Linux Users: Why Did You Switch?

As a Linux Journal editor, I'd love to claim that in my college years I realized the oppression stemming from proprietary operating systems. I'd love to confess that Linux was the natural choice amongst a sea of other options. Heck, I'd even like to say back then Linux was my first choice. For me, however, the story played out a bit differently.

I was just plain old poor. In 1994, I started a computer repair business. I had failed Econ the previous semester at Michigan Tech, so you can imagine how successful my computer business was. It turns out, I didn't like charging people to help them with their problems. Much of my "profit" contained chocolate chips, and for some reason, I'd take people's old broken computers instead of charging labor. (Again, "PowerNet Computer Services" didn't last very long)

So the next year, I enrolled into a local community college. This was both because it was close to my "business", and because university was too expensive. It was during this time I started building computers from all the parts I'd taken as payment. It was also this time that I started using Linux. The price was right, and my Unix experience made Linux a viable option. I fell in love very quickly, and what started as merely a cheap way to learn about *nix developed into skills that would form my future career on several fronts. Thanks Linux!

So now it's your turn. Why are you a Linux user?

______________________

Shawn Powers is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal. You might find him chatting on the IRC channel, or Twitter

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That is nonsense. I also

thatGuy's picture

That is nonsense. I also have a Lenovo laptop with the same specs, and Vista runs just fine. I dual boot Vista and Ubuntu, but spend most of my time in Vista, where I can run games (real games, not homemade open source fare, and please don't tell me about how you can run WoW in Wine. Wine is terrible.)

If you prefer Linux, that's great, but it's getting very old to hear everyone claim that Windows does not work, etc. Also, how many of you have completely stopped using Windows? Most people I see that claim to be 100% FOSS keep a Windows partition handy.

That is nonsense. I also

thatGuy's picture

That is nonsense. I also have a Lenovo laptop with the same specs, and Vista runs just fine. I dual boot Vista and Ubuntu, but spend most of my time in Vista, where I can run games (real games, not homemade open source fare, and please don't tell me about how you can run WoW in Wine. Wine is terrible.)

If you prefer Linux, that's great, but it's getting very old to hear everyone claim that Windows does not work, etc. Also, how many of you have completely stopped using Windows? Most people I see that claim to be 100% FOSS keep a Windows partition handy.

On May 29th, 2008 Captain

Anonymous's picture

On May 29th, 2008 Captain Slog (not verified) says:...Soon, Windows will be gone for good, gone for ever. I have already jumped for Open Office over the bloated Microsoft Office suite of applications.

Way to sound trendy and get some geek cred. OpenOffice looks pitiful and homemade compared to MS Office. I use and like Linux, but I don't delude myself into thinking that every free/open source program is superior to Windows.

Ubuntu user

Diego's picture

Ok I started using computers from a very young age, and in the 80's I used DOS on a custom built system my father put together, in the days when a retail pc could cost several thousands. Then much later in the future I got a PC with Windows 3.1, eventually installed 95 on it. Later on 98, then XP (2000 wasn't good for games when it first came out).

Well I first tried Red Hat around 2002, but I didn't understand how to use it, and I didn't know the advantages to the OS, so I didn't take the time to learn it.

Early this year I decided to give Linux a try again. I tried:

Ubuntu
Kubuntu
Knoppix
Suse
Gentoo

but with all of these I have issues with my Wireless over Ethernet adapter..

I asked a friend what he recommended, and he suggested Fedora.

So I got Fedora 8, and it worked very well. I learned a ton with a matter of days, and by the end of the week at was at home with Linux again.

I reinstalled Ubuntu now, since it's the most popular distro, and I wanted to see why. I got the Wireless over Ethernet adapter working without much needed configuration, and everything else is working fine. I can't say it's much better than Fedora, cause it's virtually the same, plus I haven't had a lot of time to explore it (full time job in IT management, and taking 6 courses this summer in the university).

Still it's comfortable knowing I'm running the distro with the most community support.

Anyways, I still have Windows XP since I need Office 2007 for school and work. OpenOffice is not an option for me, atleast not for now. I don't mind Windows XP when it's working fine, but it requires lots of maintenence. Linux any day of the week..

"Anyways, I still have

thatGuy's picture

"Anyways, I still have Windows XP since I need Office 2007 for school and work. OpenOffice is not an option for me, atleast not for now. I don't mind Windows XP when it's working fine, but it requires lots of maintenence. Linux any day of the week.."

Yawn. Explain this to me: Linux is superior because... it allows you to have to use Windows when you have to get some real work done. Ok, that makes sense.

Swing and a miss

Anonymous's picture

So, you're going to attack someones grammer. How clever. Ever stop and think that some users may be outside of the U.S. and move to GNU/Linux because they do not want to want to deal with an American company? No, I guess not.

NetworkManager

ForsGump's picture

IIRC, the reason the network stuff seems virtually the same is it is. Red Hat championed the NetworkManager program. source: http://www.redhat.com/magazine/003jan05/features/networkmanager/

It used by lots of modern distros.

My first GNU/Linux experience

Fri13's picture

I was grown up by Commodore 8036 (PET) and it's sister model. I got my hands to Atari ST 520 and then to 286 > 486 and then suddenly a P3 500Mhz when it came to market.
I runned Windows 98 then and buyed local PC-game store a GNU/Linux, distribution was SUSE 6.1 and I fighted few weeks with it because my modem didn't work because it was winmodem, later I got info about it and I forget GNU/Linux. Then when Windows 2000 came out, I found Mandrake 8.1 and I dual booted for it, first it started by small times like 1-2 times a week and few houhrs a day. I was playing around. Then when I installed Windows ME to friend's PC, I was tired for Windows (to Microsoft) and I started to use GNU/Linux as main #1 OS. I used Mandrake and then for a year, I changed to SUSE (it was then S.U.S.E) and then back to Mandrake when it changed it's name to Mandriva. I have tested all Ubuntu versions but I have never liked that distribution, so I have stayd on Mandriva.

Biggest steps what was needed to take were to understand what is OS and what is desktop enviroment etc, Actually I have learned everything from GNU/Linux what normal computer user can learn. Windows is still in use, but only for testing and for help desk purpose.
I have liked GNU/Linux so much because I can do all my stuff on it. Even my professional is photorapher, I manage do my job and hobby with it, very easily, even easier than I could do it on Windows XP. Now Vista is on other computer and I can just enjoy GNU/Linux and see what would happend if I would be staying slave under Microsoft command.

I have recomenned and converted now about 20-30 persons from Windows to GNU/Linux (mostly Mandriva, OpenSUSE and Ubuntu distributions are in use) and all are happy for it.

