Tell us your Linux story


On we discussed how each of us got into Linux. Now, a lot of people who listen to Bad Voltage are also Linux users.

How did you get started using Linux? Tell us your story and also which people helped get you on that path.


Mine is pretty simple. I got a version of Suse on the coverdisk of a PC mag in '98, liked it enough to run it on a spare machine for a while. Did the same with a pre Fedora version of RHEL for a while, but found installing 3d & Sound drivers a nause. Started dual booting XP and Simply Mepis (again from a coverdisk). Got Broadband in 2002, so downloaded Freespire, Mandrake and a few others. Don’t quite remember quite how I stumbled on Ubuntu Hardy, but since then I’ve only had Microsoft in the house for Flight Sim and if work dictated it.

Today I’m running Mint (I tend to go through cycles of running Debian/Ubuntu/Mint, mainly because I’ve got familiar with apt/aptitude). I occasionally have to use MS, and I find the scatterbrained software management, constant rebooting and random crap just happening for no under the skin for no apparent reason, just insanely infuriating.


My first introduction to linux was a box copy of suse 9.0 or maybe 9.2 i bought from the Borders bookshop in London. The computer section of the book shop was in basement, yah nerdy, and I got it because i was angry at windows 98.

Got it home and installed it, and then wondered why winamp.exe wouldnt run… As i didnt have internet and the manual was shockingly awful i reinstalled windows and put it on a shelf.

Ok Aq and Jono prepare for pimpage. I was listening to a random tech podcast and LUGRadio was reviewing the first Ubuntu release warty wiffleboard. Downloaded it straight away. at 50k a second. wow my first broadband was rubbish.

10 years later im on Mint 16, sorry Jono but Unity just isnt for me.


No worries! We are all friends here. :slight_smile:


A friend of mine, who was kind of guru at the time, introduced me to Linux in around 2005. Both me and my father were quite frustrated with Windows at the time, so I was very interested in trying new OS. Father got Mandriva for some reason, but my friend introduced me to Ubuntu, and my first own installation was 5.10.

I was quite happy with that for a long time and 6.06 was (and maybe still is) my favorite OS of all time. Around 8.04 I started to get little annoyed with Ubuntu, since it hided stuff from user and tried to get too “easy”, so I switched to Debian for a while and experimented with other distros as well. I kept coming back to Ubuntu untill Unity came around which I did not like at all, and swiched to LMDE.

Then I realized that what I really want to do with my computer is use it, not fight with it or tweak it a lot, so when 13.04 was released I was pretty excited to try if Unity was any better than in the beginning. For my big surprise it really was and now I’m using it as my primary desktop. I also use GNOME 3 at my work, and AWESOME on Arch with my laptop, since it saves even more screen space.

After introduction and long time tech support from my dear friend I’ve found my way around with internet pretty well, but big thanks to my guru for introducing Linux to me!


I think I first heard about Linux around 2000-2001 timeframe. I was taking a computer hardware class in school where some buddies of mine told me about it. They gave me a copy of Redhat 7 (Pre RHEL), but there were some driver issues so I couldn’t get it working on the PC I had at the time.

After my first experience turned into a failure, I was still looking to get my feet wet on my first distro still, so I did what I always do— I perused the Net on forums and such to see what other people had experienced ( was a great resource, so thank you Jeremy!). At the time there was a saying, “If you want to learn Debian, install Debian. If you want to learn Red Hat, install Red Hat. If you want to learn Linux, install Slackware” (Ubuntu didn’t even exist at the time). Slackware was the distro to start with if you wanted to “really” learn Linux. It prides itself on providing vanilla packages with usually no modifications at all unless needed. The kernel provided is essentially the same kernel you’d download off of which isn’t true for many other distros. Based on this I decided to try Slackware as my first Linux experience.

Getting Slackware installed wasn’t too bad. You did have to figure out how to manually partition with fdisk, but after that the TUI installer was fairly simple. I thought it was so bad ass that I could get a 800x600 VGA framebuffer screen. Post install with Slackware, you really had to learn the nitty gritty bits of Linux to get things configured the way you wanted, or even to start up a gui environment.

Ever since then I think I caught the “Linux Bug” and haven’t stop hacking with it even to this day. Linux started as a hobby and eventually became a successful career for me as well. These days I don’t really have a distro of choice, though I tend to gravitate to Arch Linux and run cool stuff like XMonad and i3 for WM productivity.


