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What Led Me to Want Linux?

(article 1 in My Linux Learning Curve Series)

I'd had been active online more than seven years by then. I first started out with a goal of self-publishing my novel on a wee short shoestring. Fortunately, there is so much information out there, that it is possible to learn many wonderful things. So in the process of attaining my goal, I've added skills and much more knowledge than I ever thought my brain could hold.

Over time I read in various places what a much better operating system Linux is compared to Microsoft Windows. At first it seemed way too technical and far above my head. I'd leave that to the "propeller heads" as someone calls the intense techies who have their noses in the electronic guts of computers and the software programs that run them.

However, I'm an alert and thirsty little sponge and the things I read, and the high praise I saw for Linux began to gel together for me. More and more pieces fit in as I saw that the web hosts where I had my web sites, were operating with Linux based systems. They could brag greater security from the viruses and bugs that plagued the general Windows world.

The more I learned about everything the more I realized I was going to continue to learn like this the rest of my life, and I had already climbed some steep learning curves. Why close myself off to this one?

My 6.2 gigabyte hard drive which I thought I'd be the rest of my life filling, (when I first got that computer in January 1999), got fuller and fuller. I saw I was going to need a new computer or another hard drive soon. When I learned it was possible to have a dual-boot computer - meaning windows on one drive or section of a drive, and Linux on another - I wanted that!

That would be a super way to switch gradually. It would allow for a learning curve until I was familiar with Linux, and I wouldn't have to make a sudden either-or transition.

Of course, I had to save up to buy the new hard drive first. But in October 2003, I finally had enough, and took it in to a computer shop to have it installed.

I thought they might even agree to load it with a Linux system right away, but no - they were Windows devotees. I was on my own.

The desire to try Linux didn't go away. So when I had a few minutes, I did research on the net.

Finding the Right Distro

Okay. Guess I'll do it myself. Haven't I learned and taught myself all this other stuff I know?

I discovered there are all kinds of flavours of Linux. I would have to choose, and then I could download files or buy them on CDs, just not through most computer stores as they are committed to Microsoft. This whole Linux deal seemed like an underground movement!

It is a free system, in that no one is getting rich off it like Bill Gates, the owner of Microsoft. The man who first wrote the Linux kernel (code) didn't want people to take advantage of each other, so he insisted that anyone who wanted to work on the code and improve it, or write other dirviations of it, was welcome to do so. This has over the past few years led to many "distributions" (called Distros) of Linux, and loyal fans are writing new programs all the time in each. A healthy co-op kind of growth is creating a lush garden of many good vegetables. We get to pick! From great quality stuff!

Some of them are taking into account that folks have got very used to the look and feel of Windows, so they are now designing Distros or hybrids of these programs that look and behalf like Windows, and will help people to catch on quickly.

The purists however, still think the clean code, operated from a command terminal is the best. And even the Windows-look-alikes have that as the core.

But all this got me even more excited. It meant that I could switch to Linux, start using it, and gradually teach myself the authentic way to use it, without having to have another five year delay before I could be up to speed again with my business efforts.

Checking on eBay I saw that CorelLinux was dirt cheap. Nobody was biding on these brand new "in the box" sets. It came with WordPerfect which I had used on my very first computer (DOS) and felt somewhat attached to. I heard that Corel went out of business, but hey, a whole operating system for $5-13? This was my speed. So I purchased one.

Only to find that it wouldn't install, and would not install. No, I tried it over and over and it treated my computer like it was one huge infection, and it would not proceed.

Oh fool-me! I should never have bought this!

Then I found DesktopLinux.org where there is a forum. After numerous visits and checking out the sagas of others who tried to transition from Windows to Linux, I dared ask some advice, and told of my CorelLinux problem.

I got answers! I could proceed!

When I reported that I was trying to download a Mandrake 9.1 ISO and it looked like it was going to take several days and nights, one man suggested I go to Cheapbytes.com. I'd read somewhere that Mandrake version 9.2 had some problems, so I choose Mandrake 9.1, which turned out to be 3 CDs for $6.99, basically the postage or shipping.

There. Now it was going to be a piece of cake to do the installation. I've done lots of installations on Windows 98.

Whoa-whoa! Not quite so fast...

UPDATE: The above was written in the early 2000s, about 2005. Since then I've become a confirmed Linux system user. There should be a number of chapters to tell you the rest of the story.

I've tried out about 14 different "Distros" (distributions of Linux), but my favourite has been openSUSE for many years, and I am currently (2020) using the latest one they have put out, called LEAP 15.2.

During the years I worked in a Mission office I was seen as something of a computer nerd/expert, and friends often dropped off their old desktops for me. I would rescue any files they wanted to keep, then install a Linux system which would wipe the hard drive clean. When I had confirmed that the desktop computer was working - though perhaps slower than a brand new computer, I would give it away to anyone who said they needed one.

The last 3 years I have been working at my online businesses from home full-time, and though I have about 7 older desktops scattered around here, waiting for me to get around to refurbishing them, I don't seem to have the time for that as I used to. Maybe I'll get a few free evenings this winter to do that. :)

Index of New-to-Net

What Led me to Want Linux? How to choose a Distro (this page)

Come, Tour My Candy Store! Exploring Mandrake 9.1, my first Linux System

My Computer Tsunami how one mistake led to another!



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