Why do people switch to Linux?

Forum: LinuxTotal Replies: 142
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Sep 27, 2005
9:29 AM EDT
I tried Linux a number of times before I got it to work and started using it. That was in the 1990's BTW. I wanted to learn so bad, but the jargon got in my way in the beginning. I bought a brand new (end of life) DEC box at an auction for $50 and decided to just install Linux on it and try it until I got more familiar with it.

The first challenge was getting on the Internet. Ooooo what a challenge. At the time, no one had a dialer. I wound up on a web site trying to understand PPP and serial ports, etc. It took a week but I got connected. By then, I knew a lot about Linux. I downloaded an unsupported netscape browser and it worked. From that day forward I was using Linux. But why?

I just remember feeling stuck with Windows and I headed up a practice section of a MS Solution Provider. Prior to that, I was the hands-on Senior admin for a large NT network and prior to that I was assistant admin on a IBM Lan Server network managing OS/2 workstations at a Cigna HMO.

When I started using Linux, I felt excited about IT again. I remember feeling that way years before, but some how, I felt my power going away. Linux gave me back a sense of making a difference. In 1999, people complained about a lack of Linux support - that was - they couldn't make a service call. So, I got an 800# and started a Linux call center.

I expected hundreds of calls, but we only got a few a week at first. They were mostly ISPs and Novell shops that were using Red Hat 4.2 for Internet mail.

So, again, why did I switch? I guess I had a lot of reasons. I think that I caught the excitement that Linus, Larry Augustine, John maddog Hall, Dave Whitinger and others brought. I also like the fact that Linux gave me something on which to work and it gave me a sense of being able to contribute.

I didn't dislike Microsoft at first. But when it became obvious they wanted to kill Linux, I got pretty mad about it. I never liked bully types even when they didn't pick on me. But when they picked on me ...

I'd appreciate you sharing your story or at least a portion of it.

Maybe, we can combine the posts and make it an article.

Sep 27, 2005
11:19 AM EDT
Well.. for me it was simple. x86 stinks.... M$ stinks... I was never a Windows user, nor a user of crappy x86 architecture. I owned an Amiga (a hardware marvel that still has not been repeated even today). Before that, I was z80 with CP/M.

I told myself I would NEVER, EVER, no NEVER own an x86 machine... until....

I was at work one day and one of the sys admins said, dial out to my box at home. I did and was greeted by something that smelled a lot like System V (unlike BSD at the time... which of course was in a state of legal/political turmoil.. that was in the early nineties). "What is it?", I asked, expecting that he had gotten hold of "free" copy of UnixWare or something (which was probably about $1500-2000 at the time). He said, "It's Linux."

Well.. that was it for me. I did the unthinkable in 1994 and ordered a Pentium 90 clone from a consultant who did Linux builds on the side. It ran Yggdrasil's Plug and Play Linux... had a 500M HD, 8M memory and a ATI Graphics Ultra Pro (mach32). I had a high resolution 14" CRT that could do 1024x768 and even 1280x1024 (though only at 60Hz) and I ran Xfree at 8bits. Btw, I gave that machine way about 4 years ago to a friend who works with me that had held to a anti-x86 position even longer than I.

That box box was on par if not better than all of the commercial Unix workstations at the time.

At home, I know have a Dual 3.2Ghz Xeon, a Dual AMD 246 Opteron, a Dell D600 laptop, a Dell Precision M70 laptop and my old Toshiba 3000... all with SUSE Linux. Both my wife and I use Linux as our primary desktop. She uses VMware occasionally to run a few applications that the school (she's a teacher) requires (her's is the D600 btw.. and the Dual Xeon is her workstation... which she doesn't use much anymore). I use Linux for the normal productivity stuff as well as for gaming (which is unusual in the Linux community).

Contracting wise, I specialize in Linux and Windows integrated solutions (that's moonlighting outside of my 9 hour/day job). At work, our *ix infrastructure is all Linux based, but we support just about any commercial Unix platform as well.

Unix since 1983 (originally it said 1987.. my typo)... Linux since 1994. Windows since about 1996.

Sep 27, 2005
11:50 AM EDT
I converted to Linux (from NetBSD) because of two factors:

1. Price - I got a 1 GHz Duron PC from Walmart for $300 in 2002. 2. All the cool software - User mode linux, Reiserfs, although NetBSD is pretty posix-compliant.

Like cjcox, I never owned a Windows/x86 PC:

1. Radio Shack Color Computer III, running OS9 level 2 2. AT&T 3b2 (a.k.a. Convergent Safari), M68010, SysV 3. NeXT color slab, running NeXTStep 4. DEC UDB Alpha running RedHat 3.0 and 4.0 5. SPARC IPC running NetBSD 0.9 - 1.1 6. SPARCStation 10 running NetBSD 1.3 - 1.6

I had very little trouble moving to Linux from NetBSD - I still use the PPP "chat" script I used under NetBSD, all my config files (.vimrc, .xinitrc, .Xresources, etc) came right over.

Sep 27, 2005
1:19 PM EDT
6 years ago I was the warehouse/transport manager for a small manufacturing company, I used a pc, but only to input stock and raise orders - I was clueless. I got my first computer in 1999, a Pentium 35 with 16MB of RAM and Windows 95. I knew nothing about computers and had no internet connection and no job at the time so I just explored and explored till I'd looked in every folder, opened every ini file and double clicked every exe just to see what would happen. Then I stripped all the internet stuff out to see what would happen. At some point I got hooked.

Next up was an AMD 350 again with Win95, and then 98 once I'd started on a computer course. We were taught by an ex Paratrooper and my goodness we learned (he was about 6' 7" and weighed about 20 stone (280lb)), to strip them down and build them up etc etc etc.

The thing that got me in the end was that if I wanted to do anything with the computer I was either stuck with shareware or had to use pirate software. And everything I created with that software was ruined for me because I knew it was built on crappy foundations, so to speak - because the software was stolen. I suppose I vaguely hoped there was an alternative but didn't hold out much hope. How wrong could I have been?

And then I discovered Linux - RedHat 6.2, I must have installed it about 20 times thinking I was doing something wrong, because all I got was a black screen after the first boot - no net connection meant no support. I knew no one who used Linux to ask for help so I got a friend in Sweden to download the RedHat 7.3 disks for me, which worked first time, then RH8 and so on and so on. I spent a very happy 18 months with Mandrake. Then Ubuntu came along.

Recently (in the last couple of weeks) I've discovered Debian. I like Debian. A lot. Think I might finally have found somewhere to stay.

Now running: an Evesham AMD1900 with Debian and Ubuntu, a Viglen AMD2500 with Ubuntu, at work I have the same again plus an Acer AMD64 monster box of uselessness running Ubuntu and Fedora Core 4. I also have a Zaurus 5500 running Open Zaurus 3.5 and access to assorted laptops running Blag, Ubuntu, Debian etc. All the boxes have NVIDIA 5600 or better. I like NVIDIA cards.

I now work on an OS Project as a circuit rider as well as being responsible for installing and configuring etc. I know enough about computers now to know that I don't know very much about computers but I'm learning all the time. Got some employer sponsored training coming soon. LPI stuff!

My wife abhors computers, won't use them, won't touch them, won't learn. "The internet is rubbish." Not even with the added factor of open source/software freedom and the potential anti-capitalism angle - being the old hippy that she is.

Sep 27, 2005
2:06 PM EDT
I too started with OS9, but on a Dragon, level I (i.e., no memory management, 64 kB max for code and data). Dynastar word processor, Dynacalc spreadsheet, P-system Pascal. Green screen terminal (Nokia) attached to the serial port. "Hard disk" was a 720 kB diskette drive. Worked remarkably well after I re-wrote part of its driver :-)

My first computer (not personal though, I did my dissertation on it) was a PDP-11 running RT-11. Fortran IV. Those were nice boxes. Wonder why anybody would need more than 32 kilo-words?

We had in Helsinki a bulletin board system running OS9 on a Dragon 64 with one external serial port added. Two people could log in, one over a 300 bps modem, the other over a 2400 bps. Then they could chat together :-)

All that came to an end; Dragon went bust and I moved on (at work) to Vaxes and SunOS boxes. It wasn't until 1994 that my wife and I again bought a personal computer, an i386 running Windows 3.11 and Word 6.0 (or as my wife has it, Windows 6.0 :) Actually quite a nice system. DOS has gone downhill from there.

1996 I asked for Christmas and got a CD set with several Linux distributions, from which I installed Red Hat 4.0 on a partition. I suppose it happened that late because I was thoroughly disgusted with the state of computing at that time, had seen what happened to Dragon OS9 and Unix in general, and was once burned twice shy. But I never stopped being a Unix amateur -- Tanenbaum's book on the shelf and all. Homecoming.

- Martin

Sep 27, 2005
8:08 PM EDT
1) Univac in 1975. (Learnt unix there) 2) Solaris; SGI IRIX; Cray XMP/YMP 1982-1999 (Numerical modeling with Fortran) 3) Windows 3.1-98 1994-1999 (Basic desktop stuff) 4) 1999-present: Linux for everything, science, desktop, games, you name it.

I like Linux because it's unix, it's cheap and for a scientist it's a pleasure to use on the desktop.

I have two P4s 3Ghz with Ubuntu and RH8 a Pentium M laptop running Ubuntu plus a dedicated 24 cpu opteron cluster running RHEL3.

Numerical modellers nirvana really....Still mainly use Fortran and my C is slowly (very slowly) improving ;-)

Sep 27, 2005
11:16 PM EDT
I first touched a computer when I was 6 (and that was 23 years ago, when the PC 1512 was still a new thing!). My primary school was the first in France to give computer classes to pupils. We learned a dialect of BASIC and some LOGO on Thomson MO5, MO6, TO7 and T09 computers, set up in an internal network with a 1512 with DOS as server ;) . I guess that set my interest for computers, although I eventually didn't go for a carrier in the IT world ;) .

Next was quite similar to cjcox. The first computer I bought (or rather that my parents bought me) was an Amstrad CPC 6128 http://amstrad.cpc.free.fr/amstrad/cpc6128.htm . The processor was a Z80, in ROM was the BASIC interpreter and prompt (OS). The CP/M+ OS came with it, but on a floppy (3 inch ;) ). I learned real programming (BASIC and Assembler) on it. Even wrote a text editor completely in BASIC (and it wasn't even slow!).

However, the platform was eventually abandoned by Amstrad so I bought later an Amiga 1200, indeed a hardware marvel (I remember fun things I did programming in Amos :) ). I used it mostly as a game platform though. Workbench was the first graphical OS I ever saw, and it's still miles ahead what Windows offers ;) . The computer's still in my parents' home, well stored and protected against dust. I bet it would still start up ;) .

When I took up high scientific studies, I came in a university-like school with a computer network handled by the students (and for the students only. The teachers and researchers had a separate network). The computers we used were Windows (95 and 98), but the network itself was handled by a Linux server. I first heard of Linux because I became romantically involved with one of the maintainers of the network ;) . He was a Debian fan (Debian was used for the server there) and communicated his attitude to me. I am still a Debian fan (although we broke up long ago ;) ). I learned more about GNU/Linux on Internet, and the ideals of Free Software, and they immediately made sense to me. I was hooked.

Then four years ago I got my first job, just fresh out of University. I moved to the Netherlands, and got the possibility to buy a computer, partly paid by my employer. I didn't have that big a choice though if I wanted to use that program, so I settled for a Dell computer with Windows ME on. I thought I could always install GNU/Linux on it myself. It took me a while (mostly because Real Life(TM) prevented me to get much free time, because I wanted to get a bit more hard drive space and a DVD rewriter first, and because I patiently waited for Debian Sarge's release ;) ), but I finally did it last summer. I am still dual-booting with ME because my partner still doesn't want to switch, but I myself have been using GNU/Linux exclusively ever since. And when this computer dies (it's 4 years old. That's above 100 in IT years ;) ), the next one I'll buy won't have anything to do with Microsoft anymore (I promised myself Windows ME would be the first and last Microsoft OS to ever touch my computer ;) ).

All in all, I feel I have been naturally evolving towards GNU/Linux, and that it is just the right thing for me :) .

Sep 28, 2005
1:03 AM EDT
people switch to Linux for various reasons:

- the challenge to try and alternative (and sticking with it) - had enough off computers troubles (but hey let's try that Red Hat Linux CD out of curiosity) - forced up by a Linux enthusiast (husband, wife, brother, etc) and after years got too accustomed to it - comes from a strong UNIX background - financial reasons, cutting budget, etc - moral reasons (rare) - governmental reasons or desktop at workplace

I chose Linux simply because I thought the mascot looked cute enough.


Sep 28, 2005
1:09 AM EDT
Cut my teeth on an Alpha Micro AM-100 (PDP-11 clone(ish)) at the University Computer Club at the University of Western Australia in 1980 running AMOS. Also got to play on Curtin University's (then Western Australian Institute of Technology) DECsystem-10 running STOP-10 (sorry, TOPS-10) and assorted PDP-11s mostly running RSTS.

First work was programming an Alpha Micro in their BASIC dialect. Then a friend (the late and much-missed Dean Elsner) bought himself a 4MHz CP/M-80 machine (twin 8" floppies, 64k RAM), and a copy of the BSD C compiler and suddenly I could write simple programs which were speed-limited by the terminal, not the language. The feeling of power was addictive. (-:

I worked for a computer shop, got some exposure to other kinds of OS including the UCSD P-System on Apple /// and to graphics (Hitachi Peach, Apple ][+, //e, //c, even the horrid character graphics on the Osborne 1). I also got some exposure to RSX-11-M-PLUS, which featured a real filesystem (ODS-1), timesharing, and real system tools (the DECUS C compiler plus the native tools like TKB and PIP, from which the PIP.COM CP/M implementation obviously denegerated).

This exposure to real system tools spoiled me, and I began to find the "appliance" style systems very frustrating. The only real exposure I'd had to Unix of any sort was -- irony! -- Microsoft Xenix on a Tandy 68k, which sucked and included only the absolute minimum toolset.

So the first computer I actually owned was a 486DX33 with 2x160MB IDE drives, a Gravis UltraSound AKA "GUS", and 16MB of RAM (at a time when 2MB or 4MB was the norm) running Windows for Workgroups 3.11 on DR-DOS 6. Yes, I got bitten by the encrypted crash code that MS put into Win311. DR-DOS's utilities were much better than MS-DOS's; e.g. DISKCOPY would copy a disk into a file or vice versa.

During its lifetime, this machine trashed its own hard drives four times. Not happy, Jan.

Then I got to play with -- more irony! -- a SCO box running CDE. Whoah! Graphics and Lego-like toys! Even if half of them were named scoXXX instead of their normal name and ran through the /etc/ directory.

Then I was given an old laptop (2M RAM, 200MB HDD) and managed to load Slackware onto it from floppies. It wasn't a very exciting machine, and 2MB of RAM was barely enough to get the graphics to stagger into life, but it did have all of the toys. What I learned on it was enough to get me some work sorting out Linux servers (Red Hat 5.0, I think) and other Unices.

When MS-Windows gutted its filesystem again, I tried installing Debian, but at that point the installer was still pretty cryptic, so I reverted to Red Hat (I think 6.0 by this time), then when Mandrake's obviously slicker distro happened along, switched to that and have never looked back.

Linux gives me the pretty (and convenient) graphics plus all of the tools I can eat.

My Mrs is terrified of computers (any computers) yet is pleased that hers never crashes, never gets viruses or spyware. Ever. She does, however, lament the collection of educational software she's built up but which we cannot run. I'm looking forward to the installer-related improvements in WINE over the next few months, which should enable us to start using a lot of that software.

Sep 28, 2005
5:00 AM EDT
I first used Linux on the job, where a small skunk-works group was using Linux on a Samba server that also served as a CVS repository for their work in creating an ERP CASE tool used to generate a product that could run on multiple Unix platforms.

I was new to Unix, having spent most of my career on mainframes with a little bit of DOS and Windows work. My friend helped me to put together a 66 mhz 486 box from spare parts and odds 'n ends from the computer show to run Debian 1.3.

I was not unhappy with Microsoft or Windows, but I was motivated to learn more about Unix. I worked in a Unix shop and I paid attention to Microsoft marketing. One thing always struck me: It seems like Microsoft never failed to mention the high cost of Unix talent. They made cheaper people a key selling point for NT. I don't know about you, but my professional goals do not include being cheap. Cost effective, yes, but I've always wanted to justify heaps of cash.

It was not an easy go at first, but it sure did help me out being able to tinker with Unix(like) at home. Before long, I had upgraded the box to a mighty 233 mhz K6 with 16 mb of ram and installed Hamm. I made a network with our Windows 95 box, and began playing with X. When the first betas of KDE came out, I installed it. From that point, I began spending more time on the Linux box -- especially after StarOffice was made gratis -- and less on the Windows PC.

As I went on, I began trying things that I couldn't do with Windows. I added boxes to the network, I started doing graphics with the Gimp. I experimented with apache and postgresql, all manner of things.

One note: Being able to do something means more than technology. I didn't have money for Photoshop. I didn't have money for heavyweight computers or multiple licenses of anything.

When the company I worked for went bankrupt, I was able to get a little bit of work doing web development for Unix sites because I could pre-run the code on my Linux machine.

Ironically, Linux and free software have done for me what Microsoft, DOS and Windows, and Lotus did for a bunch of others when I was working in mainframes. At that time, we were losing a lot of work to people who discovered that a pc with Lotus 1-2-3 could be purchased under a manager's signature limit and turned over to the department gearhead to do things for which we would charge a lot of money and take six months to complete.

At home, we bought an XT clone that my wife used to set up a little word-processing business and I used to explore the potential of PC software. We bought a seond-hand copy of Word 2.0 and upgraded immediately to 3.0. I bought Turbo Pascal for $40 and we were off to the races.

Now, Linux is my primary platform. We have one Windows XP notebook because my wife needs a couple of specialized applications that don't run on Linux and I am not a WINE hack.

XP doesn't seem all that bad to me, but I am more comfortable with KDE and Linux. I can still do things on Linux that I couldn't do on Windows because of my budget, but the list has grown to include video and audio editing/production tasks. Besides, I've been running in 64 bit mode on an Athlon 64. Even if could afford to buy software for all of the things that I do on my Linux box, 64 bit offerings in Windows land are pretty thin.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Sep 28, 2005
7:20 AM EDT
I just wanted to try something different back in 1996, got an install of Slackware 2.0 from Lasermoon in the UK came on about 25+ floppies, bought a copy of Dr.Linux from them as well and of i went.

OMG, I really didn't know what i was letting myself in for, had only used Dos, and Windows up to this point. This is in the days before internet really hit the UK, so got no help from that quarter, so there i was in my bedroom with a bunch of floppies (please no jokes) and the biggest book i had ever seen. I think i emerged 3 months later with the perfect Linux install :)

Sep 28, 2005
8:14 AM EDT
Floppies in a bedroom! The mind boggles.... Sorry could not resist it!

Sep 28, 2005
8:23 AM EDT
richo ---

Shame on you!! Besides, there's help for that now.

Sep 28, 2005
12:06 PM EDT
This is great material.

I'd appreciate your continuing to share your story or at least a portion of it. I think we can combine the posts and make it into a stellar article.

Sep 29, 2005
5:06 AM EDT
1977 High School




After that it wax Vax in college, an Apple II, an Apple IIgs, then around 1993 I got an IBM pc clone for about $2300.00.

The pc had windows 3.1, and was ok. First linux install was on that machine in December of 1996. I got X working in January of 1997.

I've been a Linux user ever since.

Sep 30, 2005
11:18 AM EDT
OK. With the thousands of reader than visit every day, we have to have more stories people can share. Whose next?

Sep 30, 2005
1:22 PM EDT
I think some of the MSFT shill user IDs should share their "reasons" for "switching" to Linux.

Buehler? Anyone? Buehler?

Hey, Wagg-Ed created (http://news.com.com/2100-1001-961994.html?tag=fd_top_3) a "switcher" from Mac to Windows, maybe they can create a Windows-to-Linux switcher. Bring it on!

Oct 01, 2005
4:46 AM EDT
I bought a commodore 64 then a commodore 128,never got online with them tho. In 1998 I bought an acer pc with win95 on it and it had the win 98 upgrade with it.took me a year to figure that i needed to use the upgrade. As an artist ,I traded artwork a lot and was constantly getting viri.it seemed like all i did was reformat. In 2001 i heard about linux but didnt understand what they were telling me.after having 3 classes to teach online in one week ,and dealing with reformating 4 times in the same time period,i decided there had to be something better out there. i have had no computer training ,so it took me 6 months to even decide which distro.I chose mandrake 8.2 because the support channel on irc was really good.In other words they didnt tell everyone to RTFM.as long as I put forth effort to read and try to understand ,they would answer my questions.sometimes this only required a keyword to help point me in the right direction.another great irc channel #kde on efnet directed me in proper security. It hasnt been easy and right now i have a broken distro in some programs.but i have no microsoft products on my box and it took only 1 year of using linux to be able to wipe ms off I have sought for days for answers for ms problems and discovered reformat was only way to fix. but with linux it might take longer to find the answer ,but usually it is out there if i can just find the right terminology to search for. Major benefit for me=clicking on email and feeling comfortable that something bad isnt going to d/l to my computer without my permission. BTW ,there has only been 2 reformats since i started linux,they were once my fault and the other was something about the age of my monitor and not knowing enough to change the settings to compensate but reinstalling helped because i could make different choices to avoid the problem . very satisfied linux user. br3n

Oct 01, 2005
7:07 AM EDT
"A third key?! But according to two witnesses attending the conference, even Microsoft's top crypto programmers were astonished to learn that the version of ADVAPI.DLL shipping with Windows 2000 contains not two, but three keys. Brian LaMachia, head of CAPI development at Microsoft was "stunned" to learn of these discoveries, by outsiders." http://www.heise.de/tp/english/inhalt/te/5263/1.html

"The European Parliament reports have sparked Continent-wide anger. Questions have been raised by officials in Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Holland, while the Swedish government has launched an investigation into whether Swedish companies have been victims of covert NSA surveillance. In Italy, a Rome deputy district attorney has opened an inquiry to determine whether NSA activities violate Italian privacy law. More important, perhaps, the reports encouraged France and Germany to lift their restrictions on the use and sale of strong encryption software, which Washington has been trying to limit." http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/pipermail/ukcrypto/1999-Se...

