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VisaThe upcoming trip to China requires a visa and the visa application requires a passport photo. The instructions were clear that it should not be a “home photo”. I was anxious to get the application in the mail and was confident that the processor of the application would not reject my photo printed from the Canon i960, but unfortunately it was out of one of the ink colors. No problem, I though, there is a CVS store nearby and they do passport photos. The $7.99 price seems high but I was in a hurry. I like CVS as a company but their customer service in the store is not that great. The photo department had a sign up saying to check with a cashier. The cashier lines were all long. A supervisor happened to walk by and sent someone over to take the photo.
In a minute or so a digital picture was taken and the CVS person then escorted me to one of their Kodak kiosks. Of the five kiosks, two were “out of order” — reminded me of the early days of the airline check-in kiosks. Two of the other three were being used by customers who were sorting through the pages of pictures to pick the ones they wanted to print. I could see they were going to be there quite a while. The “available” kiosk was hung up. The employee had to unplug it to get it to re-boot. It took at least ten minutes for the kiosk to initialize — it was running Windows 2000.
Why Kodak or CVS did not select Linux for this application is beyond me. Linux is perfect for “embedded” applications — either embedded in a handheld device, a car, a digital audio server, home automation system, or a digital video recorder. Linux can also be “embedded” in a PC in a very nice way, especially on a PC like a kiosk which only runs one application. In all these cases Linux is quietly working in the background to enable the device or the application. It doesn’t crash, doesn’t give insulting or confusing error messages, “blue screens”, or hang up. It just works.
Munir Kotadia at ZDNet Australia just wrote a story saying that the launch of Windows Vista has created a huge opportunity for Linux vendors to take a larger share of the corporate desktop market.