Sometimes, it's the little things in life that count the most.

Today I was in a quandary. I was also in a Best Buy. I was in a quandary because I needed an inexpensive 10/100Mb PCI ethernet card. I was in a Best Buy because I felt the need to laugh mercilessly at the dimwitted sales staff. And I thought they might carry network cards.

I have, in the past, come to Best Buy looking for certain parts. Many of those parts were computer-related. One part in particular comes to mind. I needed a PS2-male to {PS2-female, PS2-female} Y adapter for my laptop. Best Buy did, in fact carry them. They were $38.00. Plus tax. I later found one elsewhere (in an overpriced retail electronics shop that shall remain nameless) for $2.95. Plus tax. An 1100+% profit margin, while undoubtedly great from Best Buy's perspective, did not endear me much to their mode of business.

Nevertheless, I was in a quandary. I didn't want anything fancy. I had mentally braced myself to pay up to $38.50 for this PCI ethernet card, if push came to shove. I wanted to pay about $12.00, but figured it was never going to happen at Best Buy. Keep in mind I am in no way affiliated with this chain, and if you're at all familiar with them you might want to hold onto your pants for the duration of the next sentence. They had what I wanted.

They had better than what I wanted.

They had a $9.95 special on cheapie PCI 10/100 cards. As wary as I was, I was still about to snap one up when thoughts of Linux compatibility sprang to mind. I have had good luck in the past with Linux agreeing well with crap hardware, though, so I figured I might as well go with the cheap stuff.

That was the moment I glanced up, only to see the soft, beaming, welcoming eyes of none other than Tux the penguin..

As the cheapie network card tumbled from my hand and onto the floor, I slowly strode over to the next shelf. With my palms sweating, and a choir of angels in perfect harmony clearly audible, I gently lifted the Linksys Etherfast LNE100TX from the shelf. PCI. 10/100. $23.00. Stickers proclaiming "24/7 free technical support!" and "100% compatible with Cable/DSL". Those weren't what mattered. A Big, Green, Soothing Sticker saying "Tested with LINUX" portraying the Penguin of penguins. Finally, a sticker with "Now With FREE TurboLinux". They bundled a copy of Linux with the card.

They bundled an OS with the card.

An OS for which you never have to buy an update or disservice pack. An OS with no office assistants. An OS that doesn't have 'Your machine will reboot in 30 seconds' status bars, showing me the excellent progress the OS is making, driving time forwards. An OS that runs all my hardware. An OS that knows to 'ping' until I tell it otherwise. An OS that's actually usable.

Sure, it's not Slackware or RedHat or Debian or SUSE or Mandrake or FreeBSD. So what?

I'd like an ethernet combo, please.

Oh, would you like an OS with that?

Why yes, yes I would.

I'll even pay a $13.00 premium to encourage this type of behavior. Nathan, this is acceptable.

Okay, it sorta goes without saying that a) this was many years ago, when inexpensive ethernet cards were not nearly as plentiful as they are today, b) Linux was just breaking in to build 2.0, 2.1 had just started, c) NOBODY advertised linux support on their hardware, because it was a "niche" operating system at the time. We've come a long way, baby.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.