flying linuxWhat would be if below mentioned operating systems ran airlines? Different operating systems. Different styles. This humorous analogy, applying operating system philosophies as if they were airlines, is a long-standing much-circulated amusing story!

UNIX Airways

Everyone brings one piece of the plane along when they come to the airport. They all go out on the runway and put the plane together piece by piece, arguing non-stop about what kind of plane they are supposed to be building.


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…

Mac Airlines

All the stewards, captains, baggage handlers, and ticket agents look and act exactly the same. Every time you ask questions about details, you are gently but firmly told that you don’t need to know, don’t want to know, and everything will be done for you without your ever having to know, so just shut up.

Windows Air

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

You turn up at the airport, which is under contract to only allow XP Air planes. All the aircraft are identical, brightly colored and three times as big as they need to be. The signs are huge and all point the same way. Whichever way you go, someone pops up dressed in a cloak and pointed hat insisting you follow him. Your luggage and clothes are taken off you and replaced with an XP Air suit and suitcase identical to everyone around you as this is included in the exorbitant ticket cost. The aircraft will not take off until you have signed a contract. The inflight entertainment promised turns out to be the same Mickey Mouse cartoon repeated over and over again. You have to phone your travel agent before you can have a meal or drink. You are searched regularly throughout the flight. If you go to the toilet twice or more you get charged for a new ticket. No matter what destination you booked you will always end up crash landing at Whistler in Canada.

OS X Air

You enter a white terminal, and all you can see is a woman sitting in the corner behind a white desk, you walk up to get your ticket. She smiles and says “Welcome to OS X Air, please allow us to take your picture”, at which point a camera in the wall you didn’t notice before takes your picture. “Thank you, here is your ticket” You are handed a minimalistic ticket with your picture at the top, it already has all of your information. A door opens to your right and you walk through. You enter a wide open space with one seat in the middle, you sit, listen to music and watch movies until the end of the flight. You never see any of the other passengers. You land, get off, and you say to yourself “wow, that was really nice, but I feel like something was missing”

Windows Vista Airlines

You enter a good looking terminal with the largest planes you have ever seen. Every 10 feet a security officer appears and asks you if you are “sure” you want to continue walking to your plane and if you would like to cancel. Not sure what cancel would do, you continue walking and ask the agent at the desk why the planes are so big. After the security officer making sure you want to ask the question and you want to hear the answer, the agent replies that they are bigger because it makes customers feel better, but the planes are designed to fly twice as slow. Adding the size helped achieve the slow fly goal.

Once on the plane, every passenger has to be asked individually by the flight attendants if they are sure they want to take this flight. Then it is company policy that the captain asks the passengers collectively the same thing. After answering yes to so many questions, you are punched in the face by some stranger who when he asked “Are you sure you want me to punch you in the face? Cancel or Allow?” you instinctively say “Allow”.

After takeoff, the pilots realize that the landing gear driver wasn’t updated to work with the new plane. Therefore it is always stuck in the down position. This forces the plane to fly even slower, but the pilots are used to it and continue to fly the planes, hoping that soon the landing gear manufacturer will give out a landing gear driver update.

You arrive at your destination wishing you had used your reward miles with XP airlines rather than trying out this new carrier. A close friend, after hearing your story, mentions that Linux Air is a much better alternative and helps.

Linux Air

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?”

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  2. October 8, 2007  6:13 am by CyberJoe Reply

    Linux Air part 2

    The flight was really nice, the plane come directly to the city you want,

    then comes the part where it should land, but pilot was not sure about where to land, on the comfortable landing area

    at the airport, or at the Mine field. Actually there was not pilot at all to be honest, so you have to

    reconfigure autopilot to land where you want. but configuration manual is located somewhere in mine filed.

    So you have to play some quest game to get the manual. after flying over the mine filed, and getting manual you understand

    that you need to get a device called "synchrofazatron" with 2 kilometers in diameter, because one small part it is used to made handmade compass

    so plane can navigate, and then you have comfortable landing at the runway,

    you are very very proud of you because you learned so much things about Linux Air technology!


    And then some black dressed man comes out,

    he said that flight was totally free, so that's why they ask you not to tell

    part 2 of story, when comparing to other Airways.

  3. October 8, 2007  7:16 am by artiomix Reply

    Thanks CyberJoe! Nice one!

