Tell us your Linux story

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.

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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.

I learnt to use computers with my Dad’s Amiga 500 and later the family Windows PCs. My friend’s dad was a Java devloper so they had lots of DOS, Windows and OS/2 machines of various guises. At school all the machines were Acorn Archimedes with RISCOS. The point I’m making is, I was no stranger to using different operating systems.

What got me moving on to Linux was playing around customising the Windows desktop, aged 16ish. I used software like Stardock’s Window Blinds and Aston Shell to have play around with various interfaces, many of which mimicked other systems. Out of this I discovered KDE and thought it looked a lot cooler than any other system I’d ever seen, so I wanted to use that. I found out that you could only use it on Linux.

I discovered live CDs and gave Gnoppix (which was based on Ubuntu Warty Warthog and had a GNOME 2 desktop) a go. I didn’t like it. I did a bit more research and thought Gentoo sounded cool (ho, ho). I managed to obliterate my family’s files while trying to partition the hard drive, so I stopped using Linux for a few months.

My brother had a debian net installer on CD (or maybe it was floppies), so sat with me and talked me through the installer. I got it installed, but startx wouldn’t work. I reasearched some more and found Libranet Linux (based on Debian) I got it installed and working, but X broke every time I installed something with APT. The saving grace of Libranet was that it had a fantastic manual which explained the Debian system, filesystems, the command line, and all that sort of thing.

My next experiement was Knoppix. I started just running it off CD and playing around, then had a persistance file, then eventually installed it to disk (why not?). It was around this time that I discovered HantsLUG, my local linux user group. A lot of the discussions were around Ubuntu, and Kubuntu had just been released, so being a KDE-liker, I installed that.

Lots of conversations at LUG bring-a-box meetings (my mum used to drive me to a local church hall with the family desktop, and we had internet via a wireless bridge to a house with ADSL 2 doors down) and on the mailing lists guided my though my first years as a full-time linuxer. So my brother, the authors of the LibraNet manual and the HantsLUGgers are probably the people to thank/blame. HantsLUG is also where I met my now-cohosts of the Ubuntu podcast. Also, credit to my parents for letting me dick around with the family computer.

Oh and I now use vanilla Ubuntu.

Wow, almost everyone seems to have - relative to me - massive amounts of experience. I’ve only been using Linux for a year or so, when I saw what MS were doing with windows 8 I thought it was time to learn another OS, so I had the option of jumping ship.

Started with Ubuntu, now my old desktop is running that, I’ve got dual boot my laptop and am playing about with a Raspberry Pi (and am as interested in using a slightly less ‘friendly’ version of Linux as I am in programmable hardware). Now happily running a VPS for my sites because of what I’ve learnt (rather than messing about with horrible GUI FTP clients). Toying with trying out Debian or Arch next, and considering if I need Windows anymore.

Unfortunately I like PC gaming, I’m being employed to use Unity3D from next month on (which still doesn’t run under Linux despite being able to make Linux games), and I’ve taken an interest in music production and as much as LMMS gets a lot of positive press, having also tried Reason I just can’t make myself use LMMS (also drivers for music production hardware tends to neglect Linux) So it looks like I’ll need to dual boot for a while yet (at least maybe MS is going to undo that Metro crap for the next windows).

Awesome stories there!

I started with computers very early, when my dad brought back home an Amstrad PCW (although I’m French, the Amstrad computers crossed the Channel and had their moment of success here, especially the CPC!). It was CP/M with Locoscript on it (pretty badass, right?). Later on, I discovered Amiga at a friend’s, and finally in 1993 my dad bought a PC with MS DOS and Windows 3.1.

A few years later (in 1998 I guess), I was reading a kind of satirical newspaper about hacking, alternative systems and other stuff like that (Le virus informatique), and discovered there was something other than MS Windows on PCs. So I found myself buying a magazine with a CD of Redhat 5.2. The magazine was like 16 pages long, just to explain how to install the barebone system, and then… I didn’t get anything. I mean, I would put a floppy disk, but there was no A:/ anywhere?! Or when I put a CD-Rom nothing would pop up either?!

So I went on IRC to seek for help, and got copiously insulted by people on #linuxfr because I was “a noob” who didn’t “know how to mount a disk ahaha go fuck off, moron!”. Yep, that was my first contact with the Linux community. So as you can imagine I promptly got back to Windows.

