Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

May 16, 2010 GMT
Jon maddog Hall


As you might have guessed, I have a lot of Linux-based T-shirts....a LOT of them. And I enjoy wearing those T-shirts. From time to time wearing the image of Tux encourages strangers who would normally never say anything to strike up a conversation. The number of security people at the airport that know about Linux and Free Software, for instance, is fairly amazing.


On the other hand, I have fewer outer garments that have Tux or “Linux” on them, and often Tux is not visible as I travel.


Another problem I have with traveling is that my luggage style is fairly common, and straining to see whether it is my bag coming down the conveyor can be annoying. Regular luggage tags are expensive, often ripped off by the machinery, and suitcase life is fairly limited. Usually a suitcase lasts me about five trips before it is beat up to the point of embarrassment, so taking a lot of time to make them 'unique' is not something I want to do.


Recently I got a box of mailing labels, size 3.5 by 5 inches. These match up with Avery(C) 5168(tm) labels, and I printed some pictures of Tux on the labels, four labels to an 8.5 x 11 page. I then applied two Tux labels to the sides of each suitcase. Now as the suitcases come down the conveyor belt I can easily see my bags from far away. If the label gets ripped off by the machinery, or if it gets dirty or beat up, I just print four more.


Having the labels on the outside of my suitcase has the added effect of a conversation starter. I was sitting in the office of a bus transportation company near my home when a man said to me “You must use Linux a lot”. I explained about my connection with Linux and he told me that he had been using Linux since 1995, and did all types of kernel and network programming for embedded systems. He had never heard of our Linux user group. I invited him to join, and perhaps give some talks on work he had done, to which he agreed.


On the airplane returning from a recent trip to Brazil I sat beside a woman about my age. She saw my Tux T-shirt and said something about Linux. It turns out that she was a former employee of Sun Microsystems in the USA that had moved to Salvador, Brazil. She had (of course) used Unix, programmed in “C”, JAVA, used MySQL and used other FOSS programs. We exchanged email addresses.


Make Tux a bit more visible in your life and you may find a lot of new FOSS friends....or just find your suitcase easier.

Carpe Diem!

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