"Germany's Bundiswehr is banning Microsoft software (and presumably other major American software packages) from use in critical environments due to concern over "back doors" suspected to have been placed for the use of U.S. spy agencies, particularly the NSA (National Security Agency). China, last year, declared Linux, particularly the home grown Red Flag Linux, the official operating system for Chinese government and commerce due to similar security fears." http://www.aaxnet.com/news/M010318.html

Oct 01, 2005
8:14 AM EDT
Sort of an expansion on my previous post, more a pre-linux history also known as my teen childhood.

Bought a Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k, marketed in the US as the Timex, learnt ZX Basic, that wasn't good enough for me so i learnt Z80 assembly, my first Z80 assembly based program was a sound sampling utility for the ZX Spectrum, next up was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128 +2, where i decided to write a Forth language interpreter for it, this to my suprise actually worked although a bit ropey hey im self taught so if their was a short cut i would take it :)

Went to uni and did Electronic Engineering, left uni, went off the rails for a wee while, wine women and song not necessarily in that order, got back on the rails ditched the electronics switched to software, Z80, 8051, X86, Forth, C, VB, for various companies got fed up of Dos, Win 3.1 and decided that for a laugh or a sort of self imposed challenge would try this new fangled OS call linux and this leads up to my previous post :)

PS. I still have both of my ZX Spectrums in full working order!

Oct 02, 2005
6:50 AM EDT
Ok, here's my (very short since I'm only 21 years old) story:

I got my first own PC 3 years ago, before used win98 on my parents computer. Always used Windows at first (thought anything else would be too difficult), but my best friend was OpenBSD/Linux fan. So we installed OpenBSD (took a few nights to get things right), but I was new to Unix, so couldn't get anything working. Then I tried NetBSD, but there was a bug in it, that made it impossible to boot if I used offsets for mounting FAT-partitions or something like that, so I was unable to access my mp3's from NetBSD. Following that, I tried FreeBSD, which was much simpler. I even get Opera working, and after 2 days or so, I got the OpenOffice port working (compiled form source, had to go to the Sun-site for Java-licenses etc...) I also made my first dual boot with XP/FreeBSD.

Then, because my best friend was a Gentoo-fan, he set up Gentoo for me. First I didn't like it, because everything just worked as it should in only one day (compare that to OpenBSD!) But when I got to know portage I was convinced I would be using this from now on. It (Gentoo) was also ideal for studying for my LPIC level 1.

Finally, because I'm unemployed at the moment, I didn't need my dual-boot anymore and throw Win away.

At the moment, 'rare' things I have include LVM, 256bit AES-encryption (/home and /tmp), wine running some programs like Euroglot translation, NTP setting my clock, hardened kernel, a separate browser account, DNS-caching server, forwarded my router for GTK-gnutella, automounting for my mp3-player, much keyboard shortcuts, AMSN... And all works very well.

Oct 04, 2005
8:29 AM EDT
I forgot one thing about my story. One of the motivations: I realy dislike Windows. Running a Windows enterprise was like working in the emergency room of Cook County Memorial. Working on Linux was like being a Maytag repair man.

Oct 04, 2005
9:35 AM EDT
Tom -

I've had at least two instances of a problem that doesn't happen with Windows - and an embarrassment that actually pleases clients so long as you keep a rescue disk handy.

The problem:

Having a box -- most often a samba server without internet connectivity -- just run so well so long that you've forgotten the root level password.


Oct 05, 2005
12:23 PM EDT
Dean -- I was about to suggest you should attach one of those yellow sticky notes to the side of the screen... but then I realized that they too dry up and drop like dry leaves in the time between Linux server reboots...

Sigh indeed.

Oct 05, 2005
2:57 PM EDT
Any former Microsoft developers doing pure Linux around here?

Oct 06, 2005
8:52 AM EDT
Hi All!

I am a non-techie and bought my first ever PC ( which till today I use) - a P III 500 MHz- 128 MB RAM . I got Windows installed and learned how to use a computer . slowly I learned about internet but was fed up with frequent crashing of my system due either to virus or some buggy software. I had to re-format my disk more than thrice and install everything right from the scratch.

Luckily I came across an IT magazine named Linux For You and subscribed to it. With its every issue, I got a CD with the image of a linux distro and tried to install one. Fortunately I became a member of the local linux user group - a group mostly of IT students and software professionals, and at first I was bewildered by the technical jargons they used. But it showed me how much I am at dark. Slowly I started learning linux and now I have tested the major four distros - namely slackware, debian, Red Hat and Mandrake. In fact it is Mandrake which made me completely forget Windows and make linux as my primary OS. Now I am confidently trying various distros- Knoppix, Libranet, Vector Linux, Slax, PC Linux OS - all of them successfully. Time and the ever brimming linux fraternity have made me an ardent fan of linux.

Oct 06, 2005
9:00 AM EDT

That's a good story. It seems to contradict some of the propaganda that people can't switch to Linux from Windows.

You say you're a non-techie, but if you use Linux, don't you become a techie almost by associatuon?

Oct 06, 2005
11:12 AM EDT
"don't you become a techie almost by associatuon?"

I don't thing so, not any more. Linux today is easier than Windows. Easier to install, very similar user interface, apps are just as easy to use if not better, etc...You know what I mean.

My son who is not a techie (14 yrs) was able to install Linux (Suse) without any probelms. Sure I helped a little. I explained some technical details for his benefit, got him familiar and up to speed on differences (remember, it is not that easy to rid of bad habbits). The perception of "You have to be a techie to use Linux" is no longer true or valid. With easy Linux OS installation and tools like Synaptics for applications, any grand parent or kid should be able install Linux and apps without major issues. How non-techies do you who can install Windows from scrach? Why do OEMs still pre-install Windows if it was easy to do? Let see how many non-techies would buy a PC without an OS?

Oct 06, 2005
11:32 AM EDT
Abe: I see your point. Yes, you're absolutely correct.

I was just thinking about how much better at computing even Linux newbies wind up.

I have mentioned my wife on numerous occasions. She left the work force in 1995 where she was a heavy computer terminal user. Her work consisted of using medical systems on the floor of hospitals and in some admin capacities. She had a life threatening challenge in 2000. In early 2004, she was still having difficulty with coordination. So, Sam Hiser, Andy Oram and I invited her to do some editing on our book about JDS Linux. She learned to use a word processor, spreadsheet , do research on the web, IM, etc., etc.

Here's another Linux miracle - everything came back neurologically. Hand eye coordination, quick verbal response, etc. While she was visiting my dad in the hospital, one of the staff asked her to apply for position. She got it and everyone thinks she's a computer wizard. One manager asked her to apply for a position as a systems analyst - they would train her.

I really don't believe she would be as good as she is now if she would have learned on Windows XP. We even tried a Mac OS X and that didn't help.

But she understands the command-line, troubleshoots her own computer, finds deleted items, etc.

So, she isn't a techie, but she's a much better computer user than otherwise.

That's what I meant.

Oct 15, 2005
5:24 PM EDT
learning about linux is rewarding,because you can accomplish things and feel like you earned a pat on the back. being non tech doesnt hold anyone back with regard to linux. an ability to read is the real requirement and time. all a newbie needs is the occasional keyword help so that they learn which direction to search for the answer. br3n

Oct 24, 2005
8:20 PM EDT
I like this thread. But, it seemed to just stop.

I'm still not sure I know why people switch to Linux. I'm missing the common core. I don't think it's simply because people want to get away from Microsoft.

Actually, I think having an alternative provides a small part of the answer. But, when I started using Linux, I really liked it. That may seem strange because I remember installing Red Hat 5.0 and thinking it was really pretty cool.

Given what the media and many analysts say, I shouldn't have liked Linux more than Windows because it did not have all the stuff they say is important. I mean, fvwm wasn't a great GUI desktop. Lots of hardware didn't work. In fact, I had to hunt for older video cards to get X Windows to work.

So, something else went on with me when I switched. I didn't even have much disdain for Microsoft at the time. I wish I could articulate it in a sound byte or two.


Oct 24, 2005
10:56 PM EDT
I changed to Linux because of the Fiddle factor. I like computers not only for what they can do but I like them intrinsically. I have build my own computers since forever and mostly one sub-system at a time. I never build a new computer with all the components. I upgrade each items when I feel that enough performance is available for that sub-system relative to what I have and always at the sweet-spot of price – performance curve.

It is a hobby. I try to wring as much performance out of what I have. It has nothing to do with bragging right but just a fun challenge to myself. . I have even developed my own algorithms for optimizing replacement strategies. . (Did you know that the optimal replacement size of a disk drive is e = 2.7 times what you have?)

Linux fits this perfectly. You can fiddle to your hearts content and there is a constant flow of new stuff and improvements to try out. I used to compile every kernel release when we had a development tree. Stable trees are for wussies. You get to learn about the OS as you fiddle and you get to appreciate some of the beauty of *nix along the way.

Oct 24, 2005
10:57 PM EDT
> I wish I could articulate it in a sound byte or two.

Driving pleasure? The wind in your hair?

I know what you're after...

Oct 24, 2005
11:22 PM EDT
I can only tell you why I switched to Linux... I really haven't a clue as to why others do it :).

I don't have any hatred of MS... Maybe a strong dislike. I quite happily ran W2K since Beta testing NT5, but, about two years ago, I started looking at my future options. I really didn't like XP or the direction that seemed to be going and I certainly didn't like the look of what Longhorn was promising. OS/2 was dead as a doornail, so, where did that leave me?

I'd tinkered with various Linux Distros for a couple of years, and though interesting, none of them seemed to offer a desktop with all the features I had with W2K. I need a working system and not a hobby. Additionally, I found that the Linux structure and operation is very differently than Windows. It was going to take me More than a bit to learn all the intricacies. I was about ready to give up when some suggested that I try a new Debian derived Distro called Mepis. Mepis looked more promising than anything else I had tried and showed me some of the potential of what a Debian build could do.

It took me about a year to switch from W2K to Linux. The timing in the development of all of the Desktop elements has obviously been critical. If I'd tried any sooner, the whole thing would never have come together. Improved hardware support and equivalent apps have been a big part of the successful transition, and, I owe thanks to many in the Linux community for making that happen at an astounding rate and giving me my functional Desktop OS.

Gradually, I found that I was preferring to boot into Linux rather than W2K, and, I'm now at the point where it's been about 6 months since I booted Windows at all. I really have all of the functionality I need with a lot better performance.

Here is a little more on where that has taken me: http://jimf-linux.blogspot.com/2005/10/why-debian.html

Oct 25, 2005
5:54 AM EDT
Why did I switch?

I first tried Linux out of curiousity mainly. But after I'd tried it I was fascinated. Yeah, woody was much harder to install than Windows, but I didn't feel isolated/insulated from my computer any more. I welcomed the opportunity to learn. I wasn't confined by the wizards that MS uses to "help" you work on your computer. I could play with the kernel. (Something I'd been wanting to do for a long time.) I could modify, customize, and learn to my hearts content. Linux was what I had always expected computing to be.

Oct 25, 2005
8:28 AM EDT
bstadil -
Quoting:... I have even developed my own algorithms for optimizing replacement strategies. . (Did you know that the optimal replacement size of a disk drive is e = 2.7 times what you have?)

How did you calculate that? I am assuming you included price, cache size, raw disc speed (rpm), supposed read/write arms disc location speeds and disc type but was there anything else? My last disc upgrade was much more seat of the pants type where I only consider the Seagate brand due the longer warranty, higher quality and a rebate that appears. I wanted to load a second independent Linux distribution and to keep the net price about $100 USD, thus, I ended up with a nominal 200 G IDE drive. I would have preferred a SATA drive but my mb does have any support, despite it being purchased about a little over a year ago.

That brings me to the second issue, if I upgrade the next logical step would be a new cpu and mb combination, with many of the internal components being passed down to another machine. This might be a point to upgrade memory and later a drive to SATA, because the cable is much less of a barrier to internal wind circulation than even the rounded IDE cables I use.

Here is a case, where I saw my son move to a completely new machine instead of an upgrade. He assembled a low cost high performance unit, which included a new box that even with shipping was less than the low ball Dell. [Some of the components: 64 AMD 3000+ with mb combination, 512 DDR2 RAM Dual Channel (not supported on this mb), 160G Seagate, Writable DVD drive, box with large power supply. (There might have been another item, though I cannot remember any.)] We did, however, have our sweating session when we found the pins on the cpu were bent in shipment, but the company had a policy of refusing returns of user damaged cpu's. More he than I took turns to straighten rows of bent pins, despite our efforts I thought it was a loss. He was able to rotate the cpu where all the pins went in and it is running quite nicely. [We suggest you also invest in some thermal transfer agent to optimized the cpu cooling.]

As a last note, the mother board cpu combination was slightly cheaper than the best cpu price alone at that time. Though the board was adequate it lacked some more advanced features. If anyone goes this route get assurance in advance the cpu is well packaged (that is its pins are protected) and upon examination call immediately if the unit is amiss. Hint his cpu arrived in a small, clear plastic container with absolutely no padding!

Oct 25, 2005
8:51 PM EDT

You asked about how I figured out the optimal size of a new disk drive?

You don't need to worry about cache size and the like. At any given time the disk drives performance is within a very narrow band. Without going into details it is because at the less performant end you can not substitute slowness for sufficient cost savings .It has been tried a few times but with little success. At the high performance end the component cost rises dramatically and the cost of drivers accordingly leaving this to various niches. The disk market is performance wise very homogeneous.

This leaves the size of your new disk as the only real decision parameter you have. Furthermore cost / GB is almost constant over the range of the sizes. If you think otherwise look at Pricewatch.com at check yourselves.

Here comes the complex part. Think about your investment in a disk drive as a cycle that keeps repeating.

Your drive gets full and you need to buy a new one. The only decision parameter you have is what size,. namely S

Each cycle is identical because I assumed that the storage growth rate is equal to the technology driven price decline of storage. (Moores law etc)

This is an excellent assumption if you think it through, and you can look at historical trends etc. What I mean by thinking it through is that most of the increase in storage needs is outside driven as we discussed. (This goes for companies and institutions as well) You start to encode mp3's at higher bitrate as storage prices falls, Video etc. Most importantly for this assumption to hold is that there is a feedback loop. If storage cost gets ahead of the curve ie being cheaper than expected we change our behavior. Same if it falls behind.

With storage cost decline = storage requirement growth, the drive St (t is any given time) will always cost the same. The one you buy next time at optimum size S will always be the same dollar amount as the one you bought last time. The increase in S is offset by the decline of C, Both S and C should have a little subscript t like this St and Ct.

Obvious if the assumption does not hold and storage increases higher or lower than prices declines this shifts the optimal S = e, but not very dramatic and you can adjust for it but the math gets quite complicated.

An obvious thing to understand and articulate is the two forces that pulls in opposite the directions thereby creating a cost minimum. For the disk drives it is the cost of unused space and the decline of cost of storage plus scrapping of drive. Very large drive and the cost of unused space is very high, very small drive and the cost of ditching the drive is high as you amortize the cost over a short period.

Here is the Math: ** s = Renewal size relative to current capacity g = storage growth / time unit c = cost / storage unit n = Life of unit How many time periods n does it take before your new drive of s is full? s = (1 + g) ^ n ==> n = ln(s) / ln ( 1 + g) I omitted the size of the initial drive on both sides of initial equation., but you can put a 1 or 100.

We do not know what the cost is but we need to optimize by finding s so we have minimal cost per time period

Cost / Time Unit = ( s * c ) / n Substitute n from above and find the local minimum

Minimize { (s * c) * ln( 1+g)} / ln (s) ==> K * s/ln(s) K= Constant and disappears, presto Minimize s/ln(s) ==> s = e

Presto Disk drive should be 2.7 times the one you have at the point where you want to replace it.

It is a little hard to read as I can't use math notation here, but hope you got the gist of it.


Oct 25, 2005
11:01 PM EDT
bstadil: It's funny. When I wanted to buy a new hard drive for my computer, after weeks of indecision I eventually settled for a 120GB hard drive, exactly 3 times as big as my previous one (40GB thus). The decision wasn't backed on maths, but seemed like the optimal choice between price, currently needed size, and an unformed feeling about the needed size in the future. And although I've kept my older hard drive as a second drive, I haven't used it at all lately.

It's funny to see how my decision, based on hunch and feeling, seems to be backed by mathematics ;) .

Oct 25, 2005
11:05 PM EDT
Started with Vic 20 - 1983? then dos on a 286 then windows 3.1 on 286 what a nightmare.... Saw QNX and wanted it for years.... Windows 95 .. ok but lacked the ability i had on the VIC 20 Lotus Notes / Domino Programmer on Windows and Unix. Still wanted QNX.. Came across a CD from a friend Lyrocis... BANG "Head ringing"

I'm in love love.... Tried Red hat yuck.. Mandrake.. Oh nice and European.(US and M$ look like the same to me.. after 2001 where they were saying what negative perceptions do the rest of the world have of us?...) Found LTSP, for networks.. Addicted to everything... Scripts and more scripts what cant i do.. C, C++, Perl, Python, KDE...

OH this love affair is not going away soon..

The TCO is of no use to a end user it is the experience the love to work in the application provided..

As an IT Manager the TCO is the savings of the sanity of the IT staff.. They dont have to chase those pesky hidden bugs in M$...

Oct 25, 2005
11:11 PM EDT
Just read this comment above it backs up what i have seen...

Running a Windows enterprise was like working in the emergency room of Cook County Memorial. Working on Linux was like being a Maytag repair man.

Keep the sanity of the employees and bosses...

I am sure everyone has heard this comment in the M$ circles, I just happens that way we cannot change it..

Whereas in the *nix community it is so how should it work?.. OK we will look at it...


Oct 27, 2005
1:35 PM EDT
OK. I switched but don't use Linux extensively. I use some of the GNU utilities on Windows. But I am trying Linux because I need to get a handle on Apache.

I'm a contract programmer and I run into opportunities that require Linux skills and Apache skills. So, I need to learn Linux.

I tried Linux several years ago but it wasn't really a finished product. Today, I can see that it has all the things one needs to just install and go. I'm starting with SUSE because Novell owns it and I trust Novell.

I'm not unhappy with Microsoft **at all**. I just think that in the future people will need to know Linux if they want to keep up.

Oct 27, 2005
1:48 PM EDT
At the beginning of 1995, a co-worker mentioned he had found a stable, well supported UNIX, called Linux. At the time, I was using SunOS at two different jobs (it was the beginning of the .COM boom after all) and wanted to be able to use the same systems at home. I never could get Solaris86 to work, but Debian installed from 14 1.44MB floppies and proceeded to run for the next 7 years without a crash.

When Win95 finally crapped out on me in late 2000, I changed to Linux "on the desktop" and that was, as they say, that.

Oct 27, 2005
3:07 PM EDT
"I'm not unhappy with Microsoft **at all**."

You must be a very content person and that is a blessing. I take it you didn't have to deal with server or network administration and management. Windows has improved over the years thanks to the competition of FOSS. But the issues it has are becoming more severe and are not easy to get rid off. As a matter of fact, MS developers recommendation to Bill gates and in their own words plainly said that Windows has to be rewritten. They realized that Windows started to break down under it own wait. Windows is treated as a single program, OS and all, and now, after MS hiring many FOSS developers and establishing a Linux lab internal to MS, they discovered FOSS's strength and Windows weaknesses. Now they realize they better use many of FOSS technologies otherwise MS will have very hard time competing with FOSS. FOSS is highly modularized and much more efficient and easier to scale and maintain. It is getting to be almost impossible for Windows to stay stable and keep up with FOSS expansion.

When you get deep into Linux and FOSS in general, I am sure you are going to say "How did I put up with Windows before". Give yourself sometime and let us know. Many users assume that the issues they encounter with Windows is the norm and would happen with any OS, that is not the case.

Oct 28, 2005
3:54 AM EDT
Well, I had reluctantly switched to Win 3.1 in the nineties. DOS wasn't quite user friendly, but it was understandable and when it worked, it worked. Crashing usually didn't do much harm, just a reset and within a minute one was up and running.

Win 3.1 was different. A small configuration change could leave you with an unusable Win 3.1 desktop. The only thing one could do was to restore a backup. I did this many times. There was a good reason why I didn't trust those nice, friendly Win 3.1 backup programs. But a rebooted Win 3.1 system was usually fine..!

Win 95 was worse: reboots could leave your disk corrupted (like Win NT) AND it was as feeble as Win 3.1; not my choice for a desktop. I put my heels in the ground and stayed with my DOS/Win 3.1 desktop until late 1999. I had always had a (Unix) Coherent desktop in dual boot configuration. I liked it although I could do very little with it, except use it for development and playing around a bit. So I decided that my new desktop should be a mix of DOS, Linux and Win NT. DOS for the heritage, Win NT for real work and Linux to play around a little bit.

Then I read a German magazine called PC-Praxis. It showed me you could do real work with Linux. So I gave it a try; I dropped the Win NT and made a dual boot system. I installed the DOS/Win 3.1 part in December 1999 and the Linux part in February 2000. Within two days I had 80% of my functionality running under Linux. The final 20% took me two years.

Note that included a lot of DOS/Win 3.1 emulation, like DOSEmu, Wine, VMWare. Not principal, everyday stuff. I made some changes myself too, like converting from WordPerfect to OpenOffice and LyX. Also, it included buying and installing a new scanner (no worry, my old one broke down)!

In 2004 I needed a new computer. After having added serial terminals and other goodies I had never known under Windows (3.1), Windows was not even an option anymore. All those programs were as alien to me as Linux had been to me once. I didn't even consider Windows anymore, I installed Linux right away, no dual booting (why???).

Linux gave me my computer back. It is simple, understandable and fixable. It is quite fast, perfect response times. Such a difference from my computer at work (WNT)!! My 2.8 GHz, 1 GB mem machine feels a lot bigger and faster than an equivalent Windows machine. I do some work exclusively at home, because my productivity is boosted with at least 50%.

