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Old 06-26-2016, 11:41 AM   #1
LQ Guru
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So how did you come to Linux?

CelticYokel asked me in another thread for some biographical details. Since the request was off-topic and this person doesn't accept private messages, I thought I'd start a new thread for such stories. This is not about loving Linux or hating Windows; there's an existing thread for that. This is about why you thought you'd try Linux in the first place. Did a mate recommend it? Did you see an article and think: "I'd like to try that"? Or did you hear about it via social networking? Here's my story.

I started using mainframe computers at work back in the 1970s. Of course it was all command line in those days and mostly proprietary shells. The first terminal I ever used was a converted teletype machine. I didn't start using a gui until after I retired (Win95 and later Win97). I didn't feel very confident using this new interface because I had no idea how it worked internally, so I joined a local computer club.

A couple of years after that, someone from the London LUG gave us a talk and we decided that someone should try Linux out. I got volunteered because of my mainframe experience. I had found an old desktop computer that someone had thrown out and a friend put Red Hat 6 on it, then repartitioned it to install Windows 97, which I had specifically asked for in addition. Of course it then had the Windows MBR so, to boot Linux, I had to use a boot floppy. And of course it wouldn't boot at all because of the repartitioning. To cap it all, my friend had completely forgotten the root password that he had set.

Well, I went to work with a Knoppix disc and a book called Running Linux. I worked out from the boot messages where the Linux partition was, removed the unknown root password from /etc/shadow, set a new password and rdev'd the kernel. And I had a bootable Linux system!

I was enchanted to find that Linux was so easily fixed when it went wrong. I'd never met such a friendly system. And the rest is history.
Old 06-26-2016, 01:25 PM   #2
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I used Macintosh from version 7.1 until OS X 10.4. Then one day I just had enough of being locked in and not being able to change the behaviour of MY computer as I saw fit. My first ever GNU/Linux install was Ubuntu 8.04 on an iMac of this type. It was NOT easy (lots of hacking Xorg there, I still have nightmares!), but the joy of having a computer that I was in charge of was unbeatable.

From then on, I have been in full 'hacker mode'. Put simply: GNU/Linux made computing fun again.

I still work with OS X at my paying job. I don't 'hate' it, but then I mostly stay out of the bells and whistles and work in the shell as much as I possibly can. One of the first things I do is install homebrew, and then some of the GNU tools that are sadly very inferior in OS X (Darwin).
Old 06-26-2016, 02:45 PM   #3
Celtic Yokel
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Location: Knighton, Powys, Mid Wales
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Thanks for the reply to my question, Hazel.
I started using my daughters' computer for typing minutes for a club of which I was secretary. I was very unadventurous until I finally had my own second-hand computer loaded with Windows of course. I soon discovered how easy it was to remove, change or add hdd's and cd/dvd writers. All my internet access, until 18 months ago, was at my local library, and at some point I thought it would be a good idea to try Linux; so I downloaded Ubuntu 8.04 then a couple of later versions. (unSpawn may remember the ultra-newbie that he spent a considerable time trying to help to load Ubuntu 12.04 in 2013. I never did get that to work, although I later had no trouble loading a later version.) Probably because I simply didn't know enough about using basic programs I didn't get on very well with Ubuntu. On Windows I have used open-source programs for several years, so since I fancied the look of, and downloaded, Mint 17 using all the programs I'd already become used to, I've become a great fan of it, and I'm enjoying learning to use the command line.
An added benefit of using Linux is that I've found LQ, and I derive a great deal of pleasure from being part of the community that's built up around it.
Old 06-26-2016, 04:36 PM   #4
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Although I originally cut my teeth on Unix on a PDP8 and PDP11, I then spent more years than I care to remember as a DOS and Windows user, with some QNX thrown in during the early days.

Almost exclusively working on Windows, someone brought a Linux box to a party I attended and I played Neverputt on it. :-) I enjoyed using the system and soon tried Ubuntu but just didn't take to it (although I did join LQ about that time IIRC). Some more Windows years later, with a brief deviation to install Puppy Linux on an old PC that couldn't cope with Windows, I became more and more disenchanted with Windows. However I stuck with it as I supported many friends who also had Windows boxes.

