My trip to Luxembourg began with the loss of my toothpaste. Apparently the maximum limit for fluids is 3 fluid ounces and the smallest tube I could by was 6.4 ounces. Not their fault, the law is the law, and however well intended it did not agree with my tube of Pepsodent. Other then that the flights went well, I wasted little time and landed in Brussels.

When we finally broke through the clouds it became clear that America is not Europe. Instead of being surrounded by businesses, housing developments and other crap I saw green fields and a village. The architecture is very different. In America, with our large land area and relatively small population much construction is made of wood and buildings of two storeys or less is common. In Europe buildings are made of masonry, or glass and steel. The older stuff is all masonry, be it brick, stone or stucco with ceramic tile roofs the norm. That alone, along with the hipped roofs and taller, narrower buildings give the continent a very different look. In addition Europeans gather together more then Americans who like to spread out and be alone. Belguim is not flat, the rolling hills remind me of Eastern Ohio, and as my train rolled across country I recognized towns I'd read about in my histories of two world wars. The towns are older, and the transition from city to country is much more abrupt then in suburb dominated America. I liked it, it has a certain pastoral beauty and sense of antiquity we lack. It just seems right.

And finally I arrived in Luxembourg where I was met by my cousin Kevin. His family owns a townhouse near the train station with a three level back yard, a very interesting feature. Kevin took me for a brief ride around town, starting with the American Military Cemetery in Luxembourg, best known as the site of General George S. Patton's grave. Graves dug in wartime tend to be hasty affairs, but after the war all combatants make an effort to see their fallen rest in a fitting place. The US has done very well by its soldiers in Luxembourg. The grave is on a hilltop, surrounded by mature trees with a mix of green and red leaves that gives the place a fitting look. They installed dioramas of various phases of the Second World War, and a fine monument with a small, integral chapel. It always amazes me how the headstones (in the shape of crosses or Star of David) seem to form rows at every possible angle. I am sad for these lives lost, but if they must find a resting place they could do far worse then this one.

From there we wound our way through the town. The old town is built on a series of very sheer rocks, that have been fortified for centuries. The roads are stunningly narrow and wind down the steep hillsides. Luxembourg is beautiful, and I look forward to posting pictures online. There is a character to an older European city you simply do not find in America, we're too new, we have too much space to grow, here tradition and history dictate much. Tomorrow I plan to walk and climb through the town.

And so now I sit and type, a good Belgian beer at my side. My sampling is mall, but they definitely like their hops. And I like my beer. Life is good when you're on vacation.

Well, it seems like a dark time for us geeks. Oracle's basically pulled the plug on gratis Solaris, and it seems like OpenSolaris has slowed down too. Their acquisition of Sun also means they now own MySQL. What does that portend? Nothing good, I think. I expect to see it get axed. It's open source, so it'll never completely die, but if it gets cut adrift by Oracle, I expect to see it become a lot less relevant. I hope I'm wrong.

If OpenSolaris stays alive, then the worst impact to the Open Source community might be mitigated, but if it dies, I have some worries. ZFS is an impressive piece of tech. Fortunately it made it into FreeBSD and there's ZFS-FUSE on Linux. Putting ZFS back in the realm of things that cost tens of thousands would not be a good thing for the state of the art in filesystems. The only other thing that comes close is Linux's btrfs, and that's still very alpha. Maybe it's beta by now, but even its dev won't trust his data to it yet. My big worry is that this removes one more competitor to Windows.

Now, I don't know. Maybe this really will make people buy support contracts who wouldn't have before, but my gut feeling is that it won't. This probably isn't a huge deal now, as the people who have the money for support contracts also have the money for Windows licenses, and those who don't will use Linux or BSD. Or they'll pirate, which is a problem, but a different one. But, if Oracle pulls the plug on Solaris completely, this could get icky. I suspect they won't, but they may make it so that it's not available except as a completely proprietary stack of SPARC hardware, Solaris and the Oracle DB, designed as a database appliance. This will put some other applications of Solaris on either Linux or Windows, helping to encourage software monoculture.

Monoculture is bad, even though the Linux fan in me likes seeing more Linux adoption. But, to an even bigger extent, I'd like to see Microsoft's effective monopoly weakened, not strengthened. I want to see the migration to Linux come from Windows, or be new deployments. I don't really want to see folks tearing down existing Unix installations in favor of Linux. As I said, I think monoculture sucks. I'd be just as dissatisfied if the 800-kilo gorilla were Red Hat, instead of Microsoft. (I might hate using the result a little less, because I prefer the set of strengths and weaknesses that Linux has, to those Windows has, but that's another matter.)

Anyway, I'm annoyed about it. I'm annoyed because of all the Unices that survived the Unix wars, Solaris was the most relevant. If it goes away, I can't imagine HP-UX and AIX will be very far behind. IRIX is already dead and SCO is a shambling, necrotic zombie. If Solaris goes away, I suspect that Linux and the OSS BSDs will rapidly become the last bastions of Unix as geeks know it. Some might argue that they already are. Yes, I know about Mac OS X and its NeXTSTEP and BSD roots, but it's not Unix as geeks know it, even if it can be used that way, kinda.

Luckily, Linux, BSD and Mac OS X are still relevant. If my only choice were Windows, I might end up giving up computer tinkering as a hobby.

Ok, maybe I exaggerate on that one. But it's a different world. I just don't feel in control of a Windows machine. I feel like I get to do a few things, when Microsoft deigns to let me. But that's Another Rant.

"Get off this fucking moor,"
Said one Bronte to another,
"That turf is losing its allure,
And tundra might have done quite nicer."

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