Have I never used Windows again? No, I installed it anyway. In a little (32 MB) QEMU box, using the -snapshot option. I use it to run those old CD-ROMs. Windows, a relic from the past. As far as I am concerned at least.. ;-)

Oct 28, 2005
6:21 AM EDT
About 1998 I wan given an account on a GNU/Linux server, which I used for e-mail and FTPing my personal web pages. Then I heard about telnet and ssh, and learned a few Unix shell commands.

In 1999 I got a new job and had to work on Windows. At the time I was a Macintosh guy, who believed the PC was a loosy architecture: I couldn't tell the difference between the OS and the machine.

Finally I was told about the Free Software philosophy and that GNU/Linux could run on just about any PC, so I decided to try it on the desktop. I ordered a bunch of CD's to the U.S. (the brand new Debian Slink, Slackware 4.0 and a few others).

I already enjoyed working with computers, but it was then that I started to learn real computing! The first steps were quite hard, but I had real fun wrestling with my Debian installation, the network setup, etc.

I've been a Free Software proponent ever since. I keep learning every day, currently with FreeBSD.

Oct 28, 2005
8:24 AM EDT
I have been running Debian for about a year; previously I used W2k. I switched because W2K was becoming increasing difficult to maintain and less stable for each security patch that I had to install. XP was never considered; it's a buggier and dumbed down version of W2K. The deciding factor for moving to Linux was the availability of the key applications that I need to use daily; Browser (Firefox / Opera), email (Thunderbird), development IDE (Eclipse), Apache / Tomcat. OO.org word processing is OK, but still struggling with details (I must get around to installing 2.0, of course). As a bonus GIMP + DCRAW is *way* better that the digital processing software supplied with my camera. There is a Photoshop plugin that also good, but for my use I could not justify upgrading to the newest Photoshop just to use it. Printing and networking are more stable -- but a little less convenient to configure. Almost all of my problems with Debian have boiled down to wrong file permissions; a hassle, but ultimately solvable. Almost all of my W2K problems were mysterious crashes (BSoD) that never had a clear resolution. Life with Linux has reduced the amount of time I spend wrangling with OS when I really need to get work done.

Oct 28, 2005
8:25 AM EDT
In 95 I did RPC and socket work on NT 4.0 at a client's site. I could "lock up" the NT box in seconds if I loaded it up with too many socket clients. RPC never did work robustly.

When I came back off of that contract (96) I spent a mere 20 hours on Linux rewriting some old socket libraries I had written.

I could load up Linux with dozens of socket clients and, although the box would slow down to a crawl, I couldn't break it.

That's when I decided that I would always tell clients that I would "never flat rate a Windows project". Windows was just too fragiile.

Before 97, after a big crash with NTFS that cost me $$$$ in lost time not billing to a client, I told myself that I would use Linux for the desktop if I could get 1) RealAudio Player 2) Java compiler and some other features running on Linux. In 97 Linux had advanced to meet those conditions and I gutted my NT installation and moved to the Linux desktop.

Since then VMWare has helped run those few apps that need Windows and where I had to test Java apps and applets on a Windows client.

I have to say that my Linux desktop has been very stable even after most upgrades. It's not a hate thing with Windows. It's about stability.

Oct 28, 2005
9:03 AM EDT
Slashdotted... cool.. more stories are being posted there!

Oct 28, 2005
9:25 AM EDT
I grew up with an Atari 800 at first. It came with Atari Basic, and I was able to teach myself to program it, writting my first program (a text adventure system) a full 3 weeks befoer I had a tape drive to save it with (system stayed on the whole time). I also purchased a few other languages very affordably (Pilot, Logo, Assembly). Later, in High School, I bought an Atari ST computer, which also came with basic. I then got a hold of other languages (GFA Basic, Dtack Basic, Megamax C, Assempro), again very affordable. In the early '90's, I took a course in business accounting, then received certification for several Dos/Windows based accounting packages. I went into the consulting business with this knowledge, and for a time, did quite well. But I started hitting snags, when customers wanted customized applications. Just getting the software necessary to develop these would cost me over $500 apiece (Foxpro, Visual C, Sage Flagship Accounting, etc), and my customers didn't have that kind of budget to sustain my development costs.

When the computing market crashed along with the Canadian Exchange rate (I worked in a heavy border economy), I closed shop and moved to Oregon. My first big corporate job was phone support for a motherboard manufacturer. I helped one customer on the phone, giving some of the system register information for one of our products, and during the course of the conversation, he explained that he was using Linux, and recoding part of the kernel to work with a particular new feature on our system. Intrigued, I picked up a book on Linux after work, and it had a copy of Slackware (4.0 I think). After installing it on my 486, I became excited to find a lot of development tools, and all the source code, right there. In '99, I was working in a different part of the company, and we were having major issues with NT 4.0 droping TCP connections, so I worked to develop a Linux image based on Redhat 5, including a driver for our in house test equipment. It worked flawlessly, and the basis of that work was distributed to other sites in the corporation.

Recently, my youngest son (14) wanted to learn about game development. All of the books on the subject for Windows based development had limited usage software, and required Visual C/C++ (not a cheap package). There were a couple of Linux based books, and they came with open source applications that could be updated freely on the internet. He has since started teaching himself C, and also used Blender to do some rather interesting programs (He's even started sending me email messages encrypted in C source code for me to compile and read).

To sum up, the main reasons for my switch to Linux was mainly as an economical platform for software development and learning programming. I currently have 4 systems running Linux, and I can collaborate with my son (he's boarding with my syster while he goes to school in a different town).

Oct 28, 2005
9:39 AM EDT
I defected from Macintosh System 7.5 to Linux back in 1997. (I have never used any version of Windows on any of my own computers, because I was weaned on a Mac and then became a Linux fan). I defected primarily for price -- compare $500 in hardware for a upgradeable, middle-of-the-road x86 machine in 1997 against $2000 for a new Macintosh + the latest MacOS. (If the mini had existed then, well, I'd probably still be on MacOS.) I also had three linux using housemates at the time, who were willing to help me install it.

Now that I'm no longer a starving student, price has not remained the guiding factor in my choice of operating system. I've stuck with Linux, however, because of its versatility and configurability. I have the choice of thirty or so different window managers (including crazy ones like Ion), three or four desktop environments, or none at all, five or six web browsers, five or six file managers, three or four vector graphics programs, seven or eight word processors, hundreds of text editors, tens of different command line shells, and so on, and it's all free. I can have three, ten, or twenty, virtual desktops or eschew X11 altogether and use the console. I can configure my window manager's keybindings, I can change the contents of pop-up menus in my desktop environment. Pretty much everything is configurable. And I can mix and match ten year old hardware with brand new hardware and it just works, without having to buy a whole new widget just to use the latest version of the OS.

So, despite MacOS's Unix under the hood, I haven't gone back to MacOS because it lacks the choice, configurabilty, versatility, and hardware compatibilty that I have under Linux.

Oct 28, 2005
9:58 AM EDT
Picture this. . . .skinny inky-dinky history major taking computer science classes because he was board with boring history and discovered the C programming language. Shortly thereafter, I met a few friends who installed Linux ala RedHat. Our lab was a mix breed, SUNOS on all the main workstations except this 486 Gateway with no X-Windows. I was on the vax at the time and found Linux just as good as UNIX and vax. Finally, my friend Mark gave me an on account on Lamport(linux machine name) and off I went to discover the world Linux. This is right around the time of MS Windows 95's release. Some three years later, I finally bought my own PC, an AMD K-6 233 Mhz Compaq with a 3.3 gig drive. I was in Heaven, I thought who needs Linux now, I got my own PC! Now I look back, I think to myself, man what was I thinking!!!

Now mind you, I liked MS Windows 95 because it was easy. It did most of the stuff for me, in particular help and installing the software. But by than I was into coding and putting extreme demands on my PC. Little by little my PC would freeze up or blue screen me. I did everything, disk defragmentation, reinstall the system, patch and still the same result. I was VERY, VERY reluctant to make the switch because I afraid of the software I would be needing, in particular Photoshop, Visual C++, Java, MS Word, etc. Than one of my professors asked me how happy I was with my PC and I told him it hasn't been all good. I told him my problem and concerns and all he could say was, "Oh it has that too, have you tried RedHat lately?" That was the beginning. . . . .that was 1998 or so. . . .Keep in mind that I was also using UNIX and Vax at the time.

Since 1998 I have not looked back. My system is stable, I got the software I need, I can do alot more with my system, for example, compile my kernel to my likings, and I've done this quite often. I've had two kernel panics and that was because I was swapping drives and forgot to hook up the ATA cable.

Secondly, I am able to install/configure software the way I want it, third, security. I have not had a virus since 1998 or a break in. Since I put boot loader on a floppy, no one can get at my PC unless you know what you're doing. Third, the software. How can you beat free, as in free beer? Software updates are done when they're ready and don't kill your system because of some DLL conflict. I do not have a problem paying for software, people have to eat and put a house over their heads. So these folks that make open source software deserve any donation we can give them. They believe in what they doing, and I belive in what they are doing.

In summary:

Flexible system to configure Cost Security Software Tools Stability - as in the OS

Oct 28, 2005
10:15 AM EDT
I'll leave out most of the stuff about starting with a Commadore64 and moving to PC with DOS 3.3, etc. But, needless to say I've been a MS guy for a long time. Started playing with Linux a couple a years ago. The more I played, the better I liked what I saw. I may still be a MS guy during the 9-5 thing, but at home I'm almost pure Linux and other projects I'm doing I'm moving to it as fast as I can.

The reasons? Much the same as others, security, stability and the ability to more, with less..

Oct 28, 2005
10:31 AM EDT
I had always used DOS/windows right from the beginning. When I was introduced to Linux few years ago, I was relectant to switch. Flexibility comes with great responsibility. There were millions of ways to mess up the system and not able to get it back to the original state. However, I decided to play with the kernel and get aquainted to the weird vi editor (ask any notepad user, he will tell you how weird vi is). It only took few days to know the wonders of vi. Now I have a linux simulator on windows so that I can use vi. Thats only one of the million reasons I fell in love with Linux.

Oct 28, 2005
10:33 AM EDT
About a year after I got my first computer, in 1994, and had learnt the ways of DOS and Windows, I began to hear about this Linux and how you actually see the source code and build stuff. I grabbed an InfoMagic CD (I had a new-fangled 486 with a CD-ROM drive!) which had a Slackware distribution on it and fell in love. Linux taught me C, taught me HTML, it was a very different world to the DOS/Windows world, and although we kept in touch, LInux became for me what real computing meant. Linux meant the Internet to me, and it's been years since I really paid attention to Office and all the other must-haves of the Microsoft world.

I like the choice between a full-blown GUI and a standard command-line terminal. I like that i can write my own email filters that do exactly what I need. I like being able to write programs and scripts, either in a nice IDE or just a quickie via cat. I can't do without multiple desktops and dual monitors and gkrellm's from all over my network, forwarded to my machine. I don't hate Windows or Mac, I even use them. Just not for anything day-to-day, they aren't home for me. I switched to Linux because it taught me everything I needed to know and then some. And Linux still teaches me.

Oct 28, 2005
10:36 AM EDT
I switched not 6 months ago when my computer was finally introduced to the internet. I had to install all these anti-death programs that slowed me down considerably. I could barely do a thing on my 846Mhz. That was annoying. Also, I kept installing these programs to make windows look nicer. I liked to customize and change constantly, but it slowed me down even more.

I remembered that there was a free operating system that I could use and asked around. I did try Red Hat, but I was still confused about many things (namely what these things called "packages" were, and how did I install stuff?). I did not care for GNOME. I asked another friend. My friend in English class happened to have his slackware 10.1 discs 1 & 2 at the ready. I put it on my 15 Gb hard drive and fell in love with KDE and its customizability. Having a linux expert at the ready, I learned many things. Slowly, I started to wean away from my windows partition. Now my Linux partition is the one on the 160 Gb and I need only cedega to have fun.

Now I'm called the linux kid by many of my friends and its a great feeling. It surprises me how many people would switch if their parents allowed them as much freedom with computers as my father did. I would constantly thank the community and my friends.

Oct 28, 2005
10:58 AM EDT
My dad repaire electonics stuff like tv tapedeck radio and stuff like that... he was t he guy who repair arcade machines for the arcade machines provider in our region. So we got a lot of arcade machine in our house... i play t hem all !! My dad also used to change a lot of board and joystick for old arcade box replacing old game with a new one. He didn't like the kind of frenzy i got for games... So he wait a long time before he buy a ps/2 286... and ..just tried to get more than 605k to play games in DOS ... EMS and XMS stuff... it was funny...

I was a kid and i didn't like win 3.11

Win95 came out and i used to made my mind about using Windows but i was expecting to see a OS like DOS with more command and more support for games from another compagny. I was angry when i learn that MS have the idea to release someday Windows without DOS.

A friend was working with slackware and tell me a little bit about linux... but when i ask him about playing with monkey island on linux he said no. So for a long time i just close my eyes to linux.

After few years my knowledge about computers was stuck... i don't want to be a coder but i want to learn more about internal process and customize stuff on my PC so i got redhat 7. after Slackware... Gentoo and Ubuntu

Windows is like living into an appartment... You pay for thing that you don't have rights for customize beside the skins of the wall... and you cant really stop people in the same building disturbing you or enter with cheap tool into the app or give you disease and the owner can access whenever he want to see if thing is rights for him of get informations about you.

Oct 28, 2005
11:31 AM EDT
I've never really liked MS operating systems very much, and have always preferred Unix-type systems. So for me, switching to Linux was more like switching *back* to something I liked.

In the late 70s I came across the manuals for AT&T Unix V6. I never got to play with a real Unix system then, but I studied those manuals closely and admired the elegance and power of the system they described.

Ten years later the company I worked for replaced VMS with 4.1BSD on their VAX. I was in heaven at last.

Then I got a job at a Windows dev tools company, in the early 90s. Using Win 3.x felt like trying to play the piano with one hand tied behind my back. Then we got OS/2 and that seemed like a big improvment. I used it for about three years and it served me well.

In 1995 I became aware of Linux, through the Slackware distribution, and experimented with using it as an alternative to the expensive Sun workstations we were using at work. Once again I was in heaven. This was the operating system I'd been waiting for. I replaced OS/2 with Linux on my personal machines, never touched the Sun machines at work again, and have been using Linux as my primary OS ever since. It was a bit of a struggle to get employers to take Linux seriously back in the mid 90s, but fortunately the resistance didn't last long.

Occasionally I'm forced to use Windows XP, and it always baffles me why this system is thought of as "intuitive" or "simple" or "easy". I tried to help my son get his XP laptop to connect with my network printer, and the configuration GUI in XP was so un-helpful that neither of us could figure it out without resorting to a Google search. By contrast, doing the same thing in Mandrake 9.1 was trivial. Maybe that's just my bias and experience showing, but I think that merely proves the point that what people think of as "intuitive" is more likely just "familiar."

Oct 28, 2005
1:35 PM EDT
I switched to Linux from Mac OS X. I started with Mac OS 9 on a G4 and I had Microsoft Office for Mac 2001. I also had photoshop and a bunch of typical Mac software.

I decided to try YellowDog Linux and it installed right away. But, the distribution was behind. My Mac started acting up, so I sold it on Ebay, bought a Pentium 4 2.4 Ghz with 512 MB and an 80GB drive. I wound up with SUSE SLES9 because it recognized my apple keyboard and my studio monitor.

I just upgraded to SuSE 10. I really love it. I'm not a technical person just a regular computer user who reads email, logs on to my system at work, research medical information on the Internet (my job).

I appreciate tuxchick because I'm a woman and she helps women who have to use technology in their jobs. My medical work is highly technical but our computer systems aren't. They're getting an upgrade.

Linux is great for people who want to communicate about anything.


Oct 28, 2005
2:04 PM EDT
Because I've used OpenVMS for 15 years, and I thus like powerful "text mode" operating systems. NT4 just annoyed the heck out of me in that regard.

That it doesn't get viruses is another plus.

Oct 28, 2005
2:05 PM EDT
I switched to Linux (Slackware, I don't remember which release) from MS-DOS 6.22, because I was looking for a Unix for my 486 and Unixware was too expensive. At the time I was a college student, and all the campus labs I used to get my assignments done ran either HP/UX, Ultrix or Irix, and Unix had become my environment of choice. Since that time, I've tried several different distributions, and along the way I've also tried Windows NT, 2000 and XP, OS/2 and Mac OS X. I always keep coming back to either Linux or FreeBSD, though, because they do everything I want and they do it in the way I expect it to be done.

My current systems are running FreeBSD 6 (release candidate), SimplyMEPIS 3.3 and Mac OS X.

Oct 28, 2005
2:39 PM EDT
In 1997 I was working as a Trek Leader, taking a small (usually 8-12) group of Europeans around North America on adventure camping tours. On one tour, I had a Dutch passenger who was into computers. I had always been into computers as well, so one day it came into the conversation. For this trip I had only two passengers, so he and I had a lot of time to talk about computers while driving long stretches across the Utah desert. I can not recall his name at the moment, but I remember how adamant he was about something called Linux. I would extol the virtues of Windows 95 and he would tell me that Linux was much more stable and powerful. I thought, if you can't play games, it is worthless. That winter, while shopping for a new game to play, I came across a box of Red Hat 5.2. I looked at the screenshots on the back and decided to buy it. Two years later I was working at Penguin Computing in San Francisco and was the lead developer of the world's first commercial Linux gaming system. The year after that I earned my RHCE. I look back in amazement at all that has happened over these short years. Now I work for the Intel Corporation as a systems administrator, and I am learning how to administrate Windows 2003 servers. :-)

--Garrett Mickelson

Oct 28, 2005
2:54 PM EDT
I came upon an old thinkpad with no cd drive put a tiny debian distro on an usb flash drive (I did need a floppy boot disk which was super easy to make) started the machine up choose the right video setting(guessed really) put an unknown wireless card that I dont even remeber purchasing and there i was online. no drivers no insert win9x disk no looking for cab files and so on just heres is the internet thanks to the penguin .

Oct 28, 2005
3:41 PM EDT
My PC background started off with a TI-99 back in the 80’s, the things you could do with a little memory, built in BASIC and a tape drive kept me at the little keyboard/box for hours. Ever since my last Commodore died though I had really grown distant from my PC’s. That is until a handful of years ago, a friend who used Linux kindly gave me a couple of CD’s with Mandrake written on them. I tried to install the system, it didn’t like my hardware, so I went back to Windows. Strangely though I wanted to know what Mandrake was, and what made it an OS my friend thought was so special. So I kept trying with different distros as I had free time to install them. Success came a couple of years ago with a new box and Fedora Core 3 (apparently no-name, dirt cheap motherboards aren’t necessarily supported by anyone but the guys in Redmond), and now I’m hooked. I took a class on UNIX to learn how to operate the shell, my box now boots seven different operating systems (FC4, Kubuntu, Slackware, Free-DOS, Free BSD, Solaris 10, and XP) all specialized for different tasks, and now that I have tools with real teeth I’ve learned to fall in love with PC computing again.

Oct 28, 2005
4:00 PM EDT
I probably don't have much new to add here, but maybe a slightly different perspective as an old-timer. What I've noticed over the years is that most people who really like Windows have simply never used anything else. This means that even if better things come along, they will be adopted only very slowly, and in that span of time, Microsoft has the opportunity to adjust Windows to slow and eventually stop such migration. They are in the cat-bird seat, and they know it, and furthermore I'm sure that Gates and his colleagues planned to be where they are. I give them credit for that. Gates may even believe that he has high minded principles and wants only to advance computing and he may think that an almost invincible Microsoft serves this purpose, this seems to be the image he tries to project publicly. I don't quite hate Microsoft, but I do hate this concept, in general, that one company can have so much control over a single industry and that we are all better for it.

I started as a mainframe programmer at the systems level, so I learned a lot about both systems software and the hardware it ran on. I've always had an interest in the details of the hardware architecture even when it no longer had much impact on my job function. I remember being disappointed that Intel was selected as the CPU for the IBM PC. I had a book that gave hardware details of a dozen or so CPUs of the day and the Intel. I wasn't that impressed with the Intel instruction set, and as the architecture evolved I was even less impressed that the improvements were always tempered by the "need" for binary compatibility with the past. I thought that the operating system and the use of higher level languages were supposed to mask the details of the hardware architecture. Intel seemed to be evolving as though everything was coded in assembler language (or worse, that all source code had been lost).

I was actually a FAN of Windows at first. Version prior to 3 were of course only "demos" as far as I was concerned, not really fit for any production use and writings from Gates and others pointed to a true general purpose operating system with fully documented APIs, and it sounded a lot at the time like the structure I was used to on the mainframe. keep in mind that both in college and with several employers I was able to get source code for the IBM operating systems with a signed one page letter indicating that I needed it. I could modify that code, and distribute the modifications to others. The practice was commonplace. People who compare what Microsoft does with its code today to IBM simply don't know what they are talking about.

My dissatisfaction with Windows, and subsequently Microsoft grew slowly, and as best I can recall from just a few factors: (1) There were reports that the APIs were not in fact fully documented. While this didn't affect me directly I could see in comparing IBM documentation to Microsoft's that there was a tremendous drop in quality. Where were message codes? I couldn't believe that the thousands of message that might come from Windows were listed in alphabetical order with hundreds of message at the front of the list simply because they started with the word "A". Their was no structure to this at all, and I began to suspect there was not much design to it. "Lets code some stuff and write a document when we are done" seemed to be the approach and I knew that this was not the way I or my colleagues wrote operating system code. I figured these "kids" at Microsoft would eventually grow up and learn to do it the right way. I gave the the benefit of doubt. In fact when IBM and Microsoft collaborated on OS/2 things DID improve. I could freely download internals documentation on OS/2 the likes of which I suspect have never existed for Windows. Both IBM and Microsoft were touting this as the PC operating system of the future. I believed it. I upgraded my hardware as much as I could afford at the time so that I could begin using it immediately.

