Linked by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on Sat 11th Apr 2009 20:55 UTC
Linux Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols at Computer World asks himself when he first started using Linux after attending the Linux Foundation Summit where several others were asked the same question. The Linux Foundation has posted a video of some of the answers; boy, do I feel young.
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RE: An old fogey
by TheLastYogurt on Mon 13th Apr 2009 00:02 UTC in reply to "An old fogey"
TheLastYogurt
Member since:
2009-04-12

My experience was somewhat similar to yours.

The "what" and the "when": Slackware in 1994 (don't remember which version). I was 16, and I chose Slackware because it was the total DIY distro, but actually I was in over my head. ;) I was also really intrigued by 386BSD, but didn't have a box to run it on.

In 1994 (my junior year of high school), I took a FORTRAN class in which the students entered into mentorships with scientists at Sandia National Labs. This was part of a program in New Mexico called the Supercomputing Challenge--a truly excellent way for kids to learn that you can do good and amazing things with powerful computers. With accounts on SNL and LANL boxen, we cut our teeth on SunOS and OSF/1. I had previously only read about UNIX, and was actually mystified by it. It had so much arcane potential. Then I got to discover first-hand that I loved UNIX, and was really excited to discover Linux and open-source BSDs. I experimented with Slackware and Debian at home, and compared notes with two other programmer/hacker types. After that, I wanted to try every UNIX flavor I could. I also seem to recall complaining to the sysadmin at Sandia National Labs because he wasn't shadowing passwords. ;) Two years later I installed Debian (I think) on my college roommate's PC (at his request).

Sometimes it's hard to stay positive about computing technology, but thinking back to those days never fails to remind me that, at its best, Linux brings a sense of adventure and discovery that every computer professional should have. When I entered the workforce as a web consultant, I was surprised and disappointed to find that very few programmers were "hackers" (in the proper sense of the word). They went to school, studied Java, and that was what they knew. For me, Linux and open-source computing represent everything that was, and is, exciting about computing--alternative or otherwise.

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