But I was still disappointed by that OS, and little by little I found Open Source alternatives to the softwares I was using daily as a student: Phoenix (ex Firebird, ex Firefox),, Gimp. I really hated Microsoft Word, and was awesome to edit styles in the document, and to move pictures around (to write reports, it was awesome!).

And finally, I heard about Fedora in 2004, so I decided to give it a try on an old laptop. It was pretty amazing, I was very impressed by the graphical installer (“Anaconda” I believe?), but shortly after I fell in love with Ubuntu, when the very first version was out. It was pretty, had a lot of options, and was quite easy to use even for someone with no Linux experience and the community behind quickly got big, with a forum in French where you could get any help no matter how “noob” you were.

I’m currently stuck on a Macbook Pro that I bought a couple years ago thinking it would be easy to switch to Linux (what a fool I am!), but I use Ubuntu LTS at work and enjoy it every single day :slight_smile:

If I had to thank someone, it would certainly not be the people of #linuxfr, but more the people on the French forums of who did an amazing job back when AskUbuntu didn’t exist to set up a wiki and a forum so that everyone could discuss and share their knowledge.

I also remember an amazing blog in French held by a guy called Gilles Fabio who introduced a lot of Linux concepts for Ubuntu and Fedora, explaining how to achieve this, how that was working exactly, comparing the distros and the softwares…

Ask @jonobacon to resuscitate Jokosher!!! :wink:

In 1989 I joined the USAF and was introduced to the computer world when I was assigned to the 964th AWACS squadron. I was a communication technician on an aircraft that was nothing more than a flying server. All my radios were computer tuned on a magnetic tape drive that had 64MB of on board memory. A friend introduced me to Amiga and I bought my first home computer. The Amiga 500 was an amazing machine for its time, this is now 1993’ish time frame. In 1997 I moved to Okinawa Japan where I met my Linux guru. He introduced me to Red Hat Linux. From there I bounced distros from Corel Linux box set to one of my favorites Mandrake. From 2000 through 2010 I moved to Apple but came back to the Linux World when someone introduced me to Ubuntu. From there I was hooked again and started distro hopping all over again. SuSe, Mint, Cinnarch, #!, and now I am running pure Arch w/ Gnome DE. I am sure that I am not done hopping but that is why I enjoy Linux so much because the choices are as endless as our imagination.

I got out of the Army in 1992, and started working for a rather large rent-a-car company. I got hired because they were deploying a VSAT satellite network to connect all of their offices. Well, in 1995, our satellite gear vendor’s control software converted over to run on SunOS 4.1.3U1, so we bought a bunch of Sparc IPXs, and a Sparc 20 as the server. (as an aside, the Sun pizza box is one of the best case designs ever…)

I was helping/learning from our sysadmin, basically being his minion. Old gray-beard, and the best piece of advice he ever gave me is “I don’t care what editor you prefer, you had better at least learn basic functionality of vi…Because when the place is on fire, barbarians are at the gates, and you are in single user mode, that’s all you’re going to have.” Well, he went on to another department, and I volunteered to take over sysadminning the network. The company didn’t want to send me to training, so I decided to go it on my own. I couldn’t afford a Sparc box (ironically enough, I now have a sparcstation 1+, 2 sparc 20s, a couple of ultra-5s retired in my basement that I can’t give away), so I started looking for an alternative. A buddy of mine recommended Linux, and gave me a Yggdrasil book, but in the end, I downloaded and installed the 50 floppies of Slackware (kernel 1.2.3) that I dual-booted with either OS/2 Warp or Windows 95 on my 386DX16. Learned quickly how to compile the kernel, and quickly upgraded to 1.2.8. (kernel compiles took 4 hrs on my hardware)

Ran Slackware, and when RedHat 3.0.3 came out, started playing with that. I ended up losing a hard drive, and flipped a coin. RedHat won. So windows or os/2 and Slackware were no longer welcome on my hard drives.

I stuck with RedHat until 6.0 (circa 1999?), when the quality control was at it’s worst. Consistent problems, RPM hell, etc, contributed to my dissatisfaction. At the time, the RH 5 series was arguably the pinnacle of the RH distro. Since then, probably 7.3 and 6.2. I still know of companies that are running those two releases…

So in 1999 or so, I got tired of RH, and had a couple of Debian Devs that worked in my group. They walked me through a Debian install (dselect, pre-apt), and I have been a happy Debian user. I strayed and decided to try out Ubuntu, I guess, around the days of Feisty Fawn. When Gutsy came out, encryption was broken in the installer. That, combined with other things, like the whole “moving the buttons to the left” controversy, and that was the period that you had to nuke-and-pave between releases, I went back to Debian, and there I have stayed. I’m one who does a nuke and pave every 5 to 7 years when hardware or architecture changes make it a good idea. I started running Debian on my workstation in 1999, and have done complete rebuilds maybe 3 times since then. Oh, I’ve played with other distributions, mint, fedora, opensuse, but they are mostly done in virtualbox these days, and we do run Ubuntu server at work.

