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Old 02-13-2014, 01:40 PM   #1
Registered: Jun 2000
Distribution: Debian, Red Hat, Slackware, Fedora, Ubuntu
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How Did You Get Into Linux and Open Source?

Inspired by the latest episode of Bad Voltage, LQ would like to know: How did you first get involved with Linux and/or Open Source?

Old 02-13-2014, 01:40 PM   #2
Registered: Jun 2000
Distribution: Debian, Red Hat, Slackware, Fedora, Ubuntu
Posts: 11,918

Original Poster
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See also, the official LQ poll: What Was Your First Linux Distro?

Old 02-13-2014, 01:58 PM   #3
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Registered: Nov 2006
Location: California
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It was College and I took an intro to Linux was using Fedora Core 4...the rest, they say, is history.
Old 02-13-2014, 02:08 PM   #4
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Registered: Aug 2006
Location: Detroit, MI
Distribution: GNU/Linux systemd
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I attribute my interest in OpenSource to the BBS days and share/freeware. And also needing a compiler that was free (gcc) for DOS.
Old 02-13-2014, 02:16 PM   #5
Registered: Sep 2008
Location: Ioannina, Greece
Distribution: Gentoo
Posts: 332

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I needed an os that would run on a pentium 2 with 96MB RAM. A friend suggested Slackware 10.2
Old 02-13-2014, 02:43 PM   #6
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Registered: Nov 2003
Location: Canada
Distribution: Slackware
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When I graduated from high school 98, one of the graduation presents I asked for was Linux CDs.

(The plan at the time was to go to university to major in computer science, and I wanted to be ready).

Last edited by dugan; 02-13-2014 at 03:19 PM.
Old 02-13-2014, 03:12 PM   #7
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Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Bologna
Distribution: CentOS 6.5 OpenSuSE 12.3
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I started to use Unix SGI Irix 6.5 and SPARC Solaris 5.8 for my thesis. Then I bought Red Hat 5.2 CD and I installed it on my overclocked Intel Celeron 300A at night time (drinking lots of cups of coffee).
Old 02-13-2014, 06:30 PM   #8
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Registered: Jan 2014
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CAE Linux

started working for a nonprofit doing engineering work. realized how much quality open source technical/analysis software there is, and how painful it was to search for Windows ports, etc. Then I found, a distro pre-packaged with an array of mathematical and mechanical engineering software. with that I started to dabble. the rest came from needing to rescue various crashed windows harddrives with a Knoppix disk.
Old 02-13-2014, 07:14 PM   #9
Registered: Sep 2011
Posts: 208

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Back in the BBS days, I wanted an inexpensive C compiler for MS-DOS and later very-early MS-Win, remember Mix C ?

I was impressed with what an inexpensive product could do, compile without objection, a program I originally wrote on Unix. Even Lattice C and some of the other "Big Name" C compilers couldn't do that ( Lattice almost did it, only complained about whether or not I appended an L to Long constants ).

I was introduced by a friend to { Share | Free }-Ware. From there it was things like MKTS, PC-Unix, until finally the same friend mentioned Slackware. Ironically, it was that friend who, years earlier, debated with me on BBS forums; he insisted that a { Share | Free }-Ware/OpenSource OS could never exist!

These days I do 99.99...% of my professional and personal work on Linux. I know of quite a few software developers who, even though they may develop on MS-Windoze, they use Cygwin to make things easier.

Last edited by rigor; 02-13-2014 at 07:21 PM.
Old 02-14-2014, 04:42 AM   #10
Registered: Dec 2004
Location: Malta
Distribution: Debian Sid
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In 1989 I bought (for work), a control system with a UNIX MIS. It was hate at first sight but I had to soldier on. Help was 2000 miles away.

At home I installed Linux to try to get a better understanding of this strange beast.

In 2000 we switched to a Windows based MIS which frankly worked much better (The MIS not the OS!) However as Windows got worse with every release I was tempted towards Linux and after about a 6 month dual booting period I made a complete switchover in (I think) 2004. This was at home. My employer stuck with Windows and even switched away from Openoffice.
Old 02-14-2014, 05:05 AM   #11
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Registered: Jan 2006
Location: Oldham, Lancs, England
Distribution: Slackware & Slackware64 14.1
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Messing about (the best way of describing what I do on computers ) with DJGPP, Cygwin, and Msys + MinGW on Windows XP. Made me realise there was another, more interesting, OS to play with.
Old 02-14-2014, 06:59 AM   #12
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Registered: Jun 2003
Location: Virginia
Distribution: Slackware has beern Main OpSys for decades while testing others to keep up
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In 1995 my main OpSys was OS/2 and had been for a few years. It was a wonderful system with one caveat - Device Drivers were not plentiful. I learned Assembly in hopes of writing my own. Soon after, IBM announced "10 years to EOL"so I began to look for alternatives.

