That would only have two icons: one to read letters, and one to write them. Whether Granny printed or emailed the letters would be a later decision.

Perhaps you could set up a desktop like that with a Windows Vista machine; God knows I have tried, and failed, with a Mac, where I can’t get down below three icons, since the same program can’t be used to write email and letters. And by the time you have customised such a machine to its very simplest, you might just as well have installed Xubuntu and have done with it.

Nothing that comes ready to use is ready for the sort of users who don’t want a computer at all.

In any case, none of the possible solutions for a modern machine would work in 64MB of memory.

I’d propose that more people would get over their hatred of computers if less irritating grandchildren insisted on “gifting” them with ten-year-old PCs running purposely dumbed-down GUIs that will break the first time granny does something “wrong” (which, to translate from the obscure High Nerd dialect, is anything the nerd himself didn’t anticipate in his haste to introduce Granny to a style of computing only an East German advertising executive ca. 1975 could relate to).

I can’t decide if worries about “Aunt Tillie” and “Granny” are simple misogyny, or if perhaps they’re actually merely a misogynist expression of a more generalized hatred of the broader set of people who think computers are perhaps interesting tools that have to prove their utility through reliability and consistency, same as any tool people want to keep using. But it’s never “Uncle Melvin” or “Grampa,” whom we can suppose might simply not feel as indulgent as granny when it comes to letting their grandchildren fuck up a perfectly good computer before winging off to Slashdot or Digg to brag about how their grannies use Linux and love it (which bears noting because we all know how dumb granny is).

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