On the usefulness of Linux

Island in the evening Back to opinions

Freshly arrived in a country with a cold climate I arranged with my host to meet at a certain bus stop from where he would accompany me to his university. Somehow he missed me. He assumed I had made my own way and went on to his university — leaving me behind, alone, still waiting.

When my host arrived and discovered I was not there he switched on his phone, got my series of increasingly anxious messages, and instructed me to stay put; he would return to pick me up. A snowfall then began and he got snared in traffic.

Meanwhile, the police had noticed a suspicious man (me). He was standing in the snow with a newspaper — but obviously not that interested in it since he was scanning the faces of people alighting from buses. He’d been there for an hour and he looked very uncomfortable. The country I was in has a history of criminality and I can understand they might find this suspicious.

So they invited me to their police station for a private chat. No handcuffs, but it was clear they were an option. They took away my passport and while it was being examined a policeman interrogated me, asking questions such as ‘Who are you?’, ‘What are you doing in this country?’, and ‘what’s so fascinating about that particular bus stop?’.

I explained that I do research in computer science, I was visiting a certain professor, and that he’d quite literally left me standing in the snow. The policeman latched on to computer science; I must know about Linux. Yes I do. He then quizzed me very knowledgably about the relative merits of several different distributions. After a pretty serious geek exchange of opinions, they let me go.

So remember…​ hack Linux — it beats spending the night in jail.