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My Linux Story

It all began back in 1986 when my brother and I went grocery shopping. At the cash register we noticed a heap of boxes which turned out to be COMMODORE 16 computers at a ridiculously cheap price. Each of us bought one and we returned to our mother's house, hooked them up to a TV-Set which they used as a monitor, and hacked away.

That little machine would only do what you programmed. I believe it talked »Basic 2.4« and there wasn't any software available for it.

I spent two years with it and even souped it up by soldering 64 kB of ram into it leaving me with the feeling I really had a roadster.

In 1988 I put it in a shelf when I »upgraded« to an AT 286. An entirely different piece of machinery that had a 1.2 M floppy drive which was speedy as hell after using tape cassettes for 2 years and - heck! - 640 !!! KB of memory. Overwhelming!

Of course then I started dealing with DOS. First IBM DOS. Then MS DOS.

Software came winging in from left and right and creating your own programs was no longer a topic since I couldn't develop my skills as fast as new applications where passed around by friends.

The years »dossed« by and in 1993 I bought a book on the UNIX System V that included a CD which contained my first LINUX, distributed by a German company in Stuttgart.

I remember getting it installed and stumbling around in it not really knowing what I was doing or what there was to do. No exe.-files, no COMs, though there were colors. There was purple and light blue which looked prettier than DOS but I just couldn't seem to get the hack of what was going on. I remember seeing that black X on a grey screen knowing now back then I had an Xserver running but I didn't get beyond that grey screen with that black X (I probably rebooted ;) ). I remember I even had that LILO running and could chose OSes.

At the same time windows 3.11 hit the market and things were so much easier there. You merely clicked an »icon« and wonderful and astonishing things would happen and - frankly! - I didn't mind rebooting.

In 95 there was windows95. I bought the upgrade version. At the same time I bought a few new computers since I had settled down in my profession and needed computers at work and those machines had preinstalled OS2s.

I was curious and played around with them (dual boot) but the flood of advancing applications for the windows system pushed me back on the Gates platform until I connected to the internet in 1997.

I can't exactly remember where the impulse*) came from but that year I downloaded a Slackware distribution and got it running. It was then I remembered the environment I had been lost in years back and I took it as a challenge as I was flattered by the democratic idea of the open source. I tried out redhat and even got it hooked up to the net (thanks to a fantastic howto on i4l by Klaus Franken), finally ran into SuSE in 1998 and stuck with it ever since.

*) Now I remember: I had played around with Perl-scripting under windows and found that a unix-like system was much closer to it.

I installed Linux on an old 586/133 which was a speedy machine back then and used it mainly as a router, is still here and active and has been running without rest ever since doing a perfect job as a router, serving a 4-machine net here at our home, connecting us to the www as well as connecting us to my 5-machine net at my practice, where I set up an analogous router that's serving 4 win machines.

So I had a Linux machine to my left and a win95 ... win98-machine to my right here at my desk at home until I installed Linux on home1 as well. For quite a while I had difficulties with the look and feel of KDE , always feeling more comfortable in the WIN-environment which I was accustomed to.

It was like flipping a switch: the more time I spent on the Linux side of the machine the more I liked it and from day to day it was harder booting the Win-partition whenever it was necessary.

Nowadays I scarcely boot the win side of my machine, feel uncomfortable when I am there (I have to do my banking transactions there since Linux is still missing an aquivalent application) and am anxious to get back to my stable and dependable and oh!, so familiar kde-desktop.
Rebooting has become obsolete ;)

August 2000
I had 4 SuSE-Linux-machines running in a heterogenous net including 5 Win-clients when I installed a Redhat 6.2 which I am using as my main computer at home. Installation was easier than installing a windows OS and I was flattered how easy it was to install sound: I hit <enter> three times and test sounds were audible.
The ISDN subsystem is a bit more of a challenge than on a SuSE since ISDN is not very popular in the US.
The gnome is another new experience.
We'll see - I'll let you know. ;o)

The links:

The Xserver builders

daily new software

and more at

and even more at

The linux magazine

The Linux Documentation Project

which is where you'll find all sorts of information on configuring your OS.


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