We all have our memories of our first experience with Linux. Some were die-hard, and may have started using it somewhere in the '90s, when GNOME looked like this (GNOME 1.0, 1999) and KDE like this (KDE 1.0, 1998). We've sure come a long way since then, looking at all the beautiful screenshots in our recent 2009 edition of the Show Us Your Desktop story.
I was a bit late to the Linux game, installing my first Linux distribution, Mandrake 8.0, in 2001. Back then, Mandrake was to the Linux world what Ubuntu is now; if you asked a Linux enthusiast with what sort of distribution you should start off with, chances are they would've said Mandrake, thanks mostly to its excellent installation program and advanced graphical configuration tools. Back in those days, I preferred KDE, which looked like this in 2001 (KDE 2.1). GNOME was still in its 1.x days back then, and looked like this. Again, it's hard to ignore the massive stride forwards the Linux desktop has made during the first few years of this millennium.
Let's continue our trip down memory lane. What are your first experiences with Linux? What distributions did you use? What did they look like?