I got started off in 1995 or so. I was 15 at the time and really wanted a computer at home, and my dad finally brought home a used one that had fallen off the back of a truck somewhere :smile:

And it ran Xenix, as it had apparently been a corporate machine somewhere. That was all fine and good by me, because I was just happy to have my own rig and not have to go 15 miles into town and use the computer lab at school.

I stayed on that for a bit, but soon found out if I wanted a compiler it was going to run somewhere around $1000. For a 15 year old kid, that isn’t really an option. I did the whole early-Slackware dozens of floppies dance and have been using Linux exclusively since. A few years after that I moved off to Red Hat and eventually Fedora, but I never had much desire to try Windows or Mac. Linux, with all it’s problems, was just comfortable to me.


What helped me find Linux? I guess the ‘simple’ answer was because I had used so many different OS’ -“what’s one more?” I started with a Radio Shack Color Computer and its Color Basic, then as I was switching to OS/9, two things happened. We left Ohio as my wife started seminary in San Francisco and I (already a pastor) was hired by a church in Oakland. Their computer was a “transportable” by Compaq (60lbs it felt like) which ran some ancient MSDOS and wordstar. I “updated” it to windows 1.03 (which I know was the inspiration for win8) and within another year or so, to GEOS. I was really happy with GEOS, until another move and to another church, back to windows, now 3.1. Well, by that time, my CoCo at home was getting left far behind, and so I joined in with my first windows home system and win 95,then to 98. It was just before getting XP that I first heard of and used Linux, with my Sharp Zaurus PDA. After upgrading to XP, a year or two later, I had replaced my old MS Office95 with Star Office, was using Firefox, GIMP and a few other FOSS programs. After seeing Leo Laporte talk about Mandrake, I thought, hmmm, I’m already halfway to the FOSS world, I may as well try Linux on the desktop. I had just purchased a new laptop with Vista. I used it for three weeks, then began dual-booting Ubuntu, two weeks later, Kubuntu, quickly followed by Sabayon, Opensuse and a host of others, before settling on elive for a whole year. It was somewhere during this time, that I remember sitting in a parking lot in a mall in Washington PA taking a break on a trip “borrowing wifi” when I happened on an Internet broadcast, the Linux Action Show. The one braggadocio co-host was so promoting Fedora, that I swore I would NEVER try that distro! Boy, how some things changed! (Not the braggadocio, but the outlook on Fedora.)
I switched to PCLINUXOS and a year and a half later, to Mint 3 just weeks before it moved to 4. I am still with Mint, now version 16 and Cinnamon. Both of our sons families are using Linux on computers or tablets. One can normally find me (revdjenk) at the IRC communities at Category5, linuxmint-help and TWiT. Maybe I’ll be here more often, too!


I heard the hype about this ‘Red Hat’ thing in early 2000s. I installed it on my old Pentium II but for me it was an OS that I wanted so badly to work for me but it just didn’t due to the lack of software.

I’m a CAD draftsman by trade so unfortunately I’m chained to proprietary software monopolies like Autodesk because its industry standard. One of the side effects of that is a constant compulsion to install as much free software as I can get my hands on (it makes me feel less dirty).

My real indoctrination to linux was installing Gentoo back in 2004. My windows machine was dog slow and getting old and I wanted a speed boost and I had heard all this hype about Gentoo. I somehow managed to take this ‘stage 3 tarball thing’ and make it into an OS! It took me a few days to get a desktop environment compiled but I had done all this research on compiler flags for my CPU beforehand. When I finally had a GUI I thought to myself I had somehow unlocked the secrets of the universe because my machine was as fast as I had ever experienced and I intimately knew every init script that was running. I don’t think I had a bath for that first Gentoo-running week because my machine was clean enough for the both of us and after that I crowned myself one of you guys… haha j/k.


It is quite simple. My first Laptop has Windows Vista preinstalled and i saw Gentoo on the machine of my brother-in-law. I started with Kubuntu and did a lot of distro hopping and now i am quite happy with my elementaryOS.


Spent a weekend in 03 playing with SUSE Linux but jumped back to windows ( I’d no internet ).
Played with UBUNTU through 08 until college stripped away my free time.
Dropped out and dual booted Windows and Arch until last summer when I dropped my Linux partition after ignoring it for 3 months.
These days I develop on Debian in work and run Windows at home. Currently saving for new laptop with intentions to run Arch again.


I started way back with a copy of Redhat either 3 or 4, that a friend of mine who was a fellow RPG 'er at the time. I liked it so much that I ended up buying in a box 5, then pre-ordering 6.0. I left then as rutienely going through and upgrade hell, I spent most of the time fixing and finding work arounds than actualy getting anything done. The Box set of Redhat 6.0 is sitting behind me still.

