JR Swift’s Blog

What I’m Thinking About Today

How I became one of those Linux Geeks Pt 2

Posted by jrswift on August 28, 2007

When last we left our hero (that would be me) he was broke and computer-less. This continued (at least the computer-less) part for several more years. I occasionally logged on to public computer terminals at the library or coffee shops but had no regular home internet access. I remedied this (in part) by purchasing one of those awful MSNTV receivers. It worked…sort of. I could do email and chat and visit most websites. Mostly it just made me want to get a real computer which I did about 2 1/2 years ago. Anyway, I was a pretty determined Microsoft guy at the time because that was what I knew. I only had dial-up at the time and I thought the MSN Dial-Up was better than what I tried on Earthlink or AOL. I didn’t really do anything other than play on the internet so the lack of other useful software didn’t bother me. I subscribed to my Norton Internet Security, ran my spyware scans and defragged my hard drive like a good little customer.

Somewhere along the way, something went awry. I managed to acquire a very nasty worm and, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t remove it. I ended up having to re-install and, while that cleared up the problem, I was rather annoyed and frustrated with Windows. I was determined to try and find an alternative. I started reading about Linux but it sounded awfully scary and hard and I didn’t really want to destroy my computer with this strange new operating system. Finally, one weekend almost two years ago, I decided I was going to do it if it killed me. I bought some disk partioning software and a book on linux (Fedora 4) which came with an installation DVD.

Somehow I managed to save my Windows partition, install Fedora and get the whole thing to boot. A couple of days later I figured out (well, I don’t really know what I did) how to get networking working and I was actually online, surfing the web, using this strange new system. I kept Googling and reading and learning and figured out more and more things I could do with my new toy. I eventually decided to go Windows-free after a few months and have never looked back. I became what might be called a “distro-whore” and kept downloading and installing every new Linux distribution I could find. I just about tried them all. Suse, Ubuntu, Mandriva, Debian, Gentoo (yeah, actually managed to pull that off) and even non-Linux unixes like FreeBSD and Solaris. Had a few minor disasters but learned how to deal with it and now I’m what one might call a Linux advocate.

Anyway, reading back on these two blogs entries, I can’t imagine anyone (but me) being too interested in it. Still, I figured I’d throw it out there, mostly as a way of introducing Linux as a fairly regular blog topic. My next entry will talk a bit more about what I like (and don’t like) about Linux and what distribution(s) I run and enjoy. I may also touch on some of the current issues in the world of Free and Open Source software. Hopefully someone somewhere will read along.

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