I started at the age of 11 when I had just started high school. Amazingly, one of the 6th formers had decided to start a lunch time lug. We stared with Fedora Core 1, which was pretty new at the time and got a small LAN working in one of the computer rooms, on some old RM boxes.

At the time, what drew me in was not the freedom aspect, or the great environment for development, but the cleanliness of Gnome.

Soon after this, I found Mankdrake 8 Gaming addition, which had The Sims bundled. To me, this was amazing! That got installed at home and I ran that for a bit.

A while after that I built, rather than bought, my first desktop and got one of the first Athlon 64s in there which, of course, couldn’t be facilitated by Windows. Because some of my beloved games wouldn’t play on Linux, I decided to first dual boot with Fedora Core (3 or 4, I can’t remember which) and then tri booted with SuSE, to try KDE. I also carried a Slackware live CD with me to show friends.

Quite a few years passed, and I bounced between SuSE, Fedora Core and a bit of Debian.

Then, about 4 years ago, I got hired by an F1 team to be a developer on Linux. Unfortunately, they run Cent OS, but this let me to really purge Windows (especially with the stronger gaming presence), so I’ve been Windows free since. On my main desktop, I’m running Elementary OS, On my little Eee laptop, I have Arch, on my HP ‘Mobile Workstation’, I have openSuSE and on my diddy Vaio UX, I have Mint XFCE and love them all.

I’ve not touched a Windows box in years - by far the best bit!

I grew up with ZX Spectrums at home, and BBC Micros and Macintosh Pluses at school, but I started playing with Linux (Slackware) in 1993 just after I started playing with UNIX (AIX and SunOS). A bunch of friends managed to get a spod box set up at Glasgow Uni, and a bunch of us became defacto sysadmins as we graduated (see what I did there?) from a 386, to a 486SX, to a DX, to a Pentium 90 …

Then when I started working in 1996, I deployed and managed Slackware (1996), then Debian (1998), then RHEL/CentOS (2004), back to Debian (2007), then Gentoo/Ubuntu (2009), then Ubuntu/CentOS (2013) … although on a personal deployment level, I went Slackware (1996), SmoothWall (2000), Debian (2001), CentOS (2004) and finally Ubuntu (2006). Building a Debian squid+mailman system in 1998 was fun (especially un-fun, though, when someone wanted to test Oracle on Debian!), helping manage a several-thousand-strong Debian cluster in 2007 was awesome, but my favourite “squee” moment was building an e-commerce website in bash on Slackware in 1996.

Yes, in bash!

Having long experience with Linux of varying flavours has gotten me more jobs than any professional certification or piece of paper from an educational establishment. Because it’s free and open, I could install at home and learn more in my spare time (and use it to build out my own server infrastructure in my spare room). Because it and it’s packages are well documented, I could easily figure things out without having to spend a small fortune on books and training courses (I spent loads on resit exams for MCSE training pre-Y2K, and that was a total pain, but I walked into a half-price LPIC-1 exam cold in 2004 and passed it no problem). Because it eventually gained traction in businesses as a solid server platform, I could easily find sysadmin work.

I still have to play with Windows for commercial purposes, and I vastly prefer Mac OS X as a desktop platform, but I owe my career to that Usenet post back in 1991.

Thanks, Linus.

I had an Amiga 500 with the extra sidecar with a 125MB hdd and added another 4MB of Memory. But the crown jewel on my 500 was the 3 daisy chained floppy drives that I ran most of my games with. I loved upgrading that silly machine. I could replace the chipset and roll with the new OS and it was the best tinkering machine I have ever owned.

Here’s my Linux timeline.

The purple are the distros I used. The yellow is the hardware I owned. The orange are relevant software relase dates.