Later on tried Slackware in 110 floppies to get it on a 486 xp laptop (Microcenter branded laptop not to be confused with Windows XP). It was a resurecturion deal, found out the next version HAD working vid configurations after learning to build my own vid card driver.

Went with Fedora 1 when the change over happen, and I would dabble in it for a while but was primarily a Microserf, certified in it for employment. (no companies localy used linux, so only jobs where MS ones)
I would torment my self with fedora, or slack or various others until about three years ago I found Ubuntu and for once, EVERYTHING worked out of the box with no tweaking and work around for me. I used the Wubi for about two months to make sure I just wasnt into upgrade hell, or to find out the catches.

My time in linux actualy earned me a System Admin job, when I found out they where useing SCO Unix, and found out why no one else took the job… the hard way.

Since then, Ive tried arch, didnt like it, repos where hit or miss for me. Tried fedora that upgrade hell hadnt changed but Ubuntu kept it simple but still let me do customizations (very big thing for me), and just recently made the switch to Kubuntu. I didnt like ‘web aps’ didnt like the ‘online searching via dash’ and the extra weight for thoes I didnt like either, and you had to bend over backwords to customize the scree. Under neath Unity, I got no complatints, and 2 years ago, only one VM has MS for ham radio programing, but other than that there are no microsoft computers here any more. But I still keep up in the MS world, as thats where the work is here. Hopefuly some day soon that will change :slight_smile:


I used a friend’s iBook back in high school running a very early version of OSX and learned there was a world outside Windows. I didn’t have the money for a mac so he recommended I try installing Linux on my PC and gave me a copy of Mandrake8. Linux has been an essential part of my computing life ever since (Ubuntu at home and REL at work).

PS: @jonobacon Ubuntu is an awesome project that has really moved Linux forward. Keep up the good work and don’t take the haters personally. Haters gonna hate.


Even before I was a programmer I was following the open source world vicariously through my brother in law. He was always talking about how inferior Windows was and how they basically won the OS war through tactics as opposed to having a superior system. I was always aware of Linux but it was difficult to make the switch as the peripheral support was pretty weak as well as the software wasn’t the greatest in the early 2000s… also compatibility issues with sharing Word docs, etc. with ‘everyone else’ who is on Windows.

When I went back to school to become a programmer, I knew I would inevitably move to Linux as it’s just easier to program on, but it was a bit of a learning curve to adjust. I was dual booting for a couple years. Linux Mint was really helpful here as it gives access to the Windows partition. It actually makes it a bit of a disadvantage when you are on the Windows side as you can’t access your Linux stuff.

When I became a post grad I was working almost exclusively in Linux as that was just easier. The lack of a good image editing suite (sorry, GIMP) makes it difficult to abandon Windows altogether. Then, cruelty of cruelties, the only job I could find was as a ASP.NET programmer! So I’m back to Windows for a large percentage of the time (Windows for work, Linux for school). Yes, I know about Mono, etc but it wouldn’t really work as the website is tightly integrated with all things Windows, so I have to just suck it up for the time being. Currently running Windows 7 on one machine and Linux Mint 16 on the other.

It’s becoming easier to have whatever operating system you want at the bottom as you can run another one in VirtualBox or VMWare to get whatever additional functionality you might need. If I had a faster machine I would just use Linux and have Windows and Mac in Virtual Machines.


Started using HPUX etc in university. Worked at Lotus/IBM and fell in love with NextStep and was forced to support nasty SCO/Netware/OS2 and not quite as bad SunOS. And then I found Minix! Yes ran in on a thinkpad I got in 1995. It look me 2 weeks to get startx running as the keyboard was mapped to a spanish layout. Used Cgywin and other open source tools. Then a few years later I discovered Yggdrasil … and shortly witched full time to Redhat. With the introduction of Fedora in 2001/2 I got a bad taste in my mouth and looked for alternatives. Knoppix bootable CD was the first distro to blow my mind… and used Mephis for a while and then switched to Mandrake briefly.

However I always liked Knoppix/Debian as a base and when Ubuntu came out I switched over my home pcs to that and have never looked back despite the numerous speed bumps with unity.

Had every version of Nokia Maemo devices… and reluctantly switched to Android. Router has been running linux for at least 8 years.

Recently I bought a ACER c720 ChromeOs and am quite enthusiastic about the potential of that Linux based OS.

