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What if UNIX Systems Ran Airlines?

...because no one else wrote this before...

We're all familiar with the famous "What if Operating Systems Ran Airlines", but that only gives UNIX one slot.  SegFault did better by writing a "What if Linux Distributions Ran Airlines", and even gave the free *BSD's some room in there.  However, in my recent fooling around, I've discovered that there's really a lot of variety in the UNIX world, even though they seem similar from a "userland" perspective.  This will probably be a work-in-progress, and I welcome any helpful ideas.  So here goes...


    You arrive at what the map said was the airport, however it looks a lot more like a massive industrial complex.  You check in at a counter staffed with men all wearing a black tie and white shirt uniform.  Then, you get on a tram that takes you to the terminal.  You quickly notice that AIX Airlines is flying both brand new aircraft, and planes dating back to the 50's.  When you arrive at your gate, you notice that the aircraft is huge and painted blue.  It only has 4 engines, however it is easily three times the size of a 747.  You notice workers using massive cranes loading up the aircraft with everything from industrial equipment to parcel shipments.
    You eventually board the aircraft and settle into your seat.  When looking up, you quickly notice that there is a 3-digit numerical display where you would expect the fasten-seatbelt and no-smoking lights.  Special trucks push the aircraft away from the gate, and help it taxi onto the runway.  Then, several more vehicles and mechanics arrive to strap on a pair of rocket boosters to the wings.  You notice that they have not yet started the engine, as the captain announces that you have been cleared for takeoff.  Then the rocket engines fire, causing the aircraft to throttle up and take off from the runway.  At 1000 feet, the engines start up and the rockets drop away into the ocean.  The 3-digit display begins displaying seemingly random numbers, however the stewardess is passing out the "AC/800 Aircraft Passenger Service Manual" which describes them.  Four hours later, the captain announces that the aircraft has reached cruising altitude.  You see a guy named Smitty carrying a pile of forms from the cockpit, and the plane suddenly throttles up to Mach 6.
    AIX airlines only flies intercontinental, however they have the lowest fares, since each flight carries 6,000 passengers, and thousands of tons of cargo.


    While you're arriving at the airport, you see a huge sign that says, "The Network is the Airline."  When you drive up to the curb and show your ticket to the skycap, he already knows your name, offers to park your car, hands you a boarding pass, and tells you where your gate is.  However, other passengers who haven't paid extra for the Airline Information Services are not so fortunate.  They have to figure out everything, including the flight plan, all by themselves.  At the gate, you are called by name to board a pretty looking blue and purple aircraft.  You have a nice, calm, and comfortable flight.  Also, everyone knows your name and engages in friendly conversation.  However, the ticket fare was high and the flight lasted longer than expected.
    Solaris airlines flies a large variety of aircraft, from the smallest "puddle jumpers", to 747's.  They are all linked together through a massive satellite network, and are easily monitored for trouble.  Solaris has an incredible safety record, though, with no reported crashes.  However, most 2 engine aircraft are not able to go faster than 400 mph.  Only the high end 4-engine intercontinental aircraft are capable of going at 650 mph.


    While driving to the airport, you notice the beautiful scenery.  The travel agent told you that you had picked the most luxurious airline out there.  You hope she was right, since you had to sell your car to pay for the ticket.  Check in was a breeze, with the new electronic ticketing system.  You just had to tell the man at the counter your name, and then your ticket was printed up.  When proceeding through the metal detectors to the gate, you forgot to put your keys and wallet into the tray.  However, no alarms went off.  Upon looking out at the aircraft, you are very impressed.  IRIX airlines has a fleet of mid-size and large planes, and they all had beautiful paint jobs.  Boarding a plane the size of a 747, you are astonished by the seats.  There are only two per row, and they are made of very expensive exotic fabrics in a teal, purple, and blue pattern.  Takeoff goes smoothly, and the pilot says that the flight will be arriving a whole hour ahead of schedule.  Unfortunately, ten minutes into the flight, the plane was hijacked and crashed when panicked terrorists shot the pilots.
    IRIX airlines flies all over, with a maximum of luxury.  They have the highest fairs, and thus only carry the wealthiest of passengers.  Also, their planes are quite fast.  Unfortunately, they have a relatively low safety records.  Mechanical failures and terrorist incidents are far more common than on other airlines.