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  7. December 1, 2007  9:55 am by Gordon Freeman Reply

    This is actually a nice way to see the perspective of each operating systems. I actually understand more of each operating system now. Thanks a lot.

  8. December 16, 2007  9:47 pm by 404 Reply

    gr8 !! ;)


  9. February 3, 2008  11:22 pm by KristjanS Reply

    Redmond Airlines

    You go to the Ticket Store and buy yourself a ticket to board Redmond Airlines for $100, or if you want to have a seat by the window, you will have to pay $200. Once you board the airplane, you will have to purchase a safety helmet for $50. Then you will have to purchase your seat for another $100 from on-board store. To have service, you will have to pay $25/hour to stewardess. The ride will be bumpy and slow, but if you have bought the safety helmet, you are likely to reach your destination eventually.

    Apple Airlines

    You go to the Ticket Store and buy a good looking private airplane with a pilot for $500. Once you are on the plane, you will have a smooth ride to your destination, but there will be no on-board service.

    Canonical Airlines

    You purchase your ticket online, but you will have to print it out yourself. Once you board the plane, you will be not pleased to see that you will not have a seat on place, but will have to choose your own seat, which the stewardess will install for you. All the seats will have a window by them. All the food is for free, and once you find the button to call a stewardess, the flight will be smooth and enjoyable.

  10. September 8, 2008  8:39 am by Troy Reply

    Linux air:

    You are given a nasty brown jet which is basically like the XP airplane, but with all the buttons labeled differently and a few things in different places.

    As you begin to ask yourself why this is better, you realize that it's YOUR plane, not anyone else's, and you can finally put those cool afterburners and flame decals on it like you've always wanted to have.

    Also, you switch the paint job from orange-brown to blue and for some reason the internet looks ugly, but at least it's blue instead of brown.

  11. September 23, 2008  10:08 pm by scal Reply

    Linux Air:

    You are elated to discover that there's a service that offers FREE PLANE TICKETS to anywhere you'd ever like to go! You immediately book a ticket to Paris, but you discover when you get there that the passengers are required to construct the plane themselves from parts that are helpfully provided. You aren't quite sure you're willing to trust your neckbearded fellow travelers to build an entire plane, and you note that much of the equipment provided is rusty or incomprehensibly outdated, but everyone else tells you over and over that as soon as you get the plane assembled you'll discover that it's by far the safest, most comfortable way to fly. And despite what your ticket says, it turns out the plane -- driven by an autopilot -- will only fly to Boise unless you manage to configure it to go elsewhere. And then you find out that, for completely inexplicable reasons, the airplane is "incompatible" with your camera and cell phone, and you're going to have to leave them behind. Still, it's a small price to pay. Maybe it'll take a little while to get the airplane assembled, but the people around you seem to be confident, and hey, who can argue with an airline where the tickets are free, and the planes are perfectly secure and completely crash-proof? If you have to fly again, you can just make sure to buy a cell phone and camera that are compatible with the plane. It's no big deal, right? Besides, it's the camera and cell phone manufacturers' fault. They should have made their equipment compatible with all the thousands of mismatched airplanes constructed by Linux Air passengers.

    But as the hours pass, you start to feel nervous about the trip. Your fellow passengers assure you again and again that it's easy to get the plane to go wherever you want. You tinker and tinker with the autopilot, but it's still only willing to plot a course to Boise. Other people give you instructions. You look through the thousands of poorly-written manuals that never seem to explain things properly. Weeks pass. The plane is still not assembled. Everyone else present chatters about how fast the plane is going to be, once it gets put together, and ridicules Windows Air for being slow and crash-prone and easily hijacked, but you note that you're still stuck at the airport long after your vacation was supposed to be over.

    Despite all the instruction manuals and advice, it eventually becomes clear that it simply isn't possible to fly the plane to anywhere but Boise. You complain to your fellow passengers, and they get defensive and start insisting that Boise is every bit as nice as Paris. Finally the plane is assembled. The ride is slow and bumpy -- in fact, the plane is barely airborne, and passengers continue tinkering with it throughout the flight, all the while bragging about how fast it is and how you can get anywhere you want for free. When you point out that the only place you can go is Boise, the other passengers yell at you that you're spreading "FUD", whatever that is, and screaming even louder that Boise is as nice as anywhere else, and that flying Linux Air is not only more fun but morally superior, because you have the freedom to fly anywhere you like (as long as it's Boise), and it's free, and it's faster and smoother and safer -- even though you can easily tell the plane is cobbled together from the mismatched pieces of two dozen other planes.

