Of Chauffers and Operating Systems

In response to some poor writing, Ben Brooks was trying to come up with a good analogy for how computers are like cars. Specifically, how we can use the analogy to understand the difference between Macs and Windows PC. In response, I sent him an email which adds drivers (chauffeurs) into the mix. The crux of it is below.

Let’s posit that blue-eyed people are notoriously bad drivers. They’re randomly slow, they crash the most frequently, and generally are serviceable but unlikeable. Brown-eyed drivers are notoriously dependable, but a little dull, frustrating, and hard to work with. Green-eyed drivers are widely recognized to be the best overall drivers because they’re relatively reliable, as well as fun and enjoyable to work with.

All of this functions rather independently from the car, which can be fast or slow, reliable or prone to failure, etc. Oricchio is right to point out that a blue-eyed driver is going to be as likely to crash, be irritating, etc whether the car is a Hyundai or a BMW, a Chevy, or a Rolls Royce. Similarly brown-eyed drivers (they’re Linux, and outside of your discussion; because there are three basic eye colors I included them) are going to do a dependable but uncharismatic job keeping either a Kia or a Bently on the road.

Green eyed drivers are a little different. If you want a green eyed driver, you have to have a car they approved. And they simply will not ever drive a Kia or Hyundai, as a matter of principle. They believe it’s an inferior experience being driven in one, so they just won’t do it. Sure, you can maybe get them to drive a Chevy (Mac Mini), but mostly they’d prefer to drive something like a BMW, Mercedes, or Acura. This leads people to inevitably complain that green-eyed drivers are super expensive, despite the fact that they’re roughly comparable to other-eye-colored drivers in similar cars.