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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An old fogey
by csixty4 on Sat 11th Apr 2009 21:32 UTC
csixty4
Member since:
2007-10-08

Some time in 1994, I downloaded a set of "boot" and "root" floppy images off a BBS. I played around with them, but I was kinda lost. Then, two things happened.

First, I got an account at an ISP. Back then, Internet access mainly meant you dialed into a service and were dropped at a UNIX shell. So, I learned a little about *nix from playing around with that server. Second, I found a set of Linux CDs at a computer store.

The CDs sat unused until I went to college in the Fall of 1995, and met a bunch of wild, bearded UNIX geeks. We got Linux going on my 386, and I started exploring. My roommate still gives me crap about recompiling the kernel. I'd start compiling Friday night, go home for the weekend, and come back Sunday to see it either just finishing up or failed with some error.

I didn't touch Linux again until the late 90s, and ran it as my primary OS for a while. It's come a long way since those early days.

Reply Score: 1

RE: An old fogey
by TheLastYogurt on Mon 13th Apr 2009 00:02 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.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: An old fogey
by celia on Tue 14th Apr 2009 15:18 in reply to "RE: An old fogey"
celia Member since:
2009-04-14

Todd,

A colleague forwarded your comments here. I am Celia Einhorn, a program manager for the Supercomputing Challenge.

Yes, we will be 20 years old next year and going strong.

Are you really busy this week? Do you have time to judge a Best Web presentation competition? If so, could you please write to consult@challenge.nm.org and let us know?

May we use this quote on our webpage <http://challenge.nm.org>


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.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Warmly,
Celia

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: An old fogey
by hurdboy on Mon 13th Apr 2009 13:30 in reply to "An old fogey"
hurdboy Member since:
2005-09-02

Would have been late '94/early '95 for me, too. Coming from OS/2.

I *think* I was running SLS or a very, very early Slackware release (which my godfather had mailed me on about 30 floppies), but switched to a 1.x version Slackware after I found it on CD in a bookstore. Central Pennsylvania wasn't exactly a computing hotbed.

Used it pretty regularly until about '97, when I got off the Unix (and pretty much computers, in general) bandwagon for about a year and a half. Work, school, girls were bigger time occupiers....

In college, however (97-02), I used a variety of different things. Pretty much everything important on campus ran on either SunOS/Solaris or OSF/Tru64. I also used OPENSTEP (on real NeXT hardware, even) in some of the computer labs early on. Towards the end of my time in college, I was using Debian on my home stuff, RedHat at school.

Since then, I've branched out quite a bit. I became friends with a group of BSD fanatics, which led me through the various BSD flavors. I admit that I really have developed a fondness for NetBSD, in particular. I also bought a Macintosh around the time that OS X 10.1 was released, and have had various macs around since. Screwing around with old Apple and Sun hardware is part of the reason I've grown to like NetBSD so much. When I first tried it, my response was, "Is this all there is?" Yeah, in the base install, that's all there is. But it's amazingly consistent, and what works on one platform, with a very few exceptions, works exactly the same on another. That's not the case with Linux (try installing on PA-RISC, sometime).

These days, I still run mostly Debian on my Linux machines. Do have a couple of MythTV boxes running Ubuntu.

Reply Parent Score: 1