Windows 8.1 got me really angry at Microsoft due to the problems it caused people (thank goodness for Classic Shell), along with the company's non-listening "we know better than you" attitude, and so I stuck with Windows 7.

Finally, Microsoft's incessant approach of trying to force Windows 10 upgrades on people, grabbing info/usage details from people's systems, and controlling when and which updates could be applied in Windows 10, encouraged me to jump ship. Despite being a big fan of Windows 7, I knew that the Windows road ahead would be a dead end for me when support runs out for that version.

A few months ago I installed Linux Mint as a dual boot, and set up a Windows 7 VM in it to help me continue to support friends as well as run some software for which I couldn't find good equivalents in Mint.

I haven't looked back, nor booted up into the Windows side of the dual boot for months, although I still use the VM quite a bit. After a few months have passed, I'll delete the Windows partition.

I wish I had done it years ago! On the other hand, although I'm not scared of the command line, I'm more of a GUI guy and I think that Linux is starting to mature as a desktop operating system in that respect. Perhaps I was just waiting for the right time...

Last edited by hydrurga; 06-27-2016 at 06:44 AM. Reason: speling
Old 06-26-2016, 04:44 PM   #5
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Did not turn one on till I was very older (after the kids grew up).

Needed motorcycle parts and ebay was selling them for cheap in the dialup days.
My Windows 95 laptop . And me being not able to ubuntu yet on a p66hz, 98MB ram, Compaq 1540 DM. I ran with Damn Small Linux 4.0 and Puppy 2.X. Learned the basics. File location mostly and sequence of what gets turned on mostly by the kernel.

Posting from a tent on the road while on a biker walk about.
Old 06-26-2016, 06:58 PM   #6
Registered: Mar 2011
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I started with being forced using Unix, a'la HP-UX as the only person to manage a software development when another engineer quit. So I became the Unix guy. After a while someone asked me to look into "that operating system which is the same as Unix, but you can run on a PC". So ... I became the Linux guy. Never really stopped. Can't even cite the date, seems like somewhere in the 90s.
Old 06-26-2016, 07:32 PM   #7
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I started with linux in 2012, ubuntu 12.04. Initially I had a laptop with hard drive failure
so I decided, on the advice of a friend to try linux when I got a new hard drive.
For someone with Windows experience only, I found a huge learning curve but with a lot of help from I did persevere for approximately 1 year, learning the system.
I did go back to Windows though for the next 3 years, mainly due to the windows apps that I use
and frustration with trying to run them using wine.
I did come back to linux about 6 months ago and have been experimenting with Slackware and Zenwalk, both of which give me more control over my system (at least in my opinion).
For my serious computer work I still use Windows but linux is a lot of fun to work with and experiment with.
Ubuntu has improved since 12.04, although I still don't care for the unity desktop.
Currently I am using Zenwalk 8 beta 3, Salix/fluxbox, both are fast simple and lightweight.

Last edited by offgridguy; 06-26-2016 at 08:09 PM.
Old 06-26-2016, 10:01 PM   #8
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I was teaching a training class in card access hardware and software in Chicago in early 2005 (that's right; I worked for Big Brother).

I already had installed Slackware v. 10 on an old IBM PC 300 that a co-worker had given me, because I was curious about what I called "this Linux thing." Installing Slackware was so easy I did it three times that first day (I was quite familiar with DOS fdisk, so I was right at home in cfdisk).

One of my students, a security tech named Steve Griffin, told me I could self-host my website on Linux, as he self-hosted his own site. That gave me a goal.

I could and I did self-host my website (I no longer do--my current ISP is actively hostile to public-facing servers and my WordPress database outgrew my third and last home host machine, a P4). Six months later, I took the leap of replacing Windows with Slackware on my personal laptop, which served as my primary computer.

Within two years I was buying Dells with native Linux (that was during that short period when getting Dells with native Linux was relatively easy and reasonably priced).

Now I buy Zareasons.

As you can tell, I haven't looked back.

