My Linux Story – What’s Yours?

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Many people who use Linux didn’t start that way. The norm for a lot of people is to get into technology, work their way up, get bored of Windows and look for something better.

I’m really interested to hear how people started using Linux, what their distro of choice is and why. I was discussing why I prefer Ubuntu to anything else with a colleague a few weeks ago (he incidentally prefers Fedora). It was a very interesting conversation that I would like to share with you guys. So here’s my Linux story, I look forward to reading yours too…

The early days

My introduction to computing was an Amiga 1200. With it’s huge 2MB (yes that’s megabytes – not gigabytes) of RAM, 33MHz CPU, no hard drive and it’s 3.5″ floppy disk drive; it was certainly no powerhouse but I loved it nevertheless.

Amiga 1200

The Amiga 1200 was my first “real” computer and I have fond memories of having blue floppy disks all over my bedroom. There was literally hundreds of the things as many games like Monkey Island were spread across an average of 5-10 floppy disks, and I had hundreds of games!

However, back in the early nineties, Windows was all the rage and I was desperate to get my hands on a Windows machine. After accidentally blowing my Amiga 1200 up by dismantling it and “poking around” with a screwdriver whilst it was still plugged in, my grandparents took the plunge and bought me a PC.


I now had my first PC. It ran Windows 95, had a 500MB (again, that’s megabytes, not gigabytes) hard drive and 64MB of RAM. It was a huge upgrade from my Amiga 1200 and I thought I was the bee’s knee’s.

However, my world quickly came crashing down when I realised that I couldn’t install Championship Manager ’98 as the hard drive wasn’t big enough. The game on it’s own required 600MB of space and I only had around 200MB to play with. It’s ok though because I compressed the partition to make more space (anyone else remember those days?).

Fast forward a few years and I had upgraded to a new 800MHz PC with 128MB RAM and a 20GB hard drive (self-built I might add). I had now hit the big time, and this is where my love for all thing computing really took off. You see, I still had my trusty first PC and I used that to play around with. I could strip it down, work out which components did what job and basically experiment, of course I learnt my lesson and kept it unplugged this time. I loved it!

Welcome to adulthood…

Keeping things short, I left college after studying IT (of course) then joined the British Army where my trade was also IT. All my experience was on Windows based machines which I knew inside-out. But being a true geek I always wanted to learn more; so I started to look around and soon learnt about Ubuntu. I downloaded the ISO and played around with it. This was back in 2008 when Ubuntu was a shadow of what it is now. I just couldn’t take to it, it seemed clunky, awkward and basically not a patch on the Windows XP machine I was running at the time (IMHO of course).

Fast forward two years and I decided to give Ubuntu another try on 10.04 Lucid Lynx – oh what a joy it was! I instantly fell in love with it, brown had been replaced with purple and the system felt so fast and stable – I still think that Lucid is the best version of Ubuntu ever released.

I started off dual booting with Windows, I then replaced Windows on all my home machines and soon after I replaced Windows 7 on my work machine with Ubuntu 10.10. This is when I really learnt a lot about Ubuntu, Linux and the open source community as I was spending 40 hours+ a week using it.

Ubuntu 10.04

Ubuntu 10.04

Oh Ubuntu where have you been?

Since then I’ve used many different Linux Distributions, everything from XFCE, Suse, Fedora, PinguyOS, PCLinuxOS, Mint, and many more. But none could compare to stock Ubuntu for me and I just kept coming back. Now I use stock Ubuntu 12.04 with the Unity interface and I find it a joy to use. I still use Windows a lot in my job (I have a new job that requires a Windows machine) and it will always have a special place in my heart as the operating system that started my love of computing, but Ubuntu/Linux has so much more to offer. That’s why I’ve stuck with it.

My current Ubuntu desktop

My current Ubuntu desktop

I love Linux, I love what it stands for and I love the sheer amount of things you can do with it. I am a very proud and active member of the open source community. I try to use and support open source technologies where possible. For example, this website is based on WordPress which is an open source web CMS (Content Management System) and instead of Dropbx, I use OwnCloud, again an open source cloud syncing tool. If you are thinking about dipping your toe into the proverbial Linux pond, I absolutely urge you to dive right in! You really won’t regret it.