Mac Man

JJ's picture

I came to Linux through the Mac/Unix world.

Stanford 1986: I was going to buy my first personal computer. I could have a IBM running DOS or a Mac. I bought a Fat Mac (512K memory, built in floppy) with an external floppy drive. I could run the OS and MacWrite on one floppy disk and save the results to the other, bliss!

As time went on, I used more powerful Macs and developed a hatred of Big Blue and all things Microsoft. After a string of Macs, I wound up with a Titanium laptop (the wimpy one) but I had to use Sun workstations at work for some scientific programs. When I left that job I needed to have my data and some operational scientific software so I bought a Toshiba Satellite laptop and had it dual booted with Windows XP and Red Hat. I never used the Windows. The Red Hat was later replaced with Fedora and the Windows was wiped out at that point. Soon, I was doing all my work on the Satellite using OpenOffice, Latex and Emacs.

Later, the Titanium needed replacing and I looked into Mac laptops. Couple of thousand for the laptop and a couple of more to upgrade all my software. I bought a IBM (lenovo) T60 with Ubuntu Feisty Fox (now Hardy Heron), no dual boot and have not looked back. My computer at work is a Mac Power PC running OS 10.4 but I run Fink and so have access to open source software. I came for the free beer but I stay for the freedom.

Why Linux?

wjwieland's picture

Back in 1988, I started working for a company called Cray Research Inc. After a number of years working on various R&D projects as a tech, I moved into the IT department. I had taken a familiarization course on CrayOS, and wanted an inexpensive way to learn more about how to service the various machines that we needed to support. On my budget, buying a Sun workstation was out of the question (or any other unix box at the time for that matter). One day, I was wandering about the web while on break, and found this downloadable thing called Linux.

I did download the tar file, un-tarred it, and then made the requisite 80 1.5 meg floppy disks from which the install was to take place. After about 6 hours of loading and tweaking, I had a 486 up and running with a desktop, and everything I had seen on the Sun and SGI boxes. Thus did my learning start, and has not stopped since. I use Linux exclusively for my own interests and any side jobs I might pick up. Windows is still dominant at my current worksite, but with things like CygWinX and DSL, I can still get things done in the way I prefer.

Why Linux? Powerful, stable, fast, flexible, interesting, and yes, free... .

I guess the question for me would be, "why on earth not!?" .

wjw

#1 Security and control!

MzK's picture

I will admit the the #1 reason I switched to Linux back in 2001 was control over my computer security. It was the dawn of hacking as it were, and I was MORE than aware of my system's (and consequently my) vulnerability. No more stealing my life thank you!

Oddly, at about the same time, I was doing SO much work on Unix systems, that I figured--heck! I'll just run my own *nix system! :)

I think I may have first heard about Linux from some students who were messing with it in about 1998, but, I was, well skeptical to say the least. Then, I found out that in 2000, a co-worker was using it on one of our "real live" servers, so I picked his brain a bit about the whole experience before diving right in.

I'm an old command line hacker, didn't grow up on "icons", so the change was minimal and exciting! WOW! I am now the mistress of my own universe!

It has been a wonderfully exciting experience for me. Loaded it up on everything I use and never looked back! ;}

I've always hated windows

FreeBooteR's picture

My computing history:

Apple II +
Commodore 64
Amiga (I loved this computer A500/A1200)

I used my Amiga for years after Commodore self destructed because of incompetence but as development of games dried up, i moved to PC.

PC - Win95/98/XP at home Win2k/NT at work

I've always hated windows, but i never liked the Apple/Macs...i used to run Mac emulators on my Amiga and hated it. I kept my eyes on Amiga revival which threatened to resurge. Alas, though AmigaOS 4.0 was released, it's really too late now. Nobody around to dev decent software for it.

Even though i never got any virus's on my pc's, and kept up to date on Zonealarm, and a bunch of other antivirus/antispyware software, my pc always became sluggish after 6 months, more to do with their crappy registry. All the DRM and reviews of Vista decided me on moving to Linux, and the fact that i moved to OpenOffice on my pc for a long time opened me up to the advantages of libre software.

I was looking at all the Linux distros a year ago trying to figure out what would be best when i read a review on Ubuntu. Checking out the forums i found wubi mentioned and installed ubuntu that way. I had that running from May of last year, and totally fell for linux. I noticed suddenly that I hadn't logged into windows in months and decided it was no longer required and wiped them from my computers (2 pc's and an old T40 notebook).

Gaming hasn't been a problem either, i've gotten WoW, LOTRO, EVE working under wine. Also can run Secondlife natively. I've also gotta quite a few other pc games working under wine, not to mention that there are a few MMO type games with linux clients. So there is no looking back for me.

Buh Bye windblows, hello linux!

Vista, Office 2007 were the straws that broke me

zaine_ridling's picture

Having used Microsoft software for almost two decades, I awoke one day in 2006 and realized that I could no longer afford to continue using it. Add in the EULA; DRM; ever-increasing hardware requirements; WGA/OGA; MS-OOXML; increasing costs, etc., and I looked for an alternative. Apple was out, as it's merely a cult. But GNU/Linux had continued to get better and better. Tried Ubuntu: didn't care for it. Tried Fedora, liked it. Kept it. It took me about a year to fully wean myself off of my old Windows machine and find all the free software to do my work. However, once that was complete, I've never looked back and I've never had so much fun computing!

Wanted to run a Unix-like system on my desktop

Jason's picture

For five years before I switched, I had been using a Unix account on a SunOS
machine (actually, a Solbourne system running OS/MP) at university. In 1995 or
so, a friend told me about Linux, and I knew straight away that I wanted it.
It wasn't until three years later that I bought a new laptop that could run
Linux comfortably and, more importantly, allow me to retire my old DOS box for
most purposes. (For the record, that box was running DR-DOS, not MS-DOS).

The main motivation for switching was that, having used a Unix account, I
recognized its advantages over DOS, and I didn't want to use a primarily
graphical environment such as MS-Windows that would reduce the efficiency of
my daily interaction with the computer. At some point I read essays by Richard
Stallman, which also exerted a positive influence.

Lazyness :)

Utumno's picture

In college (comp sci) we had a big project which we did on SunOS workstations in a lab 5 blocks away from my dorm (large campus!). It was winter, and I was tired of going there all the time.

I heard with Unix OSes one could log in remotely and even display graphical environment across a network. Luckily I haven't heard of Putty, so installing a Unix-like OS seemed like a good solution. Plus I was curious about this Linux thing I kept reading about online.