Last edited by frankbell; 06-26-2016 at 10:26 PM.
Old 06-26-2016, 10:15 PM   #9
Timothy Miller
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I was subscribed to some computer magazine in the mid-90's. One issue came with a free cd (Mandrake I think), and so I started reading up on Linux. I thought it was awesome that it was open source, so I installed it on my machine. While the winmodem didn't work, other than that I was amazed at how awesome it worked. Multiple desktops to organize your work, so many applications by default, I was very impressed. Eventually I found a distro that I managed to get my WinModem working (LibraNet 2.7 I believe, might have been 2.8), and slowly I started learning it in earnest. Never looked back after that, within a few years (sadly, LibraNet had dissappeared) I was living where I had access to broadband, and I had made the switch to Linux as my primary OS.
Old 06-27-2016, 05:01 AM   #10
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Have no clue, but I somehow stumbled upon Ubuntu's free cd programme website and I was like "heck it is free, I want it"
Old 06-27-2016, 10:45 AM   #11
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At work, I first encountered a CP/M system with 8" disks and then got my very own IBM-PC when the first came out - it cost a fortune! I stayed on MS-DOS for as long as I went out to work.

At home, I got a Sinclair QL with QDOS, which has been called a poor man's Unix. Linus had one, disassembled QDOS, and even used an algorithm from it. From that I went to a Q60, dual-booting QDOS and Linux. Finally I built my own PC and installed Fedora 1. Incidentally, I still run QDOS under an emulator to use the unique software I wrote back in the 80s and 90s.
Old 06-28-2016, 08:26 AM   #12
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I was playing WoW (mobile version) and some kid said he was going to hack me, so I decided I was going to be a hacker myself..Definitely not there yet to this day, but I have came along way from not not understanding anything, to knowing how MAC,NAT,websites,TCP,DNS works..I used to always ponder how the Internet worked, I knew there had to be background processes at play, but I had no clue as to what actually. I had no computer, but I read or saw somewhere that if you rooted an android phone you can install a full feature desktop on it using Linux Deploy. So I installed Kali after many failed attempts, and was amazed at the pre-installed tools, and then I felt cool..After that I learned there were other distros out there, so I decided to use one of them instead as I had no idea how to use Linux, let alone Kali. (still dont) So here I am learning, now more interested in security then anything else..

Last edited by bluesclues227; 06-29-2016 at 03:56 AM.
Old 06-29-2016, 01:27 PM   #13
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In 2003 or so I was a windows XP user but after service pack 1 came out I had lots of issues and was looking for something else to use.
Went through like three or four distros but I got linux in my blood by 2004 and started using it full time in 2006.
Sure I dipped my hand in windows 7 and 10 and I am back to dualbooting but I use linux a good 99.9% of the time
Old 06-30-2016, 10:59 AM   #14
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I ran Windows for a long time. I was just too lazy to change. I periodically downloaded Linux installation binaries, but just didn't get around to actually installing them. Then the Asus eee-pc came out, and I bought one. The attraction was the small size and having an SSD instead of HDD, not the OS. I started dealing with Xandros, and eventually found that I could install other distros, and started out. I tried most of the major distros, and used Ubuntu for awhile, but eventually came to Ubuntu. I used my desktop less and less, and eventually abandoned it for mobile devices, all running Linux. I bought one later eee-pc model with Windows on it, which I immediately converted to Linux. I now have another desktop with Debian, a couple of chromebooks, and an ancient Toshiba laptop that came with Windows Vista. That is my wife's, and she wanted Windows because her friends used it, and she wanted to learn the same stuff. It still has Vista on it, but it hasn't booted to it in probably a couple of years, with Debian installed as a dual boot. After running Linux for a few months, I started to wonder why anyone still used Windows, and still wonder. I suspect it's the same thing that kept me on it for so long - pure laziness and ignorance. There is absolutely nothing that I need to do with a computer that I can't do with Linux, no Windows software that I need or care about in the least.
Old 07-02-2016, 02:53 AM   #15
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I have worked in IT since the 1980s. Almost exclusively using Open VMS. I was a bit patronising towards PCs in the early days but then the internet seduced me. So I went through a series of windows releases - 95, 98 & XP. I tried RedHat and Mandrake which I found attached to PC magazines but even when I could build a system I had problems with my old dial up modem.

A colleague and guru gave me an FC4 CD (10 years ago?) around the time I got broadband and from that time I began to migrate full time to linux on desk top and server.


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