    Not too many people have flown on Tru64 airlines.  In fact, few have heard of it.  It is rumored that finding airports that service Tru64 jets is difficult, as they run on a rare form of Jet fuel developed by the Open Airline Foundation.  The goal of the OAF project was to develop a new standardized form of fuel, but no one else decided to adopt it.  Little is known about this airline, however when you asked a friend of your about it, he said he didn't remember much from his flight.  Though he did recall that it was extremely fast, arriving at the destination a full two hours early.  Tru64 ticket prices used to be competitive for the reduced flight time, however a recent buyout of the company has resulted in a sharp rise in pricing.


On a strange whim you decide to try HP-UX airlaines. Ticket prices were high, but you were told to expect first rate service. Arriving at the fairly regular looking airport you notice that the curbside parking leads to public toilet and that the ticket office has been moved to the end of the runway. Boarding a plane in the color reminiscent of your Gateway PeeCee at work, but built like a tank, you find yourself in in a rather uncomfortable chair. The plane takes off very slowly but smoothly and seems to proceed at a reasonable pace. You notice that there are 2 passengers and about 50 flight attendants, most of the latter just seem to be there for no reason. Being bored you fiddle with the large screen installed infront of you. It has many characters on it and a button labelled "CDE". You press the "CDE" button and notice that the plane starts to shudder. Not wanting to attract any attention you look out the window to see a flock of geese overtake you. Landing with 6 hours delay and totally frustrated you find that the gangway leads from the plane to the airport refueling station.
(contributed by Michael Koch)


They built every plane that they flew, each one custom made and unique. The planes look like nothing you've ever seen before. They are only serve a few airports in the world and most of them are not on the map. They are reputed to fly 15000 miles per hour, but you can't find anyone who who will admit they have taken a flight because all previous flights were classified. Early planes had one gigantic engine, but later planes had hundreds or even thousands of engines. The founder of the airline said he was not interested in where the passengers were going, only how fast the plane could go. As a result, the flights start with no seat cushions or carpeting, but the passengers are given bales of cotton and wool and they are free to do whatever they want with them. It takes 3 engineers 6 hours to start the plane, but the flights still arrive on time. They only do transoceanic, supersonic flights. The planes run so hot that they have to spray interior of the aircraft with water for the duration of the flight. Sometimes very experienced travelers who have flown on many other airlines get sick on these flights due to the extreme speed and altitude. Each plane was so expensive to build that they risked the company on each one. They ended up being bought out by Irix Airlines which is like Virgin Atlantic, a very stylish enterprise.
Rumor has it that they are back in the air.
(contributed by


You have to call ahead to find out where the temporary airport is, and even then they are not sure that it will be there long. The cheerful staff wishes you the best of luck, and quotes you a decent fare. Because of the poor directions you worry that you might be late getting to the plane. As you rush through the airport gates, you notice that there really are not that many people there, and airport security does not seem to care what you are carrying; however, they are very glad to see you.

Because the plane is a little older than the others you have seen, you need a little help getting on board, but the seating is acceptable if spartan. The planes are small, slow, and very bland in appearance. You almost mistake them for the small charter planes run by ex-pilots. Looking around a little before the flight, you notice that they have a lot of planes, but not many passengers. You remember that your flight took a long time, and was kind of rough, but eventually you seemed to get there. The fare was cheap, but there were a lot of obscure add-ons that made planning the trip a little scary because you never were quite sure that the plane would actually get there.

SCO Air has a long and spotty safety and service record mainly dealing in small shuttle flights, with the occasional long hop for those who want to pay for it and are willing to wait. Rumor has it that those who still fly are used to the ride.

(contributed by Doug Dingus - doug@/_no_farging_spam_/

(Help is still needed.  Feel free to chip in!)

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