It was late 2000 and I had a laptop with Win98 on it. I also had a friend who has been using Debian for quite some time already. So numerous phone calls to him and a few days after, I managed to slap together a Debian Potato installation with a working X and network ( it took me another couple of months to make sound work )

I was dual-booting for some time and around 2002 I found out I didn't need Windows any more.

i use it because i was fed

max stirner's picture

i use it because i was fed up with MS software in 2001 (XP) and thought i'd try something/anything else. later the ideological opposition to a monopoly product and monopoly profit/theft emerged.

"i use it because i was fed

thatGuy's picture

"i use it because i was fed up with MS software in 2001 (XP) and thought i'd try something/anything else. later the ideological opposition to a monopoly product and monopoly profit/theft emerged."

Nonsense, hypocrite. If that's the case, don't buy gas, and don't buy anything at all from monopolistic companies.

brief timeline

~S~'s picture

- 1994 I got my first computer. Windows 95. Used it for basic word processing and a few games.
- 1999 I was given a computer (my own to do with as I pleased) with 98 and I fell in love with computers. Hardware and Software. Fell hard for games. Introduced to Red Hat. Got it installed but had lots of problems. Win98 was my primary OS.
- 2000 Was introduced to Mandrake and I hated it with a passion. Swore off Linux. Picked up a part time job at CompUSA to get games and parts at a discount. Took their classes (for free!) to find out more about computers. In the Fall I went to college to study computers.
- 2001 Was introduced to Slackware and built a file server. Learned a lot about Linux. Was still running Win98 as my primary OS. Till I bought a new computer with XP. Hated XP with a passion. Nothing worked, ever. 98 had no drivers for the hardware. Began dual booting with SuSE. Joined a Linux group to learn more.
- 2002 Was using SuSE more then Windows. Windows was just gaming. All my work, school, entertainment was under SuSE.
- 2005 I had moved to Debian. No longer ran Windows at all for any reason.
- Today I work with Debian and CentOS daily. I run a number of computers at home and help many others out and the only Windows box I "have" is a test box at work that sits in the corner until I need to test something out. It gets little usage.

Successful IRCers

Steevo's picture

Back in 1996, using win95, there were people on the IRC who were immune to the nukes. They also didn't have much of a problem setting up security bots for the channels on EFnet. These were qualities I coveted.

Five years (and a few computers) later, I never forgot about that, knowing all along there was something powerful and perhaps superior about this OS. I finally bought a second hard drive and managed to get Slackware 9.2 to boot into a console. I haven't purchased a new computer since, although I did pick up a dual processor pentium 4 a few months back that someone had decided to chuck to the curb. It's been a gas.

Why I use Linux

Larry's picture

I'm a WinDoZe hater from way back. I was using Desqview on a 286 back in 1990. I picked a copy of OS/2 v2.1 in 1992, and finally had a secure, multi-tasking, multi-threaded OS with a stable and usable GUI that could run multiple DOS programs with no problems. However, OS/2 faded away, and I ended up back on Windows with Win98. While it was an improvement, it still wasn't secure and it still crashed. Then I stumbled upon a "Sam's Teach Yourself Linux" book with a copy of Red Hat v5. I was impressed with the capabilities, but it didn't have any software, and without an internet connection, it wasn't very useful. Then I got a copy of SuSE v5.3 and found out what was really available. I've stuck with SuSE since. No viruses, no spayware, few problems. Sometimes it has problems(dependency hell anyone), but it's gotten better. And it runs on all my hardware: PCs, Macs, etc.

My start with Linux

Benjamin Kornal's picture

My start with linux wasint that good, about 9 years ago I had bought redhat (dont remember the version) And installed it and didnt like it, it was way to hard, didnt support any hardware, and was bad choice to start with and still is (sorry).
I had played around over the the last 3 or so years with knoppix and liked it for how fast and user friendly it was but never installed it just played around. About 2 months ago I had gotten a BUNCH of virus's on widows xp and just broke the os up. I did finely after 3 days (4 AV, 6 Spy, and 5 Mal) of scans (no thanks to my brother) get it back but not to my taste.
While all this was going on A friend of mine gave me a 8 year old Dell computer. I wanted to use it as a network print/file server. Well I installed Ubuntu 7.10 and fell in love with it, I was on the slow dell more than my fast virus infected XP machine.
So I said heck with it and formated one of my backup HDD's and installed Ubuntu 8.04 on the faster computer and havant looked or booted back to xp. I love it. and will continue to use it.
I'm geting to the point where when people call me to fix XP I have to sit here and think about How to use xp some times I forget LOL
Just thought I would share.
Thanks

Why switch to Linux ? ...

Hugh E Torrance's picture

The reason I have around ten distros is because its THERE .

I switched because:

Alejandro Cuervo's picture

Stability
Better multi-user architecture. I could let other users be non-administrator and still have a useful experience.
Free

And because it Rules!

I did most of my computing

Anonymous's picture

I did most of my computing on a VAX system before purchasing a DOS/Win 3.0 box. Found myself dialing into the VAX/VMS system to get things done. When I discovered Linux, I was able to dump DOS/Win and get to work locally on my system at home. No more breaking into the network at University. Long Live Vi/PINE/Nethack!!!!

Windows internet vulnerability

Anonymous's picture

In our house we had several XP computers. They worked OK but when the kids started visiting homepages and receiving mails with malwares of different kinds I decided it was time for change. Don't care for wasting time on non working virus software, running Spybot, running AdAware and every now and then rebooting XP. On top of that, when all necessary security software is installed on XP performance sucks. Knowing about Linux but not having used it I started trying different "live CD's" such as Knoppix. I liked what I saw, started to make installations of different distros on one computer and had miscellaneous hardware related issues. However once they were sorted out, WLAN card exchanged, BIOS changed for use with graphics card, things started to roll. Today I am a happy Windows refuge. I will NEVER buy a Vista machine. I enjoy having control of my machine and not being exposed to malware. BTW I now run Linux Mint with ability to stream whatever I like (Internet radio, Youtube, TV, whatever), handling photos and when needed editing videos.

I switched to linux because

Anonymous's picture

When I retired I had a lot of spare time and did a bit of PC recyling for myself and others. With my bunch of PCs around me I became aware that they were taking up all my energies and time just to keep up to date and secure as possible. That was not all, I still could read about problems with security *regardless* of my latest and ongoing work! There was no way I felt at all comfortable with that. All that effort and concern and it was still *not* something I could trust.

I had been looking briefly at articles on linux for years but had never taken the plunge. Eventually I purchased a retail Suse 9.1 from Amazon and installed it on a spare old PC. I was aware I could download free anyway but felt more comfortable in making the traditional retail purchase(!)

