251: Why We Became Linux Enthusiasts


My Life with Linux/Ubuntu

  1. My first contact with Linux was around 2003/04. My son bought a PC and that came with Linux installed. He asked for my help, so I soon realized it was a CLI and not MSDOS, so I installed Window XP Home for him. That was better suited for him and my grandchildren.
  2. In 2005 I bought a PC Magazine and it had a CD with Ubuntu 5.04. At that time I had a spare Pentium II with two 2GB SCSI disks. One disk was too small for Ubuntu, so I had to use LVM or its predecessor to get it installed. It all worked and I was impressed. But I lost that PC and that ended my first Ubuntu adventure.
  3. In 2008 I bought a new laptop a 2-core Athlon on 1.8GHz and a slow 160GB HDD (40MB/s). It came with Windows Vista, but that was very very slow. I remembered Ubuntu and started dual booting Vista and Ubuntu 8.04. To do right to Vista, after a new 320GB HDD (80MB/s) and 2 service packs, Vista became quite usable.
  4. I retired 1-1-11 and moved completely to Ubuntu 10.04 and I moved Windows XP to a Virtualbox Virtual Machine and that did run on an off-lease Pentium 4 HT (3.0GHz); 2GB DDR (400MHz) and a typical 250GB IDE HDD. I started to distro hop with VMs, I remember 4x OpenSUSE, Xubuntu and Lubuntu.
  5. I still run my first love Ubuntu, now version 21.10 with OpenZFS and over time I collected ~70 VMs, so I have all Windows versions from 1.04 (1985) to 11 (2021) and all Ubuntu LTS versions, the first Ubuntu 4.10. my first one 5.04, 21.10 on the bare metal and 5 versions of the future 22.04 in a VM. Of course I also still have OpenSUSE, Xubuntu and Lubuntu from 2012. I tried a lot of other distros and thus I have VMs with Fedora; Manjaro; Garuda Linux; Zorin etc etc.

I moved all my “work” to VMs and now my main VMs are:

  • Xubuntu 20.04 LTS for all communication apps, the only VM with open ports;
  • Ubuntu 16.04 ESM with Unity encrypted by Virtualbox and exclusively used for banking and PayPal with the newest Firefox and LibreOffice snaps. I intend to use it till 2026.
  • Ubuntu Studio 20.04 LTS for the multimedia stuff. However for playing the wma copies of my old CDs and LPs, I often use Windows XP with WoW and TrueBass effects.
  • Ubuntu 20.04 LTS for trying out apps and for other experiments.
  • Windows 10 Pro.

To prepare for the future I run the next stuff in VMs, note that two VMs run with nested virtualization:

  • Ubuntu 22.04 on OpenZFS with Virtualbox to test my new Host.
  • Ubuntu Mate 22.04 with QEMU/KVM to compare both virtualization solutions, on functionality and ease of use.
  • Xubuntu 22.04 to test its use for the communication apps, half of the time I use 22.04 instead of 20.04 for the real work.
  • Ubuntu Studio 22.04 to look whether I’m prepared to move to KDE instead of XFCE. I might stay with 20.04 and XFCE.
  • Ubuntu Budgie 22.04
  • Windows 11 Pro, to check out the effect of current HW limitations in a VM.

I first really got into Linux when I got a Raspberry Pi for my 11th birthday. I was immediately intrigued because it all was so new and exciting compared to Windows. Without really doing much of any research I just explored Linux (Raspbian + Ubuntu MATE) on my Pi, and I loved how hackable, modular and customizable it was compared to Windows (just a few months after my 11th birthday Windows 10 came out and it was the exact opposite). And discovering Linux on the Pi also taught me a lot about computers in general.

About a year later I got an old Laptop with no OS on which I installed Xubuntu, and I used that a LOT for just about everything. I also learned about Wine and that Steam was available for Linux, so at that point I was determined that when I’d build my new gaming PC I would put Linux on it and possibly even daily drive it if most of my games ran on it.

Well, I ended up installing Windows on it anyways because many of my games didn’t work on Linux at the time, but soon I installed a second SSD and put Linux Mint on it, which I played around with every once in a while. Once DXVK, Lutris and Proton where starting to come together (late 2018) I decided to do a “One week of Linux only” challenge. Since I was already used to using all the open source apps that are available to Linux and nearly all my games now worked, that “week” has never ended. I don’t even have my Windows SSD anymore. Since then I have dived much deeper into Linux and it still excites me to this day.

