What do grocery stores and operating systems have in common?

Who would have ever thought I’d be comparing Trader Joe’s to Ubuntu?

Well, in recent years, a lot of the grocery stores in our neighborhood have been closing down, so Trader Joe’s is one of the few still around. When my wife and I started shopping there originally, we made a regular habit of shopping at both Trader Joe’s (which touts itself as a unique grocery store) and regular grocery stores. As time went on, we found ourselves shopping more and more at Trader Joe’s and less and less at regular grocery stores. I found myself giving up Breyer’s ice cream for mochi ice cream. I found myself giving up Yoplait for Trader Joe’s yogurt. I found myself giving up Fresh Step for Space cat litter. Now, practically our entire grocery list can be found at Trader Joe’s. I still rely on a regular grocery store for Cheerios, tortillas, and Thomas’ English Muffins; the Joe’s O’s, Joe’s tortillas, and Joe’s English muffins just don’t cut it in my book… right now, but maybe that’ll change.

The same happened when I moved from Windows to Ubuntu. Initially, I dual-booted with WIndows for iTunes. Eventually, I weaned myself off iTunes and on to Rhythmbox. I gave up my iPod for an iAudio. I gave up the iTunes music store for actual CDs. My wife, who migrated from Windows to Mac found herself using more and more Mac applications. Initially, she was using Firefox and Thunderbird, but they both kept crashing, and she gradually moved from open source applications to Apple proprietary applications. Now she uses Safari and Mail. She’s even moved from Cyberduck to Transmit.

Whether it’s a grocery store or an operating system, the place you visit most or the system you boot into can often move you in a certain direction. It’s easy to get assimilated and hard to “serve two masters.”

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