The New York Times reported today that Apple has opened its first Apple Store in Paris, underneath the Louvre no less, and just two weeks after Microsoft opened up a Windows 7 cafe in Paris in another location. The idea of these two companies competing in a retail environment, and especially a Windows-themed cafe, got me thinking about what would happen if three cafes opened each run in the same style of the operating system it was named for. I figure it might look something like this:
The Windows Cafe is in a bland store front. The furniture consists of straight wooden chairs with tables with sharp angles. Unfortunately, every so often when you sit in a chair it crashes the to the floor, but you get used to this and figure it's just part of the experience of going to the Windows Cafe. (To be fair they have been testing chairs from a new manufacturer and they are reportedly less prone to breaking in this fashion.) Pictures of a smiling Bill Gates and Windows logos adorn the walls. The coffee tastes fine most of the time, but a surprising number of patrons get sick there, so that it's become standard practice to use hand sanitizer before you go in to protect yourself. The coffee is expensive, and refills are definitely not free, but it's a known quantity, and many people are comfortable going there.
The Linux Cafe is a funky place in an artsy neighborhood with eclectic furniture donated by the patrons. It doesn't match, but it's comfortable and the walls are covered with donated pictures and paintings by local artists. The coffee is free, served in black cups (or you can just bring your own), but you need to make it yourself. If you can't do it yourself, the cafe has consultants available to help you for a fee. It's great for people who know about coffee brewing, but many people are intimidated by the idea of making their own coffee and stay away, even though very few people ever get sick who go there.
The Apple Cafe is a modern, state-of-the-art facility. The tables are stainless steel and the chairs are ultra-contemporary. Shrines to Apple CEO Steve Jobs are dotted around the wide space. The cups are cool and come in a variety of bright colors. The coffee is well made by a highly trained staff, and even though it costs a lot more, people line up around the block for a chance to drink it. Just don't ask the staff about their coffee-making techniques because they are extremely tight lipped about this. People occasionally get sick there, but it's rare enough for the cafe to brag about its safety record.
So there you have it. Three cafes with three distinct personalities just like the operating systems they represent
Photo by Marfis75 on Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License.
With systems preloaded with Linux readily available the idea that you have to make or brew your own is just plain outdated. The idea that everything is donated by the patrons is also way off base. The big Linux distros all have corporate backing. This really doesn't represent Linux at all.
I see this is in the OSX forum. I have to assume it was written by a Mac user who hasn't used a current release of Linux.
People in the Linux cafe would make their own coffee because they want to experience making their own coffee. Not everyone would go for that reason, but part of the appeal is being able to custom-make your coffee. Dark, medium, light, expresso... Interestingly enough, I've worked as a cafe barista and I use GNU/Linux. I grind my own coffee and it tastes superior to pre-ground stuff.
Getting to the point where you can do something from scratch professionally isn't easy, but it's definitely worth it.
Linux has corporate backing because corporations really like its stability and flexability. In this example, it would be as if a company wanted to have their meetings at a cafe that was themed specifically for them. They just donate all the furniture and paintings that reflect what they want, and every time they go to that cafe, the furniture and paintings are already there for them.
So no. Not outdated and not off base whatsoever.
This made me smile. =D
You'd be surprised on how accurate this blog really is. In fact, I'd probably feel really comfortable in such a cafe. =D You should implement this idea Ron.
There's different strokes for different folks. Good job Ron Miller. There is a novelty surrounding how we like things done, like people who make their own clothes and make their own furniture but then like to eat out. Not everyone like the same things, its why people improvise, and mix and match to get what makes their hearts content. Perhaps, people will grasp the concept of freedom enough that they realise that the coexistence of various schools of thought actually enriches society.
Peon-Dev certainly describes the Linux cafe the way you'd expect a happy patron there to describe it.
And I'll stroll on by, noticing they seem very happy, and I'll be glad they're enjoying their cafe. I'll think to myself that it's always good when someone discovers that putting extra work into a task is rewarding. I'll also reflect that coffee isn't the only thing one can put extra time into. I'll remember that if you let someone make your coffee for you, you might have extra time to do one of those other things, spending extra care in that direction, and experience a reward such as the Linux coffee drinkers have... but different. I'll think to myself, “This way, I have more freedom to choose what I spend extra time on.” I'll think to myself that spending extra time on the coffee is nice, but only if you liked coffee.
And then I'll stroll into the Apple cafe. I'll order my cocoa. There's a bunch of people there. Each of us is doing something different, it seems. There's an appreciation of the cocoa, but most of us are more interested in something else. We're aware of the price, but it's our opinion that the prices aren't significantly higher for what we're drinking. It was just that the cheap stuff wasn't on the menu.
As I'm leaving, I'll wave at someone I know coming out of the Linux cafe. We'll talk a bit, remembering to duck flying glass when one of the chairs in the Windows cafe blows. Which, you know, sometimes they do.