I continued using OS/2 long after the collaboration ended, and I worked in a government organization that used and loved OS/2 as well. But eventually, like the VHS/Beta wars, marketing triumphed over technology. I was forced to used Windows, as was the agency for which I worked, not because we wanted to, but because Microsoft marketing had sold to someone higher up in the organization. I even learned to like Windows for a while. It wasn't the best, I rationalized, but it was good enough. That was in the Windows NT 3.51 days. I had barely heard of Linux at the time although I had obtained a Slackware disk for a few dollars and played with it. Never got out of character mode and didn't know that you COULD get out of character mode. I didn't appreciate some of the virtues of Unix at the time, so to me this just seemed to be trading one undocumented set of commands for another.

Then things changed. With OS/2 all but dead, Microsoft wanted to simplify its offerings. I considered NT 3.51 to be a product for professionals, while Windows 95/98 were for playing games, kids stuff. Microsoft wanted to merge those capabilities. That was the beginning of their serious decline in my mind. Furthermore, NT ran on several hardware architectures at the time. I had seen it run on a PowerPC laptop and wanted badly to have $6000 to buy one. But instead Microsoft began to withdraw support of all hardware other than Intel. To me these seemed like just the opposite of what you would want to do with what many claimed would be the only OS we would use in the future. I can only say that I have never ceased to think that the decisions made by Microsoft at this time were idiotic. I don't know what individual's name to tag them to, but I lost total respect for the company and its leaders. They WERE kids, and they have never grown up. They want to turn their plaything game computing system into something that will run the largest mainframes. Not only was their execution of this bad, the very goals were moronic. Nothing that has resulted, the viruses, spyware, bloat, and bugginess has taken me by surprise. How could it be any different?

Fortunately as Windows was making a slum out of my chosen field of Computer Science my career moved me out of the trenches of having to deal with all its problems. But at home, I was still the system administrator, and I helped a lot of my friends and family with their computers. I had started to read more and more about Linux, and remembering my early Slackware experience decided to give it another try. It actually turned into several other tries, separated by months during which I pondered my willingness to try again. Red Hat, Suse, Red Hat again, Debian, Lindows. I wasn't quite happy with the results of any of them, but I'd never given them more than a week or two to prove themselves and finally I decided that the problem might be me, and my lack of knowledge about Unix. I could tell that the underlying system was robust. I never had crashes, just things that didn't work as I expected. I had seen enough to know that what I needed was in there somewhere, I just needed to spend the time to find it all.

I finally decided that though the installation process was a bit trickier, for long-term maintenance I preferred Debian to the others. So about 3 or 4 years ago (how time flies) I installed it in a dual boot fashion on my home computer and decided to force myself to use it and only boot Windows as a last resort. This turned out to be easier than I had expected, to the point where I also installed Linux on my laptop, which I used at work every day. It was a "Windows only" shop, but if they could tell I was using Linux they never gave me any grief about it. I could sit there and work away while others were being slowed down by various viral outbreaks, by using OpenOffice I could open Word files that were "broken" to their owners and by re-saving them often save the day. While several people in the group had PCs capable of burning CDs about half the ones they burned were not usable, while mine always were, so I ended up being the "answer man" for a lot of problems not in my job description. We were the central office for a world-wide organization and many server systems came into our lab to figure out what was wrong with them. On more than one occasion systems had gotten so messed up that we were fairly sure the hardware had gone bad. On of my co-workers who had started to get interested in Linux too decided to try installing Red Hat on one of these. It worked fine, better than fine actually. Somehow the successful Linux install had "fixed" it and we (regretfully) redeployed the system with Windows Server on it.

When I left though, things had advanced to the point where there were several, "non-official" Linux systems in the lab at all times. I doubt the organization will dump Windows any time soon, but the seed has been planted, and these people are brutalized by the Microsoft marketing organization as well as the product on a regular basis. They no longer think of Microsoft as an ally, but as just another vendor, to be kept at arms length, until some jumping off opportunity presents itself.

While I work at home on mostly non-technical projects I no longer need Windows at all. I use Linux and OS X in about equal proportions. I don't have a long-term trust in Apple either, and while I like OS X, I'm prepared at any moment to switch to Linux rather than continue with the almost annual update cycle that Apple tries to force on me. I've installed Debian Linux on the Apple hardware and short of not running Realplayer or Flash I'm fine with it (in fact it's quite a bit faster than OS X). I'm not thrilled with Apple's switch to Intel, so if I don't get a high-end PowerPC from Apple next I'll probably go with a 64-bit AMD system. I'm hoping that some other hardware vendor will keep the PowerPC in popular circulation, although the new game consoles may end up serving the same purpose. With Microsoft porting something that looks a lot like Windows to the PowerPC Cell processor at the same time that Apple is porting to Intel, chaos is upon us.

The one thing that we can count on is that Linux will run on ALL of these systems, even if some soldering may be required. Furthermore, for much of the world, complete dependence on Microsoft is an undesirable thing (of course it's undesirable here in the States too, many people just don't realize it yet). I think there is a certain inevitability for a general purpose hardware-agnostic operating system that can be easily customized for local needs. Microsoft can't or at least won't provide that any time soon. Maybe one day the company will "grow up". I've stopped holding my breath waiting for that though.

Oct 28, 2005
6:04 PM EDT
wahheeey I was quoted! thank you!!


Oct 28, 2005
10:15 PM EDT
Like most of the people here, I have a story to tell.

The very first computer I had in my hands was a borrowed Radio Shack MC-10. Had a stunning 8K of memory, but it was enough to hook me good. After I gave it back to its rightful owner, a vow was made to acquire one of these little gems to play with. Not to play games with, to write programs with. I am a tinkerer (and an electronics technician).

Since then, it has been a Commodore 64, a couple of 8088s, a couple of 386s on up to my Pentium III. I started with Mini-Linux in about 1997 (kernel 1.09) ran through Caldera Open Linux Lite, Red Hat 5.2, 6.0, 7.3 and am now running Vector Linux 5.0. Heavily customized, and using AfterStep as a real live window manager, without Gnome or KDE.

Isn't it fantastic to have so much choice, and to have the ability to customize things to be _exactly_ the way you want them?

After this history, I should tell you that I run Linux because:

1) It works reliably, which is completely counter to any Windows experience that I have had (and I have needed to repair my friends' Windows machines a lot). When I need to use the computer, it just works, and works very well. My friends with their Windows boxes can't always say that.

2) I can change things without having to support the Microsoft Book Store. If I get the urge to tinker, I can do so without having to spend a ton of money on books or their "operating system".

3) I can learn as much or as little as I wish to learn. I am not forced to become an anti-virus expert, but can spend time making tiny changes to a program and recompiling it. That is not something a person can do cheaply with Windows.

4) Some of the best minds in the world have written the best software in the world and have been generous enough to distribute them for free. I really enjoy using these programs. Most all of them work well, and do what I want them to do without annoying me (like that insipid grammar checker in Microsoft Word. Had to use it once and nearly had a stroke out of frustration).

5) People who use Linux are generally some of the smartest and most interesting people I have ever met or read. And they are willing to share this knowledge. Which makes them also some of the nicest people, too.

6) I do not have to do business with Microsoft, which in my belief, does business in an unethical manner. In fact, in my world, Microsoft is inconsequential. I do not need any of their programs, nor their operating system.

So there ya have it. Yeah, I do have an anti-Microsoft bias. But my real motivation is that I wanted something that works, works well, and I don't mind telling you that Free as in speech is just as valuable to me as Free as in Beer.

Great survey, and I really enjoy LXer! And your posting preview has a spell checker! Awesome!

Oct 28, 2005
11:50 PM EDT
Why did I switch to Linux? Well it wasn't a switch and as long as there are several good systems out there, I'll have to use at least a couple of them. So I continue to use WinXP, 2000 and different flavours of Linux / BSD and our webserver at the university runs under true64 (there is still some "emergency notebook" that runs win98).

At first I did'nt like to pay for software. As my dad is a very law-abiding citizen, I had to. Up to today I mostly wait 2-3 years before playing a game, because they cost 10 Euros only then. I believe that if people had to really buy all the software they use, many more were using free (as in beer) software.

Besides this 'for free'-idea, Linux gave me the opportunity to learn about my machine. Computer had always intrigued me, because you couldn't understand them simply by unscrewing the case. If anybody said, that linux was complicated, I told them that I had to run a triple-boot-system under DOS6.2 an Win3.1, depending on which game I wanted to play.

In times win98 and 2K I had to reinstall my system every 6-8 months or so. In windows you had to install all the different tools seperately and to set up a new machine took 1-2 DAYS. With Linux, you had all the tools at hand. You could install everything at once (depending on your harddisc) and never worry about installation again.

From the security-conscious perspective Linux has always been far superior and thus more appropriate for a paranoid like myself. Try to patch a windows system - you will need to visit every software-vendor's website for individual updates. Even Microsoft for a long time didn't manage to tell you about office-updates while you were updating windows! Why don't they build something like apt-sources into their software???

Finally - I never liked neither Microsoft, nor their products and last but not least I grew up to not to like their vision. Nowadays I'd rather search for another job before accepting an offer from THEM. They are the "dark side of the force" but in reality there are many other dark (or at least dull grey) sides besides them.

A little personal Linux-User history: -first try with Caldera in '96, only worked in text-mode so I hardly used it at all -SuSE from 5.0 to version 8 I think -tried Debian in all kinds of stability-flavours since for 3 years -switched to gentoo as primary system and have been happy ever since

PS: I really like the spellchecker - cooooool

Oct 29, 2005
11:55 AM EDT
Well, I first read an article on Wired magazine about Linus Torvalds and the Linux "kernel." Prior to that, I'd never heard "kernel." Sick and tired of Windows 95, and feeling adventurous, I split a Conectiva box with a friend. After much sweat and tears, we installed Linux on our laptops (a Toshiba and a Texas Instruments).

It just felt great. I was an Apple ][ and C64 kid. When M$ came, they took the *fun* out of computers. They were just for applications, like Word. No more programming. I was raised on the philosophy that you might wanna roll your own stuff (of course, my stuff is so much more complicated today...)

Then I moved to Debian. Now Ubuntu. I stick to Linux because I must, I would rather run a BSD. I prefer the way BSDs are developed, but I need Linux because of Java and mathematical packages (Maple, for now, maybe in the future others, like Mathematica) - I had little time, the Ubuntu installer was kind if like a bully, but quick, so I ditched BSD until the end of the year. Also, my occupation requires Unix-like systems (bioinformatics, mathematics, programming, and scientific computing.) Free Software Unixes like Linux and the BSDs are open systems, and that is very important in the scientific arena, where you must always check and recheck things for yourself. In Science, everything must be open, by necessity. Besides, Unixes always were used in scientific computing. Even commercial systems cater to Unix users in the scientific area, because thy know Microsoft in not the only player there (in clusters and supercomputers, there's no Microsoft). M$ is not used at all at home, except for a very old computer that has some Forth stuff in it.

Also, at home, my wife has an account ( ;-)), and the Ubuntu GNOME desktop presents no problem for her. In fact, I think using Linux at home and Windows at her college is turning her into a more flexible computer user, which is a nice side effect.

Oct 29, 2005
9:20 PM EDT
The choice for me to move from Windows to Linux was an easy one. I never had much luck with using Windows or products from MS, but oh the irony of it all, because I support many Windows customers. I purchased my first computer from Radio Shack and although the 4K of memory at that time was plenty, it was the ability to "tinker" and continually move beyond the norm to that of being completely insane. I began using CP/M and then DOS appeared on the landscape (version 3.3). Then along came DOS 4.0 and it trashed my system. Drivers for printers no longer worked, etc. , so it was time to move to DR-DOS .. surprise everything worked.

To make a long story short, I just got tired of things falling apart and not working. Linux 0.91 had lots of floppies but it was worth it. Not many drivers, but hey I began to really enjoy computing for the first time in a very long time. Today, I am using Fedora Core 4 but I have tried Ubuntu, SuSe, Red Hat, Slackware, etc. Still I have a very big smile on my face and I enjoy reading about all the nice and wonderful things that have happened to Linux in the past few years.

Here is to an excellent computing platform that will not go away ... Thanks Tux and thanks Linux for bringing fun back.


Oct 30, 2005
6:39 AM EDT
I started using computers before DOS, and believe it or not my first interactive computer use was Microsoft Xenix on a Z8000 processor. But I bought one of the first IBM clones (a Columbia) and was a DOS user for years.

My disgust with Windows began when WordPerfect for Windows came out. It would frequently hang the computer while printing.

In the meantime I continued my UNIX use and brought our company onto the WWW with Solaris in 1993 -- we were in the first wave of corporate web sites, and had the first comprehensive sets of online product manuals I know of.

I downloaded the first Slackware distribution -- I think it was 1993 -- and put it on an old 386SX with 16MB. It was not ideal, but X windows was a great method of having multiple Xterms into our Solaris Web server.

I was still not a Linux convert. When I went into business for myself building ecommerce sites, I needed a billing and accounting package. The only options were on Windows, so I tried to make Windows 95 my workstation. I used some telnet package to shell in to web servers and do my work.

The problem I ran into with Windows was reliability -- Windows would often decide to crash no matter what I was doing. It also might have some application take over the keyboard for minutes at a time with no chance to interrupt and kill the app.

As I was operating ecommerce servers that could not be off line for minutes waiting for me to reboot, it was a killer to have random BSOD events, and could even cause a system problem that would take hours to fix.

I switched to Red Hat Linux 3.1 and have never looked back, and never seriously considered using Windows again. The problems of virus and spyware have never affected my company, and we were well positioned as the switch from Solaris to Linux came on web servers.

My entire family uses Unix -- my wife (a professor at Miami University) uses Linux both in her home office and on the laptop she uses at school. My daughter is well versed in Linux, though she is actually right now using OS/X on a Mac I bought for an aborted project. We have never had a single virus or spyware event, and downtime means bad hardware.

It has not been without problems -- printing is a pain in the butt sometimes, and laptop power management is kind of poor on Linux. But except for my daughter wanting games that are not available, we don't feel any sort of lack.

I also have put a K12ltsp lab in one of our local schools, and they are the most trouble-free computers in the place.

Oct 30, 2005
11:29 AM EDT
My interest in Linux began in the days of Windows 98, when I began to get very fed up with the apparent unwillingness of Microsoft to fix problems in the OS and provide a stable, dependable system. To my mind, the largest computer software vendor in the world had the resources to do so, but made a clear decision not to, much to my chagrin.

I heard about Linux and free software, and was thrilled that there were people who were working to produce a complete OS and applications that were entirely free of corporate domination. Being an idealist, this has an immense appeal for me, since I was right there playing with the first 8-bit microproessors that came out in the early days. Computer hobbyist magazines at that time were full of cicuit diagrams and source code that were freely available for anyone to use as they pleased. I began to experiment with various Linux distributions and to follow the adventures of the early Microsoft vs Linux struggle, sometimes with bated breath. It just wasn't clear to me then that Linux would survive and grow in the face of Microsoft's tactics. Thankfully GNU/Linux and FOSS have become an unstoppable force in the computing world.

I think that the FOSS movement has tremendous potential to transform not just the field of computing, but also to present a (hopefully fatal) challenge to the way intellectual property is viewed today. Maybe, just maybe, the ideal of meritocracy as it functions in the FOSS world can spread (virus-like!) to the business world as well.

For these reasons I have fully switched to Linux systems for my personal use. My employment environment is Windows-centric. I do software development for the Windows platform, but use and promote free software whenever I can.

I have identified a simple strategy for moving into commercial Linux-based systems where I work, where we are slowly moving to the .Net platform in our software development projects. The idea is that any software running on the .Net platform will also run on Linux under Mono! Hopefully we will then be able to deploy our systems on Linux. This is what I hope to give back to the Linux community.

Oct 31, 2005
8:42 AM EDT
For me, the original reason for using Linux was that it was cheap and like Unix. I began using Unix on the job in 1988 on machines of various sizes ranging from Sun workstations to Cray supercomputers. My exposure to PCs was very limited until I got a job in 1993 where for the first time I had a PC on my desk. Compared to Unix, I found DOS and Windows to be very limiting and unstable and I continued to do most of my work on Sun workstations.

I finally decided to buy a PC for home use in 1994 after Pentiums became available. Of course it came with MS Windows 3.11 and I had to have it in order to support a friend who was running a number of business applications only available on DOS or Windows. But I missed the power and stability of Unix, so when a co-worker told me about Linux, I did some research on the internet, downloaded Slackware, and installed it in a dual boot configuration. I used both Linux and Windows (several versions of each as upgrades became available and I experimented with different Linux distributions) for a number of years, mainly because there were some applications that I wanted to use that were only available on Windows.

In 1996, I got a job developing software on the Windows platform after I had been developing on Unix for eight years. The more time I spent with development tools on Windows, the more I disliked Windows, and I began trying to get off of Windows at home. By early 2000, I either no longer needed some Windows applications or Linux equivalents had become available, and I was able to remove Windows from my PC. I have on occasion found it necessary to install Windows in VMware for work-related or training purposes, but otherwise I only run Linux at home now (currently running Ubuntu Linux 5.10), and I use it at work when I have the opportunity, although Solaris is my primary development platform right now and I am required to use Windows for many other things. I'm looking forward to the day that I will be able to get Windows off of my work desktop as well.

Nov 02, 2005
5:14 AM EDT
I've been a Linux user only for the last six months. Although I wasn't particularly rebelling against Microsoft my journey towards Linux began with objecting to forking out a small fortune for software and Microsoft Office in particular. I also wasn't happy with IE.

One day I decided to try Firefox, and then from there OpenOffice.org. I saw that the quality of these products were excellent. And I was hooked. It was only a small step then to trying Linux. On installation I quickly saw the benefits, everything you could ever wish for at your fingertips. Wonderful. And it was so flexible, choices everywhere!

I'm not a geek, I know very few command lines at the moment but I love fiddling. I've always liked the idea of having a box that fits my personal needs and Linux provides it. I've tried Fedora Core (which is ok) but I've found I prefer Ubuntu. It is just the right level for a noob like me. I also love the philosophy of Debian and have a test box with this on. Unfortunately I have just a few too many problems with it to use it as my main box, but it's great to use as a learning box.

Its all still a bit of a steep learning curve and since I'm not a computer expert often I get stuck, however I'm loving the challenge. I can't properly play the one game on it I love (Football Manager, the match engine is still grindingly slow with Wine and Cedega), and I'd like to see an improved multimedia application that's as friendly as Realplayer/Windows Media Player (i.e I'd like to see AmaroK with movie capability).

However even with my limited knowledge I've already converted the wife's pc over to Linux too.

And of course once you make the move you don't want to go back, and now I'm even starting to become strict with myself in terms of licencing. Open source? GNU/GPL? Debian principles? I still have my Windows pc and what I put on that must as far as possible meet with the philosophy I use for my Linux pc's.

I'm looking forward to a Linux future! :-)

Nov 02, 2005
3:56 PM EDT
I became interested in Linux whilst in High School, I was never particulalry pro M$, I just liked fiddling and in particular making good use of weaknesses in the schools network security. One of my friends was very pro linux so I borrowed a Linux Live CD from him and had a look, I found the KDE Desktop very appealing so immediately got hold of a copy of Mandrake. I made the mistake of going native Linux straight off, and suffered because of the sudden change, and finding I couldnt do certain things, gradually Windows crept back onto my PC until suddenly I was booting into that mor ethan linux. About a month later after I had read into the various problems I had encountered Windows was once again removed, This time things went smoothly, since that change I have had a few problems getting hardware to work, but most manufacturers have been helpful if I needed to contact them. The Learning curve is large but once you learn it, it is so much easier than Windows, I love having a fully capable CLI, and quite often use Konsole for most of my tasks despite running KDE. Im now on a Gentoo system and I have to say that I have never looked back. It is only since I became so involved in the linux world that my dislike for Microsoft grew, I have no problem with big companies being big, but only if they play fair. Microsofts attempts to crush linux in the past have been dispicable, but I think they now realise that they no longer monopolise the PC market.

Nov 04, 2005
4:08 PM EDT
Why I switched to linux

I went to a business school from 1984-1988, having had only the first computer course my high school ever offered and a typing class on a manual typewriter. The required computer classes for all majors were Intro to Computers (history, terminology, Lotus 1-2-3, and WordPerfect) and Basic programming. There were no features that didn't work in any of these softwares. You had to learn enough DOS to get to the directory the software's executable resided in to start it. My first job out of college, I used DOS workstations and a NetWare 2 server with 1 MB RAM. The "computer specialist" went on maternity leave and never came back. I was on my own, so I started learning. The next thing I knew, I was the admin of the server/network, at a time when memory management was manual and tricky; but if a new version of Lotus or WordStar came out and a feature they'd been advertising didn't work yet, they'd offer a discount with apologies, and take it out of the menu. Support was free for all software, as the companies actually used to fix bugs, rather than design new features around them. My expectations had been set high, and I had been taught ethics at business school.

Then M$ started breaking every rule I'd learned in business ethics. They made sure DR DOS had "problems" and stole Norton Utilities defragmenter, without even trying to hide the fact. They didn't even try to change the appearance, and I had already been burned by disks that weren't full, but could no longer be written to, until you deleted stuff to make more room, installed Norton Utilities (or at least the defrag files, it was modular) and ran a defrag. From there M$ went downhill, dragging the whole industry with it. Overpriced software sold with promises of features that never worked, turned into the bloatiest crashware we'd ever seen. M$ started ticking off the rest of the ethics violations we had been taught not to do at business school, and became the poster child for why monopolys were bad, eventually buying entire sections of our government and dozens of judges, to avoid having their customers protected from their abuse. These days, FDIC auditors recommend M$ Active Directory for the security of it (what a joke) and tell you how great it is that M$ gives them all their software (except the OS) for free.

I am a M$ hater, and although I'm not proud of it, I am not ashamed of it either. As an administrator, their software is some of the worst I've ever had to make excuses for, 'er I mean support.

My aging games machine is Windows 98SE Lite. Litepc.com has software originally inspired to prove M$ wrong about not being able to have Win98 without IE. The label on the CD case says "...because they said it couldn't be done...". Anything to kill the competition, including perjury. The more I studied security, the less comfortable I was connecting even this stripped Windows machine to the wild, wild, web. Hiding behind an OpenBSD firewall with a host firewall, anti-virus, and a web proxy wasn't enough anymore.