I was totally amazed at the smooth proficiency of the install. Windows was a labyrinth of getting drivers from all over the place. Suse just installed and worked and there was the internet, connected with ethernet. It was as much of an emotional shock as my first love affair!

There has been no turning back since then. After a couple of years I moved to K/Ubuntu, systematically distanced my self from all of my ties with Windows related activities, and began advocacy activities for FOSS.

I liked Win95

Bob Robertson's picture

I have used Linux since 1995, Debian from the beginning because when I was looking into it I read that Debian was being developed in the same spirit as the Linux kernel itself.

I was working with SunOS, and I wanted the same functionality at home.

Working at a start-up ISP (that never went public, paid with worthless "stock", darn that CEO to heck!) that was in the Win95 Beta Test program, I learned to actually like Win95. Compared to Xwindows of the time, it was much prettier, and simpler (in my view) for a single user machine than *NIX.

After I found SCP and Xwindow support for Win95, I no longer used my Linux system for a desktop, keeping it as a dead-solid-reliable server.

In 2000, after 5 years of playing with Win95, I had it pared down to one single background process, simplicity, stability and speed. Never got a virus, never got hacked, but then I'm a network guy so I understood the concept. But then I made a fatal error while playing with DragonLinux on that system, and corrupted the Win95 system.

It never worked right after that, and playing with DrpagonLinux had given me a taste for the KDE desktop. KDE was in Debian, so I erased what was left (after backing up some choice TruType fonts, and etc.), installed Debian, and am typing this on the laptop bought to replace that very one.

A note if I may: This laptop I bought a couple months ago came with VISTA. I wanted a refund, since I had neither interest nor use for VISTA, but the VISTA EULA no longer allows a refund. The software is tied to the hardware. "YOUR ONLY RECOURSE IS TO RETURN THE HARDWARE TO THE PLACE OF PURCHASE, SUBJECT TO THE RETAILER'S RETURN POLICY."

Just in case anyone thought Microsoft wasn't learning from experience.

Unfixable Problems

Ali Beasley's picture

Like most people I started out on windows 3.1, used 95, 98, my dad unfortunately at one point had a laptop with ME (the most shocking version ever) and finally XP.

I guess firefox was my first real brush with open source software (no doubt I've used other oss without realising), and it opened my eyes, I then found OpenOffice which I loved, then I found linux, I had an old laptop that was struggling to work at a decent speed so I tried OpenSuse, took me hours to get the wireless working but once I did I liked what I saw. Anyway after tinkering I eventually switched to Xubuntu which ran like a charm.

Back to my main PC, I use it as a media center for streaming video around the house as a result I have two large hard-drives in it. I was constantly getting "Delayed Write Failures" and having to restart the machine, I attempted every possible fix but in the end nothing worked, it was either shell out £200+ on vista and hope that it solved the problem or switch to Ubuntu.

I did the latter, works brilliantly.

I have a vista laptop (Vista came with it) which I use, and I don't think it's a problematic as people make out, plus there are still a couple of programs that I just can't get to run on linux and can't find better alternatives for.

It works!

Cassandra's picture

My first experience with Linux was Slackware bought from a store as a CD set for $1.99. At that price, I was willing to give it a try. I had learned UNIX at college so I figured that it would be easy enough to use. The little 386SX it ran on just blew past the 486DX-based Windows box. For the longest time, I always kept 2 computers, the more powerful one to handle the Windows I needed for work, and the previous computer running Linux.

From Slackware, I switched to RedHat 2. I was running RedHat 8 when I decided to upgrade the hardware and made the decision to upgrade to Fedora Core 4 at the same time. I don't mind tinkering with computers here and there, but I don't have time for a struggle. FC4 turned out to have a few issues. I had been burning live CDs for my sister to try out. She couldn't afford to buy software and had an older machine so Linux seemed a good fit and Ubuntu was the rising star. I dropped in an Ubuntu CD and was amazed to see everything just work without any tinkering. A few CDs later and I settled on Xubuntu as my favorite.

My spouse knows very little about computers but had always used Word Perfect 5.1. Despite all attempts, I was unable to get this program to run properly under Windows XP Pro. So much for backwards compatibility. Reluctantly, my spouse switched to OpenOffice. ("It's not as awful as Word.") Getting my spouse to use FireFox was a matter of doing a 5 minute demonstration. It worked better than IE6 and had tabs! With Micro$oft dropping support for XP Pro, I decided my spouse was going to need an upgrade to something I could provide continued support for. The switch-over to Mandriva with KDE was such that my spouse barely noticed. ("You changed my start button.")

As for my sister, she and her two children each received a new computer from her brother-in-law a couple of Christmas ago. They are all avid gamers. They've tried out all of the FOSS games I've asked them to, given positive reports for most of them, but won't move to Linux unless it'll support their favorite games. They all like the idea of OSS and would prefer OSS over M$. When I have time, I'm going to build them a Linux box or two with the latest WINE to try. Wish me well.

why linux

simion's picture

i tried firs kubuntu 5.10 but then i do not had internet connection home and it is almost imposible for me to use kubuntu with the default programs(i need mp3 suport, video codecs, wine ,etc) i tried Ubuntu 6.10 when i had finaly internet and now i am writing from ubuntu 8.04.
Why linux?
Because i can have fun with it. I can hack it, i can learn new things , and al the time something new is out to try(KDE4, wine,compiz)

In the beginning was the command line

jefurii's picture

Neal Stephenson's essay is what tipped me over the edge.

I'd wandered into server-side programming after library school in the late 90s and vaguely knew about Linux - it was something the sysadmins were using and those Slashdot people were talking about it too.

I'd just finished Cryptonomicon - I loved the book and I was hungry for more Stephenson to read when the essay appeared. Stephenson's writing was great: His paste-bomb of the Linux boot-up messages. Man pages as "terse mutterings of pilots wrestling with the controls of damaged airplanes". Emacs as the Hole Hawg of text editors. The Dilbert Unix guy as "a portly, bearded, hairy man of a certain age--a bit like Santa Claus, but darker, with a certain edge about him". Slackware, Debian and the community around them. Unix/Linux as cultural history and community at the same time. His hilarious metaphor of Linux as tanks being given away for free by the side of the road. Brilliant! I was hooked - Linux was obscure and underground and COOL.

Nowdays I use Linux because I really like the free/opensource philosophy, which fits in very nicely with my fair trade, social justice, and green/sustainability leanings. It speaks to my library-school concerns for open standards and sustainable systems, and activated some dormant Whole Earth Catalog circuits from my childhood. I run Debian and Ubuntu wherever I can install them, and use open-source apps on the Windows systems I'm forced to use. I still use a Mac for audio though. Ableton isn't making Live for Linux (those losers), but that's the only exception.

