Taken from a bulleting board thread.

I will go first. I decided that I could not afford a new computer or another Windows XP license, and my 5 year old installation had grown seriously decrepit. I needed to do a reinstall but had relatively no cash, so I googled “alternative operating systems” and found out about Linux. After seeing that most of my favorite apps were on Linux, I was sold.

My reasons for staying with Linux, even though I purchased a kick-a$$ laptop, is that I finally know what it is like to use my computer, rather than constantly maintain it. All the defragging and registry editing and malware fighting really got to be annoying.


1. How did you find out about Linux?
Back in early 2000, an older friend of mine was running it, I think. However, I didn’t try it until many years later. But that was the first time I had heard about it.

2. What made you try Linux?
Another friend of mine had somehow found out about Ubuntu and had asked me if I wanted to try it as well. I’m not sure what it was that made me go through with it, but I set up a dual boot system with Windows XP and Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon, and after a few weeks I rarely ever booted into Windows.

3. What are your reasons for staying with Linux?
Running it is so effortless. I almost want to say that it “just works”. Sure, every now and then something breaks (or more likely, I break something) and I have to fix it. But at least I don’t ever have to worry about drivers, antivirus software, removing spy- or malware, defragging my harddrive and doing all the boring stuff that you have to do in Windows. Also, I love how you can customize the look of your desktop. In Windows, you’re pretty much stuck with the default themes – unless you want to run buggy third-party applications to theme it.

Also software development is so much easier in Linux. There’s always a million tools available under an open license.

Oh, and I’m completely in love with the package manager. Being able to install X amount of applications with just one command is golden. Having to manually download and install one application at a time feels like it should be a thing of the past by now.


1. How did you find out about Linux?

I found out about Linux back in October ’96 when I was studying informatics. One of my classmates was a guru and kernel hacker and wanted to share the fun that was Linux with the world, or at least his classmates. At one point he borrowed me his InfoMagic CD set and I tried out the different distributions in the set, finally settling for Slackware Linux.
A few weeks later I picked up my own set of Linux CDs: the Pacific HiTech Linux Developers Kit featuring 10 CD-ROMS of linux goodness (a box which I still own to this very day). It included Slackware 96 v3.1, Red Hat 3.0.3, Debian 1.1.1, GCC 2.7.2, Perl 5.003, Xfree86 3.1.2G, X11R6.1 source code, sunsite.unc.edu and TSX-11.mit.edu archives up to 19/08/1996 and linux kernel 2.0.20. The bill (which is still in the box) says it cost me 930 belgian francs (which would be about $25 back then).

2. What made you try Linux?

I had always been interested in other computer systems so it was not hard for my classmate to convince me to try it out. Unlike some friends (who grew up on Commodore 64s and Amigas) I spent most of my time living in MS-DOS and Windows 3.11 (though I did own a VIC-20 before I got a PC). So after the summer of ’96 I turned the earnings of my summer job into a shiny new K5-100 system (sporting 16 megs of RAM, a 4x CD-ROM drive, Trident graphics, a soundblaster compatible soundcard, 850 MB hard drive and a 14″ SVGA screen. Even though this system was already pretty much at the low-end scale, I did have lots of fun with it and even had a quad boot of MS-DOS 6/Windows 3.11, Windows 95, OS/2 Warp and Slackware Linux running on it at some point. About a year later I upgraded this machine to a K6/200 and eventually put the K5 to work as a dedicated linux box.

3. What are your reasons for staying with Linux?

Well, Linux was/is cool isn’t it ? There was something about the magic of the command line, the ability to mold and customize a configuration to your exact standards so that it does exactly that what you want — and do it well, and keep doing it without skipping a beat.
Also, back then I joined the Lan Party scene and we heavily relied on Linux to operate our Quake servers and pretty much run the network 🙂
And I had joined a LUG, which was a great deal of fun (and very informative to learn about new software and projects – remember that this was in the pre-ubiquitous broadband era and dial-up was pretty expensive in Belgium in those days).
Somewhere in 1999 I established a web presence on a dedicated linux box, doing whatever what was fun to do: host the web sites of friends and family and for a few years even a (small) IRC network.

Linux has always stayed with me in some form, and my interest in different computer systems remains. Over the years I have collected (and sold again) a fair number of unix workstations and dabbled with different OSes (Irix, *BSD, BeOS and QNX come to mind), but there has always been some machine in a corner running linux.
These days I do not maintain a slackware system anymore however. While it served me well for a long time I started using Debian for servers at some point (and I still do). My linux workstation runs Gentoo optimized for AMD64, and my laptop currently has a dual boot of Windows 7 / MacOS X 10.5.8 set up.


1. How did you find out about Linux?
I found out about it from a customer at a small family computer store where I used to work. The hardware tech at the store was always pushing unix on how great it was. In fact, my customer gave me a cd of slackware, 1 gig scsi drive, and some old isa based nics with the jumpers to help out.

