Stories from a Tech Writer's Studio: My Linux Fail

On a flight from Beijing to Shanghai en route to Okinawa, I sat next to an extremely tall, amiable Canadian. He was fresh out of university and had been working in the Middle Kingdom's second city for close to a year for a Chinese mobile gaming distribution company. Like the American volunteers I had encountered in Tegucigalpa last year, he was clear sighted and confident and appeared to have all the answers about the world and how it works. He was enthusiastic about his knowledge about the tech industry and verbose about the successes of mobile games.


Shanghai Pudong PVG Airport Terminal 2 (I'm not sure if they intentionally misspelled 'Coffee and Cakes' - it's on every sign on the coffee shop).

I hadn't played a PC game, much less a console game, since the early 90s, so all I could chime in was my knowledge of Steam Gaming (which was severely limited). The Asian-Canadian gent spoke eloquently about the limitations of console gaming and how mobile gaming doesn't cannibalize dedicated handhelds like the Nintendo DS. He called out revenue figures for specific mobile games, talked about his lack of interest in the Apple iWatch (!) and the direction of wearable technology. I was impressed and envious of the youth, who had that verve and blind optimism absent from worn out and aging developers and IT employees. 

When he mentioned that he had a bit of experience rooting Android devices, I told him he should try using Linux. He asked me why.

"The best way to find out is by installing and running it," I said, trying to sound like a Millenial as much as possible, although by that point in the conversation he was addressing me as 'Sir' in that polite Canadian manner.


Fedora 21 Server software selection during a Live installation

And that's when he caught me off guard. With complete sincerity, he asked me for my sales pitch for using Linux.

Unlike the well-spoken Canuck, I fumbled with my words and all my experience with Linux evangelism went out the window. I could barely list any characteristics of Linux and whenever I did, a small voice in my head whispered "Dude, MacOSX and Windows 8.1 can do that too!" Suffice to say, I wasn't very convincing and we returned to talking about Vietnamese and Australian game developers.


This is how I felt as I struggled to convince the young Canadian game distributor to try Linux. Screen capture from Star Trek Season 1: The Enemy Within (1966).  

Note: In my defense, I had flown from Beijing after getting up at 430 am and had spent the last 4 hours reviewing my Japanese using my Creative Zen.

We exchanged business cards, which felt very odd despite carrying a stack with me on vacation with the intention of acquiring the habit of chucking one out to everyone I meet on my trip.

Updating an Ubuntu MATE install.

If university graduates were as intelligent and capable as my Canadian acquaintance, then the tech industry's future was shipshape and should prosper for a long time. On a personal level, the encounter made me realize that my working with desktop and mobile operating systems had started to erode the boundaries between each one, which is good on a technical level but embarrassing if you were to make a Linux sales pitch.


One of the downloadable openSUSE 13.2 banners.

Much later on my China Eastern flight to Naha, I booted up my openSUSE 13.2 KDE netbook  and sighed, wondering if I'll ever get as perfect a chance to hock Linux ever again.


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