How I Met Linux

It was 1998, I was working in a large corporation using Novell Netware, mostly DOS, Windows 3.11 for Workgroups, some Windows 95. A co-worker brought in his laptop with nice desktop – turned out was RedHat Linux 5. He showed me our file server mounted nicely as part of the laptop’s file system, transferring files back and forth in couple of terminal windows, was reading a PDF document in another window and desktop was very responsive even while formatting a floppy disk (at that time Windows was unusable during formatting even till Windows XP era). He was checking his email, browsing internet, FTP files from his home computer. He telnet to our Solaris server.

I was very impressed. My colleague had installed it from floppy disks and applied tons of patches collected from friends and didn’t have them handy. Couple of months later I found a CD with just released RedHat 6.0 and I decided to try it at home.

I didn’t want to mess with my main PC at home and used an older one with CPU Intel 386 SX 40 (yes this is 40 MHz clock speed), 128MB ram and 1GB Hard drive. I threw Linux CD into the drive and booted up. installer wasn’t bad – managed to install it and after reboot – voilà brand new Linux with Gnome desktop. I didn’t have internet at home, so tried to play around.

It was a bumpy road – I didn’t know much about Linux and there was no one around to help. I bought a book and started to read. I started with concepts, with terminal, basic commands and was fascinated. It was like Unix (I was using Solaris a bit before in console and in CDE desktop environment). Bash shell with colours and file name completions- nice, It was also so much powerful than DOS prompt. It never crashed, I figured the package manager and even without internet installed applications from the CD. Couple of times I screw up the system badly and without knowledge, the only fix was to install it from scratch.

After couple of weeks, I put it aside, I stuck- there were so many questions, I didn’t know how to get more applications, how to use it more effectively – Windows was more safe for me even with crashes and non-senses, but was familiar and I knew how to do my stuff.

Couple of months later I bought another book for Linux an inside there was a CD with Mandrake 7 Linux. I decided to give it a try. Boy, that was much more polished. Installer was better, Desktop was gorgeous  – KDE with lots of wizards. I got internet at home and bought a laptop. Guess what- installed Mandrake and that became my main machine. I was getting more proficient in Linux, started to read on-line forums and Windows machine started to collect dust. On my laptop alongside Mandrake, I installed SuSE Linux, Fedora Core, even managed to install Slackware, but Mandrake became my power horse. Mplayer played every media file a threw at it. Internet surfing was a breeze. Advanced download managers, editors, file managers, viewers.

I built a headless server on my old PC, Used CD burner through ssh (secure shell) via X session because my laptop didn’t have burner. Installed Samba, NFS server, Apache, started to play with HTML, Perl, MySQL.

2001 I decided to try Debian Linux (version 2.2 Potato). I heard a lot of good things about it but was hard for newbies. I installed it without fuzz (I was already much more experienced) And immediately felt – this is my Distribution. Till now this is my OS of choice (Debian stable for servers, Debian testing for desktop). I changed a lot of machines through the years, I always try other distributions to see how they are progressing, but always use Debian as a primary. Combined with killer apps like KDE, LibreOffice, Firefox, Chrome, Kmail, Recoll, Dolphin, Konsole, Amarok, Akregator, Kate, Kwrite, Kdiff, Midnight Commander, Mplayer, Gparted, Skype, Gimp, Audacity, K3b, ktorrent, VLC,digiKam, VirtualBox, etc.

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