At university, the main computer science lab was divided into two sides: half Sun workstations running Solaris and half Dell workstations running NT (there was a Linux lab elsewhere). The tension between the two sides was high and rife with rude looks and derogatory comments. The Unix side, as it was known, held in contempt the Windows side. We felt Unix superior. How can they get any work done without grep(1) and sed(1) and a real shell and a real editor, we wondered? We were adamant in our supremecy. How on Earth could they hack in Windows? Maybe they were just drunk.

Of course we were silly and, to be fair, Solaris was slow as hell and CDE the ugliest thing I have ever used. Nonetheless, each side continued unabated, at least until the day that the poster showed up.

It was a gigantic Microsoft poster, parading as some developer reference, but ultimately a piece of well-placed advertising. And it was on the lab's Unix side.

What were we to do? Would all our walls soon be plastered with advertising from the "other side?" Would our Unix workstations be replaced by Windows machines? I had to act, and act quickly. I, the Unix side's hero, wrote this tongue-in-cheek slightly pompous letter to the department:

I wish to inquire into the possibility of moving the Microsoft poster to the "Windows side" of this lab. It currently resides on the "UNIX side" ... I find the poster's presence a hinderance to enjoying my UNIX sessions.


I ask only to have it moved, not removed. There is plenty of room on the far-side of the "Windows" wall. I realize this request is odd but I appreciate considerations into the matter.

The next day, the poster was not moved. Instead, it was gone, absent entirely from the lab. The rest of the semester continued without major incident between the two sides. Ah, the silliness of my youth.

This was a year before I nearly failed a test in Operating System Design (excuse: I had kernels to make preemptive). The following semester, the course adopted a textbook that I reviewed and technical edited.

A few years later, at Foo Camp:

rml at Foo Camp
My Foo Camp Picture

Nice to see I have not yet grown up.