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.