Not a lot of money, but jobs needed to get done.

The Doctor's picture

I first encountered UNIX, in the form of SunOS, while in high school during the early 1990's. My family didn't have a lot of money, so I took to doing odd jobs to save up for college, and one of my jobs involved data entry for a local medical equipment company. Due to the fact that my machine at home was a 486 that had been patched together out of second-hand and scavenged components running MS-DOS v4.01, I was already comfortable with the DOS command shell, despite its shortcomings; it didn't take long to fall in love with the flexibility and simplicity of the UNIX command line as a result. When I did go to college in the mid-90's for comp.sci, I discovered that I needed a network capable machine for some of my classes. My computer couldn't run Windows 95 at the time, and there wasn't a TCP/IP stack for Desqview. The networking functionality of Windows v3.11 was, to the the least, not particularly usable. Somewhere or other (I forget exactly where - maybe it was on a BBS) I heard about Slackware Linux, which at the time was installable from floppy disks. I figured that I'd give it a try.

By late 1997 I'd dumped my DOS partition entirely to make more room for Slackware, and later Debian because everything I needed to do I could do much more rapidly in a Linux environment than I could under DOS or even Windows 95 (why pay for MS Office when I could download Wordperfect for Linux for free?)

Since then, I've tried not a few distributions of Linux - for quite a few years I kept returning to Slackware because I loved the hands-on aspect to it (as well as learning a lot because I kept breaking it), but lately I've started using Gentoo due to the Portage system. While I'm not one for hotrodding my machine with three screens worth of GCC flags, I enjoy the simplicity of using emerge to pick out and install an application, walking away to get a cup of coffee, and coming back to find that the build's done. I especially like not having to track down multiple tarballs of source code to compile something, Portage does all of that automatically. I'll admit that the bootstrap time for Gentoo (even with a stage 3 install) can be up to two days to install everything, but once the system's been built not only do you have one of the most useful LiveCDs I've ever worked with but maintenance of the system is easy (emerge --update --newuse world).

Why I switched.

kb9aln's picture

Well, I kind of switched from MSDOS. And it was primarily due to poverty, as well as the best benefits of all - performance and reliability.

Back in the mid 90s, I had a screaming 20 MHz 386 (2 MB RAM) and was running DOS. Being a ham radio operator, I started experimenting with packet radio (the forerunner of wireless ethernet, so to speak). We have a free application (still active and being developed) that allows us to use TCP/IP over radio. It is called NOS, for Network Operating System. The basis was written by Phil Karn (a ham radio operator and now working for Qualcomm, I think). It provided these services in a UNIX-like environment that ran on top of DOS.

It intrigued me technically. One of my friends introduced me to mini-linux. This was a precompiled mini distribution on 3 or 4 floppies that even had X (if you had the right hardware). Kernel version was 1.09. I was amazed at the speed and versatility even with only a comand line interface. It was a great learning tool. I learned that those funny files like lib.so should not be deleted to make space!

After stepping up to a 33 MHz 486 with an impressive 4 MB of RAM, I briefly tried Windows 3.11 and found it to be unstable and problematic. About this time, I found Caldera OpenLinux lite (roughly equivalent to Red Hat 4). A few months later, Red Hat 5.3 was installed. Then 7.3. And so on.

Right now it's Slackware. While my friends have problems with their Windows machines nearly constantly, my Linux machines chug along. The only time any of them have locked up or misbehaved, it has been due to a hardware problem.

So while the early motivating factor may have been price for hobby-related tinkering, the current motivating factors are freedom, reliability and the fact that I am not paying to get a lousy computing environment.

Oh, and I support Windows at work. It's simply amazing how much work has to be done to keep the Windows boxes operating and semi-secure. We'd be a Linux shop if the Point-Of-Sale application we use were ported to Linux. But that does not appear likely.

Why I switched.

Grant Wagner's picture

Like several people my age and in my profession, I was first introduced to Unix style operating systems (including Linux) when I started at University (Computer Science, Software Engineering major) in 2000. I was always pleased at how well Linux seemed to work, especially on older machines, but I had some strange ideas about it.

Any attempt to get it to work on any one of my machines was just a nightmare, with lots of missing bits and pieces, namely 3D acceleration and wireless. I never got really involved in the on campus LUG, and only learned enough to turn in my Computer Science projects, and to get my work done in the lap. I thought of distributions like RedHat to be flawed with lots of proprietary support and configuration tools which prevented anyone from using any other. It was as bad as being locked into Windows. Thus, I started playing with Slackware. I still considered myself mostly a gamer and found that windows was much more conducive platform for that end. When I left school New Years 2005 after a year and a half of post graduate work, I had a working knowledge and respect for Linux, but I wanted something a bit more coherent.

I quickly started playing with FreeBSD. I was amazed at a couple of parts of the project, such as the excellently written hand book, and the ports system. I would marvel at not only how easy it was to install new applications (find, cd, make, make install), but that it would ALWAYS work. There was no hunting for patches or source code or dependencies. I was thrilled to just see any given application being built from scratch before my eyes with all my machine specific build flags just scrolling in dozens of xterms spread out across my three monitors. Surprisingly everything just worked on my desktop as far as hardware was concerned. It was only a few steps to get 3D acceleration on my NVidia 6800 turned on too. It was during this time that I also fell in love with the schedule and formed a lot of opinions about what I considered my favorite window managers, applications, tools, etc.

About a year and a half ago, I tried Ubuntu, wanting something that would work on more machines, and being agrivated at the lack of wine support. While FreeBSD worked nicely on my desktop, setup was always iffy on other machines. The live CD which allowed me to use it on my work laptop without changing the IT controlled XP, and the fact that everything "Just Worked", including the dreaded wireless, out of the box was great indicators. I also found almost as much freedom in the deb package system as I had with FreeBSD ports, trading machine specific optimizations for install time. Soon I was more interested in the Debian it was built on, not being afraid of "lack of polish" and often desiring to do without it.

I finally bought a new laptop for personal use, an Asus EEE 701 at the beginning of this year. And quickly put on a basic copy of Debian instead of the default OS. A few days later, and I had a WindowMaker based desktop, with no file manager, the super quick rxvt-unicode terminal emulator and all my favorite applications setup. I still consider my self quite a gamer, but I found that my taste in games haven't changed much since 1999, and the EEE would play all my favorites either natively (Exult, Doomsday), via Emulator (zsnes, epsxe, MAME), or via wine (HomeWorld, Baldur's Gate). I'm one happy user, and I'm always learning new things. 2.0GB is enough for all my programs and documents, although my media drive can add up to terabytes between what is live and archived.

