The Command Line in 2004

The X-Monkey comes from a line of monkeys originally bred by the military for the purpose of driving tanks. It’s a good fit, because the modern Apple sedan is actually a tank in a fancy shell. The X-Monkey’s only drawback is that he can only drive a car from Apple. Show him any other vehicle, and he won’t even know how to operate the door lock.

Meanwhile, the free-thinking Linux people, displeased with genetic engineering, have created their own smart monkey chauffeurs through a massive international breeding program. Unlike the X-Monkey, the Linux Monkey is capable of driving any car, including the Apple sedan. If you could install a steering wheel on a log splitter, the Linux Monkey could drive it for you. The catch is, you have to train the Linux Monkey yourself. Fortunately there are experts everywhere who will help you out, and the Linux Monkey trains easily.

The Microsoft Gorilla, on the other hand, cannot be trained. Instead, you must keep rephrasing your directions until the MS Gorilla can comprehend them. He consumes both front seats, lowering the mileage of your car, and blocking most of your view. —Garrett Birkell updates Neal Stephenson’s classic In the Beginning was the Command LineThe Command Line in 2004