I had used Red Hat as mail servers and as DNS servers at work and they had been extremely reliable. Our internal mail server running sendmail would run at 98% - 100% CPU utilization all day every work day, until we feared the hardware would die on us from the strain. I had not found a linux distribution I liked as a desktop workstation until the fall of 2002, when I found Lindows (now Linspire). I can strip unnecessary services and lock down the firewall, and I need not fear checking my e-mail or surfing the web (as a regular user, of course :-). It has no hidden costs and no menu options that lead to broken features. It only has Clam-AV on it, so I needn't fear ssh'ing a virus to my Windows games machine, which will be replaced with Gentoo, most likely (I already need a new video card and more CPU for today's games). Trimming the bloat off XP just isn't worth the effort. Linspire is easier to setup and maintain than any version of M$ Windows, as an internet PC especially. For a games machine, Gentoo appears the best distro for me, as I like my games to get the most out of the higher end hardware I'll supply it with (Yes, I'll be building my own again).

You have heard from a Micro$oft hater, created more by their abusive business practices than by their crappy bloated crashware. They abuse their competitors, their partners, and their customers, and they hold back the progress of their customers, their industry, their country, and mankind.

This is why I switched to linux.

BTW, at work I support NetWare, Windows, Solaris, and linux servers, in order by count. In order by time to support per server, Windows, Windows, Windows, Windows, Windows, NetWare, linux, Solaris.

Nov 08, 2005
6:09 PM EDT
I was a sophomore in college in 99 and had just became a CS major. One of my friends who was a CS major at another college in the area told me about having to take Operating Systems and spending time looking at the code from the Linux kernel, since it was open source and could easily be studied. I figured I would get a head start and at least have an idea what this "Linux" was. I bought a copy of SuSE 5.0, loaded it on my computer in a dual boot configuration and spent time messing with it. Though I wasn't impressed with it at the time, I thought it had potential, so I kept messing with it. As time went on, I got lazy about rebooting the computer into Windows to get work done and eventually discovered that I had learned how to do everything I needed to do under Linux. Now, I spend 99.99999% of my time in Linux. I still have Windows on a second partition, but I only use it when I need to develop something specifically for Windows.

Nov 11, 2005
11:33 PM EDT
First of all I want to applaud the second post in this forum which was from some guy who never used x86 machines which means he managed to stay away from windows. I suppose my background in some respects does not go that far back. I started using computers practically since I was born, well not actually but around when I was 8 years old. And since I am 26 that put DOS in my hands. I remember having to boot my computer from a stack of 5,12 floppy disks and my first operating system was good old DRDOS 2.0. I used DOS for quite some time and then just pretty much moved up the food chain.

DRDOS 2.0,3.3,4.0 - on a 286 8mhz (assembled by some guy from china -> I can't really remember who it was quite a while back). I then moved to Windows 3.0 which was crap and didn't work very well so I never really used it but I do recall that I ran it on the same 286 on top of my DRDOS 4. At some point in time my father who did research for scripts made and investment and changed our 286 with a 386 25mhz from AMD and the 286 naturally passed on to me. I continued my use of DOS primarily for Games and Programming -> I used to develop C,C++ and Pascal programs and then tried Windows 3.1 which was much better than 3.0, and so I started using that primary to write programs with GUI's because you didn't have to draw things with ASCII characters and you could do some interesting things with graphics since you could paint pixels lines and what not. (Now I know the same could have been done with DOS and some toolkit like Borland's CRT or their more advanced graphics library, but the Microsoft API's under windows were easier and you could add menu's and other sorts of graphical widgets easily). As I shifted my programming to windows instead of DOS my use of the computer was pretty much based on Windows, with a dos window constantly open to execute programs, compile things and do pretty much anything with the computer. GUI interfaces have never been very useful for doing things!!.

Now it wasn't until my father bought me my own computer (a Compaq Presario 486 with 4MB of memory) that I switched operating systems once again. I was attracted my OS/2 Warp the famous cross-roads when Windows 3.1 was dying and Windows 95 was about to be launched onto the consumer market. You say television adds from both IBM and Microsoft on pretty much every channel and the thing that got me to install OS/2 was "Preemptive Multitasking" (which we get on Linux now with kernel 2.6 (something or other)). What it means for the folks that are not computer or programming experts is that the computer actually does not slow down just because the processor is doing something else, so the operating system does a bunch of things to make your computer look like a multiprocessor system even when you only have one processor. I loved OS/2 which was nice looking had a wonderful GUI, good C,C++ tools, java support, if you used the Windows 3.1 disks you could run all of your windows 3.1 programs on it, never crashed, even ran the DOS games like Wing Commander and did pretty much anything I wanted without ever crashing. So I switched to Linux which I had dabbled with when I was looking at operating systems before using OS/2 (Linux Universe with Kernel 1.0 - which loaded but was very slow next to OS/2 but just about as fast as Windows 95), back to the switch.. I switched because I had just gotten out of high school was doing collage in Italy (where I now live) and didn't have enough money to upgrade my OS/2 Warp operating system to the newer 4.0 version plus I couldn't really find anybody in Italy that would sell it to me, plus I heard that IBM was fading out support for the Operating system and so I removed OS/2 from my Epson 486 laptop with an external keyboard and Installed Red Hat Linux 5.0. Which mind you I believe to be one of the most solid Linux distributions of all time.

Since then my use of the computer has practically been completely Linux asside from a job I had for 2 years from 1999 to 2001 where I used Windows NT 4 and Windows 2000 to program Microsoft ASP in a Microsoft Based Company on Microsoft Servers (ok you get the picture). I did manage to introduce Java which they did not like but used because it worked better than the Microsoft Stuff.

Since I started working I have had various computers with linux.

- Citrix 586 400mhz with a Tyan Motherboard and 64MB of memory running Linux Red Hat 7.1 on my girlfriend and I wrote (www.bigfood.it) - AMD Athlon XP 1600+ which still works as a file server for one of my friends running Linux Mandrake 8.0 - AMD Athlon XP 2400+ 2GB memory, Fujitsu SCSI 80GB 15k, etc. (a really nice computer) running various versions of Linux (Mandrake 8.1, 8.2, 9.0, 9.1, 9.2) I used the computer for many years, I then upgraded the computer to my current pc which is the same with 2,5GB of memory and an Asus AI Athlon 64 motherboard and an AMD 64 3000+ processor on a Mandrake LE2005 x86_64.

At work I have had various other pc's: - Compaq persario - Pentium 3 733mhz - running Redhat 8.0 and Redhat 9.0 - Acer aspire 1300 Laptop - running Linux Mandrake 9.1,9.2,10.0 - DELL Inspiron 5150 Laptop - running Linux Mandrake 10.0,10.1,LE2005 and now 2006. - AMD Athlon 64 3500+ (monster computer), 4GB of memory, Nvidia 6600 256MB - my development workstation for writing J2EE applications running Linux Mandrake LE2005.

Linux I believe is the future, as is all open source software. Linux is the foundation upon which computing can become accessible to everybody and writing programs can be much easier for those who have to write then and managing systems easier for those who have to manage them. Windows is Shit. It sucks. When I do my job which is writing web sites and developing database driven J2EE applications 99% of the problems I have are with Microsoft Internet Explorer and about 99% of the network problems have to do with Microsoft Windows XP and it's users.. which in my opinion should not use a computer as by doing so they would do everybody a favor.

I think that Linux users are good people who like to use computers and know enough about then to use them properly. Windows users are not the same class of people. They are people who don't know anything about computers don't know what they are, have problems finding the power button, they are -- in a word, technologically impaired and therefore in my opinion should not exist. There are so many other things one can do in life. Why must people spend there time, catching viruses, sending spam, etc... In a perfect world I would drop support for Windows completely, forget IE was ever made and get back to doing my job and not solving other peoples problems.

There is something curious I picked up at work.

A while back I got a lot of calls because of problems with Outlook Express. So I simply checked the status of our mail server to make sure everything was fine and then politely told my customer to request support from his software vendor as the problem was with his Windows Installation.

He said: so I should call the guy's that sold me the computer? I said: no!. it is a problem with your software you have to call the software support center. He said: So I should call DELL? I said: no. DELL did not write (Microsoft Outlook Express) otherwise it would be called DELL Outlook Express. He said: That is no help at all, Microsoft won't help me with my problem, are you crazy!.

I think that this dialog is important because of one of the biggest criticisms with Linux and that is support.

Do Linux Competitors offer support: On paper they do.., I am sure if you pay them enough $ they do but for the average joe, they don't and people know it. So this thing about support is a non issue. When people need help the go on the Internet and solve their own problems.

Nov 13, 2005
11:03 AM EDT
"I think that Linux users are good people who like to use computers and know enough about then to use them properly. Windows users are not the same class of people. They are people who don't know anything about computers don't know what they are, have problems finding the power button, they are -- in a word, technologically impaired and therefore in my opinion should not exist."

i am one of those that barely knew where the power button was. the difference is being told there is an alternative out there. now i can go find easy answers but i prefer to try to help myself fist as each time i learn more about this strange thing called a computer.people on a job tho are being paid to do certain things.it is hard to see the benefit for them to spend their own time learning how to fix things. maybe it makes it easier for me being a home user only. i find it strange tho to term linux as hard,because i have ran it for 3+ years now. would never consider going back to MS

Nov 17, 2005
3:27 PM EDT
Why do people switch to Linux? The question is bad. Unfortunately only the minority of the computer users switched to GNU/Linux, yet :( The GNU/Linux like a server OS is really great, and according to the reports of NetCraft the main applied os are GNU/Linux on the server machines. But the world of the clients are different things! Example if you have a web site with a web statistic tool (like ipstat.com) you'll come to know that your Windows client visitors will be the majority! Not Linux, BeOS, freeBSD,Unix or any other system. So the people of our World don't switch to GNU/Linux or any other Free distro. "Why should do people switch to GNU/Linux?" would be a better question for this discussion according to my opinion. And the answare to this question is not easy.

1. The average users are not interested in the programming, so the world of the Open Source is not exciting for their. 2. The average users play the computer games which are not famous on GNU/Linux. 3. The average users are so lazy in reading of installation docs, etc.

However I think there are three advantages in GNU/Linux for the average users:

1. The money paying to the distributor company is not required, because the default kernel is free and you can download that. 2. What does it mean VIRUS on GNU/Linux? ;) 3. The stability of the OS ;)

So we've three advantages and also three disadvantages points. According to my calculation after 5 years the GNU/Linux could be a better platform than M$'s Windows ever.

The cedega with VMware is a cool opportunity for the gaming, but you should be rather expert than a simple average user. So at finally "Why should do people switch to GNU/Linux?" Because it's an interesting world and with your little learning the GNU/Linux could be more comfortable platform for you than M$ Win.

Ohhh I almost forgot . . . In a cross-link network, you can kill the viruses through your Linux machine from your WinSux ;) The Linux became to my friend in the early of '95. My favorite sites: http://www.linux.org/ http://www.lxer.com/ http://www.linuxbazis.hu/?nyelv=en http://www.suse.com/ This is the best GNU/Linux distribution for a client machine! Nice and comfortable!!!!!

Dec 01, 2005
5:03 PM EDT
This is a fascinating topic! One of my co-workers asked me the other day "Why do you always bring up linux whenever we have a meeting?" That started me off on a tangent. I basically started learning Windows and Unix/Linux at the same time at my first computer job. The company I worked for as a phone technician made back-up tape systems for practically every computer system known to man, and had about one of everything in the 'lab'. Without any background at all, I was supposed to assist Windows and Unix admins setup, design and implement their backup schema.

I did this mostly with scripts that were handed to me by senior technicians that I didn't understand, but even back then it seemed to me that the way the Unix/Linux sysadmins dealt with issues was totally different than the Windows guys.

Ever since then, I've futzed with Linux on the sidelines. My job is still as a support guy for a mostly windows-centric business, but I've always got linux boxen running doing something useful. Someday I hope I'll be able to glom onto one of you uber-geek linux types so I can absorb enough knowlege to 'break away' from the M$ hegemony. :)

Dec 01, 2005
9:00 PM EDT
I came to Linux from complete ignorance.

I seriously did not know that there was software that was free AND legal.

Once the idea of Open Source Software sunk into my mind, the more I became interested in it. I'll be honest, Firefox was the first open source software I ever used. It was because of that, that I discovered all of this...:-)

And now that I have "put rubber to the road", I know that I have made the right decision. I know I have.

I miss Windows like I miss having terminal cancer.


Dec 02, 2005
7:22 AM EDT
Linux was just the next logical step for me. Up until 2 years ago, I was a full on *mouse monkey* (Windows user), though most of my software was pirated because of price.

I had tried RedHat Linux a couple times (6.2 in 1998 and 7 in 2001) but there were always several things that didn't work, like audio or I was limited to 640x480 on a 17" CRT. I almost gave up Linux for good because of my frustrations with RPM's.

Two years ago, a colleague of mine convinced me to give Debian a try. I installed it on an old AMD K6-2 300MHz box I had with 128MB RAM. I immediately noticed that I could do what I needed *faster* on the 300MHz box than on my AMD Athlon XP 1600+ box with 512MB running Windows 2000.

At first I used the Gnome desktop (because of familiarity with RH6.2 & 7). Moved to WindowMaker, but it wasn't as flexible as I needed. Found Enlightenment (figuratively and literally).

I now run Debian on all 4 of my PCs, which haven't been rebooted since the last thunderstorm forced one in June. What's funny about this is that before my move to Degian (and actually using it), I thought it was perfectly acceptable to have to reboot 19 or more times when installing an OS and various drivers and applications.

My only PC related frustrations now are the daily issues with my work PC (running Windows XP).

Dec 02, 2005
4:24 PM EDT
My primary reasons for switching from Windows to GNU/Linux are:

(A) Cost of proprietary software exhorbitantly high - $400 for an office suite??? - and beyond my budget - it's either libre software or infringe on someone's copyrights. And yes, I do have a conscience. (B) License issues when dealing with re-installing the OS, which is necessary on a frequent basis with Windows (C) Printer problems - the driver couldn't be properly removed to correct a problem (D) CD burner sold with proprietary software that time-bombed the installer (E) Security/Stability issues - Stability was my biggest concern (F) Easier to correct problems (once you understand them and the solution, that is) by editing text files, etc. than by trying to fumble your way through the Windows Registry

It really wasn't until after I began learning about GNU/Linux that I discovered there was such a thing as not having to reboot my PC every other day, or every time I installed a program, or in some cases just changed the program's configuration.

Dec 03, 2005
11:58 AM EDT
High all. Interesting reading. I started using computers after a motorcycle accident and was introduced to Interleaf , I think it was, running on a Mac in a engineering documentation centre. It was networked to Sun servers. Other computers where Compaq 286s running Compaq Dos 3.32 or something to get over the 32 meg limit, and WordStar for word processing duties. I was in the RNZAF the time and got posted to Airstaff around 1992. There they where using Dos and WordStar 2000. One of the Avionics techs at the time was drumming up support to bulk buy privately PCs. I thought "why not". Ended up with a 286/6,vga, 40meg hdd and no software. Bought DRDos 6 and PCGeos. I upgraded the ram to 4megs pronto though, as I needed it to run win3.1. Came across an outfit selling discounted Win3.1 disk/manual bundle. Updated that to Windows for Workgroups. While the rest of the world seemed to be caught up in the win9x/x86 upgrade thing I just sat back a bought mainly secondhand cast offs of both hardware and software. Wfw remained my main desktop untill 1999. It seemed silly to me that folk kept on updating kit mainly because of games when games consols offered static specs. Win98 is the last version of Windows I have at home. Never liked XPs EULA or product activation and helping folk troubleshoot XP boxes just enforced that things are not really that different. Ok it has an NT kernal, NTFS etc but still the same security issue abound. Dabled with OS/2. Still have a P1 166 in the garage with it installed. Was introduced to Linux via a computer support course I was doing,followed on by a network support course. Both of which I passed just fine. Due to some health issues a didn't persue a career in IT, and am working for a general engineering workshop. I like getting dirty ok :). Put together an old P200mmx HP 3216 that was being tossed out and tossed a few Linux distros at it. Well I'm hooked. Reminded me of my dos days but a lot more powerfull and you have to understand a bit about computers to get things done which I liked. Ok, there are newer distros but I've settled on RedHat 7.3 for that machine. The installation was certainly easier than any Windows installation I'd done. With the fedora legacy project security updates are a non issue using yum. Got rid of Nautilus but kept the core gnome libraries I'm using Gnome commander as a Gui file manager and whittled the rest of softare down to what I actually need and use. WindowMaker is my wm of choice. Now this thing is the nearest to a "appliance" I've seen on a x86. It's networked to the win98 box and to be quite honest does everything that does and more. Linux also introduced my the the wonderfull FOSS community and the helpfull folk the reside in it. Just gotten Open SuSe CD's and will give that a go shortly. Actually bought these off a young gent that is developing linux games. One has to encourage a good thing hah ;).

Dec 05, 2005
8:31 PM EDT
New to site, glad to find. Hi! Very interesting thread. All I run is Linux. For a year now. It's not so easy for me, been a long haul getting to this point, but I was determined to win (see below), even if it meant limits to the use of my computer. I'm learning it slowly, as I don't have much time to dedicate to it.

The first PC for home I bought was an OEM Windows package deal in a box number, which almost instantly was attacked by viruses. Yeah, had firewall, AV and all that jazz. But I also had very little experience with Windows, used MAC for years at work until the last year they forced conversion to PCs.

My new, very expensive, "everything you need is in the box" computer was the biggest nightmare of my life. It ended up under hack attack for many months, unknown to me for most of it. Sure, I was hella dumb at the time and had no clue how easy it was to get attacked and how big the problem could become. I had I think maybe 1,800 bad S#&$ on there, hundred of files including these hackers names and notes they wrote to each other about the files, and a program described as a "ruthless killer of windows that efficiently assassinates windows." It was a major investment of time. And, it put me well on the way to becoming a Linux user!

When I could no longer do anything on my computer, I got really mad. I started to learn about computers and built my own. I joined lots of forums and learned of Linux, tried to install FreeBSD without success, then put Suse 9.2 on it but had component compatibility troubles. I did like the OS a lot, though. Tried dual booting, couldn't get that to work either. Ended up with PCLinuxOS as a single OS and I'm happy with it. It crashes (nothing like a Windows crash) and has various problems, but I'll put up with this any day over W$.

I'd love to be a "real" techie, but I seem to be more of a disabled one because I have a heck of a time getting things to work!

I just bought 2 fairly new PCs really cheap through a friend's work that upgraded their entire network. No CDROM and no OS. Been tempted to put on W2000 because, darn, it's just so handy and easy to use! But there goes the risk...and the daily/weekly maintenance...OGM, what am I thinking? Well, for one thing, I've got stuff on Windows I can't use now. It's not critical stuff, but it sure would be nice to have. Got some nice software, too. There is so much to learn when switching to Linux - I don't understand Don Parris's poll saying nobody had difficulty using. Hmm...just read the forums, people have all sorts of problems. But then, so do Windows users!

Robert Potter's question, why should you switch, seems more proactive towards encouraging people to check it out. It's a great question. Even if you're not a programmer, don't build your own or run games - how many years of messing with viruses and doing high maintenance do you want to dedicate to your life? Don't people tire of this nonsense? And what can you say when the big one gets you?

Dec 06, 2005
9:08 AM EDT
There is so much to learn when switching to Linux - I don't understand Don Parris's poll saying nobody had difficulty using. Hmm...just read the forums, people have all sorts of problems.

I thought my poll said that there was only a handful of applications holding most people back from losing Windows altogether. I don't recall discussing the ease of use. That said, I gave a lady near me a box running Ubuntu. She has called 4 times for technical support since last May. The last time she called was sometime in July or August. She is not an advanced user, either. I recently showed some folks my laptop running SUSE 10.0 and OpenOffice.org. They thought OOo looked like MS Office. I'll likely be helping them migrate to a pure libre platform.

I think what you are experiencing is that you chose to learn more about computers, generally. And you're right. There is much to learn. For the average desktop user, it is really just a matter of adjusting to a new interface - they aren't willing to explore to the extent that you or I might do.

Dec 06, 2005
11:18 AM EDT

Also consider how much people need to learn to use Windows software. How many people have to continually help their Windows using friends to keep their machines running?

No one was born knowing what a C:\ or D:\ drive is any more than knowing what sda or hda signifies. Every version of Windows has resulted in major re-training of users, and technical staff.

The argument that people shouldn't switch because they'll need to learn new things is completely ridiculous. People had to learn new things to go from MS DOS to Windows 3.1, and then again to go to Windows 95, and yet again to go to Windows XP, and they will have to learn new things to use Windows Vista.

If having to learn new things is a valid reason not to use an operating system, no one would be using Windows. Obviously people switched from one version of Windows to another despite the fact that they had to learn new things to do so, therefore people can learn new things if they switch from Windows to Linux. At least the users get to decide when to upgrade from one version of Linux to the next. They are not at the mercy of one vendor.

Arguments like this against switching make no sense whatsoever, but it always gives me a good laugh when some Windows user brings it up.

Dec 06, 2005
12:23 PM EDT
number6x. I agree completly. Chalk it up to fear of the unknown... Ooo, lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!!! :)

Dec 06, 2005
12:45 PM EDT
There is one and only one valid reason for users not to use Linux these days, and that is when their current applications have no equivalents that run on Linux.

Reliability, robustness, scalability, security, inter-operability, cost and even user friendliness, FOSS is better than Windows. MS lackey Journalists can dispute all they want, but the facts are out their and under their finger tips. All they have to do is seriously try FOSS out and be objective in their evaluations. Not many have done that but those who did, they know better now.

Those of us who have been using FOSS for a while certainly remember the days when many of MS lackeys used to publish reviews and say Linux can't do this and that, today, they can find nothing that FOSS can't do as good as and in many cases even better than Windows.

It is a waste of time to keep arguing about it. We need to move on from being defensive to become more forward looking. The best thing we do is to continue disproving their claims by publishing articles and tutorials that show what FOSS & Linux is capable of, cite case studies and keep exposing MS devious tactics & Windows weeknesses.

