It sucks when you’re humming along to the radio and then realize it’s an “Oldies” station and you’ve been listening to a “Classic”. Nobody’s ego is ready for that. They might as well spike your coffee with Geritol and tell you to take a nap.
Today I was attacked by an “Oldies / Classic” event. Here’s what happened.
I run Ubuntu. For 95% of web viewers Ubuntu means “not Windows: does not compute” or possibly “something you might find in a Chinese restaurant”. For 4% of viewers Ubuntu means “heretical barbaric savages who have not adopted the one and true path of the iApple”. For the remaining folks it means “Screw the man! Open source or die trying!”
I’m not really fanatical about Linux. I am fanatical about “cheap”, which is what “free” happens to be. Hence Linux. I’ve been delighted with Ubuntu. It’s fast, fair, and friendly. Gets the job done and stays out of my way. (Over time I’ve become confused as to why folks put up with the dismal performance of Windows on their own machines and pay for the privilege of that treatment. It’s like hiring the neighbor’s cat to crap on your couch.)
However nothing lasts forever. Ubuntu dutifully informed me it was time for an upgrade. It did this using some nerd nomenclature that I barely grok and care about less. I just backed everything up and clicked the button I loosely interpreted as “do whatever the hell you think is necessary and tell me when it’s done”. As with all things Ubuntu, many strange things flashed across the screen (to be ignored) and then it was done. Ta da.
It rebooted flawlessly (as always) and I logged in to see… it was different. I was displeased. “Goddamnit“, I fumed, “they’ve added that bullshit ribbon/bar whatever the hell it is that Apple and then Microsoft seem intent on foisting on everyone.” It looked like whatever the hell the newest version of MS Office happens to be (I hate that interface too). Gross!
Who is the jackoff that decided I desperately need big colorful cartoon icons occupying my screen real estate? Who are the zombies that’ll copy even the most appalling stuff from Windows into Linux so that they look the same.
I like simple menus on a basic GUI. I hate big icons. I can read *&^$## English. Save big icons for illiterate losers and corporate schmucks. Give me a menu with *&^$# words and then leave me alone. (None of these arguments get much traction with modern GUIs that assume all users are both illiterate and like shiny things…as if toddlers are running laptops.) I briefly considered tossing the laptop in the woodstove and becoming a fur trapper.
Wait a minute! Am I not a user of the esoteric and unusual Ubuntu system? Is that not totally flexible? Isn’t a GUI just a pretty face on the engine underneath? Can’t I choose a different pretty face? Why not just change the GUI? (All of those out there that run exclusively command line and are itching to comment can shut up now. I used to run command line too and I now prefer menus; provided they’re in English and not dumb ass little icons. I don’t need to prove I’m macho by typing commands like I’m operating a nuclear reactor in 1965. I’ve got nothing to prove. Capisce?)
So I fished around in the system and installed Gnome. Again the install was fast and easy. Then I logged in under “Gnome Classic”. It was just what I wanted.
Except the name “classic”. It’s starting to feel like a synonym for “old”. Possibly “decrepit”. Maybe even “special”.
So the modern world has dealt a blow to my ego. I’m perfectly happy with my cheap computer and it’s free software…but I have to admit that I’m using the “old decrepit” GUI intended for “special” people like myself.
If you’ll excuse me I’ve got to switch to polyester pants, watch Matlock, and go chase kids off the lawn. It ‘aint easy getting old.