Oh, and now I run Arch with KDE Plasma by the way :wink:


When my Skyrim characters become powerful and rich, I get bored and start again with a new character. I build a desk and it works, but if I rebuild it my life will be better (surely?). If I buy a screen / amplifier / keyboard / … there is a better one sitting ready to buy, only a “want click have” away. I am never satisfied. And I end up with a heap of hardware, bits of wood and I run out of save space in steam.

With Linux when I apply this same pattern it is called distro hopping. The only cost is time and I can always go back if it doesn’t work out. I love being able to do what I do best and that is changing my mind. I am an expert in changing my mind.


Are you harboring an borderline unhealthy obsession running SUSE by chance?!? or in some other way related to @CubicleNate ?


Simply enjoyed Jill’s joviality and the general enthusiasm of you guys.

Thanks! :slight_smile:

A distro hopper who, for some reason, always goes back to MX KDE.
An easy way out for a permanent, Linux newbie i guess.


DOS/Windows was not the right tool

Back in 1993, I started my tech career as a computer lab tech at the U of MN. During my first year, I was given the task to summarize how often students and faculty used the two dozen Macs and PC’s in our labs. I came up with the idea of counting the Novell logins made by our public usernames to get a fairly precise count. I was able to export a text log file of every login, but it was almost 50,000 lines long since it had all logins, not just public user accounts. After poking around with the DOS find command, which wasn’t able to accept the large file, I discovered the wonderful tool grep!

I downloaded grep for DOS on our 386 25 Mhz work PC with 4 MB RAM. I tested it on a few small text files before setting it to the awesome task of sorting through my “massive” log file. This was going to save me days of work, as my previous idea was to load the file in Excel or Word and parse it by hand with find and replace. I set up my command, pressed enter and waited. And then I waited. And then I waited. Two hours later, it still did nothing but flash a cursor after the command line.

Enter Unix

The tech environment around the University was pretty helpful, with a “we are all in this together” kind of atmosphere. I asked for help on a local listserv and a unix guru stopped by the office to create a unix account for me on one of the Solaris servers (SunOS 4.1.3) they used for gene sequencing calculations. After uploading my log file, this beast ate it and returned results in a second or two. Between grep and wc, I had all the numbers I needed in a few minutes. That was my first aha moment. I thought that was pretty cool, but I wasn’t super impressed knowing that the machine it was running on cost at least six figures. A machine that costs more than two orders of magnitude more than our PC should be two orders of magnitude faster, right?

Enter Linux

However, my more impressive aha moment happened a year or two later when we installed Slackware on the very same 386 PC, after pulling it from a storage rack where it had been retired. For kicks, as a benchmark of sorts, I uploaded my latest log file to see if it could handle a 50k line grep. To everyone’s surprise, not only did it chew through it without hanging, it returned the results in under a minute. We were just as surprised when this machine ran for days and weeks without crashing. This was a time when Windows 3.1 couldn’t run for an entire 8 hour workday without significant performance issues and/or crashes if you actually opened applications and used it for work. Even librarians that only used a TN3270 IBM terminal application would often reboot there machines after lunch.

My opinion why Windows underperformed

My third aha moment happened slowly over the next few years as I realized that Microsoft was not about creating high performance or even stable software. In my opinion, their goal was to capture as much of the market as possible until their exclusivity contract for PC operating systems ran out in the year 2000. Every PC compatible computer sold between 1980 and 2000 had to be bought with a license for Microsoft DOS or Windows. Even if you ordered a PC without any operating system installed, the manufacturer still had to purchase a DOS or Windows license. To their credit, the closer they came to the year 2000, the more serious they got about taking advantage of processor features made available back on the 386 platform (released in 1985), namely protected memory and memory addressing beyond 1 megabyte. Windows NT 4.0 was pretty solid, but in my personal opinion, they didn’t catch up to the stability of Linux or FreeBSD until Windows 7.


I do run SUSE too, it’s just not as exciting because Gnome is the DE. :slight_smile:

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I totally agree. @jill_linuxgirl enthusiasm is contagious and happens to stoke my joy in tech too.

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A good episode guys and I can resonate will all your experience though chronologically I am more with Jill than anything else. Slackware too was my first Linux, installed on a 386DX with about 12 floppys. The reason I got into Linux was mostly a reaction to my experience at university. I got to know about FTP servers, nsca Telnet, UUCP, email, newsnet (usenet) and talk/ntalk/ytalk. So when I left Uni I wanted all those things again. You could cobble together stuff together on DOS but it was very janky and not a great experience. Then I tried to tie two computers together with parallel port Ethernet adapters

Suddenly the power of networking was open to me and so I immediately wanted to bump up to proper networking cards and proper BNC cables. But I found Windows was severely lacking in terms of Networking support. At university I had be using Netware with Windows and that was quite good with a concept of network shares and network wide email and backups and all the cool things like that. But Netware was a paid product and so even though I knew someone who knew someone who could get me a copy that I could install and test on my super fancy PC with networking cards in them I found it was not very much use unless all the other machines also had Netware on them but some of the other machines I had were old 386DX machines and just did not have the grunt to run any sort of combination of Netware and DOS/Windows. Fortunately I had already been away of Linux and my brother came home from from University and had a stack of floppies with Slackware on them. So I dutifully load it up and both network cards are detected and things like an FTP server, NFS server, a Whitepages DB as well as ntalk, and all the things I was used to, was installed and just worked.

Well that was a seminal moment for me and though I still had a desktop machine that ran Windows and Linux in dual boot, but I always had another machine that ran Linux exclusively.

Pretty soon after windows98 I flipped entirely to Linux as a desktop and entered the wild and wacky world of compiling your own GCC without a compiler( bootstrapping )and patching and rebuilding the X11 server with the awesome command make World

Over the next few years I tried SUSE, Red Hat, YellowDog, Mandriva etc etc and always managed to get into some sort of dependency hell either with compiling sources from scratch or patching the kernel for new hardware.

Then at a Linux Expo in the 90’s I stumbled across the Debian booth which used to drum up interest in those days by giving out free beer but selling CDs of their software to make the point be tween free (as in beer) and free (as in free software ) I literally only visited them to get free beer but next to them was a Linux magazine booth and he had a funky Toshiba Liberetto and was trying to get Debian on it with the help of the guys next door. I roll up and ask them what they are doing, and they told me they wanted to get X up and running on this device to show how Linux can everywhere. Well they were a journalist and so not very techy and the Debian guys were busy running their booth, so I offered to have a go at it. You had to boot off an external floppy drive and make sure you had enough of the OS to get networking up and running, then unplug the Floppy drive and plug in a network adapter and install the rest of the OS from the network. Basically a Debian Net install.

Well, this was revolutionary to me and that in itself was so cool but when I started asking the Debian guys “How do you install programs?” and they pointed me at dselect a curses based way to install packages that did AUTO DEPENDENCY CHECKING, I was blown away. I went from that Expo and installed Debian right away on my machine at home and basically have never looked back.

Sure I have worked with Centos and Redhat and SUSE and Ubuntu, Windows, MacOS etc. None of it fazes me and I ended up basically becoming an IT consultant with emphasis on Linux as well as Linux advocacy.

But my first love is and always shall be Linux and Debian. It is an oasis in the maelstrom of Linux innovations that I can trust to just work with the minimal faffing around to get what I want done. Need a print server ? Install Debian. Need a file server? Install Debian. Need an embedded device? Install Debian. Need a VM host? Install Debian.

So that is how I became a Linux devotee. It is about control, freedom and most importantly about sharing and learning from each other. When someone comes up with a clever way to do something like build a Magic Mirror. They don’t just keep it to themselves and try and sell it as a product. They share their achievements and tell people how to do the same.

THAT is the spirt of Linux. Not my way is better than your way or this is the right way, that is the wrong way. People seem to forget that is not about tribalism, it is about empowering yourself and others by making the sum of the parts greater than the whole.

Here endeth the sermon.


So apparently dselect is in Fedora’s repos for some reasons and no… does not work on Fedora :stuck_out_tongue:

dselect.x86_64 : Debian package management front-end

I checked it out on Debian and it worked! Very cool history trip. Thanks @veritanuda


The sheer flexibility of Linux and free software made me an enthusiast and I am still one. If it were not because of Linux I would have no interest in computing.