    When you finally get to Boise, after months and months, and discover how much it sucks, you finally book a flight home with Windows Air. It's fast, it's convenient, and sure, maybe it lacks the geek appeal of building an airplane yourself, but who wants to do that? Then you do some research and it turns out that according to most metrics, Linux Air is actually no faster or safer from crashes than the other major airlines. Other Linux Air passengers point out that almost all of the 500 fastest rocket ships in the world were produced by Linux Air, but since rocket ships are completely different from airplanes, and since those rockets were built by some of the most capable, highly-trained experts in the field, it's hard to see how that compares to your ill-fated flight to Boise. The other passengers turn on you with a vengeance, and interrupt their conversations about how to persuade their mothers to start flying Linux Air to accuse you of being a Windows Air zealot, which is weird because you never particularly loved Windows Air in the first place, it just happened to be the easiest way to get to the place you actually wanted to go to, since that's what flying is all about. You realize that a few of your fellow passengers are airplane construction enthusiasts who really enjoy the experience of building planes out of junk. The majority of the passengers, however, were teenage boys who just liked bragging to each other about how they could fly on Linux Air, and they depended on the few hobbyists who gave what little expertise they could.

    You roll your eyes and walk away, never to return. The unpleasant, sexless passengers of Linux Air follow you yelling in their shrill voices that you must hate freedom, and that anyone can tell how much better Linux Air is once they try it, and that you're just a Windows Air "fanboy" who has sexual fantasies about some guy named Steve Ballmer. But you just sigh in relief, and realize that you should have realized how bad the flight would be when you first showed up and saw the losers that flew Linux Air. You may have lost weeks of your life on your one misguided Linux Air flight, and Boise may have sucked, but at least now you've learned a valuable lesson. And fortunately, you can still fly on the moderately priced, moderately comfortable Windows Air flights that most people take, or splurge on the expensive but luxurious Apple Air. You never have to fly Linux Air again, and that makes everything okay.

  12. September 28, 2008  5:23 am by Ectara Reply

    Windows Air:
    Everything looks nice and shiny, the stewardesses repeat themselves, and upon attempting to use the restroom, the restroom falls entirely off the plane and the pilot immediately stop to build a new plane, and everyone has to buy a new ticket. No one is informed what went wrong.

    Linux Air:
    Everyone is given a box of parts. Some people actually build the plane, realize its physical and technological aspects, and know it inside out. Others sit and cry and wait for the meaningless GUI they are so accustomed to and refuse to attempt to build it, and blame everyone else for them not reaching their destination.

  13. October 9, 2008  11:45 am by Patrick Reply

    Man, why are the windows fan boys here.
    I personally agree with the original post.
    Maybe something along the lines of this is better, though.

    Windows XP airlines
    You pay $100 for a ticket and the flight is reasonably nice, but noticeably slow. The problem is, if you don\'t agree to take \"hi-jacker protection\" for $500 for the whole year, then somebody will hijack the plane and crash it. Even if you do have hi-jacker protection, a device driver or something can go wrong. Even if it is the coffee maker messing up, the whole plane will crash. You will know you are about to hit the ground because all the light in the plane will become blue. Then it will tell you, \"If you survive this crash, make sure all hardware is installed properly.\"

    Linux Air
    First, you get a free ticket. Then when you show up you can choose between hundreds of different planes. You can pick the almost completely put together planes such as Ubuntu AIR or openairSUSE. These are a little slower than the rest, but still faster and more crash resistant then Windows XP air. You can then choose the less put-together planes such as debair. You have to do minor stuff like fill the gas tank and put in seats. This plane is faster than the fully put together ones, but still slower than some. Everything is nice as the first few after you get up off the ground. After that you have even less put-together planes such as AirArch. You have to actually paint this plane and program the destination into the pilot. You have to install anything extra. This plane only comes with bare essentials. You have to configure all the food and everything else also. This is the fastest plane in the world, though. You do have help from experts the whole time. You know that whichever path you choose, you will get to your destination.

    This is the most expensive of all air lines. The plane is stable and based on one of the linux air planes. It seems fairly quick and you have to do almost nothing. You sit down and are served 4 course meals. You do notice, however, the lack of choice. You get to your destination easily, though.