I still have to develop on XP at work, and the differences are becoming more and more apparent to me in terms of process scheduling and file system performance. My patience with windows really is waring thin, and the copy of XP I bought in 2002 will most likely be my last Microsoft product. I had a respect of Mac OS X and would recommend it to lots of people, but I like the freedoms that come with my Linux.

A rare Mac refugee

Bill's picture

I don't see a lot of former Mac users here... I was a rabid Mac user before switching. I had sunk thousands of dollars into Mac computers, partly because of Apple's habit of making their old hardware obsolete every few years. Given the Designer Label pricing on their hardware, this got to be a burden for a college student like I was then. I installed LinuxPPC on my blue and white Mac. The amazing amount of free of charge software, and the freedom to install any of it I needed, hooked me. I realized, though, that enough of what I needed to run wasn't available for PPC linux that I bought a PC and installed Linux on it, and haven't looked back. I can't avoid Windows entirely (I'm now a college professor, and my university is very much a Windows shop), but as I watch my colleagues struggle to learn how to use Office 2007 (which means re-learning things they already know how to do), the real advantage to free software becomes abundantly clear - software is written to solve problems, not to extract additional licensing fees from users. I don't have to worry about OpenOffice suddenly radically changing its menu layout just to make an upgrade look like it's a bigger change than it really is, to justify charging more money for it. I haven't felt manipulated or abused by Linux yet, but felt that way about Apple and Microsoft regularly.

Why did I switch?

jhunt's picture

I can't leave well enough alone. I like to dig in and see how things work. I like to try to make things work better (read that: differently). Linux lets me do that. I can set up a rock solid server on an old desktop machine that has nothing more than a command line, or I can have a new system set up with enough eye-candy that it leaves Vista users drooling (They always ask me "Why doesn't my computer do that?! I've got Windows Vista Ultimate Warrior World Domination Edition on it!"). I like that Linux allows me to be in charge of my own user experience, instead of forcing their idea of what I should be doing on MY pc like the other guys.

Discovered Linux in early 90s

Peter's picture

I was working for Data General, we had just moved from proprietary OS to Unix on Sun platforms. I was impressed by how much better Unix and X was, compared to Windows 3.1, and wished I had a PC version.

I poked around on USENET and found the Minix, and later Linux, newsgroups. Thought I'd give it a try as soon as it looked ready for prime time. That happened in 1993, and the pivotal moment was when I loaded Linux/X onto a 486 at my new job, and was impressed by how much better Linux/X performed compared to Win3.1 on the same machine (we were using it for schematic capture, if you can believe it!)

The lack of a good office suite kept me from doing anything but toying with Linux, until recently. I would try it out from time to time on old PCs I would acquire, but not much else. The combination of a mature Open Office suite with Ubuntu was the tipping point. One of my co-workers nagged me into trying Linux again, and I discovered that Ubuntu was a real competitor for the Win2K I'd been running at home. I had never felt great about running bootleg Windows/Office (never felt bad enough not to, though), so Ubuntu made me feel better that way, too.

I switched over completely about two years ago. Gave up my home use of Windows completely (my wife still insists on using it on her machine), and even converted my brother and my daughter. Except for iTunes, pretty much everything I need to do can be done in Linux. I like the fact that I have more control and the OS has more transparency than a proprietary OS. If I have a problem, a Google search usually comes up with a solution or at least a few hints.

And, most of all, Linux is fun! There's the cute little penguin mascot, lots of folks, apparently pretty much like me, who like to play with and improve technology, and are willing to work together to produce something that's given away. Kind of like the software engineering version of "stone soup". Contrast that with the "evil empire" -- centralized, authoritarian corporate control of your computing experience -- which seems to be oriented more towards redefining your home computer as a paid content delivery platform, locked down and designed only to allow you to use it for purposes which result in an income stream for the content providers.

I don't see any reason to go back. Operating systems are really quite simple things, software platforms on which to run applications. There are quite a few of them out there, and Windows isn't by any stretch of the imagination, the best of them. And it's not getting any better, just more bloated and unreliable as a general purpose OS. And for me, the key is to have an open, flexible, reliable computer, that does what I want, when I want it to. I don't need or want anyone else telling me what I can or cannot watch, download or edit on my machine. And I certainly don't want any of the software or files I paid for to "expire".

Try Linux. It doesn't suck any worse than Windows!

Discovered Linux in early 90s

Peter's picture

I was working for Data General, we had just moved from proprietary OS to Unix on Sun platforms. I was impressed by how much better Unix and X was, compared to Windows 3.1, and wished I had a PC version.

I poked around on USENET and found the Minix, and later Linux, newsgroups. Thought I'd give it a try as soon as it looked ready for prime time. That happened in 1993, and the pivotal moment was when I loaded Linux/X onto a 486 at my new job, and was impressed by how much better Linux/X performed compared to Win3.1 on the same machine (we were using it for schematic capture, if you can believe it!)

The lack of a good office suite kept me from doing anything but toying with Linux, until recently. I would try it out from time to time on old PCs I would acquire, but not much else. The combination of a mature Open Office suite with Ubuntu was the tipping point. One of my co-workers nagged me into trying Linux again, and I discovered that Ubuntu was a real competitor for the Win2K I'd been running at home. I had never felt great about running bootleg Windows/Office (never felt bad enough not to, though), so Ubuntu made me feel better that way, too.

I switched over completely about two years ago. Gave up my home use of Windows completely (my wife still insists on using it on her machine), and even converted my brother and my daughter. Except for iTunes, pretty much everything I need to do can be done in Linux. I like the fact that I have more control and the OS has more transparency than a proprietary OS. If I have a problem, a Google search usually comes up with a solution or at least a few hints.

And, most of all, Linux is fun! There's the cute little penguin mascot, lots of folks, apparently pretty much like me, who like to play with and improve technology, and are willing to work together to produce something that's given away. Kind of like the software engineering version of "stone soup". Contrast that with the "evil empire" -- centralized, authoritarian corporate control of your computing experience -- which seems to be oriented more towards redefining your home computer as a paid content delivery platform, locked down and designed only to allow you to use it for purposes which result in an income stream for the content providers.

I don't see any reason to go back. Operating systems are really quite simple things, software platforms on which to run applications. There are quite a few of them out there, and Windows isn't by any stretch of the imagination, the best of them. And it's not getting any better, just more bloated and unreliable as a general purpose OS. And for me, the key is to have an open, flexible, reliable computer, that does what I want, when I want it to. I don't need or want anyone else telling me what I can or cannot watch, download or edit on my machine. And I certainly don't want any of the software or files I paid for to "expire".