Dec 06, 2005
4:22 PM EDT
I agree with y'all (number6x, jimf, abe). I just wondered where splatch got the idea I had said GNU/Linux was easier to use than Windows. I seriously don't remember ease of use coming up in my article. I also thought I should point out that GNU/Linux, for the average user, just is not all that difficult to learn. Of course, some people seem to think that learning something different or new is necessarily hard. While it can be difficult to learn new things - I've struggled with programming - I can pick up a new user interface in 5 or 10 minutes. Thus, not everything is difficult to learn.

Dec 06, 2005
5:08 PM EDT
"There is one and only one valid reason for users not to use Linux these days, and that is when their current applications have no equivalents that run on Linux."

It's certainly come a long ways since I took up Linux. Today I have equivalent apps for everything I used to have in Windows. Very few valid reasons remain.

Dec 06, 2005
7:50 PM EDT
I don't even keep Windows media around. I believe MLK said it best, "Free at last, free at last, Thank God Almighty, I'm free at last!"

Dec 09, 2005
11:38 AM EDT
My wife and two daughters were getting so paranoid about using Windows to answer e-mail that we got a "3rd party e-mail program". Then web surfing (late 90's) became a problem. It got to the point that we almost had to supervise the kids while on the web.

I decided to try LINUX at home (was using Unix at work) and have been a "mixed" family ever since (we run Windows under VMware).

Dec 09, 2005
12:39 PM EDT
"I don't even keep Windows media around"

Don, I never bought it to keep it and never bought a PC either. Both were not worth it to me until after I started using Linux 6 years ago.

Dec 09, 2005
3:39 PM EDT
Iirc, the guy who did the cover art for my book discovered GNU/Linux when he discovered PC's. Whether he replaced Windows, or got a clean box, I have no idea. I'm pretty sure he objected to Windows on the license issue, though.

Dec 11, 2005
8:40 AM EDT
Don, I may have misunderstood your meaning in what I read. Sorry if I did. It was in the 9th paragraph in which you wrote, "There were no responses at all indicating that the difficulty of using GNU/Linux was holding someone back." I also didn't mean to say I thought GNU/Linux was EASIER than Windows, although in some ways it certainly is. Number6x, jimf and abe make some excellent points. Why people switch to Linux is in my case due 100% to MIcrosoft. Guess I can find one reason to appreciate Mr. Gates! I went with Linux because I was locked out of Windows. It's so much better to spend your time learning something productive, like Linux, rather than anti-productive, like Windows and the many malware apps you need.

The learning curve has been harder than expected (age, I think), but that hasn't stop me or kept me from switching and staying with Linux. Some of the best things in life take a little more effort, and they're worth it!

Dec 11, 2005
6:26 PM EDT
Gotchya. I overlooked that going back through my article. My meaning was that the difficulty of using GNU/Linux was not mentioned as a barrier to replacing Windows. No one said, "I can't replace Windows because GNU/Linux is too difficult for me to use." I found that interesting, since GNU/Linux is perceived to be more difficult for new/non-technical users, and thus a barrier to adoption.

Dec 11, 2005
8:16 PM EDT
Don, no doubt that GNU/Linux is more difficult for new/non-technical users, but many of the live Debian derivatives provide a good way for new users to get the basics. Many of those Distros install in less time and with much less effort than Debian proper, although eventually they may want to try the real thing :).

Dec 12, 2005
7:39 AM EDT
The way I see it is that, in major distros, there are no real difficulties, it is all in the perception and lack of familiarity with Linux. No one was born with the knowledge on how to use Windows, we all had to and still learning it. There are new adopters of Linux all the times and they are getting better at it because they keep learning as they use it, just like they did with Windows and for a long time.

What new users have to determine is if Linux is worth the effort for them. Many do take the initiative to find out and many others don't. The message we need to keep giving them is to try it out because how else will you be able to know for sure. We can help by being realistic and accurate in telling what is available, how tos, and what to avoid and not use. It is a process that has been going on for a while. We can see it is working because we see new Linux adopters all the time. It is just a matter of time because FOSS in general has a lot to offer and, in my opinion, with all its short comings, like lack of some apps, it is far superior to Windows in all respect. My message to new users would always be "Linux is not perfect and so is windows; there is no risk in trying Linux using LiveCDs or dual boot, so why not try it out to find out what it can do for you? The time you spend on trying it out could be well worth it. It will save you money, headache, and might be more enjoyable to use. If not, all you would have lost is some time you otherwise would have wasted on solving problems with windows"

Dec 14, 2005
10:35 AM EDT
First of all, I would like to say that this is a very interesting thread, with some really great stories about why people are choosing to use Linux over M$ or Mac. So, in light of that, I would like to tell my story.

I was first introduced to computers back in 1982... yes I'm old. Anyway, I was just starting a two year computer programming course that was to consist of FORTRAN, COBOL, and BASIC. If I recall, there were six teletype systems that were networked into a mainframe located somewhere in the school. After six weeks into the course, things were really moving great for me until my parents decided to move to Florida. I was really starting to excel in the class when I found out the news. I was disappointed, but at the same time, this was a chance for me to live in Daytona. Needless to say I certainly don't regret the move. However, upon arrival in Florida, the only computer class at the high school consisted of Apple II's. I struggled miserably and learned that I really hated the Apple computer... so I did what I could to get a passing grade and turned away from computers, mainly because they were too expensive for me at the time.

Ten years later, 1992, I managed to purchase my first computer. It was an XT with a CGA monitor, a 40MB hard drive, and a 5.25 floppy drive. It came pre-loaded with DOS 5.0 and it had a few programs... it even included Quattro Pro. I was back in the computer world. The one thing I realized was that by the time I got my new system, it was already outdated... the 286 was introduced, and all of a sudden I felt like I was missing out. I continued to learn DOS, and eventually upgraded to 6.22. I later went back to school for electronics and got my degree (which BTW, is where I first heard of Linux). Since I really didn't know anything about it, I shrugged it off, but somehow kept it in the back of my mind.

I eventually landed a job with a computer repair shop where I quickly advanced within the company. I was introduced to SCO UNIX, but didn't really do anything with it. However, I really liked what I saw. One day, I went to a local Barnes & Noble and saw a copy of Running Linux on the shelf... there was that name again... Linux. I immediately bought a copy and started reading. This was a first edition copy (first printing) that I still have. Matt Welsh did such an excellent job of explaining what Linux is, that I went out and found the latest copy of Slackware (at that time) that had kernel 1.2. I read and re-read Running Linux to ensure that I properly installed my copy of Slackware on my system. It was a struggle, but I managed, and even configured XFree86 with fvwm installed.

I did what I could to spread the word about this wonderful operating system, but everyone was interested in Win95. So, because of my work, I had to re-format my hard disk and install Win95 as well.

Fast forward to today, I've ran SuSE, Redhat, and Mandrake, along with FreeBSD and OpenBSD. I like the BSD distributions, but have switched back to Linux for personal reasons, and because I'm not really running a server.

I'm currently running SimplyMEPIS on one of my systems and Windows XP on my other. I still continue to test out new distributions to see which one(s) I like best. So far, SimplyMEPIS seems to work really well for me. My objective still is to promote Linux, but it is also to learn which distribution is the most user-friendly when it comes to ease of use. Most people want simplicity in their lives, even if it means sacrificing performance as well as security. That is why M$ is still the winner in this arena. It's unfortunate, but I know for a fact that the general public doesn't want to deal with shell scripts or makefiles... all they want is a point-n-click system that will allow them the tools they need to surf the Internet, check email, and maybe even chat. Thank God for great window managers such as KDE and Gnome. I hope that one day I will be able to persuade more people into switching over, but it's a tough battle when businesses are still using M$ and their employees don't know any better.

In the meantime, I hope that more people find these posts and read what everyone is saying. The Linux kernel and the many applications that run on it are great tools, and I am thankful for them all... I just hope that more light is shed to those who are still being blinded by the Redmond gang.

Dec 17, 2005
11:42 AM EDT
Just an update to my previous post...

I went ahead and switched distributions once again. This time I've gone back to SUSE (10.0). After being disappointed with the 9.x series of releases before Novell took over, I decided I would give SUSE another try. At first, when Novell did take over SUSE, I thought I would let enough time go by before actually testing the waters again. All I can say is that I'm glad I waited.

I downloaded the openSUSE 5-CD iso images from one of the mirror sites. I went with the i386 (32-bit) version since I currently don't have a need for 64-bit at this time.

The test system I am running is a Shuttle AN35N Ultra motherboard with an Athlon XP 2600+ processor, 64MB video card (nVidia chipset), 768MB RAM [(1) 512MB + (1) 256MB], (1) 40GB Fujitsu 5400 RPM laptop HD and (1) 20GB Fujitsu laptop HD (they were just lying around doing nothing, so I figured I would put them to good use), and an old SB-Live audio card that I had lying around as well.

After downloading and burning the iso images to disk, I dropped CD-1 in and booted my test system. The very first screen welcomes you to SUSE and since I downloaded from a USA mirror, by default it preselected English (US) as my language of choice (which is what I wanted anyway). It then proceeds to the license agreement, that if you decline, you might as well forget about installing SUSE in the first place.

I opted to go for the advanced method of installation, because I'm not a new user. However, new users will definitely benefit from using the default settings.

It then gave me the option to check and verify that all the source media was good and not corrupt. In other words, it allows you to thoroughly check the individual CDs for any errors. This is a great tool, because it would make for a very bad experience if you made it all the way to CD-5 only to find out that it was corrupt. It's a good thing I did this, because it just so happened that my CD-4 had errors that I must have missed during the burn process. I thought that maybe there were errors in the iso, but I burned another CD-4 and checked it again. This time there were no errors, so I didn't have to worry about downloading the iso image a second time around.

Once that was complete, I proceeded to partition the HDs myself, because I like having more control over my system instead of letting the install try to do the thinking for me. My partitions are set up as follows:

/dev/hda1 = 15MB ext3 = /boot /dev/hda2 = 1GB reiserfs = / /dev/hda3 = 1GB reiserfs = swap /dev/hda5 = 1GB reiserfs = /var /dev/hda6 = 15GB reiserfs = /usr /dev/hda7 = 20GB reiserfs = /opt /dev/hdb1 = 20GB reiserfs = /home

I chose to go with a default KDE installation with a few minor changes by checking and un-checking some of the packages that it (respectively) would or would not have installed otherwise. Now I was ready to sit back and let the installation begin. All I had to do was walk away and check on the progress every so often to see when it was ready for the next disk. Unfortunately, by the time it got to CD-3, my system locked up for some unknown reason, and I was forced to go through the entire process all over again. Luckily for me, I didn't have to go through the painful task of partitioning or checking the CD's since I had already done that before. So, I started over again by rebooting with CD-1, and went through all the motions. I did have to tell SUSE what the mount points were for each partition, but after that, I selected the basic KDE install, and told it to continue. This time it went through all the disks without any errors, and I was then able to configure my user accounts, passwords, and networking (all of which were smooth-sailing).

Now I was able to fine-tune everything by adding those packages that I wanted in my first attempt, and then go through and update everything available from the Internet. I then had to tweak the video drivers in YaST, but that was only because it was running on generic video drivers that worked fine, but it was more optimized after telling the system that I was running nVidia. This was also very easy with YaST, because it was already listed for me, all I had to do was click on a single check-box, and tell it to accept my changes... YaST basically did the rest for me.

All-in-all, I cannot stress enough at how pleased I am with this latest offering of the SUSE distribution. If you've never used SUSE, then you may be in for a real treat. If you're familiar with past versions of SUSE, you're also in for a real treat. The opensuse.org site is a welcome addition to the Linux community, and I applaud Novell for making it available to everyone. Do yourself a favor, and give this latest offering a try. If you are disappointed, I apologize in advance, however, if you find yourself as pleased as (if not more so than) I am, monetary donations to yours truly are encouraged and welcome. :-D

Jan 02, 2006
6:11 AM EDT
I personally chose GNU/Linux for the educational value at first. It wasn't that long ago. I bought a boxed version of RH9... I enjoyed exploring it, I found no real Windows replacement in it. Then a couple of years later, I got the bug again. I decided to download some ISO's and try a few out. What I was looking for was a complete, user friendly distribution that would eliminate any dependency for Windows. SuSE 9.2 was one I settled on at first, and I liked it. This was my primary PC, and I did set it up as a dual boot with Win2000. However the primary boot is SuSE. While my webserver is still running RH9, and probably will for a long time, I had a few other PC's available to test Linux on. I loaded several distributions, including Xandros and Fedora Core. I even tried the Live Cd's for Linspire, Knoppix, and Ubuntu. I finally found Simply Mepis, and it rocks!!! I now have two primary PC's. The first is a desktop running a dual-boot (SuSE 9.2/Win2000), and a Dell Latitude CPx running only Simply Mepis. This OS appears to do everything I was able to do (except certain games) on Windows. I am not as big a gamer as I used to be. I am now focused on mastering GNU/Linux so that I may teach it to friends, family, and perhaps clients. I have learned quite a bit from different Linux focused websites out there and some books I have purchased along the way. To contribute to this discussion, I have a few reasons why I switched to GNU/Linux. One, to learn about other options out there in the OS world. Two, economic reasons. Knowing that Linux is free, it's a no-brainer. Three, a matter of principle. Although I am a capitalist, I do not believe that our rights as PC users should be dictated by one organization, or entity. We all reserve the right to choose how we use our computers, and with what software. Finally, security is another HUGE factor in this. I'm not saying that any alternative OS is 100% secure, but Microsoft just seems to be the main target for hackers out there. Running GNU/Linux allows me to worry less about spyware, trojans, worms, and such. I know they are out there, but the risks appear to be so much lower. To summarize, I consider myself to be, at least away from work, a complete Linux user. I now rarely use Windows at home and have found a distribution of GNU/Linux to be far more stable that any version of Windows, and also found that Linux is quickly becoming an OS for the average home desktop user. and you can't beat the price.


Feb 04, 2006
9:37 PM EDT
I switched because I could, that was good enough for me!

Feb 05, 2006
3:31 AM EDT
Whewww.....So many folks from similar backgrounds.... Let me just drop some words to say it all

PDP-11 (One application alone 4 man years in the writing) Commodore the entire line-up....(Commercial hacked booted eproms) Copy protection on over 500 titles broken and removed while learning to hack.... Woke up one morning with "qwerty" on my forehead from falling asleep "ON" keybd

Downloaded/burned cdrom/installed over 100 distros from Distrowatch Security Officer (virus/adware/spybot/hardware hacker) for Dept of Defense

I now use SimplyMepis 3.3.1-1 Stable (Debian) wow what a ride....try her !!!

Feb 07, 2006
3:12 AM EDT
I just got tired of babysitting my Windows box everyday....defrag, disk cleanup, spybot updates and checks, adaware updates and checks, spywareblaster updates and checks, Cleaning prefetch folder, Antivirus updates and checks, Windows updates and checks, Firefox updates and checks. Application updates and checks..

With linux is either yum, apt, emerge,pacman, Yast2, up2date, CNR.....depending on you distro just run one of those tools to update......done! less headache

Feb 07, 2006
7:06 AM EDT
We got an Amiga 500 when I was 8. It was probably the best computer I have ever used. I still don't know how they got starglider to run on a 7mhz cpu with 1 meg of ram, we got the memory expansion with clock it was so cool, of a floppy. My dad was in the computer science program at the community college and needed something to program on, and the Intel/Dos things didn't hold a candle to the Amiga. But the world went with microsoft so eventually we had to get A M$ box.

I didn't like windows 3.11, 95, 98, 2000, xp. With every incantation of windows I would look for something better, I got a learn linux book in the mid 90's that came with redhat, I think it was 4.something, sco, slackware, and one other which I couldn't get to work on our computer. I have dabbled ever since, always having to keep M$ around for compatability with school, and games, which is less of an issue now since school is so busy I don't have time to game very much and my current favorite game is Never Winter Nights which has a linux port. My current favorites are Ubuntu and SUSE. I am pretty much to a point where I can dump windows forever and never turn back.

My linux adventures started because windows sucked, and now it's because windows still sucks, it's incredible expensive, I really don't like supporting monopolists, companies that try to squash competition rather than compete, and seem to have the mentatlity that they are entitled to my money and should just have rather than have to earn it, and as a student money is hard to come by.

Since getting more into linux and learning more about the Open Source mentality, I think I am here to stay. I like freedom, which I why I don't buy macs (or any pre assembled computer), I want to choose whats in my computer, now I can take that to the software level as well. Linux is awesome.

Feb 23, 2006
9:16 AM EDT
I was away form computers for a while when I got my hands back on a computer it was running winblows 95 and it was like driving a car with boxing gloves on I found it so distastful I almost gave up on computers as a hobbie then I found a copy of sams redhat6 unlished in the bargan bin and got it the biggest problem I had with it was that no place in the book did it say that on the first login my name is root from that point on it was like a superman version of dos the world of computers became vast with more tools than I had ever dreamed of were there at my beck and call I had to waite to get on the internet because AOL would not give me the name server addresses and even went so far as to tell me that I was up to something illegal if I wanted to access the net with something other than there browser

Feb 23, 2006
4:49 PM EDT
My journey to Linux has followed many twists and turns. I presently have a dual boot system ( I need Dreamweaver and IE for web page design, but I am doing more and more with Bluefish and Screem in Ubuntu).

Linux for me is liberating. I own the hardware and I own the software. My os is not licensed to me. I don't have the os vendor making changes to my system without my consent. I don't have an os vendor scanning my computer in the name of "validation" before then allow me to install a critical patch.

Finally, Linux has brought back the fun and mystery of personal computing that I experienced the first time I sat down to learn to program.

Here are the systems I have owned since 1981. Some of these I bought- most were either given me or bought at yard sales.

Radio Shack Pocket Computer Basic (My first computer) Sinclair ZX81 with BBC Basic (With 16k ram pack) Commodore 64 Coleco Adam with CPM (Never played games or used the native OS) Kaypro 2 /CPM Radio Shack Model 4p with TRSDOS (The worst OS every in my experience) and later CPM Epson QX10 with CPM and Valdocs Amstrad PPC 640 Knee Top MS DOS Generic PC XT which I bought just to run Minix 1.5 Self-built 386sx with OS2 2.1 and later Warp 3.0 Various Pentiums running Windows 95, 98 AMD K6 II Caldera OpenLinux 1.3, RedHat 6.2, DosMinix 2.0 Present Pentium II dual boot XP and initially Simply Mepis and now Ubuntu 6.04 I am waiting on Dapper Dan and a used/cheap PIII or better


Feb 23, 2006
8:49 PM EDT
I haven't been to the board for a while. I was going to post a full history of my computing experience since 1989, but everyone else has already covered it. I was introduced to Linux my a college classmate in '97. He was what I called at the time a Mac Fag. We were in a programming class learning COBOL (believe it or not) on an IBM mainframe (believe it or not). [I was an adult student in my early 30's]. He was into Slackware, and talked about incessantly every time I saw him. Shortly thereafter I got a job as a Computer Operator and a co-worker gave me copy of RedHat 4, which was my first distro. I stayed up 'til 4 AM many a night getting ppp, X, AfterStep, etc. going. It was really cool, but I always fell back to M$ to get anything important done, but I kept learning it as a hobby. I went through many distros...stuck with Mandrake for a desktop for many years. I have since shunned RPM distros and use MEPIS for my desktop. Being a programmer, I am lazy by default, and MEPIS has the desktop tweaks that suit me (though I do install a lot of other tools and tweak a thing or two). I currently use Linux exclusively. I have a drive with XP and data on it installed, but it is not configured in GRUB. I just mount it when I need the data.

Enough of that. Here are some of the REASONS I switched, not necessarily in order of importance or date:

-> I'm a rebel and I want to stick it to the man. -> Rich variety of tools included by default. -> Text-based configuration. -> Power of the shell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -> Stability & security. -> I fell in love with Perl and got tired of downloading it from ActiveState. -> I had to sysadmin Linux servers on the job and found that it was my preferred environment. -> vi -> M$ = Military Industrial Complex. -> Linux = People.


Feb 24, 2006
1:44 AM EDT
Grew up on DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.1. Then made the switch to '95, '98, 2000 and finally XP. When I started lecturing at a small college I was asked to set up a small development network for Java students using Linux. At that stage I knew little to nothing about it, and detested using it (not user friendly, not like Windows yada yada yada). I had 2 machines, Redhat 8 CDs and two months. I spent that time day in and day out trying to figure out how to get NFS, SAMBA, printing, Apache and Postgresl working working over my mini network. I had more docs than I could deal with as well (all PDF's, 'Linux Administrator's Guide' etc.) The more I worked on this project, the more I understood what computing was really meant to be about. Set up the purely Linux network (10 identical machines, one acting as a server, the other 9 as clients) and never looked back. Now run Ubuntu on my old laptop, Fedora Core 3 on my home desktop (for sound production and editing - using Planet CCRMA) and Fedora Core 4 at work (PHP and Java development). My intro to Linux was purely because of work, now I won't touch Windows if I can help it, and certainly never go online with it. I guess the number one reason I stick with Linux is trust.

Feb 24, 2006
1:45 AM EDT
Oh, and BTW, Windows is definately NOT ready for the desktop.

Feb 24, 2006
8:02 AM EDT
The one big reason for my migration to Linux was the progressive realization that I couldn't trust anything in the Microsoft/Windows world: not MS, not the people who sold hardware for it, not the hardware when it was running Windows, and not the software or the people behind it.

I can see into Linux because it's transparent (open-source and unobfuscated -- compare that to the Windows Registry), I can fiddle with what I need to fix for my purposes (like hooking up wvdial to dwun, back in my dialup days -- try that with a WinModem setup), none of the code I rely on is going off the market and unavailable (unlike WordStar and XtreeGold); I can trust it.

For comparison: currently I've got one Windows (win95) box. It's currently stuck at 640x480/compatibility-mode, because the Logitech PS2 mouse driver returns an error code (because the Logitech mouse developed a cable problem I haven't gotten around to addressing with a soldering iron, so I plugged in another brand of PS2 mouse which doesn't respond to Logitech's non-PS2-spec device-ID call), so Windows flunks the whole chipset and falls back to 16-bit drivers and BIOS code. Knowing that I'll have to rebuild the whole Windows layer-cake after repairing the mouse, just because of this one manufacturer's flagrant lock-in, I find the effort to be not worth my time, not when I can be using that time to get stuff done on the Linux machines here instead.

Feb 24, 2006
8:10 AM EDT
Why do I like Linux, and plan on setting up a dualboot?

First thing is probabloy curiousity. I wanted to know what Linux was about, and learn of my machine in the process.

Second is that, although I do not detest Windows, I loathe the company that makes it.

Third, customizability. Now, I can't code for the death of me, but I know that if some particular thing in the GUI annoys me, I almost certainly can change it. Either via a GUI, or, if no GUI tools are provided, the CLI.

And the repositories. I made a temporary Ubuntu install a while ago. I wanted XFCE. With Windows, I'd have to simply google WindowBlinds and install it. But what to do when the 60-day trial is over? Dunno. With ubuntu, it's just sudo apt-get update, sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop. Press Y. Press enter. Wait, logout, and soon you're in what is a shining example that a desktop can be gorgeous without much eyecandy (Go to OSDir and look at the Xubuntu screenshots to see what I mean)

So, why am I downloading distro after distro? I guess it's a combination of experimentation, freedom and trust.

Mar 06, 2006
9:54 PM EDT
Why? Have you had the pain of running Vista build 5308?

Mar 08, 2006
1:35 PM EDT
Dual-boot here with Mepis and XP. The only reason XP is still on this machine is that it is shared and my son refuses to run Linux. He has a point as the music editors etc he has tried for Linux don't quite come up to the mark (for him) compared to Windows apps. At least I managed to get him to try. You never know, one day I may be able to change his mind. Why did I change to Linux?? At the time (3 years ago) the decision was simple; it was different. Always was the one to be different, you know prog. rock at school when everyone else liked pop. As a professional developer I have had to use windows for years and I thought for home what a nice change it would be. Never looked back since, and would certainly now never go on the www under windows. Also being an amateur electronics tech., it appeals to the side of me that likes "tweaking" and the "what if?" factor as in what if I do this. You just can't do the same with windows especially since DOS was all but deprecated entirely. Someone once said that windows 3.11 was the last good windows OS and having started out on that I tend to agree. I have tried all sorts of flavours of Linux, starting off with Suse 8, but I find Mepis on this PC (1g cpu + 640 M memory and 4 year old bits and peices) has the right balance between speed and available apps. And I just couldn't go back to a system that doesn't use apt-get at the CLI. So fast, so effecient!

Well thats my two ha'pennies worth.

Mar 17, 2006
12:28 AM EDT
I was late to the party. Just like now.

First computer: an unauthorized clone kit of Sinclair's ZX80. http://edge-op.org/images/11020003.jpg http://edge-op.org/images/11020004.jpg http://edge-op.org/images/11020005.jpg http://edge-op.org/images/11020008.jpg

Naturally it had to be modified. Followed by a T/S ZX81, also modified. Tossed the plastic case and 'chiclet' keys for a rewired full-size keyboard and a case made from scrap aluminum. Original plastic membrane keyboard cut up to make key caps. http://edge-op.org/images/10270001.jpg http://edge-op.org/images/10270002.jpg http://edge-op.org/images/10270004.jpg

I managed to cobble together a printed circuit board with a few ICs to connect that mutation to a Centronics-compatible printer. It sounds masochistic now, but I learned a little Z80 assembler on that thing even though its only storage was cassette tapes.

Lots of people swapped tips and programs for the Sinclair and later Timex/Sinclair computers. With a maximum of 16K of RAM, programs had to be efficient.

Next came a TI 99/4A. Cartridges and "Extended BASIC". It was eventually upgraded with an "expansion box" holding 2 80K 5.25" disk drives. What a relief from cassettes!

Lots of people swapped programs for the TI.

This was followed by a Kaypro 1, around 1984, I think. (The Kaypro II was an earlier model. Go figure.) 9" green screen, Z80 running at 4 MHz, 64K RAM, twin 390K 5.25" disk drives, CP/M 2.2u, Perfect Writer (same key command combinations as Emacs), Perfect Calc (big spreadsheet), Perfect Filer (database), WordStar, sbasic and piles and piles of PDUG (Public Domain Users Group) CP/M software. Cost about half what a stripped-down PC-XT cost with no software, no monitor.

Lots and lots of people swapped software for CP/M. You can still find it. Compilers, languages, games, everything. Efficient, too.

First PC: 386sx16 w/2MB, 80MB RLL hard drive, 3.5" floppy, MS Windows 3.0. It stank! Trashed lots of work. Slow and prone to "General Protection Fault". Why should an operating system blame the "application" for the failure of the os to protect itself? Added 2 MB of RAM and installed O/S 2 2.0 on the thing from about 20 floppies. (Don't remember the exact number, they're around here somewhere). Relief from the Win-stink! OS/2 just worked.

IBM had a BBS where OS/2 code was swapped. Most "DOS" code being swapped was reduced to batch files and BASIC.

Next PC: 486dx33 w/8MB. MS Windows 3.1 came with it. Still garbage. Replaced with OS/2 2.1 and then 3.0 Warp. (Memory is a little fuzzy about whether I ever had 2.1 on the 386 or not). Started a single-line BBS. Local Doomers swapped shareware and Doom maps on it. Ran Mustang Wildcat! BBS in a DRDOS session under OS/2. Tried it under MS Windows and the callers bitched about the slowness.

Got a Pentium 75 for DoomII. Came with MS Windows 3.11. Still junk.

Finally bought an "upgrade" MS Win95 CD. Worst money I ever spent. It tried to look like OS/2 but failed in every other way. I crashed it once by just trying to send a plain text file to the printer.

Found an advertisement in Walnut Creek CDROM catalog for Linux. Tried one, discovered I had no idea what to do with it, ordered a big boxed set. "Linux The Complete Reference" had all the HOWTOs and lots of guides. About 1996 or '97, I think. Tried "Debian/F" and got absolutely nowhere. Tried Red Hat 4.2 and about the same results. Finally installed Slackware 3.2 and got it to boot (4-way! OS/2, MS W95, DRDOS, and Slack). The book looked like hell and had yellow post-its sticking out all over. I sat there staring at the blinking cursor and rejoiced for about 10 seconds, then thought, "Now what?"

It was a while before I discovered X. I just tinkered with the examples in the book until then.

I still used MS W95 for an Internet connection. Crashy, no software except shareware or rentware, and none of it worth a dime. What came with MS W95 was bloated, slow, and easily broken. None of the word or text editors could handle files as large as old WordStar on the Kaypro, even with 256 times the RAM!

Slackware was at 3.31 when I finally made it through the PPP HOWTO and got it connected to the Internet. For a long time I just used it as a way to share the dial-up connection between 2 computers. Things were working so well I bought a boxed Red Hat 5.2. I managed to get Netscape working and escaped the MS W95 hell.

(The ineptitude of MS was illustrated in a chat one night by a hacker. Not the airhead tv definition of hacker, either. He noted that I had been talking about trying to switch to Linux and sent me a private message. He asked if I wanted a demonstration of MS W95 weakness. I asked what damage would it do and he assured me the demo would do none. I agreed, gave him my IP address and he said, "Ok, you're going to reboot." Everything halted and the computer did, indeed, reboot. I went back to the same chat and he explained, not how he had rebooted my MS Windows box, but how to set up my Linux box to protect it. I didn't know jack about "ports" and "services". Fortunately, I didn't have to know, just follow his cookbook-like instructions. He also told me to check my logs because I was probably being used as a mail relay. He was right. He was a C programmer by trade, but I didn't get his name.)

With Red Hat 5.2 set up on my main box and on my connection box, I began learning from all the wonderful documentation on the Internet and from Linux users everywhere I encountered one online. Bastille was set up on the connection box, turning it into an ipmasq and firewall box. Every time I had a problem, somebody somewhere had a solution. I began trying out every distribution I could find on CD.

Red Hat 6.0 soured me on that distribution. Mandrake 7.0-2 was used to convert a local business. SuSE 6.3 was the first of that brand that I tried. I never made it past Caldera's annoying all-caps LICENSE AGREEMENT. Corel 1.0 was a failed distribution, but well-intentioned. Storm and Turbo were short-lived on my computer. After a couple of aborted attempts, I fell in love with Debian Slink. Every computer in my house is now running Debian Sarge.

It was about 1999 before I was able to cease dual-booting. Scanning was the last thing I used MS W95b to do. The people working on Xsane broke the last chain.

I spent an uncountable, unhealthy number of hours in Yahoo! chat, in their Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris "room" trying to beat down FUD and assist "newbies". Many hours-long sessions were spent in talking people through Linux installations. This was pay-back for all the software and assistance I had received.

User-written chat clients for Yahoo! were made possible by the sharing of information about the protocol by one of the co-authors of the book "C Unleashed". A C++ programmer, J.F. Cariello modified his curses-based chat client to make it easier for me to fire help links at newbies (the same questions get asked over and over). He let me write the man page. Other "*nix" chat clients incorporated similar features. J. Kim's chat client included a feature to make it easy to convert those link lists to html to share with others, outside chat, as well as swapping chat command lists among clients. (When Mr. Kim learned I was downloading Knoppix releases via 28.8 dialup to hand out and leave at various local businesses, he mailed quite a few "newbie" live CDs to me.)

Almost all of my "vanity" website is devoted to, and because of, help with GNU/Linux. I have received so much of it, it's only right to give some. http://edge-op.org

Why did I switch to Linux?

1. It works. 2. It can be examined to see how it works. 3. I can give it to you and it can work for you. 4. Anyone can improve it.

The four freedoms of Richard Stallman's GNU philosophy, renumbered and re-stated.

It all boils down to sharing. If I can share a good idea with you, or you can share a good idea with me, we are both better off, without costing either of us. If I can solve a problem using software, I can horde it or I can share it. If I share it, someone may improve it, share their improvement, and we're all better off, without cost beyond what we would have spent on just ourselves. People who use free software, leverage their work by sharing and getting back much more than they put in. This is especially true of software under the GPL.

Artificially limiting the abilities or abundance of software in order to exact a toll on either its use or its acquisition aids only the one charging that toll. Using the pretty display of software that is, in reality, inferior to software readily available without a constraint against sharing, to entice its use while at the same time holding the threat of a EULA and litigation over someone's head to induce and compel them to cease helping their neighbors is morally bankrupt.

Software is mathematics, ideas and art. Each of those advances when readily shared. We need the dark ages to end again.

Apr 01, 2006
5:46 PM EDT
I think my main reason, at least in the beginning, to change to Linux was my desire to be different. As with several of you, my first computer was the tiny Sinclair. I paid $250 for it and three months later the price dropped to $50. My first real computer, a 286, was purchased in 1989, just as the 386s were getting a lot of press. It had a "huge" 40 meg hard drive and 8 meg of RAM. It had DOS 3 for an OS. I never wanted Windoze. I had a neat menu program and a great file manager that would delete directories even if they had files in them. Then M$ Word for Windows came along and I HAD to have it! So hello Win 3.1. After I spent over 24 hours designing a place mat for a local restaurant, I purchased NT-3.x. I redid the place mat from scratch in three hours! Minus the time I had spent hunting for graphics. Then I went to Win 2 K. And that's where I am now, because I refuse to beg Gates for permission to add or redo a hard drive. Not sure when I played a bit with OS/2, but it was on it's last legs and I couldn't see spending time on a system that might not be around much longer. Then two years or so ago my son gave me a copy of Mandrake 10. No documentation. I got as far as the command line and there it sat, as I had no clue as to where to go from there. Then, about a year or so ago I ran across Linspire. That worked right away, but I did not care for the subscription idea or that the downloaded software wouldn't work on any distro but Linspire. Then one of my computer newsletters posted a link to Ubuntu, and I ordered five (not the recommended 15) copies. It loaded and booted okay. I really need to keep Windoze because I'm editor of a neat car club magazine that needs InDesign. While I was waiting for Ubuntu I saw the Simply Mepis book and CD in a bookstore and bought it. Before I had time to try Mepis Ubuntu arrived and my main hard drive started going south. I was in a panic because the magazine had not been backed up for a couple of days and I had a lot of work on it. So I stuck Linspire in the CD drive. All it saw was its own partitions. Same with Ubuntu. Then I put Mepis in. Voila! All my NTFS partitions and drives appeared in neat icons along the edge of the screen. And, best of all, there was the CD/DVD burner sitting on the taskbar (or whatever Linux calls it) just waiting to back everything up. As it turned out the drive had not totally failed. Just the master boot record. So it's a good storage drive, but I can no longer boot from it. I'm now ready to do Mepis Linux seriously. I've have a second machine I'm going to deport Windoze to, and Mepis gets the "big" machine. I'm waiting to lay hands on a graphics card that will handle InDesign and the magazine and that's all, except maybe for a game or so, that I plan to use Windoze for. I may even get brave enough to tinker with Mepis down the road aways. Who knows?!?!

Enjoy! ;-)


Apr 16, 2006
2:00 PM EDT
I switched to Linux for several reasons:

* I can trick it out. In Windows you sometimes get tired of a theme and want to do it completely differently, and, without paying for add-ons, the only real way was to switch to Linux.

* Windows was getting harder and harder, and Linux was getting easier and easier.

* I got backstabbed enough on gigs where I worked next to Microsoft Consulting Corp. consultants and Avanade consultants. I hated the righteous fratboy thugs. I wanted to make their life more miserable after leaving Avanade, and I did it in one small part by moving to Linux. On one gig, one of these punks, whom I offered to help, asked me to follow him. When I got to a doorway, he said, "This area is secure and you cannot go past this point." He told me to wait there for him and he would be back with someone who was going to help me on the task. I waited there for something like 20 minutes before I discovered to my horror that he played a fratboy prank on me. On another gig, a team of MS consultants went to a restaurant and taunted me on why I was being asked by Avanade to show up, and challenged my resume. When I said, "I can leave if you want, but Avanade asked me to be here and had paid considerable cash to fly me to this city," most of them were jerks and wanted me gone, and another old, well-known MS programmer there said, "Let's give the guy a break, jeesh!" As you can see from this example, instead of handling this diplomatically with my supervisor, I was hassled. When I went back to my Avanade supervisor, I was told to just deal with it since I overcame the grilling okay. On a third gig, I was told to go into training to learn VS.NET database and XML APIs when VS.NET was still in beta. My classmates beside me were going to be my customer and I was going to have to learn this so well that I'd have to help them on a future gig after the class. After just one week in the course, I was thrown to the wolves, so to say, and the customer knew just as much as I knew and nothing more. Then, I was accused of being a "dummy" with this product and I was pretty upset about this. They also wanted to insist that GUI-based web form inheritance existed, but I insisted that only GUI-based win form inheritance existed -- anything else would have to be done in code. They refused to believe that and wanted me to get an MS programmer in Seattle to look into it. Of course, Avanade wouldn't let me do that. The feature doesn't exist in the product. So, heck yeah, I hated anything to do with Microsoft after that point.

* Windows techs and programmers after the dot bomb, were becoming meaner and more fierce in order to keep their jobs from being sent offshore. In the Linux world, people were more laid back and flexible. Perhaps it's because in the Linux world, everyone is self-made and a tinkerer, a kind of Rennaissance of knowledge unto themselves. But in the Windows world, everyone was a canned lemming fresh out of the latest training class, repeating mantras that were forced into their brains. In the Linux world, people are hesitant to repeat mantras that don't sound right, or to be forced into doing anything. They have more PhDs per capita than Windows techs and programmers, I strongly feel. They speak their mind and challenge authority. Often, this gets them somewhere. Linux techs and programmers usually don't have to worry about job protection as much because their knowledge cannot be easily canned and sent offshore. Sometimes in the MS world, there was only like 8 different ways to combine some APIs in the various languages to get something done. But in the Linux world, there are like 1000 different ways to do something.

* Windows was getting more and more insecure, while Linux was always secure and is continuing to get even more secure. On Linux, except for the case of MySQL, most stuff is locked down and must be unlocked in order to get in. For instance, PostgreSQL, by default, is usually locked down and won't even permit connections without editing the pg_hba.conf file. With Linux, we could also, for free, implement an input and output based TCP/UDP firewall, but on Windows you could not get such a thing for free (and I'm talking production grade quality here in a high speed server environment).

* Windows was getting more expensive if you were a developer, purchasing these MSDN subscriptions every year in order to be competitive in the marketplace and/or keep your job. After the dot bomb, companies started getting cheap on me, telling me they were going to cut my free MSDN bennies, and I would have to purchase it on my own. In the Linux world, I didn't have to worry about such a thing.

* Microsoft Consulting Corp. and Avanade were losing gigs to fierce Linux competitors with equivalent features, more flexible options to change things around, and lower costs. Ha ha! With Microsoft, which mostly was pushing SharePoint Portal and then customization inside it with VS.NET, a lot of times you were often having to either tell the customer, "It doesn't work that way..." and get the customer to see it Microsoft's way, or spend hours and hours coding on a platform that people just got out of class for, or getting hacks to come up with something that sort of worked but only so far until the customer wanted to make it do something unusual again, which then worked totally against what was hacked up. In the Linux world, it would have been several portal products to choose from, most of them free, and most of them were already so well-known that it didn't require training. Plus, the source code was usually available so there wasn't a lot of questions on how this or that feature worked. The developers could get up and running faster on Linux and get the customer's requirements and whip out a flexible solution. Microsoft, on the other hand, if they were to work out a custom solution on top of Sharepoint, usually had to sit in long OOP meanings that were very academic and merely sucked valuable time. The Linux guys, however, did use a little OOP, but reused OOP from previous work and got busy coding much faster.

* Linux web projects most often run faster than Windows-based ones on comparable hardware. For one thing, the Linux web server can be built without a GUI, but the Microsoft one could not.

* Linux web projects had less hardware requirements, while the Microsoft ones had much higher hardware requirements.

* I can write scripts that run cleanly in the background. In Windows, the scripts often had popup windows. Imagine if you will a PHP app on Linux. I can make it shell out and run a Bash script and parse the result in the background. If it jammed, I can put in error checking code to do a killall on all such scripts, clearing them out of memory. But in the Windows world, I had to write something in VS.NET that created a process and shelled out to cmd.exe, ran the script or command, and returned a result. I also had no way to kill all such locked up scripts or commands from memory without whipping out something difficult in C or C#.

* The LAMP/LAPP platforms took off and were runaway hits.


Apr 17, 2006
12:04 PM EDT
I have been using Linux as my primary desktop since 1995. I started with Slackware, kernel 1.2.3. Why did I start with Linux? Because at work, I took over as sysadmin of couple of dozen Sun workstations. I had done Unix and Xenix some in the past, but no real "formal" training.

Until this point, the work environment was almost all IBM: OS/400 and OS/2. The Suns ran our network monitoring system. Since I was doing Unix fulltime, I realized that this "Linux thing" would make a great training aid at home. So I installed it on my 386/33 at home and started playing with it. It was initially dual-boot with OS/2 (or win 3.1).

As time went on, Linux started taking up a larger and larger percentage of my hard drive space. Several months later, I found this distro called RedHat, and did a test install of it. I was tired of Slackware's package management (or the lack thereof)...I dual booted RedHat and Slackware with shared /home and /usr/local for a couple of months, until I lost a drive. I flipped a coin and it came up RedHat. I stuck with RedHat from 3.0.3 to 5.2. By this time, RedHat's quality control went downhill. I then switched to Debian, and have been a happy Debian user for the last 7 years.

Why did I switch to Linux? 1. To train myself, 2. Because it is a better environment. You are not locked in to microsoft's "solution". 3. Unless you buy a machine with Windows pre-installed (and pay the MS tax), Linux is actually easier to install than Windows. And 4. Linux is at least as easy to use (I would have to say easier). I converted my family to Linux with the KDE environment 3 years ago, and they haven't looked back. There have been issues, but not issues involving virii, worms or spyware.

Apr 17, 2006
6:51 PM EDT
This is no longer a 'thread'. It's a collection of short stories which needs some way to page through them.

Besides the common theme of Linux, a quest for freedom also seems to run through most of the tales. Much of the incentive seems to be in seeking freedom from certain restrictions or problems.


Apr 17, 2006
8:36 PM EDT
I agree with your statement. It is one of the longest threads I have ever seen.

But, here's something to consider. I did not switch to Linux. So, I shouldn't post on this thread.

Apr 18, 2006
8:17 PM EDT
Why did I switch to Linux...

I used to be a MS-only user (since DOS days) until I read an article in PC World about Linux. It stated that Linux is extremely stable and robust. It was 1999 (or 2000?) and I still was having problems with NT 4 on my Celeron-400. So I went to Dick Smith Electronics and bought the only Linux distribution available at that store Mandrake 6.2.

The first few days were spent just on installation - for some reason Mandrake did not want to load graphics and I did not know how to get into text mode (I studied UNIX at University for one semester and was keen to try my limited knowledge in the real world). By the end of week 1 since purchase I was able to boot into Mandrake. Since I had an ISA modem there was no problem to connect to Internet in Linux. I even managed to watch some video clips and play some music in Linux. But there was no stability as PS World claimed before - the system would crash without any reason and after some time I gave up. My second system was RedHat 7.2. At work I wanted to share files between 20 computers running NT. Since NT Workstation could not support more than 5 simultaneous connections I had to look for another solution (University where I am working had a very tight budget and could not afford NT Server). Having access to fast Internet I downloaded RedHat 7.2 and installed it on old Pentium Pro. Unfortunately due to networking malfunction (the underlying cable was faulty) the system would crash after few minutes online. Of course I did not know about the hardware fault and thought it was a Linux problem. Thus Linux was postponed again. The third attempt was a year later when I got sick of NT problems with Blaster and Welchia worms. A friend of mine somehow mentioned Slackware as a true Linux. I decided give it a try. (I tried RedHat 8 and Debian Woody but was not impressed - I still wanted to get into internals of the system to customize it to my needs). At that time it was Slackware 9.0. I really enjoyed the text based install - it means no crashes because of unsupported video card, full control over disk partitioning, etc. First boot gave me command prompt straight away! Now I could start learning Linux the best way possible - from ground up.