Some guy named “here2serve” will be coming out of the Linux cafe. He'll be making tired old comments like he no doubt always does, world without end. He'll think he's made an insightful point, and I'll just shrug and try subtly to maneuver myself upwind... because some people just never did learn about that deodorant thing. He'll make silly comments about me being broke after going to the Apple cafe, but I'm not. And he'll make even sillier comments about how he's free. Sometimes people have an odd notion of freedom. While I was in my cafe, I got a lot of things done. I didn't think much about the coffee, or the cocoa. Sometimes a guy gets so absorbed in the need for his coffee to be free that he forgets there are other things you could be doing with your time. I can always make a little more money; but I can't make more time. Sometimes the one is a damned fine trade for the other. (And I'm still not broke. Go figure)
Great post Ron.
To continue the metaphor:
Windows coffee machines are everywhere, indeed almost every business might have one ranging from the tiniest set-up in a fridge or cash dispenser to running factories or transport hubs. Why they need a coffee machine to run a fridge is a source of much glee in the Windows cafe - hey, it's my job right?
Linux cafes are very common but often hidden away and their coffee machines are almost always found in smaller numbers but oddly, they are often needed to keep the Windows coffee machines running and that is a source of much glee in the Linux cafe.
Apple cafes are only found in pricier neighbourhoods but there are a surprising number of their coffee machines in private hands with a valuable secondhand market.
The Windows cafe will have hordes of overworked staff who must have many skills born out of necessity because every stage of the coffee experience is likely to randomly break at some stage. This even extends to opening the front door where the key, bafflingly, might not fit from one day to the next. Employment chances are high at the Windows cafe.
The Linux and Apple cafe's by comparison are efficiently run by very few staff tho' the Apple staff have an annoying habit of smiling at you just for entering the premises.
The Windows coffee machine will accept coffee from any source so long as you grind it using a standard container holder. The coffee is therefore of varying standards only occasionally rising above the normal bland taste.
Linux coffee is also sourced very widely but has a very smooth taste no matter what. The coffee machine looks very Heath Robinson but runs all day without problem.
Apple coffee is sourced from only select growers and must be sold through to the cafes by the parent company. This means of course shockingly high prices but the quality is equally astonishing. Indeed the coffee is known to induce a state of bliss such that the other cafes think they must be putting something in the coffee.
Windows cafe drinkers rarely visit the Apple cafe, saying the coffee is way too expensive and it's not necessary to have such modern furniture - a chair is just a chair right?
Linux coffee drinkers are generally less discerning and will willingly use anybody's premises to drink their homebrew. They are generally appreciative of Apple coffee but think their coffee is just as good since it can generally be brewed using Apple machines - the flavour is different that's all.
Apple coffee drinkers will visit Windows cafes if they really have to and resent hugely the fact that sometimes there is no alternative. They will drink Linux coffee but generally consider the flavour to be a bit insipid compared to their own. They appreciate the cheapness but hey, you get what you pay for right?
Fun and fascinating and much better than the usual car comparisons.
The linux cafe would have so many kinds of coffee it would be overwhelming. The coffee would be free but you would have to pay for the cups. The choice of cups while well made are also overwhelming.The windows cafe would sell only one kind of coffee. the coffee is inexpensive if you buy it in their oem cup but if you want to buy coffee alone the price can be steep. Their cups are know for having holes in them and you end up paying hidden costs in medical bills from a virus you caught from the coffee. The mac cafe would also sell only one kind of coffee. It would be more expensive than any other coffee but would come in shiny cups that are also well made that "peacocks" like to brandish.
I not only grind my own coffee, I roast it. I design roast curves (changes in temperature over time) customized to bring out the best in my coffee, whether it is a selected lot of astonishingly fragrant, high-grown Kenyan roasted just short of city-plus or a lightly city-roasted, subtle, Mandarin/tangerine fragranced Papua New Guinea.
I'm sure you guys noticed that there's an iPhone OS lounge in the OS X cafe.
I've spent some time in there over the past year. The coffee is decently priced and usually tastes real good. There's almost 100,000 flavors to choose from. The mug costs you an arm and a leg, but it looks really nice.
However, the lid of the mug is soldered shut, and you only have a straw through which you're allowed to drink pre-approved coffee, but can't pour anything in. The cafe owners have a secret way of refilling your mug for you. You're only allowed to use the mug with coffee supplied by the cafe owners. They get the beans from various plantations, that's true, but the rates aren't really fair trade, and many producers get turned down because their coffee smells to much like the house blend the cafe owners are making.
Every now and then, the statue of Lord Steve issues a keynote address or plays a clever commercial telling people what flavor of coffee they should like. Many patrons instantly switch to the new flavor.
They say that if you pry off the floorboards in the OS X cafe, you'll find that the solid concrete foundation underneath is actually an old UNIX/Linux cafe, and that the shiny plastic OS X floors on top wouldn't really be able to last without that foundation. Some of the patrons have actually completely removed the floorboards in a corner of the OS X cafe, and installed a few Linux .deb coffee machines straight on the UNIX foundation. We also set up a small workshop in that corner, and some really skillful guys have managed to cut off the soldiered iphone OS cup lid, and now we can actually see what's inside the cup, clean it when necessary, pour our coffee ourselves, and enjoy any type of coffee we want.
Most of the patrons in the shiny part of the building don't know about our corner, or refuse to acknowledge it. They're ok with drinking the mystery coffee served to them in the locked cups, and never knowing that there's more out there. Steve gets angry when he hears about us. One of our guys once spray-painted a pineapple on Steve's statue, just to piss him off :-)