Operating Systems and Reality

One of my days jobs (to pay the rent between those awfully long breaks in paid writing assignments) is to provide IT consulting and support to non-profit organizations. I’ve noticed a pattern over the years when it comes to discussing “operating systems” or better known as the “OS.”

Traditionally, most folks thought in terms of Mac or PC.  Windows XP, 7, 10 or Mavericks, Mountain Lion, Snow Leopard, El Capitan… and on and on.  But the basic belief out there until recently is the notion “it’s a Mac or a PC.” No doubt in large part to the marketing of Apple and Microsoft.  Nowadays, folks know about Chrome,  “IOS” and Android.  But what strikes me as intriguing is if I discuss them in terms of being an OS, I get that “you’re talking tech geek to me” look – they tend to think in terms of a machine having a personality. Or another way of saying it is: “that’s a Mac and it will behave like this and run those programs.”

So here’s where it gets interesting.

This past year, I was providing support to a school that had about 100 old mac laptops.  They couldn’t be upgraded to the newest Mac OS, so they were simply discarded to a dark closet. For a while.  They asked for suggestions, besides being a brick to raise a projector higher.

I installed Linux Ubuntu on them – a cousin OS of Mac.  It runs great on old laptops and has all the latest features out there.  The best part, it’s free.  (Not that I’m soliciting…) But it’s a great solution for schools with a tight budget and old machines to give them a new life.

After students, teachers, admins see the computer come back to life and clearly not running as a Mac, but it says it’s a Mac, I get that “how did you do that?” as if I performed some kind of magic on these old laptops.

Linux Ubuntu 14 looks like this:

But, wait, it’s a Mac!

Now on to my thesis.  We tend to see reality like an OS.  We know how to navigate in our reality, work in it, and get results.  So what if there are other realities we’re not aware of? Or, what if the dream world is an alternative to our reality? It would be like an another OS.  Dreams are familiar and yet can behave and look radically different. Maybe, we have two realities we working with: Waking and dream.  They operate side by side, usually split by 16/8 hours.

Again, there’s analogy for this:  You can run windows or any OS side by side on the same machine. Both can be running or you can switch, from one to another.  Just like going to sleep at night.  We change realities.