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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my story: 1998
by joekiser on Sat 11th Apr 2009 22:46 UTC
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I first tried RedHat 5.2 back in 1998 I believe. I think the kernel was 2.0.32, and it was on a Packard Bell with a 540MB hard drive and 486 processor. The system only had 1 MB of video ram, and the chipset being somewhat unsupported, only let me use 256 colors at one time (anything over 256 colors came in shades of grey). I used Netscape 3.x over the Communicator series because it used less colors by default. Sound and dialup worked fine though, with ppp-scripts and later KPPP. I remember not being entirely satisfied with the window-manager offerings on the default system, and switching to qvwm, mlvwm, and later IceWM (with the lovely Wigren theme). Enlightenment (maybe e14?) did some pretty amazing things, but it was too resource-hungry. all the *box window managers started with Blackbox written by some guy with a Pentium 133 and FreeBSD. Some of those original themes are still floating around.

Later in 1999 I upgraded to 40MB of RAM and tried out FreeBSD, Mandrake, and Slackware for the first time. I believe Mandrake at the time was simply RedHat + KDE. There was also Caldera which I remember nothing of. Well anyway, I fell in love with the speed and simplicity of FreeBSD, and stayed there for the longest time, through the next five or six desktops. I remember waiting for KDE 2.0 as the next big thing, followed by Gnome 2.0 (Gnome was always slower on my systems for some reason). There were a few commercial X releases for sale back then, Accelerated X, and Metro-X for those who wanted to shell out the big bucks to have hardware acceleration. There was also a commercial CDE for RedHat for a while. If you wanted an office suite, you paid for ApplixWare or Star Office (which people hated because it included its own start menu which was reminiscent of Windows), or you downloaded Corel WordPerfect for Linux and hoped it worked with your distribution.

In hindsight, we complain today about lack of commercial support....but we have so much software available on our platform as compared to just a few years ago. Quality web browsing, office suites, IDEs, music players...package management systems...all available for free. Hardware detection these days is amazing...everything works out of the box, for the most part, even wireless. Those days you could fry a monitor (or so I'm told) by entering the wrong info in xfree86.conf. It's a slow process, but the tides have definitely changed in our favor.

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