Had been looking around to see if i want to switch off Ubuntu - both ElementaryOS and #! have potential - but haven’t switched over full time to anything else. Flirted with KDE and GNOME 3 - but in the end Unity pretty much gets out of my way and is usable after about 5 minutes of tweaking.

Recently started using Ubuntu on the server as well after the Wikipedia switch. Typically was using Centos or REH. Helped a Canadian bank standardize on Linux 6 years ago and show up now and then at my local LUG.


I bought my first computer and a co-worker insisted Windows was crap and OS/2 was the way to go. At least it opened my mind to Windows alternatives. And then I started working on Unix machines so it became obvious I need something like that at home. Slackware was the first distro I tried and I pretty stuck with it until their mailing list erupted violently against systemd. I was curious about systemd, so I gave Arch a try and never looked back.


It was winter break. I was bored, so I decided to try out this Linux thing I kept hearing about. After browsing some forums, it seemed like the top distros recommended for new users were Ubuntu, Mint, and PC Linux OS. I tried them all on liveCDs and ended up going with Linux Mint.

I made sure to install on a separate hdd from the one with my XP install. I then discovered that I could not boot back to Windows. Looking back, I probably messed up GRUB during the install process.

I could mount the other hdd, so thankfully there was no data loss. So I kind of think of the whole experience as accidentally forcing myself to abandon Windows. I was slowly wooed by the little things, like not having to defrag or discovering the power of the terminal, and never looked back.


Are you somehow also me? This matches my story almost exactly, except for me it was more like 2002(ish). Timelines are a bit fuzzy for me. I was a kid. I didn’t even have my first beard yet!! The first version of Linux I ran on my own computer full time was Ubuntu, which I stuck with (back and forth with Fedora, with a brief jaunt over to Debian) until 2010(ish). Much as I wanted to love Unity, I don’t. And really, I became less and less fond of the apt infrastructure. I’ve now been a professional Linux administrator for ~4 years, almost exclusively on RHEL family systems, and running Arch at home.

I owe the good folks at Ubuntu/Canonical a huge thanks. Without you, I would have never been able to get past the learning curve of Linux, so while our paths have diverged, I can at least say they’ve diverged because of choices I’ve made, and what I consider my needs as a Linux user to be.

Also, I seem incapable to being brief.


Windows was never my OS of choice, my first computer was a Amstrad CPC 64 with a datasette (gosh that thing was fun). I also had a Amiga and Commodore. One day I went out and bought me a Windows XP PC, set it up and configured my 56k modem went in the internet and bam right on connection I got struck by the blaster worm, “your computer will shutdown in 59 seconds” . I tried everything, no chance. it wasent easy getting a update back then. When I saw a box of SuSE in the PC store I bought it, installed it … loved it … even if I needed days to get my modem running and the fglrx driver up with out ending up having a black screen. When it was set up it was rocking, I never looked back at Windows.


My first experience was a bad one. In early 199, a buddy in a chat room recommending dumping ‘windoze’ (his verbiage). He snail mailed me two cd’s to try. One was S.u.S.E. (Oct/Nov 98 version) and the other was Mandrake 5.2. I forget which I tried first, but I was installing on my Gateway Essential 450. One wasn’t able to connect to the internet, usb would not mount and had no audio after installation. After a couple days of frustration, I tried the other one, which worked except the audio. I probably would have kept that as my OS had the community been helpful at the time. Any help questions were greeted with lovely replies such as “RTFM!!!” and ‘if you cant figure it out, you don’t belong.’ and ‘go back to windows.’ So I did.

Then in about 2007/2008 a co-work was using his T-Mobile G1 to login to his computer at home and remotely execute some commands use applications/websites that were blocked by our company. I asked him how he had done that, and his answer was ‘the power of linux.’ Over the next couple of weeks he and another coworker convinced me to use a live-cd of the latest and greatest Ubuntu release to check out Linux again on my laptop. I was hesitant, explained my past experience and they still convinced me to go ahead. I loved it, but continued to dual boot for a couple years, before making it my daily driver on my laptop, while keeping windows on my desktop for a few PC games. A year or two ago, I was able to get my last PC game to work under WINE and I said goodbye to MicroSoft for good (at least in my home).
My desktop Ubuntu box recently had a mlb failure, so I’m making due bouncing between an atom powered Powerspec n50 with Arch and an old iMac I used for my old job. I’m weighing options while saving up for my next computer. Either Desktop or Laptop, what ever it will be, it will be powered by the Linux kernel.

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