I was trying to teach myself computer programming, and stumbled upon
"C++ For Dummies" in my school's library. While reading through it, I
encountered some references to "UNIX"; before reading that book, the
only time I'd ever heard the term "UNIX" was in "Jurassic Park" ("It's
a UNIX system! I *know* this!"). I didn't think much more of it for
Fast forward a couple years, and my mom - as punishment for me not
doing my homework - sets a password on my (Windows XP) desktop.
Unbenownst to her, I was able to bypass it by using the computer's
Administrator account, but I started to realize the need for an
environment that my mom wouldn't be able to see - something that I
could boot into *instead* of Windows, so that if she came home, I
could hit the reset button and get back into Windows.
I vaguely remembered that "UNIX" that I had read about, and started
Googling for info on it. Turns out, there was a free version called
Linux, and if I downloaded an install disk, I can have a
fully-functional "LiveCD" that I could at *least* surf the web with.
So, a few hours of downloading .iso images over a DSL connection and
one blank CD-R later, I had myself three of these "LiveCD"s - one
called "Damn Small Linux", one called "Musix", and one called
"Ubuntu". I tried them one-by-one, and was immediately blown away by
the fact that Damn Small Linux - despite weighing in at a mere 50MB -
had a (more-or-less) full assortment of programs. It didn't like my
computer's ethernet chip, though, so I went to Musix next. Much
bigger, but the wide assortment of music programs (I did - and still
do - enjoy writing electronic music) was a big plus. However, there
was still no internet connection.
Enter Ubuntu. I hadn't the slightest idea what the hell a "Gutsy
Gibbon" was, but I figured it was high time to find out. I popped the
CD in, waited a few minutes for it to boot, and was rather suddenly
greeted with the jubilant sounds of African drums and singers. Nice,
straightforward interface back then; it was easy to figure out that
"Applications" had all the programs, "Places" had all the computer's
disk drives, and "System" had system stuff. Plus, not only did it
support my computer's NIC, but I also discovered that it supported
NTFS, allowing me to access my files without trouble.
I eventually got a second computer from my uncle (who got me into
computers in the first place) for me to "tinker with". Old Athlon XP
system. Had a Windows 2000 installation on it already; I promptly set
up a Windows/Ubuntu dual-boot, just to see if it could be done.
Started with a WUBI installation, then - when the loopback image
eventually got corrupted to hell by a Windows defrag - went with a
proper dual-boot install, which - to my surprise - went without a
hitch. At this point, I started to branch out to other "open-source"
operating systems - FreeDOS, ReactOS, MINIX, FreeBSD, whatever I could
possibly download and (try to) get running on some machine.
Now I'm my town's very own "Unix guy" (though I lack the wizardly
beard that normally accompanies such a designation). Moved on from
Ubuntu; when I got tired of Unity and Ubuntu in general and didn't
find Mint to my liking, I started distro-hopping like crazy until I
eventually settled with Slackware and openSUSE. Still exploring,
though; the laptop I'm typing this response with is running a week-old
installation of OpenBSD, which I'm very much enjoying, and I've taken
quite a liking to Plan 9, even if I can't seem to get it to work right
with real hardware.
And all because my mom tried to keep me off the computer 7 years ago