What if Operating Systems Were Airlines?
Everybody pushes the airplane until it glides, then they jump on and let
the plane coast until it hits the ground again, then they push again jump
on again, and so on.
The terminal is almost empty, with only a few prospective passengers milling
about. The announcer says that their flight has just departed, wishes them
a good flight, though there are no planes on the runway. Airline personnel
walk around, apologising profusely to customers in hushed voices, pointing
from time to time to the sleek, powerful jets outside the terminal on the
field. They tell each passenger how good the real flight will be on these
new jets and how much safer it will be than Windows Airlines, but that
they will have to wait a little longer for the technicians to finish the
Once they finally finished you're offered a flight at reduced cost.
To board the plane, you have your ticket stamped ten different times by
standing in ten different lines. Then you fill our a form showing where
you want to sit and whether the plane should look and feel like an ocean
liner, a passenger train or a bus. If you succeed in getting on the plane
and the plane succeeds in taking off the ground, you have a wonderful trip...except
for the time when the rudder and flaps get frozen in position, in which
case you will just have time to say your prayers and get in crash position.
The terminal is pretty and colorful, with friendly stewards, easy baggage
check and boarding, and a smooth take-off. After about 10 minutes
in the air, the plane explodes with no warning whatsoever.
Windows NT Air
Just like Windows Air, but costs more, uses much bigger planes, and takes
out all the other aircraft within a 40-mile radius when it explodes.
Windows XP Air
Just like Windows NT Air, but costs more, uses even bigger planes, and
the problem with exploding has mostly been solved. Instead, 15 minutes
into the flight, the highly-automated flight-control equipment stops
responding to commands from the cockpit, followed by an "uncontrolled
descent into terrain".
All the stewards, stewardesses, captains, baggage handlers, and ticket
agents look the same, act the same, and talk the same. Every time you ask
questions about details, you are told you don't need to know, don't want
to know, and would you please return to your seat and watch the movie.
Each passenger brings a piece of the airplane and a box of tools to the
airport. They gather on the tarmac, arguing constantly about what kind
of plane they want to build and how to put it together. Eventually, they
build several different aircraft, but give them all the same name. Some
passengers actually reach their destinations. All passengers believe they
Wings of OS/400
The airline has bought ancient DC-3s, arguably the best and safest planes
that ever flew, and painted "747" on their tails to make them look as if
they are fast. The flight attendants, of course, attend to your every need,
though the drinks cost $15 a pop. Stupid questions cost $230 per hour,
unless you have SupportLine, which requires a first class ticket and membership
in the frequent flyer club. Then they cost $500, but your accounting department
can call it overhead.
There is no airplane. The passengers gather and shout for an airplane,
then wait and wait and wait and wait. A bunch of people come, each carrying
one piece of the plane with them. These people all go out on the runway
and put the plane together piece by piece, arguing constantly about what
kind of plane they're building. The plane finally takes off, leaving the
passengers on the ground waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting. After
the plane lands, the pilot telephones the passengers at the departing airport
to inform them that they have arrived.
After buying your ticket 18 months in advance, you finally get to board
the plane. Upon boarding the plane you are asked your name. After 6 times,
the crew member recognizes your name and then you are allowed to take your
seat. As you are getting ready to take your seat, the steward announces
that you have to repeat the boarding process because they are out of room
and need to recount to make sure they can take more passengers.
The passengers all gather in the hanger, watching hundreds of technicians
check the flight systems on this immense, luxury aircraft. This plane has
at least 10 engines and seats over 1,000 passengers. All the passengers
scramble aboard, as do the necessary complement of 200 technicians. The
pilot takes his place up in the glass cockpit. He guns the engines, only
to realise that the plane is too big to get through the hangar doors.
You have to pay for the tickets, but they're half the price of Windows
Air, and if you are an aircraft mechanic you can probably ride for free.
It only takes 15 minutes to get to the airport and you are chauffeurred there
in a limosine. BeOS Air only has limited types of planes that only only
hold new luggage. All planes are single seaters and the model names all
start with an "F" (F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18, etc.). The plane will fly you
to your destination on autopilot in half the time of other Airways or you
can fly the plane yourself. There are limited destinations, but they are
only places you'd want to go to anyway. You tell all your friends how great
BeOS Air is and all they say is "What do you mean I can't bring all my
old baggage with me?"
Disgruntled employees of all the other OS airlines decide to start their
own airline. They build the planes, ticket counters, and pave the runways
themselves. They charge a small fee to cover the cost of printing the ticket,
but you can also download and print the ticket yourself. When you board
the plane, you are given a seat, four bolts, a wrench and a copy of the
seat-HOWTO.html. Once settled, the fully adjustable seat is very comfortable,
the plane leaves and arrives on time without a single problem, the in-flight
meal is wonderful. You try to tell customers of the other airlines about
the great trip, but all they can say is, "You had to do what with the seat?"
You can't board a Linux Airlines plane in the US, because all the airport
terminal space is taken, 90% by Windows Air and 10% by Mac Airways. However,
there are some small, private airports that will permit Linux Airlines planes
to land and take off from their runways.