December 24th, 2007


16 hours of linux

When I was a kid, my parents and I lived in Hong Kong for 4 years. For the past 7 years, my parents have been living there again. I am visiting them there for Christmas.

My present this year was the donation of sufficient frequent flyer miles from my father in order to upgrade me from coach to business class, which made the 16 hour flight from Newark almost luxurious.

The Linux geeks who read my blog will enjoy the following description of Linux on the airplane. I was flying Continental, and each seat came equipped with a touch-screen monitor that had about 300 movies on demand, about 150 CDs, and networked video games with the other passengers.

I watched Wedding Crashers, Almost Famous, and Citizen Kane. I played Battleship, Checkers, Backgammon, and Bowling against other passengers. I fell asleep listening to Nirvana. I played in the video game casino and turned $200 into $62,000 at the blackjack table (leading me to give serious thought to a new career, and then leading me to consider whether or not they rig the software to keep the passengers happy). There was another software application that could run poker tournaments among all the passengers, but unfortunately it wasn't working correctly.

Ironically, I spent most of the trip feeling guilty that I was playing and not working. There was an outlet by the seat, so I *could* have been on my laptop the whole time, but without internet access.

But the cool part is that the plane's entire system was running Linux. About halfway through the plane, they had to reboot the system, and I watched it cycle through the entire Red Hat Linux bootup process, complete with Jeff Garzik's name scrolling across the screen.

It was a pretty heavily modified Linux -- lots of stuff had been added on top of it, but the core of it was Red Hat software, dated 2002. So I'm not 100% sure what version of Red Hat it was based on, but it was definitely our software.

As for Hong Kong itself: I love visiting here. I have been here 4 times as an "adult" and each time is more impressive. From an architecture perspective, it feels like you traveled about 15 or 20 years into the future. The city is all lit up for Christmas, the buildings are incredible, and the construction that is always ongoing gives you a sense of the incredible growth in this region.

I definitely want to live and work overseas at some point in my career.

Happy holidays to everyone at