2. What made you try Linux?
Being into computers, you always have to try the latest thing. I had used unix systems via dial up several times. I really wanted to learn about networking. I used mostly dos and drdos back then. The slackware zillion disks were kind of a turnoff, but I kept my eye on it by getting magazines about linux while starting into win95. I used to fix peoples computers on the side and collected a free computer or two. I really could not afford microsoft software windows or dos for all the machines. working in a computer store, I did get a bit of legally free application software. Skipping over some time and details, eventually I started a job at a college as a tech. I had seen redhat (the original version) in a magazine and tried it. It seems so much easier than slackware to set up. Back then the college offerred free smester hour classes in computing. Between taking college classes and my full time job, I really did not have the chance to play with it too much. eventually The college wanted to get rid of their sco server and put linux on the lab machines for a learning unix using linux classes in conjunction with the Microsoft operating system. None of our team really knew anything about linux or wanted to mess with it. I said I had heard of linux and was elected to do the lab. My boss also knew I had already setup some novell v3 and v4 servers without knowing anything about NOS. (A friend gave me a licensed nos server software to play with and to learn it at home). So that might have been part of it. I was sort of scared silly with the project though, because I had to figure out a way to have both linux and MSWindows boot separately on each of the lab machines. By this time I had played with Redhat enough not to be totally ignorant. Fortunately they were going to use Redhat 7 in the labs. Whew, something I knew at least a little about. So I did some research and found out you could actually do a dual boot with lilo. Grub was not really around yet to my knowledge. I took an unused lab machine and wiped the hard drive. I partitioned it Put the copy of mswindows on it and added then added rh7 to the free space. I ran lilo and was able to dual boot. When I installed the redhat I installed everything from the two cd’s, so that I would not have to deal with it later. We imaged the lab with some snags but they were worked around. Students and teachers were awed. The SCO server was dismantled and destroyed. As the semester went along, I went into the lab to test my installation in my free time. I could not beleive all the software that was available even from just two cd’s. I was also really impressed with all the networking utilities that let me diagnose problems on the network. I was hooked. A Redhat linux box became my main machine at home. While I worked at the college I even collected more computers doing work on the side. People became so disenchanted because of mswindows problems and viruses they would beg me to take away their old personal machine after I set up their brand new one. We were not allowed to take college equipment home. Redhat came to the rescue again to have a freedom os and not have to purchase Messywindoze.

3. What are your reasons for staying with Linux?
The main reason was financial. I did not have to pay a Microsoft Tax. Technically I could use MS at home because of the site license, but I chose not to. Kept using it because linux kept getting better and better such as the live knoppix cd that I could rescue crashed windows machines at work. I also could use a system or really the internet without having to log in the school network with the knoppic disk. The cd was also great at detecting hardware in a system. Great if you need to find drivers even on mswindows systems. Part of my job was to build new images when the school purchased new hardware. Linux tools became an integral part of my tool set. One of the real clinchers for me to stay with linux is that I wanted to learn more about servers. The cost of Microsoft server would be outrageous with my finances. I did some research and found I could do server type things with linux while not having to purchase a separate product to do that. That was the clincher. I used linux pretty much only as a file/print server for a long time. I was not really into web servers back then, I wish I had been though. The more I use linux the more I become enamored with it. One of the things I have tried to do is use open source software instead of all the commercial tools I used as a tech. I am almost there. One of the other intriguing things about linux is that it will almost run on anything. I have run linux on old original i386 machines to pentium4. My brother dared me to put linux on an nslu2. Did that and then became enthralled with web servers and the like. I have installed linux on ppc macs and almost picked up some free sun boxes to use them with linux. Most recently I have installed linux on routers such as the Linksys, Buffalo, and the Airlink101. If it has a cpu, I will put linux on it. I can not imagine using proprietary software at all. One thing I forgot is I have been into thin clients. I originally used old pI/II’s as diskless clients and then went to real thin clients from HP. I love K12LTSP for our in house student lab. We have a personal web server for home use that serves out a ton of business/personal software applications and media. We have our own personal cloud. Then, there is Mythtv and Ubuntustudio. How about all that multimedia goodness. Now I am using old pc’s for firewalls, honeypots, and other networking tools. We are also have started with robots using linux. Can’t forget trixbox and asterisk. There is just no end to what you can do with linux. If you take freedom software away from me, I will never use another computer. What can you not do with linux? Confirmed computerholic!


I first came to Linux around 1998. I had been reading about it and saw a RedHat box in the store and bought it. That particular experience was crap – that shipped version of the distro had serious problems that didn’t let it work correctly. But I soon got my hands on a bundle of 10 or so disks with different distributions on them and I tried them all and had fun. I also tried BeOS at the time.

Since then, I had played with Linux on and off. There are a few factors that made it possible to switch; the major one being a decent browser (Firefox) becoming available. There were two big things Microsoft did that made me decide to stop using Windows. First, the stopped support for Windows 2000, which was an amazing OS – they didn’t ship some version of .NET (don’t remember which) that meant there were lots of apps I couldn’t run. Second, they required “activation” for XP, which was an amazing pain in the butt and felt incredibly wrong to me. I change some piece of my hardware and then have to call Microsoft so they can tell me that’s legitimate and let me install it? Really? Um, no thanks.

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