What did the Linux world look like back in 2000? TuxRadar has republished a distribution round-up from Linux Format issue 1, May 2000. Many distributions such as SUSE, Mandrake and Red Hat are still around in various incarnations, but a few such as Corel and Definite have fallen by the wayside. Still, it does bring back some memories.
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?
Yep, that’s what I started with. Zipslack, to be exact, on my 2.1 GB MS-DOS formatted drive. No GUI at the time, as X did not like my video card and X wasn’t useable for me yet anyway even if it had. Remember what it was like getting a simple sb16 card working back then? This was before ALSA was useable and you had to do manual isapnp configuration using OSS/Free. Struggled with that for a while, moved it to its own partition in the meantime as umsdos was horribly slow.
Gave Debian a try, I think the distro at the time was woody. I didn’t stay with it for long, dselect really annoyed me and woody was out of date and the unstable branch was totally in flux.
Moved to Red Hat 5.2, and boy wasn’t I amazed at sndconfig? That made my sb16’s configuration very easy, and I even got X to work on my video card with that one. Still, it’s custom kernel patches sometimes caused unforseen problems, so tried Mandrake. Anyone remember Mandrake 6.0? It was compiled with pgcc 1.1.3. On my machine (Pentium 166 at the time),, crash city. You would not believe the number of segfaults it gave me.
Eventually I moved back to Slackware and stuck with it for several years. Then I discovered Gentoo, which I stayed with until I took a break from the Linux world entirely and got seriously acquainted with Mac OS X, which I still believe to be a nice blend of GUI functionality and geeky CLI heaven. got back in the Linux world a couple years ago, and I use Arch, Gentoo, and Ubuntu for different purposes now, as well as various flavors of *BSD as well as Solaris, which I’ve been acquainted with for many years. Aint the world of UNIX wonderful?
My first experience was Coral Linux I installed nothing much worked I gave up.
Next was the school I work at (in Lesotho) needed a server file sharing, proxy, web mail (I had read that Linux could do everything an NT server could do and was cheap/free), I bought Suse From a shop (downloading on our lines was a non starter) and with the help of Webmin, Yast and Google had everything working in a week or so.
On the desktop I tried Xandros, Opensuse and Mandrake but itâ€™s been Ubuntu that has stuck (although I may try Mandrake or Opensuse again with KDE 4.2). The free Ubuntu disks were a big deal as weâ€™ve only had broadband 256-512K for about a year.
Edited 2009-02-08 15:14 UTC
I’ve been using Linux regularly for nine years now. I was part of a group of teaching & research assistants, and our professors had recently bought us some desktop computers. My adviser wanted me to use the same setup the other students had, so we ordered a Linux computer. (I had wanted a Mac.)
When the computer came, we set about installing Linux to it. Everything seemed to go fine except one thing: the video card. It was a Matrox G4, too new and cutting edge for the Red Hat desktop that we had installed. It took one of the Linux experts in our group an entire day to figure out how to make Linux talk to the video card properly.
That left me with a sour taste of Linux in my mouth, but just yesterday I was fiddling with HorizSync and VertRefresh in xorg.conf on a computer connected to the department’s projector, so as to get the maximum resolution possible. My home computer runs Fedora 11 and my office desktop runs Ubuntu.
It’s gotten to where I find Linux more usable than Mac or Windows. So much for that sour taste!
Ignoring anything else these screen shots are from 2000, and are just plain horrible, and this is not ancient history. Many user here still live in this time when making comments about Linux. In my opinion Gnome still looks a little old fashioned. 9.04 is allegedly going to correct that but we will see. Those who have suffered some of its limitations, and benefited from relatively modern bonuses like Firefox and OpenOffice. Users of Linux Desktop have a better experience now than any other platform, and the speed of change is astonishing.
Whats really interesting is these screenshots any others at the time pretty much all contain Gimp and you can see where its bad reputation has come from, but it was a very attractive looking application relatively. Its a different program now.
Its interesting to note that GCC; Gnome; Deb all second place are now the more popular choices.
I think the worst thing is the autoconfiguration tools for X being a main feature, one that only has a real solution this year…and is still a work in progress hopefully the 9.04 Distributions will put this to bed.
Linux is constantly fighting its own legacy, as what was true 6 months ago. Is almost certainly not the case now.