Packet Rat: Network alert -- BOOM!

Network alert: BOOM!

The Rat recently stumbled onto the next revolution in desktop computing by accident. He has seen the future, and it runs on Linux'or, rather, Final Fantasy X.

The revelation occurred when the whiskered one was hunting for a low-cost Linux box for some network monitoring applications. One of his minions said, with only the slightest tone of irony, 'You know, you could run Linux on a PS2 for that money.'

'A PS/2?' replied the Rat, thinking of the late lamented IBM Micro Channel Architecture for PCs. 'You can get Linux to run on that?' He was skeptical because it seemed pretty certain that the proprietary MCA wasn't a high priority for hackers working on the latest Linux kernel.

'Oh, yeah, I saw a demo of it at Linux World in January. It rocks, man. They're officially releasing it only in Japan right now, but I think I can get a demo copy.'

'Only in Japan?' This baffled the Rat, who didn't think IBM had sold enough PS/2 systems there to make a base for a Linux release on the aging hardware. But after all, Linux was being sold in Singapore for clone Sparc machines, so why not for the overengineered boxes from Big Blue?

'OK, hook me up,' the cyberrodent ordered.

That evening, as he sat with his family at the dinner table, he recounted the exchange to his wife. The two elder ratlings looked at him wide-eyed, then turned to each other and grinned. They fist-bumped triumphantly, one up on the old man.

'Dad, don't you know anything?' asked the eldest with suppressed glee. 'Your slave wasn't talking about Personal System/2, he meant Sony PlayStation 2.'

'You mean, the game console?' the furry one frowned.

'Absolutely,' replied the younger.

The Rat's daughter banged her handheld on her high-chair tray in agreement.

From denial to anger to fear to acceptance'it took only a minute. 'Well, that'll look interesting on the office's SmartPay card statement,' the Rat sighed.

Sure enough, on Monday he was greeted at the door to his command bunker by the sounds of blaster fire and cheering. It quickly subsided once his presence was perceived.

'This had better be good,' the Rat growled, spotting the black monolith of the Sony game console on his desk.

'Just let me put the boot CD in,' said a now nervous network acolyte. 'The Linux mod comes with an Ethernet adapter and a 40G hard drive. It uses a Universal Serial Bus mouse and keyboard, and I liberated the VGA monitor from elsewhere.'

'So,' sniffed the Rat, 'this is basically a 300-MHz RISC PC with 32M of RAM and a hellacious graphics package. And hardware even more proprietary than Micro Channel.'

'Don't forget the DVD player,' sneered an underling.

'And this cost how much?' the Rat asked.

'With the Linux kit, $500,' the apprentice admitted.

'Well then, we'll have to subject this to some serious testing,' the Rat said. He pulled out his own game controller. 'Have you loaded the Linux port of Quake on it yet?'

Fortunately, there were few trouble calls that day.

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at

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