I started out as an electronics technician in the army. Prior to then I had not had much exposure to anything IT related bar the ageing BBC micros we used at school. As I had the (military) qualifications necessary to write off equipment I was seconded to the equivalent of the IT department to assist in reconditioning old computers. Whilst there I quickly started picking up IT related skills which at the time were mainly Windows NT and Solaris (6 I think, it was a long time ago) It was around this time I met a Linux enthusiast who extolled the virtues of Linux and open source. Shortly after this my boss recommended that I re-train as an Information Systems Engineer, which I did.
On completion I was deployed to Kosovo as a systems administrator. Whilst there I decided to look into Linux a little deeper and decided that on my return I would be building system and installing Linux on it. At the time Suse Linux (9.1?) had been released with support for the very new AMD 64 processors which I planned on building my system around.
I stuck with Suse in one form or another until about 2006ish when following the Microsoft-Novell cross patent deal I felt I would be better trying other distros. After a significant period of distro hopping I eventually settled on Mepis. I had tried many other distros including Sabayon and Ubuntu but found that compiling everything from source on Sabayon was a right pain in the plebs and Ubuntu was too, well, brown.
Mepis taught me the joys of the apt packaging system and so I eventually decided to move to Debian. I have pretty much stuck with Debian ever since. I have occasionally flirted with the later versions of Ubuntu and was really impressed by 10.04 but unfortunately Unity in later versions was not for me.