    Vist A ir
    This is the new air line out. The planes here are as shiny as applair\'s. You attempt to buy a ticket. While purchasing, you are asked 150 times if you are sure you want to fly with them. This makes you suspicious. After that, you are asked 100 times if you are sure you want to bring your luggage. Then you are asked 75 times if you are sure you want to get on the plane. When you are finally on the plane, you have the same lack of choice of apple. Yet, this is also slower than XP. The plane then encounters a problem with the passenger on the front row, so it restarts its engines. You would have made it out alive, but after turning off the engines, it asks the captain 500 times whether he is sure he wants the engines back on. It also says that Micrasoft does not approve its current engines. It then tells the pilot to replace the engines as the plane hits the ground.

  14. October 19, 2008  5:11 pm by Morgaine O'Herne Reply

    Boise may have sucked

    Actually, Boise doesn't suck. How can it? It has me!
    just kidding; I know you had to pick on someplace for your metaphor.

    Linux Air: You have to put your seat together, sure. But every time you have a problem, it's an excuse to chat with all the people around you who have already built their seat, and are busy designing new kinds of seats. This leads to other topics, fun conversations and new friends. As you cruise into the wonderful city of Boise, on your way back from Paris, you feel you have a better understanding of how the entire airline industry works, and you are confident that this airline and your new friends will always be there for you.

    Windows Air: You could talk to the other passengers, but they can't adjust their seats either. The people who know how to adjust your seat won't talk to you unless you pay them, and they aren't as nice.
    You sometimes use this airline because it shows movies that Linux Air doesn't have, but you know that eventually they are going to stop maintaining the plane you're on, and they won't tell you how to maintain it, so you'll have to pay to transfer to a more expensive plane, and when you do that, your new camera will stop working. (It worked on the old plane, but you have to pay money to get back onto that one again). It will likely crash-land in Boise, destroying the Towne Square Mall and it's environs.
    Fortunately for you, you weren't on that plane; you are hanging out downtown with your Linux friends. You don't even notice the smoke rising over the trees to the West, because you're having a fascinating conversation about cultural anthropology and chaos theory.

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  17. December 8, 2008  5:10 am by Salman Khwaja Reply

    Is there some write up on UBUNTU AIR?

    I am sure it will be pleasing flight. Especially if someone has an experience on Windows AIR.

  18. December 8, 2008  12:35 pm by Patrick Reply

    Ubuntu air is just like Linux air. Ubuntu Linux is a type of Linux, just as Debian GNU/Linux, what Ubuntu is based on, is.

  19. December 9, 2008  1:25 am by KSiimson Reply

    Ugh, it's dangerous to generalise Linux like that. There are over a hundred different distributions, or "airplanes" to choose from. Some are highly specialised to accomplish a certain task, such as firefighter plane, jet aircraft, or space shuttles. Then there are ones that you can put together just as you like it, say Arch Linux. You would have to know what you are doing on this one, and if you do, you will be highly rewarded by the flight quality. And there are some that are already put together, with super easy service and choosing a seat with a click of a button, such as Ubuntu. Not all are free even!

  20. December 9, 2008  3:41 am by Patrick Reply

    While I agree with you, all linux is so different. I think for the purpose of this article we can safely group them together. If you want to seperate them, that is fine. IMO, they can be grouped, though.

  21. December 31, 2008  6:08 pm by Terry of Astoria Reply

    Why does the article imply that Unix is free or open-source? It's completely proprietary I thought. Of course, there have been many versions and many incarnations over time, and Unix is what inspired Stallman and the others to "invent" free software, because they needed programs to run on the only decent OS they had at the time which was Unix. In the first entry, "Unix Airways" should cost a lot, provide the (fairly bulletproof) plane only (you hire a pilot) and bring your own seats. It's made to accommodate multiple passengers.

    I don't like these analogies. Read this one:
    It's a copy of a really old article.

  22. January 9, 2009  12:01 am by the Reply

    My day at the airport:

    I used DOS airlines back in the day and as I recall the planes back then were simple. I remember a couple of airlines that were for businessmen only and another airline that flew wooden planes but the pilots were college kids having fun. Then again those wooden airplanes were fun to ride at school so I could waste time. Well, DOS airlines is boring and the planes are out of date so I'll look for another airlines

    Mac airlines? I never really knew anyone who flew them except for weirdos when I was a kid. I guess I need to keep looking.

    Unix airlines.... well I know I don't have time to mess around with phone company private jets so I'll keep looking.