In a nutshell guys that’s my rise through technology and why I am a very proud Linux user. What’s your story? I’d love to hear it in the comments section…

P.S. Yours doesn’t need to be as long as my Linux story! :)

My Linux Story – What’s Yours?
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  • Carlos Sanchez

    my Linux story is one of evolution, with a few hops and skips and jumps. Atari 600XL at home > Atari 800XL in a hardware swap to replace the previous > Apple IIe at school to learn BASIC programming > IBM System 36 at vocational school for learning Advanced Data Processing, RPG II, COBOL > Apple IIc at high school for learning FORTRAN > quite a lull due to work and attempting college, and then believing that my computer skills had not much use > WYSE terminals for data entry on a UNIX machine, where i toyed with fixing the BASIC programs that were running our data entry system > then the move into the compute department, and into teaching myself UNIX, on the company mainframe > then a long lull away from computers, with work situation changing > then some years later, getting my first PC for home, in 1999. a Compaq machine with 250 MHz processor and 64MB RAM, and 4.whatever GB HDD, Windows 98 SE > upgrading the hardware to 500 MHz processor, 384MB RAM, and the OS to Windows XP Home. that was the first time i realized that a PC could be fun to use, and the beginning of me building up my mp3 collection. and editing music and enhancing it for better sound > then an upgrade to an Emachines PC with 1.5GHz Celeron, 256MB RAM, Windows XP Home > and here is where things start rolling along. that old Compaq was being left unused, and too slow for Windows XP. so i purchased a boxed copy of Redhat Linux and installed it on the old Compaq. i then realized that my previous skills some years before with UNIX had not gone entirely to waste. i picked up Linux very quickly. i did grow bored of Redhat Linux, because there were some compatibility issue back then with that old hardware, so i set it aside for a while. > after a short while break from Linux, i try out Debian on that old machine. i fumbled my way through configuring it. Debian was a name that was thrown around a lot back then, around 2003 or so. after some updates, and answering certain update prompts “the wrong way”, i’d often find myself spending too much time fixing, instead of using the machine. so i did get disappointed in Linux, and gave it up a while. > moving on to 2005, i had upgraded that Emachines to a 2.something or other GHz Pentium 4 with Hyper Threading, and maxed out the ram to a couple GB, and had been relying on Windows XP a while. i had been worn down into resigning myself to accept the fact of life that updates would be tedious, with many repetitions of reboot / update / reboot. and i had accepted that malware would be a normal part of life while using a PC. > then, i started chatting with someone online who was a Mac fanboi. in his eagerness to shift me away from using Windows, and knowing i would never purchase a Mac, he recommended what a friend of his was using, Ubuntu. i tried out Ubuntu on my machine, and it amazed me. it worked fairly easily. very rarely encountered the update drama i had with Debian in the past. the install process was a breeze. i was shocked. i hung onto Windows for a while on my main partition, “just in case”. > then in 2011, i got bored of Ubuntu, and having to mess around with installing a whole bunch of PPA’s manually, every time i did a distro upgrade, just to get back to how my system was previously before that upgrade. and the news that Ubuntu would be switching to Unity desktop. so i began a search for alternate distros. i came across a curious one, which resembled the Mac styling, and including a ton of apps and PPA’s by default. it was Pinguy OS 11.04. i was amazed, it was exactly what i was wishing Ubuntu could be. i’ve been running Pinguy OS since then on my refurbed Gateway with Core2Quad and 8GB RAM, and now currently on the 12.04 LTS release. > on some older hardware i have, i’ve been using a mix of SolusOS, or Linux Mint, depending on memory limitations. the beauty of Linux, and the very thing many advanced users decry, is that you can “distro hop”, to find a distro that suits your needs. an old laptop i have with only 256MB RAM was going to waste, and i needed to test it first before deciding whether or not to restore it and upgrade it to working order. i finally found SolusOS (Debian-based) would boot up on it. on another laptop with plenty of RAM, i was able to get Linux Mint working, and just fine.

    and that’s my very long story of my life with Linux lol

  • Erich Eickmeyer

    Where did you get that desktop wallpaper pictured in your 12.10 screenshot?