One year ago, if you’d asked me what Linux was, I might
have known it was a type of Unix. I would have thought of something running on industrial-sized servers, something far too complex and baroque for an ordinary home PC. And I would have had a mental image of people typing arcane gobbledegook into something much more scary than an MSDOS prompt. (At least, I was right on that score.
) And as far as delving into the hardware was concerned, I hadn’t done anything more ambitious than upgrade the memory in my bottom-of-the-range Celeron-driven desktop. I’d had to ask the nice man in PC World to sell me the right card – I didn’t have a clue. Fortunately, he was
a nice man – it worked.
Fast forward a year and now I’m using Linux for 99% of my computing needs. I’m running SuSE 10.0 on my self-built AMD machine and on my laptop. I’ve fitted a hdd removable caddy thingy to my Celeron machine and I use this to explore other distros, including a working installation of Gentoo. (Actually, this is limping quite a bit. I’m getting an error message at the boot-up dialogue and the X-server crashes, but, hey, this is from a middle-aged guy whose only previous experience of ‘real’ computing was to teach himself the essentials of BASIC and machine-coding on a Sinclair Spectrum in the 80s, and who could just about get by at the MSDOS prompt before the days of Windows.)
How did this all come about? Last June, or thereabouts, three things happened within a week or so. Someone mentioned that they used Linux on their desktop PC. (It has a GUI? Gosh.) I saw a screenshot in a mag somewhere. (Yes, it does have a GUI, and it looks good.) Then PCW magazine included the ISO of a DVD for the live version of SuSE 9.x. (Um, what’s an ISO?) I tried to burn a DVD from this with my laptop. (What??!! Windows doesn’t support DVD burning natively? They cannot
be serious.) I wasted a day finding and downloading free DVD burning software for Windows from which I produced two DVD-coasters each containing one large .iso file.
This is when I discovered that my laptop came with ‘free’ DVD-burning software. Two more .iso-containing coasters followed (thank goodness for K3b) until finally I had a bootable SuSE DVD. I booted, I saw, I was impressed. EPIPHANY!
The book “Linux for Dummies” (and a couple of others) took me gently through the world of partitioning and dual-booting and gave me experience of some legacy versions of different distros. Then I struck out on my own, and discovered LXF and this forum along the way. And here I am.
Two things. Firstly, a word of appreciation to all on this forum. It’s always a great pleasure to read the threads and to participate. There’s a genuine friendliness and willingness to help here – and a lot of humour. So different from some of the forums out there. (Perhaps because it’s British
– cue drum roll, strains of ‘God save the Queen’, etc
) Secondly – Linux has given me a lot. All the usual things – something interesting, freedom from malware, freedom from contributing to either Bill Gates’ or Steve Jobs’ pension funds, excellent software, etc, etc – but it has also given me a freedom not often mentioned in the FOSS world. Linux stimulated me to gain the technical knowledge to build my own computer and to improve my shop-bought one. When I need to replace/upgrade I can do it myself. I am no longer dependent on the ‘advice’ given by the salesperson in PC World or Comet or wherever – people who usually know the square root of nothing at all about anything, who understand even less, and who care not at all.