    OS X airlines? Well it comes from the guys of Mac airlines but they say it's really geek now instead of weird. I went to the counter and I was ready to pay up for the privilege of the flight but they declined me. As I walked away after trying to get a ticket they send my cell a SMS about how they'll sell me a ticket if I'm willing to pay an extra 5% interest than what was talked about earlier. With the job market looking bad and the fact I need an airline that I can afford so I handle day to day life I look elsewhere vowing never to think about OS X airlines again.

    I head over to XP airlines and I've taken their planes plenty of time. While everyone complains about being robbed, getting sick and feeling slow; I remember to keep my wits about me by looking about for bad guys, not eating food from passengers who are sick or don't wash their hands and always keeping myself in good health so I don't feel like I'm asleep. It's still a good airline but I want something else to try.

    Vista airlines.... I tried them and they're great too. I didn't notice all the people asking me questions but hey what Vista airlines used to do is not what they do now. Sometimes I hear about people jumping off of the Vista planes during their flight so they can land on XP planes but end up being off worse. I still don't wanna try something that makes people think I'm a consumerist pig because this airline works for me too.

    Then I look over at the multi faceted Linux airlines. The teller looks like the judge in the animated Transformers movie due to the many faces it has. I start asking which one of the planes I should take then once I think I'm ready to pick I notice there are even more choices to make. I start looking at myself thinking about what kind of environment I want to fly in, what the windows should look like and not to mention who is gonna give me support. After all that the stewardess tells me I need to print my own ticket, well I forgot my printer at home (damn...). Well, someone at the counter heard me say that and tossed a bunch of printed tickets at me from his previous flights. He says they'll work for my flight so I take his advice and thankfully one of them is for the plane I wanted. I proceed to go into the terminal and everything goes black so I run back out of the terminal. I talk to the teller and she says that plane wasn't compatible with me so come back later and hopefully one of the volunteer engineers will make sure it is.

    After all this I notice no airline is perfect and any person flying thumping their chest on which one is perfect is full of BS. Then I go home and tell my wife about my day at the airport. She rubs my back and says "Airports and the people in them suck sometimes." I say to her, "That's right but I just wish it could be about getting on an airplane and enjoying yourself/getting work done instead of marketing, money, pilots or who's riding what airplane."

  23. January 12, 2009  10:08 am by Julian Reply

    Slack Air:

    You walk up to a Kiosk, answer a few questions.

    Put your bags on the plane.

    Board the plane, adjust your seat to a comfortable position.

    Entertainment consists of watching the ground go by.

    And before you know it, you're there.

    Nothing fancy, nothing complicated, Slack Air just gets you there.

  24. February 15, 2009  4:16 am by Winrid Reply

    Ubuntu Linux Airlines.

    You get to the airport and realize that unlike the other linux airlines, this plane is pre-built and has all the drivers ready. After you get on the plane and boot your Ubuntu laptop you realized that you have installed some Middle Eastern Language instead of English. This isn't too bad since there is a Middle Eastern man sitting next to you with an overly large beard. He installs the English language pack for you and then whispers that he is going to bomb all the Windows machines in the plane, but explains to you that you will be okay since you are using Ubuntu and that he is part of an African organization. You think this is okay, since you think he means canonical. You then realize that you have forgotten your root password to your luggage compartment and as the Middle Eastern man again for help. He explains that he is a bomb specialist and sticks some explosive in the key hole of the door. When it pops loudly and he opens it everyone stares in horror. But then, in desperation, he pulls out a banana and hold it up to the crowd saying "wants some? It free!" Then later you see another plane spiraling out of control. The plane turns blue and you realize that it is a Windows plane. The plane is covered in malware and sickness. It dissapears in a white and blue haze over the horizon. But you are okay, since the plain is running the latest Linux kernel. The Middle Eastern man next to you starts crying because of the plain wreckage and decides not to bomb the Windows users. Then, later, after the plane has landed as expected, you meet the pilot who is a Penguin. The Penguin tries to say thank you for stopping the terrorist, but you don't understand his language so you say "HI!" back and walk away.

    You then remember you left your GCC library at home and can't do anything unless you download it from some odd hotel, which you do, and then go diving in the ocean. Everything goes well on the way home since you take the Debian Linux airlines, since the security personal their is more experienced.

    I am a Linux lover, but I had to make it funny ;)

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