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Penguin Power

Penguin PowerThere's an place at the intersection of East Colonial and North Ferncreek called Ice Cold Auto Air. They've been there so long (since 1964) they've become something of a landmark. Right under their sign they have this heavily customized VW minibus which has been painted up in various color schemes for years. Recently it was given yet another paint job and given something of a name.

It's now called "Penguin Power."

Penguin Power InteriorIt looks all cute and interesting from the outside, but a quick peek into the interior tells a slightly different tale.

The panels are missing from inside the doors. The dash had been reconstructed from "home brew" materials, and spray painted interesting shades. Wires dangle from beneath the dash and some feed directly through the front sheet metal to the lights outside. Some of the interior material is torn, exposing yellow filler foam. The interior looks like it's usable, but it's definitely not the kind of vehicle you'd find on any major auto dealer. Instead, it draws material from a vehicle that provided great service and utility (the VW Minibus) and reconstructs it into something that only looks like it might be usable. And yet the people who built this probably think it's the coolest thing on the road.

There's a metaphor in all of this for Linux.

I came across Theodore Ts'o's Google+ rant against Gnome 3.4 (yes, that Ted Ts'o), and it resonated with my experiences using Gnome 3.4 on Fedora 17. His needs are simple, but apparently he's not "the simpleton user that Gnome wants to server." When I think about Gnome 3.4 I think about that little vehicle, which was chopped and shorted to remove any real utility to carry anything except the driver and the passenger, with the interior that's left in pretty much of a shambles. Gnome 3 has had just about everything of real utility that was in Gnome 2 stripped out, and what's left is in pretty much of a shambles. Yes, it looks cute and all from a distance, but the closer you get the more you realize what it can't do compared to a real van/desktop system.

I don't know yet what I'll do with Fedora 17. As I wrote earlier I can use Cinnamon to return a fair amount of Gnome 2's usability and utility back to the desktop. I don't want Cinnamon to do much. I just want windows that work the way I expect windows to work and a decent command line terminal. Simple stuff. If I wanted Gnome 3's intense kind of annoyance I'd go install Windows 8 and Metro. At least if I work at it I can get back to the older Windows 7 desktop.

I don't know. Maybe I am getting too old for all of this. This intense love for all things tablet, driven by Apple's iPad, is driving majors like Microsoft and projects like Gnome 3, KDE 4, and Ubuntu over a cliff and trying to take us all with them. I've got entries covering Linux going back to 2005. I didn't realize how good I had it until I went back and looked at Suse 10 (KDE 3), Ubuntu 7, and Mandriva 2008. Right now I'm hanging onto Fedora 14 precisely because I know it works the way I want, realizing I really need to move forward to a much more current kernel and the latest developer tools and packages.

I don't know what I'm going to do. I guess I'll figure something out.


  1. I've never seen a short version of that bus. Very cool and thanks for posting!


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