How I Caught the Linux Bug

I think the first time I heard of Unix outside of trade magazines was around 1990 in Cliff Stoll's The Cuckoo's Egg where Stoll talked about his year long attempt to catch a KGB hacker breaking into the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory computer systems to steal military information. The book goes into great detail on the security behind Unix and how Unix networks to other systems across the then ARPAnet and early Internet. From there I gained a huge fascination with Unix, but with my limited computer knowledge at the time (I was around 13 or 14 years old) and BBSes being the extent of my online ventures there wasn't much I could do.

My first time to actually touch Unix was in 1993 when Metro BBS opened a local number in Waco to their system, and they had a very basic shell account to do simple things like FTP and IRC. I learned the basics, but it wasn't until 1994 when a friend going to TSTC let me us his Unix account that I had a full taste of what Unix could do and also got my first glimpse of the Internet. I still have the copy of Internet Yellowpages I bought in 1994 which is weird looking through now because it's all FTP, Gopher, email, Usenet, or Telnet... no WWW, which at that point was just a few years old.

Not until two years later in 1996 when I started at TSTC did I really get into Unix with my own accounts. Though I hoped to focus mostly on Unix, the CNS program at TSTC then was geared more around Microsoft Windows, and only two Solaris classes were taught. When I found this out I started digging around for ways for me to really use Unix and found Linux. Back then where dial-up was still the norm, I was lucky to find a copy of Red Hat 4.0 at Best Buy for about $40 and installed it on a 486 I had at home, and yeah I was hooked on Linux at that point. It was much more functional than Windows 3.11 (which is what I installed over), and for the first time I could boot-up my system and be sitting at a Bash prompt. It didn't take long to configure dial-up so I was on the Internet through TSTC's SLIP connection.

As the years went by I used Linux in some form or fashion, but it wasn't until 2001 that I moved completely to Linux at home replacing my Windows 2000 system with Red Hat 7.2. I was a fairly dedicated RH user until post Red Hat 9 when they dropped their public project for their RHEL. I tried Fedora Core 1 when it came out, but due to it not being as stable as I'd like I moved to SuSE then settled into Slackware which I used until 2005 when I moved to Mac OSX.

The move to Mac wasn't by choice totally. I had bought a used PowerMac G4 around 2002 more for curiosity, but in 2004 my Linux system had a hard drive crash and I moved to the Mac temporarily until I could get a new drive. After setting-up email and such in OSX then playing with it, I really liked it and ended up staying there. In 2005 I replaced my aging Dell Inspirin laptop (also running Slack) with an iBook, so at that point other then my home server, I was 100% Mac on the Desktop.

That worked great until Apple decided to phase out the PowerPC processor, which was a good move moving to Intel, but it left my iBook and PowerMac G4 labeled as Legacy hardware with no future support. As more software came out for Intel systems only, and with me becoming more portable using my laptop almost exclusively, in 2009 I ditched OSX and moved back to Linux with a System76 Pangolin Performance laptop (link is to newer PanP6 model... I have PanP5) which runs Ubuntu Linux 10.04 Desktop.

So to date the only Mac I use is my wife's PowerBook (though I'd LOVE to get an iPad) plus my work computer runs Windows 7, but my primary system is running Ubuntu which is the most solid distro of Linux I've used.

Updated 2011-03-04