failing like never before


Linux and Me

I was first formally introduced to Linux during my junior year in high school by a friend who had seen someone else run it. At this in my life, I considered myself to be a geek and computer lover, but in reality I knew very little about computers; my experience was limited to some Microsoft Windows XP, C++ and HTML, and building my own computer. I became interested in this "new" operating system, entranced by the idea of free and open source software and jealous of the high geek status granted to Linux gurus, for it seemed as though all the "cool" people ran Linux.

I borrowed some Mandriva CDs from my friend, used Partition Magic to resize my Windows NTFS partition, and installed Mandriva Linux. The experience was nowhere as delightful as I would have liked; my ATI Radeon graphics card failed to mesh properly with Xorg and instead of booting into a cool new glossy interface, my computer dropped to a shell, spat cryptic error messages to the screen, and then calmly prompted me for a login name. I spent the next few days shifting from my parent's computer to my own, trying to find a way to fix X and boot into something that I might be able to understand. I typed into the shell dozens of commands, scrounged from various forums and install guides, hoping that one of the seemingly random strings of characters would be my savior. But my attempts were futile, I had no idea what I was doing, and didn't even bother to try to understand what was going wrong. Eventually, I got so fed up with Mandriva that I gave up and went back to using XP.

I spent the next few month with Windows, sometimes scrolling through random threads in Linux forums and reading little tidbits about the operating system that had failed me, when I decided that perhaps it was time to give Linux another chance. At that time, Fedora and Ubuntu were the user-friendly distributions of choice, and so I spent a few days debating between the two. I ended up downloading Fedora simply because at the time, I thought Fedora Core was a much cooler name then Ubuntu. Maybe it was because the version of Fedora I was using had a newer kernel then the Mandriva CDs my friend lent me, but Fedora installed and booted without a hitch. I was cruising the web and ripping music almost immediately, and it didn't take long for me to discover the wonders of Beryl and the spinning desktop cube. It was hard not to fall in love with Fedora. It was faster and lighter then Windows XP, could do things that Windows wouldn't even be able to compete with for a few more years, and it improved my geek cred immensely.

Originally, I had always liked Windows and had taken ever opportunity to tell people how stupid Macs were, and so I never thought that using Linux would make me dislike Windows. But gradually, I began using Windows less and less, until Fedora was the only OS I booted on my computer, and then I started bashing on Windows. Initially, my Windows rants were composed of the same stupid, immature, and unsupported claims that I have come to hate so much today. I'm quite ashamed of how I once acted. But eventually, I grew a little older, learned a little more, and mellowed out a bit. I still thought that Linux was a superior operating system in many ways, but I wasn't bashing out all the Windows users whenever they mentioned something vaguely supportive of Microsoft.

I stayed with Fedora for six months at the longest, because it wasn't long before I decided to see what all the fuss over Ubuntu was about. And after Ubuntu I became a "distro-hopper," trying out (in no particular order), Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Vector Linux, Damn Small Linux, Puppy Linux, Elive, Mepis, Zenwalk, Debian, and Arch Linux. I stayed with Debian for quite a long time before I decided that there was something missing in our relationship and then decided to give Arch Linux a whirl. I've been with Arch for almost two months now, and I've found nothing about it that could make me want to change again.

Over the few years that I've had Linux, I've managed to learn a good bit about the operating system, and my reasons for liking it have changed as my knowledge grew. I no longer love Linux just because of the cool spinning desktop cube (In fact, because I use Enlightenment now, I no longer use Compiz), or because its new and "cool" thing. I've grown a little wiser, learned to use the command line more and more, and have figured out to be more productive. 

I haven't been very active in the Linux community, always being anti-social and staying cloistered up alone with my own machine. But I recently attended a meeting of the Linux User's Group on my campus, and am hoping to do even more with Linux.

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  1. Thanks for the article.

    I invite you and anyone reading this to join my forum:

    I think you’ll find it a refreshing change of pace.

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