It’s been more than fourteen years since I started using GNU/Linux. Fourteen years! That’s a very long time. There are interns in my team who would have been toddlers starting school when I started using Linux. Damn, I’m old!
My first adventure was with RedHat Linux. I had purchased a book that came with a RedHat CD. The book had instructions on installation and everything else needed to get up and running. It also taught me the basics - permissions, user management, package management. I had a friend already familiar with Linux who guided me along the way - that helped a lot
That was probably the last version of RedHat until it split up into RedHat Enterprise and Fedora. Sure enough, I got that itch to try out a new distro and tried out some version of Fedora Core after that. It wasn’t a stable release and kept crashing all the time. I got tired of it and installed Slackware, and continued using it for a couple of years. Slackware was great! It was also the time I compiled my own kernel. But it didn’t have the latest and greatest software in its package manager, and I grew tired of compiling things from scratch. (I vividly remember compiling Gaim every time there was a new release out). After Slackware, I tried out a number of other distros until I finally settled on Ubuntu 5.04 (Hoary Hedgehog).
Ubuntu, IMO, has been a great distro, especially for newbies, and has contributed a lot to the popularity of Linux. (There are probably a few unnecessary forks that Ubuntu has made over the years, but let’s leave that aside for now).
After using Ubuntu for many years, I grew tired of it and installed Arch Linux. Arch was another great learning experience. The simplicity and power of Arch was really impressive. It has a great community and an excellent Wiki.
Around this time, I had finally had the resources to beef up my machine into a gaming rig. Unfortunately, games did not run well on Linux at the time. I had always been dual booting all these years, but I found that I was booting into Linux very rarely. All my games were on Windows.
And finally, it’s 2015. Steam has a number of games on Linux and the list continues to grow. A few months back, I decided to ditch Windows for good and moved to Linux permanently. I’m now running Ubuntu Gnome, which so far has been great and doesn’t get in the way.
Linux has taught me a great deal, and continues to do so. I have also learnt the value of free and open source software. I dislike the walled gardens that our mobile operating systems are at this point. It feels that we are regressing into a period of closely controlled systems. While companies like Google and Apple are still innovating, I feel that there will come a point when this innovation will be stifled due to their lack of openness. We’re already seeing consumers who will buy products from only one company (e.g. iPhone, itunes, Apple TV, iMac) just so that they work seamlessly with each other. While this closed system is great for making profits, it is ultimately bad for consumers. Eventually, I believe consumers will realize this and move towards open solutions. Or we can look forward to a dystopia where everything is owned by an evil corporation.