The most obvious was Win95. I was "late to the party" but I bought a copy and installed it. It was sorta OK. However in a few months I bought a new mobo which had an AGP slot and Win95 would not support it. I read that just one lousy file was needed - USBSUPP, basically a DLL and inf combo about 32KB in size. I tried everything and finally phoned Microsoft.

I was told I could buy the file for $50 US !!! OR "if I was really smart", I could buy Win98 for $85. Microsoft never got another dime from me after that. Then I found Linux.
Old 02-14-2014, 02:05 PM   #13
Registered: Jan 2008
Location: North Carolina
Distribution: Pclinuxos, Slackware, salix
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I had wanted to try Linux since 1999 as I always heard great things about it but wasn't skilled enough at least in my own eyes to try an install. Around 2003 or 2004 I downloaded a Knoppix live cd and was blown away by how a cd could hold a full featured operating system that seemed, even running from a cd, superior to Windows. I finally mustered my courage in early 2007 and took the plunge with Ubuntu. That lasted about 2 weeks as I found it not to be as user friendly as advertised and lacked way to many configurations options. I then tried Pclinux which I still use as the anchor on my multi-boot system although I have used Slackware as my main system for the last few years.
Old 02-14-2014, 10:19 PM   #14
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Registered: Jan 2006
Location: Virginia, USA
Distribution: Slackware, Debian, Mint, OpenBSD
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I had heard about this Linux thing and wanted to try it, but didn't want to risk borking the family computer; I had only the "family" computer and my personal laptop.

Then a fellow at work closed up his home side business back in 2005; he would buy surplus computers from his wife's employer (a local university), slap Windows on them, turn them into what he called "granny" computers (email and web-surfing), then sell them to "grannies" for $50.00.

He gave me three surplus computers: Two IBM 300s (the original 300 MHz Pentiums) and a something or other I forget. I put Slackware on one of the IBMs and got it working (I tried something else first and couldn't get it to install; installed Slackware three times that first day until I got it right). Then someone told me that I could use it to self-host my website, which was a site at the time and the only reason I had not canceled my AOL membership several years before.

I got my website working with the help of, and started a blog. Six months later, I took the big step of switching my personal laptop from Windows XP to Slackware. Haven't looked back.

I got the other IBM working with Slackware and shipped it to my daughter with instructions about how to log in and startx. She used it for years, at least until she got married and her husband bought a new computer capable of playing and editing videos (the IBM 300 CPU could play audio, but not video), and I never got support call one.

Last edited by frankbell; 02-14-2014 at 10:23 PM.
Old 02-14-2014, 10:53 PM   #15
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Registered: Mar 2008
Location: Waaaaay out West Texas
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Sorry to disappoint. No computer back ground till 2008 when I was in my 50's.

Hated Computers. Figured they gave the law a faster way to do a background check on me. Same for everything else, govt,jobs,loans.

Then discovered ebay and motorcycle parts for sale on ebay.
Had a Compaq 1540DM with a broken hard drive. Pentium 1. 64MB of ram. 2gig IDE hard drive.
Money was not a option since I had a low opinion of computers.
Beer and Motorcycles had a bigger priority for funds.

I am self taught. No computer education. But I know some developers I can call bros.

Found that Puppy 2.14 would boot and run on that compaq and login to my ebay account.
The rest is history.

Now I am a Linux Distro Team member on a couple of distros. Found out I had a knack
for understanding how linux file systems are organized. I had no bad computer habits
to hold me back. No pre assumptions to go by (eg: Windows power user).

Still have to use Windows 7 to run
to tuneup these newer motorcycles with fuel injection and electronic ignition modules.
Linux has not advanced to being useful at interfacing with motorcycle electronic computer
modules yet. DRM I guess.

I still hate computers, but learned to live with them. They make good radios/stereos and stream movies OK
in my motorcycle shop.

Funny thing is. My wife is a power windows user and knows how to use DOS on up.
But now. When her Windows breaks. I fix it with Gnu/Linux. She was the one who
gave me that Compaq and told me about Ebay, the Internet, and motorcycle parts.
She showed me how to turn it on and boot into Windows 98 that was originally on it.

If not for that. I still would be computer illiterate.



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