When did you start?

August 5, 2013

Here’s another poll — and no, I’m not in this one — that is somewhat interesting brought to us by our friends at linuxquestions.org.

It’s a simple question: In what year did you start using Linux?

I’m always curious about when people started. I know many greybeards and gurus who were there at the start. It’s one of those perks that come with living close enough to the Silicon Valley to be able to drive a half-hour and be at the center of the digital universe, or so it seems sometimes.

I also know folks who just started as late as a month ago — they’re members of the Felton LUG who have happened upon Ubuntu and have just installed it to dual-boot for now, and hopefully later on they’ll drop Windows and keep using a FOSS-based operating system.

And I know folks who fall between these two extremes.

My vote goes to 2006-07. I started in mid-2006 and the chance meeting with Linux was purely political. I had won an uncontested primary for the Green Party’s nomination for Insurance Commissioner of California and, as a Green, I didn’t take corporate contributions. Faced with the prospect of having to buy Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to make campaign materials, the IT guy for the California Green Party asked me if I had heard of “Free/Open Source Software.” I hadn’t, but I was quickly brought up to speed: I didn’t need Adobe — there was Scribus and GIMP that would do the same thing. “Oh, and the Mac you have? It will run an operating system called Linux — try Debian and see how you like it.”

[Yeah, I had a Mac and for the longest time I was a big Linux-on-PowerPC guy.]

Long story short: I came up about 47 percent of the vote short of winning the election, no surprise there for a third-party candidate, garnering 2.3 percent (in California, that’s 270,218 folks who voted for me; the highest total for Greens that year). However, during the course of the campaign — driving around California during the campaign — I kept thinking about what a great concept the Free/Open Source Software paradigm is and how beneficial it could be for society in general.

So after the election, I gave up partisan politics to advocate for Free/Open Source Software instead, which is what I’ve been doing ever since.

When did you start? Go vote, and then tell your story in the comments below. I’d be interested to hear when and how you got started.

Oh, and one more thing: If you haven’t voted in the FOSS Force poll, you can do that here.

Oh, and one more other thing: Ubuntu Edge.

There. I said it. Now that I mentioned Ubuntu Edge, I have to post this.

Every time I mention Ubuntu Edge in a blog post, I am going to mention this. I still strongly advocate for folks to donate to the following groups instead of giving millions to Canonical. Give instead to:

Reglue (especially Reglue, for bringing Linux boxes to underprivileged kids in the Austin, Texas, area)

Partimus (bringing Linux boxes to classrooms in the San Francisco Bay Area)

CrunchBang (or your favorite distro, if it accepts donations)

Tux4Kids (the folks who bring you Tux Paint and other educational FOSS programs across platforms)

Or even taking a look at the list of projects at Software for the Public Interest and choose one of those.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy, Larry the CrunchBang Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and develops business software at Redwood Digital Research, a consultancy that provides FOSS solutions in the small business and home office environment.)

Add to Technorati Favorites EFF Binary Freedom Dead button Wordpress button Xfce button dbEntrance button AntiX 7.0 fedora badge GIMP Linux Mint Kororaa Salix OS Fluxbox Conky Thunderbird LibreOffice Crunchbang Bodhi Linux PostgreSQL identi.ca python scale 10x

Eliminate DRM!

  1. Paul Sams
    August 5, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Late 2003. Comedy of chance really. I was in a book store and saw the Debian GNU/Linux Bible. I had no clue what it was, but started reading it and bought it. I think it was “Potato” and had probably been there a long time. Woody was the current stable. Defeated but curious I came across Linux Format with Mandrake 9.2. I was hooked. Over time I moved from there to Mepis and finally Debian Sarge. Except for a brief time with Ubuntu, I went from etch and kept going, now on Wheezy. I’ve also learned a lot about computers. Windows always feels clunky to me now. Linux is what familiar and comfortable. I really enjoy using Linux.

  2. August 5, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    I believe it was October ’93, with the spring ’93 release of Yggdrasil. I do remember it was a 0.99 kernel.
    The hard drive on my Xenix box crashed big time, I couldn’t find the installation code, and no longer had housemates working at SCO to get another free copy. Nor did I have the money to pay full cost for a commercial license. I asked around on the scruz sysops mailing list and a couple of people recommended this new version of unix.
    I think Jeff Liebermann may have even loaned me some slackware floppies, but I don’t remember if I actually installed off of them. A friend of mine worked for Adam, so I just drove over the hill and picked up a CD. A couple of months later, I picked up the next release as Adam got back from picking the disks up from the printer. So I can honestly say, that I was the first paying customer for at least one release of a Linux distribution.

  3. Colonel Panik
    August 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Around 2000, I do remember that the first box that I completely blew MS off of
    had Millennium on it. It was so hard back then. Just a little hard now.

    How many times did those early distros almost cause your divorce?

    IANAG, just here for the community. And thanks for all the help and putting up
    with the perpetual NOOB. Not always fun but it sure has been interesting.

  4. August 9, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    About 2005, with whatever RedHat Linux (not Fedora and not RHEL) was available then. An HP Labs IT support staffer named Bailey Gee told me that I’d like Linux better than the HP-UX I was then using. I switched to Fedora when Core 6 came out in 2007. I stayed on Fedora until 2010, when irritation about TI’s provision of binary blobs only in .deb packages caused me to choose Debian Testing, where I’ve been ever since.

    I couldn’t answer the survey; I’m not willing to create a FOSS Questions account in order to do so.

  1. No trackbacks yet.
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: