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Science and technology

17 true tales about switching to Linux

It’s been 30 years since Linus Torvalds created Linux, means again in 1991, as a free different to Unix. In that point, it is grown from a distinct segment mission to a strong, extensively used working system that sustains much of what’s essential in fashionable computing—the cloud, the Internet of Things, supercomputers, the units that stored college students studying throughout a world pandemic, and far, way more. The Linux group is a passionate, devoted, and efficient advocate for the working system in all its iterations, and that enthusiasm has translated into steadily growing adoption. 

There are many causes and methods individuals come to Linux, however as soon as they get right here, most by no means flip again to the proprietary techniques the place they began. So we requested Opensource.com contributors to inform us how they started their tech journey with Linux. Their responses are a various and highly effective testomony about why Linux has withstood the check of time, constantly bettering and gaining followers all over the world.


“Curiosity sparked my earliest explorations with Linux. I came to realize very early that Linux can be used in so many ways that support the education of students and teachers whom I worked with every day. Linux and open source software leveled the playing field for many of my students and library patrons. Linux extended the life of hardware platforms that became obsolete by the design of proprietary operating systems. It is a gift that keeps giving every day.” —Don Watkins

“My Linux journey started during my first year at university [in Budapest] in 1994. There was no Gmail or Hotmail at that time; even most of the teachers did not have an email address. Students could apply for one only in their second year. I just arrived back from my high school year in the United States, where I used email, so I wanted to have an email address as soon as I arrived at the university. After a week of asking, I got an email address and an invitation to participate in the faculty–student IT group. The main server was Novell NetWare, and there was a FreeBSD box for experimenting. My task was to install the faculty’s first Linux server. For a few months, it was experimental for other members of the group, but soon it became a production server. I really enjoyed learning it while doing it. And once I got a stronger machine at home, I also started using Linux on my desktop too, next to Windows. In ’96 I became familiar with SUSE Linux 4.3 and, ever since, SUSE and later openSUSE have been my main OS on the desktop.” —Peter Czanik

“In the ancient times, I owned an Apple IIe. What I didn’t like was that Apple seemed to give not quite enough hardware to do what I needed. Furthermore, it was, and still is, a ‘closed shop,’ where Apple tightly controls not only the software but the hardware it runs on. (All about profits.) The next step was the appearance of GUI environments, and I decided to buy an Amiga and was very happy with it. It actually allowed you to do some things, and you could get lots of free support. Well, we know what happened to Amigas. So then, remaining in my Apple-aversion state (which I continue to this day), I bought a Windows machine… Ohhhhhhh, what a letdown—everything was like a black box. It either worked or didn’t and you had no clue as to why. So at this point, I was searching around BBSes and computer magazines and ran across Linux. It didn’t take long before I told myself, ‘I can do this!’ I sent for my Red Hat Linux CDs and I was off and running. I think my first Red Hat Linux was 5.1 or something like that. I still recall the joy I had when I first got X to work properly. It’s been computer heaven ever since. I started out with dual-boot setups, partly because of the many driver issues with Linux and various hardware. I’d search around with Windows to find the driver, save it to floppy, then reboot to Linux to install. But it wasn’t long before I just bought a new Windows machine and blew away Windows to install Linux.” —Greg Pittman

“I used to be in highschool with a man named Matt, who was a 12 months forward of me. We frolicked lots within the digital music lab, and he additionally received me connected with a gig as a pupil sysadmin for the campus VAX/VMS and Unix servers. One day, Matt tipped me off to a brand new Minix different circulating on Usenet, and I spent quite an excessive amount of time getting GCC to construct it on my shiny new 386 PC. Unlike Minix, this kernel might legally be distributed in digital supply (and even compiled binary) kind, so you did not have to sort all of it in from a textbook. We misplaced contact after he graduated, however Matt went on to guide the Linux Documentation Project and wrote the primary version of Running Linux, which has delight of place on my lab bookshelf immediately, subsequent to my Ok&R.” —Jeremy Stanley

“I discovered open source as a concept through Creative Commons. Recognizing them as philosophical relatives, I soon discovered that many of the tools I used (e.g., GIMP, Firefox, Audacity) were open source, and you could use an open source operating system. This was scary, but Windows Vista was generally acting up while I was in grad school. Ubuntu’s WUBI installer overcame my hesitation to try Linux, and I found myself using it by default. Eventually, Windows hid the Ubuntu install, but the Linux community helped me recover my files, leading me to abandon Windows as my primary OS more than 10 years ago now.” —Kyle R. Conway

“For me, my exposure came from being a poor college kid who couldn’t afford a Windows license. I also worked in a bookstore and had a nice discount on Red Hat Linux 5.2. I used it for a little while and then branched out to try various other distributions: Debian, Slackware, and even FreeBSD wouldn’t install for one reason or another. I found Gentoo Linux in its 1.0 to 1.2 timeframe which finally worked correctly with my network card (the ‘it works with everything’ 3Com 3c509 adapter). From there I became a developer, maintaining several packages for the distribution until my retirement in 2007. I certainly would not be where I am today if it were not for that discounted Red Hat Linux 5.2, and who could have thought that some 20 years later, I would be working at the very same Red Hat?” —Lisa Seelye

“For me, it was a virus in Windows Vista (the whole thing was a virus, to be honest), and my good fortune of acquiring an Ubuntu image around the same time, not really knowing much about Linux or FOSS at all. After figuring out how to install it, I found the experience was excellent: super-fast and completely intuitive for the default programs. So I liked it from an end-user point of view from the off. Then I delved deeper into this thing called ‘open source,’ started to understand the utility of free software, and have been a supporter ever since.” —Laurence Urhegyi

“I would been a DOS consumer because the 1980s, so I did not thoughts the command line. When I went to school in 1990, I found our Unix lab within the laptop science division, and I managed to get an account. Coming from the DOS world, I discovered Unix fairly straightforward to choose up. Many of the instructions have been the identical or comparable, and Unix supplied way more highly effective instruments like awk and grep and sed. In 1993, I began wanting round for one thing to exchange MS-DOS. While I nonetheless beloved DOS and was at house with the DOS functions, I wished the ability of a Unix system. I requested round on a dialogue board system known as Usenet, and somebody steered this new factor known as Linux. It was a Unix-like working system, nevertheless it might run on my ‘386 laptop. I paid somebody $99 to ship me the floppies to put in SoftLanding Systems Linux 1.03. It labored nice. The tagline ‘Gentle Touchdowns for DOS Bailouts’ proved true, because the installer was very DOS-like. Linux felt similar to the massive Unix techniques within the campus lab, however I might run it on my house laptop. And even higher, I used to be capable of dual-boot with MS-DOS, so I might nonetheless boot again to DOS to run my phrase processor or spreadsheet. (Linux did not have many functions in 1993, so I nonetheless wanted as well again to DOS to run some issues.) I’ve additionally shared my Linux origin story and my historical past with SLS Linux on Opensource.com.” —Jim Hall

“I worked in IT at a university, so Linux was around. But it was like all my other relationships at the time—I messed around with it for fun and exploring but made no real commitment. When IBM started a new service called eSecurity (which was one of the first, major ethical hacking services), I got a spot on the first team for EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa). When I arrived, they handed me a 486DX laptop (still have it but, no, it doesn’t work). Apparently, the department was way underfunded. It was old even then, and the only thing it could run well was Linux. It also happened to be the OS I needed to do my job as a hacker, so I installed Red Hat and ran with it. Back then we had a saying, ‘Linux was made by hackers to be the playground for hackers.’ We meant this in a really positive way too. And I still strongly believe you can’t work successfully in network security if you don’t run Linux.” —Pete Herzog

“It has been so long that I sometimes find it hard to imagine I actually switched from something else. Back in 1996, I’d heard about Linux but never had spare hardware I could run it on. At work, we used a mix of Mac, Unix, and Windows. Then, at the 1996 WWDC, I got an MkLinux CD off Apple that would install on my 601 PowerPC-based Mac at work. The whole idea of having a personal ‘Unix-like’ workstation was too cool, so I persuaded my boss to let me try it out and never looked back. Within a year, we had Linux and FreeBSD running regularly and the main Office server had migrated off Unix onto a Dell box running Red Hat Linux.” —Steven Ellis

“I switched (the first time) when I went from being a test engineer at IBM to a full-time Java developer at a startup way back in the first internet bubble. It was so much easier to code on at the time. I had to switch back several years later (mostly because I was required to use Windows on the fed contract, AND because WOW had just come out, and it didn’t play nice with Wine at the time). I never stopped using it on servers, mind you—that IS how I make a living after all.” —Kevin Sonney

“I’ve all the time been a ‘energy consumer’ in that I prefer to tweak my software program (and —my desktops have all the time been self-assembled). I used DOS, then Win three.1 (sparingly), then with Windows 95, I used the GUI increasingly. During this time, after I might scrape up sufficient money, I would get extra RAM or that 486 with a co-processor or no matter. Usually, the upgrades would trigger blue screens and a reinstall. Also, as issues would gunk up and decelerate, I normally ended up reinstalling all the things each six months or so. In my ignorance, I believed this was annoying however regular. I continued this sample by Windows 2000. Then, when Windows XP was launched, I realized that I must ask Microsoft for permission (by the brand new activation ‘function’) for my upgrades and cleanup reinstalls. That was the ultimate straw. In 2005, I received a set of Fedora discs, wiped Win2000 off my machine—chilly turkey, and by no means seemed again. There have been tweaky troubles again within the day getting some  to run, however I not wanted to reinstall for any  change! And the pc ran simply as nicely two years later as it did after I put in it! So, I received out of the behavior of continuous reinstalls, though, lately after I sometimes do a contemporary set up, it is a 20-minute ordeal as a substitute of the weekend-long course of it was with Windows! I began with Fedora with GNOME. Later, I switched to KDE as a result of I preferred the look of it. Then when KDE4 broke issues I relied on, I attempted out Ubuntu. I used that till the Unity debacle, at which level I switched to Linux Mint. That’s the place I am at immediately, and I could not be happier!” —Lee Carpenter

“So I ended up on Linux as a result of I used to be an annoying teenager. OK, maybe that requires a bit extra rationalization. A household good friend was a Windows/DOS administrator, and I used to be all the time bugging him for easy methods to do various things on my laptop. For some time, he was useful however at a sure level I overwhelmed his need to be useful and he began to get quite aggravated with me consistently bugging him about obscure and summary issues that I used to be attempting to do. His resolution was to go to a co-worker who was a FreeBSD admin and ask that man to set up a system for me. His thought course of was that since he did not know something about FreeBSD, he could not assist me after I had questions. However, the FreeBSD admin realized that he didn’t need to develop into my tech assist both, so he put in Slackware. Just a few weeks later, I used to be given a system with Slackware on it. I used to be informed easy methods to use the man command after which, ‘Good luck and have enjoyable.’ From that time on, it was simply my curiosity of what’s this bizarre ‘Linux’ factor I used to be given, how does it work, and what can I do with it.” —JT 

“In the mid-’90s, I was an Amiga user. I worked on DOS and Windows, but my personal machines were Amigas. When I went back to school for a degree, I had to learn and work with C, so I bought one of the Amiga compilers but found that it was not readily compatible with the Sun systems at school. Someone at school informed me about Linux, so I got a laptop to use it with, picked my distro, and ordered Slackware CDs (because it sounded neat). I’ve been a Linux user ever since. (Still like the Amigas when I’m in a retro mood, though.) If I recall, it took me a few days of manually editing modelines to get X working on that old Compaq Armada, but it worked!” —Murph

“As I will always remember, I never switched but was pushed to Linux, no options given nor available, at my first job. It used it only once or twice during academics before getting into my first employment; I knew little about what the Linux-based OS looked like. Though I was fond of C/C++ from my academic time, I only practiced it on Windows XP using Turbo C. It took me a lot of time and learning to get the bare basics, but I am forever happy to have been pushed to Linux.” —Abhishek Tamrakar

“I think I was rebel or divergent all my life. I hate the lack of alternatives. When I met OS/2, I switched to it—but it didn’t take long. After I met Linux, I felt like I found my missing piece.” —Hüseyin GÜÇ

“I am a smidgin disenchanted that nobody says, ‘I pine for the times of Minix-1.1, when males have been males and wrote their very own system drivers. I used to be discovering it irritating that all the things labored in Minix,’ or comparable harkening again to the initial announcement. For me, my solely actual publicity to computer systems rising up was as an undergrad in college labs (Vax) enjoying CircleMUD and doing assigned work for varied lessons in primary Fortran and C, Apple IIes in my highschool ‘laptop lab,’ and my very own trusty Spectrum 128Ok +2 that I had at house. My conversion to Linux occurred after I was a university postgrad pupil in 1997, struggling to get some C code inherited from a previous mission that I wanted for my analysis mission working on Windows. Someone steered utilizing the Solaris servers within the lab. The code constructed the primary time, and earlier than I knew it my Windows was largely xterms and emacs home windows working on a Hummingbird XServer. Another pupil informed me it could be simpler for me simply to run Linux and helped me set up (IIRC) Red Hat Linux 5.1 off a Linux for Dummies cowl CD. Something about being on my fingers and knees attempting to learn the chipset on my community card, so I might recompile the kernel to get Ethernet working, and being informed that if I received my XFree386 config unsuitable I might burn out my monitor, appeared enticing to me.” —Dave Neary


What led you to change to Linux? Please share your expertise within the feedback!

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