At the same time I was self-learning MFC programming and when .NET came around asked my boss to send me to a course on .NET programming. After I got my first MS C# Certificate I suddenly realized that I wasted my time. Because I became much more familiar with Linux and opened for myself the beauty and the power of KDE programming.

I also was using Slackware on my home PC as a dual boot system with Windows 2000. After I got married and moved houses I also decided to upgrade my computer. So I bought dual PIII 800. That's when the real fun has began - kernel compilation! I had to make my system SMP compatible. Again, after few unsuccessful attempts I got it working. And then I thought: why do I need Windows? I don't play games (programming is much more exciting). I don't do instant messaging (time waste for me really. Or maybe I am too old fashioned). So the Windows was deleted. And until now I still have single-boot Slackware on my home PC - no worms, no trojans, no freezes - no problem. Even my wife got used to Slackware (she wrote all her assignments in KOffice while she was studying at Uni). I don't really want to try other distros anymore - they are too Windowsy to me, except for Gentoo and Damn Small Linux, but for latter two I don't have much time. And now Slackware is mostly KDE oriented which is a great deal for me - I like KDE's look and feel. And of course Slackware is the most stable distro ever. Where to next? I installed Slackware for my parents, for my friends - no complains so far. I have managed to use PCI modem (Intel chipset) with Linux. I wrote a Tax calculating program for my wife in QT.

Unfortunately I still have to use XP at work. But here as well people want to try Linux - no, not the top managers ;)

Why people switch to Linux? In my case the reasons are: stability, full control, and (surprisingly) steep learning curve.

P.S. Linux is extremely addictive: when I come to troubleshoot Windows problems at work, I open command prompt and type "ls -al" or something similar and get quite frustrated when it does not work :0)

May 12, 2006
7:12 AM EDT
I'd played around with Linux occasionally for quite a while (starting with ygdrassil or something 'scuse spelling), must be at least 10 years ago now. But by the time I'd used Windows 2000 for a year or so, frankly I just got so fed-up with Microsoft I was prepared to put the time in to learn how to use linux. I was fed up with the continual crashes, the security problems, paying through the nose for software (not just MS), the increasing privacy invasion, more and more restriction on freedom to use my PCs how I wanted (DRM etc).

For serious usuage I've used Redhat from ver 7.1 and then on to Fedora Core, the learning curve was steep and frustrating at times, finding Apt & Synaptic for patch installing made the full break for me, I dumped all my MS stuff in a skip and made do. For the most part I can do whatever I did before except maybe gaming but I was losing interest in that anyway. And then of course there is so much more that you can just have a play around with for as long as you want, don't like it, dump it & find something else.

Redhat/FC Linux is just right for me, I've used others but there has always been something I didn't like about those distro's, maybe I'm just a corporate blandness monkey after all :-)

May 12, 2006
7:26 AM EDT
I switched because SCO OpenServer was just so limited. I saw that Microsoft's Windows server (NT) was going to pass it up. I needed something that, although it might have been behind SCO Openserver at the time (1995), was moving faster. Linux was moving faster, passed it up, and still is moving faster.

May 14, 2006
7:43 AM EDT
I got my first PC when I was about 5. It was a 286 and couldn't do anything really expept play Sopwith(Think that was the name). My dad worked at Olivetti at the time and he could get things for fairly cheap. I always used Microsoft cuz for me there was nothing better. I always tried to see how much I could get out of a OS. What is could do and how fast. Years went by and left me with a 486. Then the first Windows 95 BETA came out. Oh crap. What a mess. Anyway, after I saw my dad using NT 4 Server I begged him to give it to me. He wouldn't cuz he knew I would bug him on how what works and WHY. Eventually I got it when Windows 98 was in use. It couldn't see FAT32 and couldn't display more than 256 colour icons. That disgusted me and I continued to use 98. When XP came out I hated it. I stayed using 98 for about a year after XP came out. Eventually I switched to XP. At that time I started playing around with Red Hat and Mandrake. I couldn't really do anything on it exept install it and play around with the mountain of software that came with it. After much playing around and reading I started to see the Linux light. At the time was doing cracking on Windows, setting up networks at LANs etc. Later I got Slackware and I fell in love. The more I used it and played around with it, the more it could do. There just isn't limits with Linux. Today I still use XP to play games but use Slackware for all other things. I recently started to create my own Internet Access Control and Caching Distro for schools and busiinesses based on slackware but with it's own setup that writes config files for the newly added Apache 2, Squid, SquidGuard. And it's about 200mb big & installs in a few mins. Windows is just mediocre.

May 15, 2006
8:25 AM EDT
For me, it was a combination of things. Stability was a big factor -- no Linux distro I've ever tried has had the stability issues of Win9?/??. As I've become more educated -- thanks to pj at Groklaw, Mettler at lamlaw, not to mention lxer -- I have become concerned about DRM, patents, copyright and big brother/sister issues.

Who owns my hardware is my question? if I depend on proprietary software that uses DRM and unreasonable EULA's to control my usage of it than isn't it the vendor of that software --regardess of the fact that I bought it. I prefer to own my hard ware with FOSS and a few proprietary packages (like java).

There are other assorted reasons but these are the main ones.


Don K.

Jun 07, 2006
8:43 PM EDT
I switched to Linux mainly because I'd heard about it for years and was just curious. As a windoze user, it occurred to me that there were only so many tweaks I could pull in my registry, how little I could really customize my pc, how dreadfully little I could do at a dos prompt, how much I would have to pay for quality software to start learning how to write my own programs, all in all just how limited I really was when using my pc, and I've never really liked winXP, didn't much care for win2000, loathed winME, and win95 was far too glitchy. Win98 was about the only MS os I ever really cared for, and even using that I felt like I was driving a Pinto down the Autobahn. After a few hours of being online researching Linux, I decided to give it a go. My first try was Mandrake 7.1 on an old Compaq that has since been sacrificed to cpu overclocking experimentation. After about a month and a half of 7.1, I downloaded and installed Mandrake 10.1 and fell in love. At first I ran Mandrake and win98, with win98 being the primary os, but after 3 months of that I removed all MS software from my box and have been windoze free for about six months now. Within the last three or four months I have become more and more interested in the FOSS community and have been vigorously advocating it, both because I'm so excited about it and so discouraged about what's going on right now in the other camp.

Sep 30, 2006
2:03 PM EDT
I switched to Linux for TWO reasons. I think 1998 or so was the first time I'd ever heard about Linux, and when I heard it was free and so was the software that ran on it, I was naturally interested, although I was perfectly happy being a Windows 98 user at the time, even though, looking back, Windows 98 had quite a few flaws in it.

During the fall of 2002, I was thinking about upgrading to Windows XP and was reading a book at a local Barnes & Noble about Windows XP, and I was looking at what's different about Windows XP compared to previous versions. One of the things mentioned was the activation system built into Windows XP and how it'll be a real pain to deal with should you choose to upgrade your computer's hardware, and to me, the activation system just sounded a little too big brother-ish for my tastes, and right then and there I vowed I was NOT going to have XP on my computer -- I felt that what Micro$oft was doing was wrong due to how much of a pain that can be should you upgrade your computer's hardware.

Soon after, I began looking for Windows versions of open-source software to gradually wean myself away from Micro$oft. I was having issues with Internet Explorer anyway, so the very first thing I did was download Netscape and then later switched to the Mozilla Suite (this was in their pre-Firefox days), and then I dabbled around in some other Windows-based FOSS software.

I was between jobs at the time, and so for lack of a better thing, I was going back to school to earn a degree in computer science. In this one classroom, they had some computers set up to dual-boot between Windows XP and Mandrake Linux 9.2, so this was my first exposure to Linux, which I had been thinking about ultimately switching to, anyway. I was so fascinated by what all Linux had to offer that I began going to the computer lab and downloading CDs of some Linux distros and trying 'em out, and I liked what I saw.

While going to school, I got my hands on a copy of Windows 2000 Professional (my dad is the history department head at this school, BTW), and at that time, Micro$oft had a deal going on with educational institutions that they would give free copies of their software away to faculty and staff members who wanted them, and so I asked if my dad would be willing to get me Windows 2000, which I would need for Visual Basic.NET class, and I also had my computer set up to dual-boot between Windows 2000 and Xandros -- although the bootloader that comes with Xandros once wiped out my entire Windows 2000 partition, and so that was it for Xandros, as far as I was concerned (but I wasn't going to give up on Linux in general, just that distro).

After a few months, I began having unexplained crashes on my computer every few minutes and I couldn't figure out why. I then backed up everything and did a fresh re-install of Windows 2000 and was still having the unexplained crashes every time I turned around (likely a hardware issue, I think). At that point, I decided to give some CDs I burned recently of Mandrake Linux 10.1 a try (Linux-only, no dual-booting), and I'm happy to say that Mandrake never once had a problem with my hardware :-)

After three weeks, however, I booted up one day and found that the X server wouldn't boot up. Since I didn't know a whole lot about Linux at that time, I did a clean re-install, only to have the same problem a few weeks later. I'd heard about MEPIS, so I went to Barnes & Noble to buy a book called "Point & Click Linux", which included a copy of MEPIS 3.4. At that time, MEPIS still kinda left a few things to be desired, but I was OK with it until something better came along.

I had found another job by that time and had moved to Lexington, KY, and after work one night I was browsing around at the local Barnes & Noble and spotted a book+DVD of Mandrake Linux 10.1 Official, so I decided to buy it and went home and installed it, and I had that on my hard drive for over a year until just a few months ago. Mandrake was pretty good, although it had its moments of instability, and so about three months ago, I decided to shop around for another distro.

I tried several, including Ubuntu, SuSE, and Fedora, and, on the day after the final edition was released, I installed and decided to go with MEPIS 6.0, which is the current version, and I've just been totally pleased as punch with it ever since, and to me, MEPIS 6.0 is hands-down THE best distro I have ever used, and today, I'm a big-time fan of Linux and Open Source! :-)

Sep 30, 2006
3:53 PM EDT

MSDOS sucked.

I wanted to try BSD.

Some friends of mine said that a nearby university library offered BSD copies.

The guy at the desk that I ought to try Linux instead. He printed out a nice stack of HOWTOs and FAQs for me.

Slackware, on 50 floppies, a 20 mhz 386 and two days later it installed. I read the Xree86 timing howto and got an old Oak video card working with a hand calculated modeline. I got olvwm working.

A couple of years later I discovered Debian with its beautiful package system. I haven't looked back since.

I occasionally try other distros but now I prefer Debian and Ubuntu.

Sep 30, 2006
7:06 PM EDT
Got my first computer in 93, somewhere around 95 or 96 I believe I did the slack from floppies thing (and killed a floppy drive. hah!).

I played with linux on and off, mainly with the original slack and then later with Mandrake until 98.

Once I started college in 98 I got more serious and by the end of 2000 I was permanently multi-booting my boxes (mainly between winders and Mandrake).

In the past few years I got tired of rpm distros and finally switched over to gentoo for all my installs once it became stable. I love the control and the packaging system. Now most of the machines in the house (except for Dad's and Sister's) are running gentoo linux. My main machine also dual boots to Win2k (which I rarely use cuz I don't have much time or desire for games that need winders). My work laptop dual boots to XP (bleh) cuz I need it for stuff there now and then (and use it for a few games so I don't have to reboot my main box). I have one box running freebsd as a frisbee imaging test box.


Sep 30, 2006
7:39 PM EDT
I was an electronics guy, and did a little bit of everything, including z80 and 2911 assembly language programming, and even had some exposure to a unix environment with tektronix tnix on a pdp-11, where our assembly language programming environment lived. I was fascinated by unix, but it was not something I could ever access outside of work at a high tech company.

I got my first xt clone in the mid-80s, and since I didn't know any better, I want along with the ms hype and bought windoze 3.x when it came out.. In the early 90s I went to work for University of California, where I was exposed once again to unix, up close and personal - there was sun, sgi, next everywhere, and nice X displays. I got hooked on unix for good, and was looking at buying coherent so I could have something like unix at home to learn with - when a co-worker told me about this full blown unix that would run on a 486, and could be installed for free.

I said "No way!", he said "Dude, I'm telling you!", so I said "OK, hook me up!".

I watched in fascination as one of the local linux gurus set up my 486 with sls, which gave me a dual boot system with the disk divided 50-50 between dos/windoze and linux. After a few weeks of wandering around in rapture in the linux environment, and exploring the internet, I asked the linux guru if he could repartition my drive and set me up again - I wanted the microsoft portion of the disk shrunk down to 10 MB, and the rest dedicated to linux.

I was impressed by the power of X windows, the r commands, the nis/nfs/automount facilities, and the stability of linux, which, although still a bit rough around the edges and still a bit buggy, was 100 times more stable than microsoft windows.

I switched over to linux use full time at home shortly after that, and really haven't used windoze for anything substantial in years. I am exposed to windows regularly, and find myself puzzled as to what the hype is about. I find windoze awkward and clumsy, and after a brief spell using a microsoft environment, I feel like a parent at open house, crammed into one of those little kindergarten desks - bleh!

Doing linux just comes naturally now, and it pays the bills.

Nov 22, 2006
2:20 PM EDT
I had been trying to get into Linux for years, starting with Redhat 6 that someone had given me a CD to try. After trying different distros on different computers with mixed results, mostly couldn't get anything running to the point where I could make use of it. But I could never stay away, every once in a while installing a distro to see what I could do with it.

Eventually I came across Knoppix, a live Linux distro that worked without actually installing a thing, just boot it up and you got a fully functioning Linux OS! Well that gave me the opportunity to play with Linux. If I did anything to bad just hit reset and try again.

Well I learned that Knoppix was based off of Debian, and after so research I decided to download Debian 3.1 (sarge) and play with that. I figured like most distros I have tried, this one would fail to detect my hardware and I would end up wasting my time again.

Well this distro did the trick! I was up and running in no time (on my old K6III+ desktop). I was playing around in KDE just as easy as I could play in windows. Even though Debian doesn't come with all the software the Knoppix dvds come with, there was alot more than Windows ever came with. I installed the desktop' setup and already had your basic tools and more!

Unlike Windows when I installed Debian it downloaded and applied all the updates during install so I had the most up to date system from the start. Most of the programs are included in the Debian install dvds, and are all free! Using "apt-get install nameofapp" will install the most current version out. Alot of the Linux apps run as good or better than their Windows counterparts. Any problems I come across are easily solved with support forums.

The more I use and learn about Linux the less I use Windows. I've already gotten to the point where I spend most of my time in Linux unless I need a Windows app I haven't found a replacement for yet. I installed it on my better computer and it runs great on both machines, both still on the first install (Windows usually last me about 6 months before a fresh install is needed). I use it as my main OS and I'm still finding ways to make it better and do thing Windows couldn't do. Perhaps one day I will have phased out Windows completely.

Oct 21, 2007
4:27 PM EDT
I've been playing with computers since they brought in the Commodore Vic20 to our Gifted class in eighth grade.... Managed to get my parents to purchase an Texas Instruments TI-99/4A and played on it constantly....

I used DOS in high school, Windows in college....

And over the years noticed that 1) I lost a LOT of data playing on Windows... even backing it up due to inconsistencies in backup methods and media back then... 2) I crashed those things A LOT 3) My kids could barely LOOK at a Windows box without crashing it somehow... 4) games and software were very expensive 5) Every time you turned around Microsoft wanted more money for their latest offering, which would mean you had to spend even more money updating your already budget-busting software....

About that time I read about Linux. I thought about it a bit and then decided to wipe my system and give it a shot (using Suse 6.4 I think) (around 1998)

Of course, there were two major roadblocks, both tied together in one little audio/modem card... so I had to reinstall Windows and set up a dual-boot scenario until I could afford to purchase the replacement cards to continue the experiment.

.. And then I noticed something. My kids didn't crash this one....

And they LOVED the games... So much so that they protested when I went totally Linux-free due to disk space limitations when my main machine was stolen....

I've tried numerous distros over the years, but didn't find one I considered ready for the mainstream until I tried Ubuntu back in 2004. That was the first OS that I was able to successfully install video codecs and players for! Then I discovered Puppy, which does the same thing right off the disk and saves back to DVD...

Plus put Damn Small on an ancient laptop, add some Debian Jr games, and my kids are serious happy campers... An HP Omnibook with 120Mhz Processor, 1.2 Gb Hdd, 32 MB of RAM and some backup batteries from eBay can keep my youngest happy for HOURS on car trips, which is what I used until the poor thing died several months back (now I desperately need another dinosaur...)

My kids still love the games on Linux, and my youngest I do believe prefers it...

I love the fact that I don't have to worry about her crashing my system... --Plus the fact that it can be obtained with little more expense than a fast internet connection... --Plus the extra tools that allow me to safely work on other computers without endangering my own... --And I can surf the Internet, check my email, pay my bills without having to worry about viruses or spyware....

I don't know if I will ever be able to be Windows free. I have to admit, those viruses and spyware make me a lot of money in my chosen field of computer repair, but it is NICE to get on a system after a day of working with (Windows and have a system that JUST WORKS..... And if I want another program, off to synaptic I go (It's cheaper that way..)

Oct 22, 2007
2:44 AM EDT
Wow, great thread. It should be on a site of its own. :)

I started computing back in the 80s with a ZX81, later a ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, and then an Amiga 500, later an Amiga 1200. By this time there was a light-hearted rivalry between Amiga and "PC" users, and it was hard to understand why DOS/Windows was doing so much better in the market, when Workbench was such a superior OS.

This injustice pretty much made me swear never to be a Microsoft supporter. I just couldn't.

My first introduction to *x was when I discovered online chatting in 1994 by using a text-based system of chat rooms developed using a system called Elsewhere, originally written by Simon Marsh. To access the Internet I pretty much had to dial up to my ISP using a modem package, and ended up right in a Unix prompt. here I learned how to have multiple applications open, suspend tasks to the background, etc. Later I even compiled my first software, in the form of a PPP hack so I could use native Amiga internet clients.

There was a project at the time to port GNU tools to the Amiga, and I kept that up to date as well for tinkering purposes. For a short while I even had some BSD on there ... I forget which one... NetBSD? OpenBSD? FreeBSD?

Anyhoo... about 1996-ish I got a job at an ISP, and a bunch of the guys there were running Redhat and Slackware. I just loved Windowmaker, and wanted it for meself. It wasn't until 1999 that I bought my first PC though, and promptly made room on the drive for a Linux of some sort. I went through many distributions, but mainly used Redhat at first, then Suse, and eventually Mandrake. Today I am running (K)Ubuntu (Gutsy since yesterday).

My reasons are mainly because I enjoy tinkering. I break it often, much to my wife's dismay, as she has to use these systems too... but then I can usually fix it, since I understand it better than I ever would understand a Windows box. Windows just doesn't allow you to really learn how it works quite as much. The C:Windows directory (I hate the word "folder") is an absolute mess.

My wife enjoys it too. Her reasons are more practical though. For her the viruses and spyware is an issue. When she finally moved here from the US with the laptop I bought for her, even with an up to date Norton Antivirus and two spy/adware bashing programs, it still had crap on it. And she never installed stuff that could have been infected. This stuff just got on there all by their merry selves. She even had a keylogger on there... which might explain how her Hotmail account got hacked.

Dec 09, 2010
11:29 PM EDT
My story is not new I am sure but its not a Microsoft hate thing. I don't approve of nor do I like Microsoft's way of doing things. I see Bill Gates and his donations to charity as the school yard bully giving his teenage friends beer to look good while beating the h#ll out of the little guy. Unlike most people though this does not make me hate him or Microsoft, I feel sorry for them but that's something else.

I started with an install of windows xp on my computer. It was 32 bit and I had a dual core and so I wanted to see what it could do and windows wouldn't do that without major investment so my sister in-law installed Ubuntu Linux 9.10 64 bit for me since I was sharing my computer with her.

I got more and more irritated with windows and liked Ubuntu more and more, so many programs so easy to install everything just worked and as an added bonus if you wanted to tinker you can and for software that doesn't just work you can always go to google and follow the little white rabbit of compiled source code so down the rabbit hole I went.

I installed windows 7 on my computer and installed it over the still existing windows xp. After a while i moved in with my girlfriend and windows was now a pain cause any new software I needed I had to purchase for the smallest tasks and any of the free stuff I was using I was finding out was originally for Linux and the people who wrote it were nice enough to compile it on windows plus viruses and I got hacked and i started recieving emails of all the stuff we were doing on my computer (screenshots).

I needed to teach her how to use a computer, (the only program she ever used was Mavis beacon teaches typing, please no laughter). I thought to myself if I had never used a computer what would I want to learn so I taught her Linux. Incidentally her mother ended up getting a computer with windows xp and when she is up there she try's to help her mother with it gets frustrated and says to hell with it. So now everyone in my household uses Ubuntu and many of the other people I know.

As well windows is completely gone from my pc and I am using Ubuntu, I have two installs, one I can play with ( and crash while trying new things) and one i use every day.

Dec 10, 2010
4:11 AM EDT
Well, my story has been told a million times before, but best here: http://thebeezspeaks.blogspot.com/2008/01/sounds-like-anothe...

Dec 10, 2010
3:27 PM EDT
/me votes to changing joeoshawa's nick to the cryptkeeper

Dec 10, 2010
3:34 PM EDT
Wow. Talk about raising the dead. Before you know it, Josh McDaniels will celebrate his next coaching win by going out to see the latest J-Lo movie.

Dec 10, 2010
5:27 PM EDT

Dec 13, 2010
12:04 PM EDT
@Bob -

If you have to ask, your rickety old bones can't handle the stress.

Dec 13, 2010
2:53 PM EDT
> "J-Lo"?

Jennifer Lopez. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Lopez Google's Images search may be even more informative.

Dec 13, 2010
10:12 PM EDT
Thank you, I do recognize the entire name, just didn't get the contraction.

I now recall that Tom DiLorenzo did say "after that last movie with J-Lo" in his talk about his book "How Capitalism Saved America", I just didn't get the reference.

Certainly the Wikipedia entry shows a person who has not been lazy. Good for her.

Dec 13, 2010
10:54 PM EDT
@Bob --

While I may not line up to see a J-Lo movie, I do respect one hard-working woman.

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