A few days ago, I was down at the Starbucks in my local bookstore—sipping on a hot chocolate, using the free (but rather pokey) Wi-Fi, and getting some work done.
This is pretty typical for me. Since I work from home, it’s nice to get out of the house and shake things up a little bit. Working for a few hours at a coffee shop tends to be just about right. I’m not the only person in the world who uses coffee shops as short term offices—it’s become so normal, it’s almost a cliché.
The one thing that typically sets me apart from the other people working from any given coffee shop is my computer. I run Linux (currently openSUSE with GNOME). And often, I’ll have some sort of unusual Linux-powered gadget with me (such as my PocketCHIP or my trusty old Nokia N810).
In a place filled with little glowing Apple logos and Windows laptops, the weird Linux guy with the funky gadgets really stands out.
Or, rather, that’s how it used to be.
At least around here (the greater Portland, Oregon, area) things have changed quite a lot in just the last year.
Linux users out and about
Back to the Starbucks from a few days back. There I was, writing an article about GNOME—my laptop properly adorned with EFF, openSUSE and FSF stickers. I look up to gaze around the room (gotta give those eyes a screen break every so often), and I see a woman working at another table. Her laptop had stickers, too—Arch Linux and EFF.
A few days before that, I met a guy running KDE on top of Ubuntu. We had a nice chat about it. He won the sticker contest hands down—seemed to have picked up a swag sticker from every booth at every Linux conference since the beginning of time. Not a single bit of the top of his laptop was visible under the adhesive declarations of Linux nerdiness. It was fairly impressive.
These aren’t isolated incidents around here. Maybe it’s because I live close to the Intel headquarters (and, hence, a large population of like-minded nerds). Or maybe it has something to do with Portland’s generally counter-culture attitude.
Whatever the reason, Linux is everywhere nowadays—and not just in our server rooms or powering our set top boxes.
Sure, there are definitely more Mac and Windows laptops out there. No question. But, if I’m in a crowded coffee shop in Portland, it’s a rare occurrence now that I’d be the only one there with a Linux-powered laptop.
This may be anecdotal—and it may only really apply to my corner of the world—but it’s awesome and heartwarming just the same.