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Constant Learning And What’s In A Name?

May 1, 2018

I’m an old guy.

Especially for IT, I’m a really old guy. Which means two things. First, it means that the technology I learned when I was young is completely useless today and it means that I tell stories about the technology that I learned with I was young.

I have decided to learn Linux. If you aren’t a techy person, you may or may not have heard of Linux. It’s an operating system like Windows or Mac OS. . .you might say that Mac OS is kind of sort of based on something like Linux. Your desktop engineer would roll his eyes at you, but everyone else would nod their heads and say, “Yeah, sorta.”

When I was young, Apple wrote their own operating system. It was really revolutionary. It incorporated networking from the very beginning. Well, from the beginning of the Mac. There were Apple products before the Mac, but the Macintosh is really where Apple took off. Before they reinvented themselves as the iTunes company and the iPhone and iPad company.

Anyway, Apple switched the Apple operating system over to a version of Unix. It’s not Linux, but it’s closer to Linux than it is to Windows.

Linux is a free operating system. It’s used in many systems. Honestly, while I’ve used it a couple of times, I’m not really familiar with it. I intend to change that.


Because I’m an old IT guy. IT is a different world than it was when I started out 30 years ago. It was possible to know almost everything about “computers” at one point in the distant past. Today, I don’t even know everything about one system that we use.

But, in IT, it’s grow or die. Linux is a very popular operating system. And while I don’t think I’ll become a Linux administrator, I intend to convert my home server over to Linux. And I would like to be able to use Linux when the situation warrents it. Often that’s when you don’t want to pay Microsoft or Apple for your software.

There’s a Linux Desktop certification that I intend to complete. As a boy scout, I earned lots of merit badges. As an IT person, I’ve traded up to industry certifications. It’s how IT geeks keep score. I gained major credibility with my desktop engineering team in Shreveport last week when I let drop that I was A+, Network+ and Security+ certified.

So, Linux is next. Today everyone knows how to pronounce Linux (LIN-x.) But, when the operating system was new, there was some debate. We’d only seen it written down. Some wanted to pronounce it LIN-x, others insisted the proper pronounciation was LINE-x. The man who actually wrote it is named Linus Torvalds. He was originally from Finland. (Yes, Linux is named after its creator, because IT is sometimes cool that way.)

Rarely is there such an easy opportunity to solve these type of silly “to MAY to” ‘to MAH to” debates. A reporter approached Torvalds.

Linus, can you help us settle the debate about how to pronounce the name of the operating system you wrote?

Sure, what do you want to know?

Is it pronounced LIN-x or LINE-x?

Neither. Personally I use the Finnish pronunciation, LEEN-x.

See? Just an old guy who tells stories about when I was young.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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