I stumbled today upon a curious episode in the history of Mepis Linux, which I called "The Fishy Debate"
It seems that during its early days, SimplyMepis shipped with a preloaded KDE applet in the Kicker. In other words, the "taskbar" included a "gizmo."
The thing was basically a small fishtank in which several cartoonish fish went by swimming...nothing less, nothing more.
Apparently, some users considered the fishtank negative because it sort of made a "bad first impression" of the OS. They mentioned the terms "for teenagers" and "unprofessional."
That reminded me of how professionalism is taking over the computer world, leaving little room for creativity and fun. Heck, Microsoft Office even got rid of the assistant, for example!
Other Mepis users said "what's the big deal with the fish? Don't like them? You can get rid of them in 2 seconds!"
Yet, others stated their full support to the little fish with ideas like:
"Its to keep the Penguins happy, they like fish"
"Also my cat refuses to use the computer without the fish...."
Then, the thread went to something deeper, like distro popularity:
"Remember how much everyone hated the brown earth colours of Ubuntu? And it's moved to position one on Distrowatch. And now note how many people hate the little fishes on Mepis? And it's up to positon five.
If we create a distro with fish, unpleasant brown colours, and one more visual flaw, we could take over the desktop world!"
To which another user responded:
"I like your analogy.. hehehe.. ;D ;D ;D How about changing the "K" in the K-menu to "Start".. that is total domination.. hehehe..."
There was even one user mentioning the deep cultural base for Mepis to come with the fishtank:
We have strong evidence that Herman Melville used Mepis as he typed out Moby Dick, because he started his great novel with a joke for all his computer friends, "Call me Phishmael". (Phishmael was spelled differently in subsequent editions.) And his first rough drafts describe the whale as blue, not white. Pretty conclusive I think!
After reading such a long and weird thread, I could not help but looking for the fishtank. (I guess the Anti-fish party ended up winning in the long run, for Mepis does not come with the fishtank anymore!)
The applet is Kaquarium. I installed it using Synaptic and added it to my Kicker. After seeing it for a couple of seconds, the only thing left for me to say was...
LONG LIVE THE FISHIES!!!