The biggest and foremost reason that made me actually stick with linux, was Ubuntu 5.10, and later Xubuntu 6.04. For me, everything just worked with my hardware, at the time, from the start. There were almost no configuration needed at all. I stuck with Xubuntu for about 10 years.

Then again back in 2017 when I worked up the knowledge and guts to try to install Arch, and realize that it wasn’t hard at all (for me). It fitted perfectly in my KISS/Liteweight/Streamlined/Performance way of thinking when it comes to my computer builds, both hardware and OS/Distros wise. It kind of reignited or fueled (for the lack of better words) my love for linux.

I did actually try linux earlier to. If memory serves correctly, it was RedHat 5.8 or mabye 5.6 or something like that back in 1998. And the SuSe (not sure which version) back in 2001-2002. I actually ran SuSe for almost a year. But the “need” for multiplayer gaming with friends was just too big, and the options were almost zero back then.
So I always went back to the other one, off which thy name shall not be spoken ! :slight_smile:

You know the routine, long-time listener, but first this contributor. I got so excited listening to this episode, as it took me back years and in a flash into today. I first tried Red Hat Linux with the mountain for floppy disks, and then it was the overnight install over the Internet. But, I just didn’t get it :disappointed_relieved: and that was about 20 years ago. Fast-forward, about 6-7 years later I got introduced to Ubuntu (working together) I think version 6.x and the light began to eliminate. I had no idea what a rolling release was then, but I almost immediately got the x.04 and x.10 with every other year LTS (Long Term Support) that’s what I started user and running for the next few years. I built a CentOS server out of an old desktop that we used at work for years as an imaging sever. Here’s where I Have to confess, during that whole time my primary platform and my daily driver was Macs and Linux (Ubuntu and later Linux Mint) was my tech tool OS and secondary OS. While in graduate school in October 2014, I almost purchased my first System 76 Linux laptop for around $1,200.00. But sadly, I got cold feet and instead paid $2,000+ for the last MacBook Pro I purchased. I convinced myself that I needed to stick with the familiar to get through school. Although, I did all of my work using Google Doc via the web :sweat_smile: That brings us to last October 2020, when it was purchasing time again, and this time, though I did not purchase for the likes of Systems 76, I did and have been running Linux as my daily driver since then. I am currently using EndeavourOS running KDE Plasma 2.23.3 with 64 GB of RAM :slight_smile: . I had always run Linux on older hardware, dual-booted or in a virtual environment. This time, I wanted to run Linux on a high-end piece of hardware bare metal. It has not been perfect, but I have been pleased. Thnk for all that you do, but particularly for this episode and for inspiring me to share my Linux journey.

God bless,


Good to have you, welcome to the forum.

Probably for the best :slight_smile:

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Welcome to the friendliest linux forum. :coffee:

…and, if you’re like me, you’ll continue to be more and more pleased.


Thanks, everyone - favourite joke of the week, @MichaelTunnell filling his DLN mug with @dasgeek brain?! Now there’s a visual joke if every I saw one :wink:

Like @jill_linuxgirl my first Linux experience was Slackware, installed from a CD in 1994, I believe. I did install Unix from about 20 floppy disks at work during a summer job though, so there’s that, and DOS 6 / Win 3.11 from about 7-8 HD floppies in 1994 too, on a DX266 mini-tower PC I built myself! Fairly soon thereafter, like @kernellinux I moved to RedHat, then Fedora and used that for about five years. In the desktop uncertainty years, I actually got put-off Linux and didn’t use it for some years, as I moved into education. Then I returned to Linux about ten years ago, starting with Mint, then Mint Debian edition, then Debian, and never looking back. At the moment I run Fedora in a VM and am very, very impressed. I may even try it on some of my machines. Previously I did try Debian Sid but didn’t have the patience to maintain it when breakages were possible. I found mine broke every few months, which was too much for me, so I stopped using it. I am still interested in LFS, more importantly BLFS and will most likely have another crack at it in March when the new version is released!

I am so glad to hear Mozilla appears to have been listening and Firefox has started re-steering. It’s long been one of my favourite open source projects, and I’d hate to have to see the community split and have to maintain a different version (e.g. LibreWolf) though of course the whole benefit of open source is that in theory that’s possible if required.