Try Linux. It doesn't suck any worse than Windows!

Discovered Linux in early 90s

Peter's picture

I was working for Data General, we had just moved from proprietary OS to Unix on Sun platforms. I was impressed by how much better Unix and X was, compared to Windows 3.1, and wished I had a PC version.

I poked around on USENET and found the Minix, and later Linux, newsgroups. Thought I'd give it a try as soon as it looked ready for prime time. That happened in 1993, and the pivotal moment was when I loaded Linux/X onto a 486 at my new job, and was impressed by how much better Linux/X performed compared to Win3.1 on the same machine (we were using it for schematic capture, if you can believe it!)

The lack of a good office suite kept me from doing anything but toying with Linux, until recently. I would try it out from time to time on old PCs I would acquire, but not much else. The combination of a mature Open Office suite with Ubuntu was the tipping point. One of my co-workers nagged me into trying Linux again, and I discovered that Ubuntu was a real competitor for the Win2K I'd been running at home. I had never felt great about running bootleg Windows/Office (never felt bad enough not to, though), so Ubuntu made me feel better that way, too.

I switched over completely about two years ago. Gave up home use of Windows completely (my wife still insists on using it on her machine), and even converted my daughter. Except for iTunes, pretty much everything I need to do can be done in Linux. I like the fact that I have more control and the OS has more transparency than a proprietary OS. If I have a problem, a Google search usually comes up with a solution or at least a few hints.

And, most of all, Linux is fun! There's the cute little penguin mascot, lots of folks, apparently pretty much like me, who like to play with and improve technology, and are willing to work together to produce something that's given away. Kind of like the software engineering version of "stone soup". Contrast that with the "evil empire" -- centralized, authoritarian corporate control of your computing experience -- which seems to be oriented more towards redefining your home computer as a paid content delivery platform, locked down and designed only to allow you to use it for purposes which result in an income stream for the content providers.

I don't see any reason to go back. Operating systems are really quite simple things, software platforms on which to run applications. There are quite a few of them out there, and Windows isn't by any stretch of the imagination, the best of them. And it's not getting any better, just more bloated and unreliable as a general purpose OS. And for me, the key is to have an open, flexible, reliable computer, that does what I want, when I want it to. I don't need or want anyone else telling me what I can or cannot watch, download or edit on my machine. And I certainly don't want any of the software or files I paid for to "expire".

Try Linux. It doesn't suck any worse than Windows!

Love at first sight

groovemaneuver's picture

Linux was not my first Unix-ish experience. A buddy of mine was studying 3-D animation in the early-mid 1990s, and he had access to a lab of SGI O2's and Octanes running IRIX. There was a magical aura about the IRIX desktop compared to the contemporary Windows or Mac offerings, and I was intrigued -- the funky hardware certainly helped. Of course I couldn't afford an SGI, so I started looking around the Web for a Unix that could run on much cheaper Intel x86 hardware.

That search led me to FreeBSD, which I promptly downloaded and installed on a spare 100MHz 486. I was immediately converted. It wasn't IRIX, but it was Unix (Unix-y enough for me, anyway). After a year or two of using FreeBSD, I kept hearing more and more about Linux, so I eventually downloaded Red Hat 6. Again, it was an immediate conversion. Red Hat Linux gave me access to all of the software I was using on FreeBSD, but it had a very easy to use package manager that didn't require me to recompile anything -- I didn't mind the recompiling, but not having to deal with it meant a huge time savings.

I've used many different Linux distros since that first taste, but I have gravitated toward Fedora, RHEL/CentOS, and Ubuntu as my favorites.

Coincidentally, just about two weeks ago, another friend of mine called me up and gave me an SGI Octane that his workplace was getting rid of. It's been very gratifying to play with the system that inspired me to learn Unix. Although it's a fun system to tinker with, IRIX makes it very apparent how much progress that Linux has seen on both the desktop and system level over the last 10 years.

So when it comes down to it, I switched because of the mystique, but I stayed for the usability, power, and flexibility.

Ups and downs

Florian's picture

For poor me it was because I broke Windows, too much playing around and too stupid to do it the right way. So I switched to Linux (SuSE Linux 5.1), which was really really scary for me, because I only knew Windows and for a long time thought, that there are only Dos and Windows around. But it was fun until it broke because of too much playing around. Switched back, broke. Switched to Linux, broke Linux. Switched to Windows and Linux in parallel and broke both (Hardware defect - damn you hard drives!). Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And then I grew out of puberty, erased my whole System once more and for the last time I installed Linux (Debian this time). It never broke again (for 6 Years), and I won't switch again if it should, because of my painful experiences I now can repair any broken Linux. And thats why I stay on Linux.

Ups and downs

Florian's picture

For poor me it was because I broke Windows, too much playing around and too stupid to do it the right way. So I switched to Linux (SuSE Linux 5.1), which was really really scary for me, because I only knew Windows and for a long time thought, that there are only Dos and Windows around. But it was fun until it broke because of too much playing around. Switched back, broke. Switched to Linux, broke Linux. Switched to Windows and Linux in parallel and broke both (Hardware defect - damn you hard drives!). Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. And then I grew out of puberty, erased my whole System once more and for the last time I installed Linux (Debian this time). It never broke again (for 6 Years), and I won't switch again if it should, because of my painful experiences I now can repair any broken Linux. And thats why I stay on Linux.

I never really switched

goblin's picture

I actually never really switched. It's always been *nix for me.

I met Unix for the first time in 1984 I think, during an internship in the regional telco (there wasn't even a national telco here back then). I was 14. 100% command line, no X. Until then I had been using the Sinclair line of home computers (Lambda 8300 which is a ZX81 clone, and later a genuine Sinclair ZX Spectrum).

In 1990 I started my college/university education, and one of the first courses was an intermediate course on "electronic data handling". Again it was Unix.

Later on I ran into Windows. We got acquainted, but never became friends. Up through the mid-90's I used various forms of Unix for different tasks. And I met the X Windowing system. Also MS Windows, which was an extremely annoying experience due to lack of... everything: Stability, performance, user friendlyness and so on.

in the late 90's the CS-department of my university switched from Unix to Linux. Saved a bunch of money, and made true wizards and gurus out of the student sysadmins.

I started messing around with Linux in 1997. An old compilation of distros was on sale. Redhat 3.0.3, Slackware, Debian, and some others.

