It is raining in Amsterdam and I have a nice warm feeling in my stomach from a glass of red wine. I am lucky; I am forced to contemplate the wine for the next five minutes instead of doing any real work. My Windows XP box is starting up. I have two dual boot systems at home. In the past, I stopped my house from being a GNU/Linux only shop due to Word compatibility issues, legacy games that my kids love and the Exchange server that keeps my mail whole for me at my work. But now, with OpenOffice.org word filters being at a height of compatibility and a mail program that handles the proprietary MAPI protocol with grace, I sit here wondering why I am still waiting?
...Still the wine is warm and I can watch people walking outside being blown from one part of the street to another. Still not working, but it is Sunday after all! So, my GNU/Linux box costs at worst one minute to boot up. I never have to defrag the system and it is as reliable as my wife and if you know Hester then you will realize that she is very reliable indeed. An average computer runs say 2,000,000,000 operations a second. An average hard disk rotates 5,400 times a minute. Being a cold Sunday, and still waiting on my clanking grinding hard disk, I do some therapeutic calculations. Imagine 200,000,000 people waiting 20 minutes extra a week over a period of year aging while their systems start up. That works out as 2,592,000,000,000,000,000,000 wasted CPU cycles probably enough to solve the global warming issue. And how far would the edge of the hard disks travel in that time? Well a cool 233,280,000,000km. In other words around 32,000 trips to the moon and back. Is it elegant to waste so much disk travel?
My elder son Nelson is not religious: he plays games on the computer because they are fun. He likes DirectX and doesn't know the difference between DirectX and OpenGL in terms of portability. With Google placing code back into the free software community patching Wine the Windows API compatibility layer. I expect many more people will start to use Wine big time. I would enjoy an improved version of the Wine DirectX and hope Google sees an opportunity to help with their coding competitions here if they are not already doing so. Then I can keep my son happy and still eat my GNU/Linux Lunch. Cheers Wine, I am drinking to Wine with wine.
Alan Berg Bsc. MSc. PGCE, has been a lead developer at the Central Computer Services at the University of Amsterdam since 1998. In his spare time, he writes articles, book reviews and has authored three books. He has a degree, two masters and a teaching qualification. In previous incarnations, he was a technical writer, an Internet/Linux course writer, and a science teacher. He likes to get his hands dirty with the building and gluing of systems. He remains agile by playing computer games with his sons who (sadly) consistently beat him physically, mentally and morally at least twice in any given day.