RedHat 9 was the first good experience as I could dial up to the Internet and download packages. Mandrake 8 was very good but no Internet there so it was not very useful.


got into delphi and c programming on windows 98 of the “family computer”. in 2001 was donated an old box that was all my own by a friedn getting rid of old kit. I’d heard about linux on the net and it sounded interesting especially for devs (I think ESR’s how to be a good hacker might have factored into it). Started with Mandrake 8 but that old 486 didn’t run a GUI so well, so changed it to a FreeBSD server. in 2002 got a pentium that I put debian + blackbox on for development for a bit. Soon a got job and a “current” computer and feel in love with Gentoo + Englightenment. Also grabbed a super old and cheap laptop and put OpenBSD + blackbox on it. Over the next few years on additional spare boxes I flirted with debian and Redhat but ultimatly stuck with Gentoo on desktop and new laptops until around 2007 when Ubuntu finally seemed to develop an edge in well packaged smooth working Gnome 2 (and/or I got too busy with school to be messing around with keeping Gentoo up to date / not falling over) and I’ve been on Ubuntu since, including the last 3 years of work at two companies :smile:

I actually am a newcomer here I dabbled a little with using ubuntu with gnome some in high school. I found it okay but did not use it much. I found in around 2009 my borther had ubuntu on his laptop and was okay using but did not switch because was worried about voiding my warranty. Then I kept using windows 7 after a preinstalled update from vista. But the long boot times on my laptop are not a problem. I did not where immedietly but switched out after graduating. I switched to lubuntu I recently am dual booting lxle on my laptop as well.

Dude! A freaking timeline. You are straight up bonkers. I love it.


My dad tried to get me into Linux when I was about 13 with Mandriva, and I rebelled by not really doing much of anything with it or the C book he kept trying to get me to read. Then I went off to university and needed a new computer. Deciding I wanted to give Linux another go, I got Fedora 18 because it promised to play nice with Windows 8 (which I figured I could at least try). Windows 8 eventually failed horribly, so I wiped the drive and have run Fedora full-time ever since. Also, I have that C book with me right now. Second edition of C the Programming Language. It’s the closest thing to a Bible I own.

I made it some years ago.

Here’s the story of how my involement in Linux is fully the fault of Bryan Lunduke and Jono Bacon. Well, Jono had a minor fault in it but I digress.

I started using Linux in Fall of 2006 at the suggestion of a university professor after their off hand comment that “Linux just works” So I went back to the dorm and downloaded OpenSUSE 10.1. Proceed to install and wipe out my Windows partion. Oops.

So I went looking at Google for linux help. This is where Google betrayed me by pointing to a show called “Linux Action Show”


Here I was as a newbie, listening to a programmer lose his mind over how Fedora listed as a new feature about faster loading of jpegs (TurboJpegs was the package right, Bryan?) Well, this made an impression on me. If this guy is able to grip about how someone does something and thinks it’s stupid and how there’s a better way to do things, then this is the community for me. This lead for me to try to get things working under Linux and get my job done.

Unfortunately for me, this would me some distro-hopping. I left OpenSUSE after failed attempts to get problems resolved and search through sites like and landed squarely in the Ubuntu camp where things basically worked out of the box. This would have been Ubuntu 7.04, which for my workflows at the time worked great.


I ended becoming a great user of Ubuntu due to the community around it and the docummentation which was better than what I had seen elsewhere. Actually got my parents to use it when their home system seemed to be dead and dying, they couldn’t afford a new system so we swtiched to Ubuntu and up until recently, they were using it. (Bought a new computer and decided to stay in the world of Windows)

Sadly, the Ubuntu love story comes to a horrific end with Unity. I felt betrayed by the company because I was an idiot and failed to see the long term goal of Unity. So I wiped Ubuntu off the system and installed Xbuntu. Ran that for a while then moved to OpenSUSE 12.1, after failing to really grasp using rpms and their lanuchpad-like service (, found myself at Linux Mint KDE. In the meantime, I graduated school, signed on to work for a university in my area where I ended up helping write the steps to getting Debian able to be certifed to hold classifed data. Also, I shared what information I could about my work with my local LUG ( where I figured out my wife had an honest to God crush on me. (Only a woman in love would help you set up for a LUG meeting and then come after her class finishes to see how it went)
It also led to me to my current job with one of the larger US telecom companies, where I have been pushing to get an approved Linux image for my group since we write all java EE code, nothing really OS-specific. As we speak I am working through getting a new set of interns sorted out on how to use Git within CentOS :smiley:

So it is completely the fault of Bryan Lunduke & Jono Bacon that I stayed involved in Linux -> meet my wife -> to my current job and managed to get some pretty cool stories. I think they will some credit


Fuck, I feel OOOOOOOOOOOOLD! :slight_smile:

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