I installed Redhat 3.0.3. I didn't quite succeed, but I got far enough to get X up and running, and when I saw the basic gray X window with the X-marker, and I could move it around with my mouse, I was sold. It felt like coming home - at home. Until then I had to use Windows 95 (oi!) at my home system, but now I saw a possibility to get to use *nix at home, so Windows went out the window.

I bought a Redhat 5.0 box, and I followed the Redhat evolution until Fedora (Core) was launched. I'm currently downloading Fedora 9.

So I'll probably never switch - away from Linux, that is...

Why I use Linux

Robin's picture

I have worked in the IT business in some capacity or other for eighteen years. Most of that time was spent on Windows. I found it increasingly frustrating how I got locked out more and more with every new release. I didn't even make the switch to Win XP for that reason because I hated the very idea of the activation process (and have been proven right a lot at work).

At one time, Linux was not a household name by a far shot yet, the company I worked for got connected to the internet via a Linux server, running a text-only version of Mandrake. This machine also acted as a file server for us. It was the only machine which didn't crash all the time. I got intrigued.

At the time of SuSE 9.0 I finally got around to trying Linux at home. The learning curve was steep, I even gave up for a while, but I liked the way I felt that it was my inadequacy which made this project fail and not the inadequacy of the operating system, as it is the case with Windows. So I learned a little more, tried again, and now I am a fully converted Linux user at home (with Gentoo as my distro of choice), and am in the process of replacing as much of Windows as I can at my workplace. My personal workstation is Ubuntu these days, but I am going to install Linux servers in place of the current Windows 2000 server and push the company into the direction of freedom.

I had no money and a slow computer...

Anonymous's picture

Back in 1998, I was at home with no job and no money. Windows 95 was working feebly on my current computer and I needed to replace it, badly - the constant crashes and instability were driving me crazy. Windows 98 - ignoring the fact I couldn't *afford* it - according to the documentation on the box said it would not run on my computer if I tried it. (I had a 486 with 12MB of ram.) - So, whining about this online someone recommended I try linux. I did some research and wound up over several months installing slackware... You have to remember, slackware is a hard core distro meant for people who already know what they're doing. I did not. I learned quite a lot though...

In any case, that's how I started using linux. I wound up sticking with it for much the same reason - it's free, and I don't need to have a new computer to run it - aside from the whole DRM infestation that's happened in windows since then. ... Oh, and I haven't had a single virus in ten years. Kind of helps me stick with it.

Like to try different things

LD's picture

I really wasn't unhappy with MS or anything, I was watching an episode of a show on cable called the screensavers and the host mentioned a "free" OS called Linux, he demonstrated
Mandrake 5.3 festen with Kde 1.0 and I was totally intrigued. The concept and nature of OSS resonated with me, I loved the Idea of watching the development process and the improvements/features that would rapidly get integrated into the system. I had to download and install it, it was the most fun I had in years on my computer (god, I'm lame)

Why I made the switch to linux

Uwe's picture

Well, i have been a linux avicionado since my university days way back in the 90 (computational linguistics and artificial intelligence). I followed the growth of linux but did not make the complete switch (most of the time i had a dual boot pc) until the appearance of Vista. Trying it out with the beta release i realized that none of our family computers (wife and 3 kids with two Notebooks and by that time two desktop PCs) would be capable of running it in a useful way. So first i tried out OpenSuse which by that time worked great on all machines.
Then ubuntu came in and after realizing that every single of our PCs would work on the fly without the need of one single driver installation i made the complete switch.
Today both the Notebook of my wife and mine work under ubuntu (in fact, she now works actually with the notebook. Before, she always told me: No, it is to dangeours, with the trojans and virus problems, now I can stay in contact with her via Chat cause the Notebook runs the whole day through).
Only the kids still have an old fashioned windows installation for their favorite games but i am in the process of convincing them to make the switch to. It is only on computer for the three of them and if they need a computer for school, well, either Linux or nothing ;). Presumably I will offer them one of the next generation Eee PCs.

To me the two main reasons for the switch are: Money, cause with a family of three kids you can guess that one has to look for chances to save and still invest in your familys health and education. And Security. Only with the switch to ubuntu my wife was willing to try her Notebook really. And now she is a very happy user of ubuntu and even has joined me in spreading the ubuntu word in our neighbourhood.

So that is my story.

Why I switch?

Lodder's picture

The main reason I switched was that my computer was to slow for windows XP. I always wanted to try Linux but this was 90% of the main reason and the fact that my pc was to slow was 10%. But in the end I'm a fulltime linux user add home with about 6 boxes and 4 running Debian Etch and 2 running Ubuntu.

Now running Linux and looking back to my windows time I'm feeling beter mostly due the fact that you don't have to buy a new computer every two year.

I guesse useing linux is for me part of freedom, some form of lazyniss and a lot of other aspects. The lazyniss commes with the packages repository....

File formats and scripting

Scott E Bicknell's picture

I discovered Perl after an unsuccessful search for a decent and cheap replacement on Windows for REXX on OS/2. That was in 2000. It led naturally to reading about Linux online. I had already abandoned Microsoft once when I switched to OS/2 in 1994. I got burned by Microsoft discontinuing support for their own file formats in newer versions of their own programs and lost several years' of backup data. I was also burned on OS/2 by software vendors discontinuing products, including OS/2 itself, which gave me an appreciation for software that cannot be yanked away from users by fickle developers and distributors. A good example of the advantage free software has in this regard is GNOME's file manager, Nautilus, which was GPL'd by the company that created it (Eazel) before they went belly up. No more Eazel, but Nautilus still thrives. Even if every company selling software and services around Linux died off, others would spring up and the software would continue being developed and distributed. It's a beautiful thing.

Inevitable: at school, work, and home

Anonymous's picture

I learned unix in school about the time IBM PC came out. I have been using Apple II (running AppleDOS and CP/M) as my home computer, and mini-computer and IBM mainframes at school, until I bought a Mac II for home use and used unix flavors (Harris, Apollo, SunOS) at school.

By the time MS Windows 3.1 came out, I needed a cheap machine to do unix and Mac II was getting old. I heard about linux and subsequently bought a PC and installed linux (Slackware, then Red Hat.)

I've since stayed with Red Hat then Fedora with every new PC. I did dual boot with Windows 98 and XP for mostly games.

Now I'm using Apple Powerbook Pro dual booting OS X and Fedora (boot 80% Fedora, but the hardware is cool!). I use several distributions of Linux at work (RHEL, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu.) Everyone in my family use Linux.

I don't do games anymore, so no more Windows. I missed out MS DOS and pre Windows 95.

So I guess I used Linux the most and the longest of all OS because it was there all along.

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