Stumbled into Linux
A fortuitous purchase, a fumbled away team expedition
In the heady days of November 2008, on a PSX (the original “original” name for the first Playstation console) gaming mailing list, a fellow gamer posted a link to a coupon for a cheap Dell Inspiron Mini netbook with the accompanying description “8gb solid state with ubuntu for 99 quid”.
I had very little exposure to the Linux world at this point, I was a Windows man. As a boy I was a Commodore Vic-20 and 64 enthusiast. But my adult IT career had kept me locked, ignorant, into the Windows ecosystem.
Now this ’coupon’ was apparently for a netbook at that ridiculously cheap price when you paid full price on an XPS desktop PC. However, this purchasing conditional hadn’t been hard baked into the site yet and so you could make purchase of the netbook WITHOUT purchasing the very expensive accompanying desktop PC.
The actual full retail price for the netbook was around £258.
I managed to secure the purchase for the netbook at the discount price and then promptly reported to the others on the mailing list that “for £99 I’d suffer Ubuntu for an MMO info web surfing machine.. I’ll have to see if it pans out...”
The arrogance of it all.It was a Dell Mini 9.
It was Ubuntu 8 (Hardy Heron).
I had no idea what I was doing.
And I remember staring at Synaptic all befuddled.
I run the system update routine and it ate up most of my SSD space.
I had major issues getting it to connect to my Wifi at the time.
I quite clearly wasn’t ready for this.
My baby steps set me off on a path towards Linux, but I wasn’t ready to embrace what there was and especially not on this hardware. Technically I was a fish out of water. Uncomfortable. Gasping for air and something I could hold onto and understand without having to dig up my technical foundations and start again.
I’m ashamed to say it now, but I spent more time wrestling Windows XP onto a USB key to install it on this Dell Mini than I did exploring the new alien landscapes of Linux world.
Exploring the Linux multi-verse
My inauguration into the world of Linux come later, when the “fear of the unknown” of Ubuntu 8 had left me and the intoxicating curiosity of the linux distro multi-verse had me hooked. I explored the new frontier with wanton abandon, hopping from distro planet to distro planet like a certain starship captain, boldly going.
OpenSUSE had me under it’s spell for a while.
Linux Mint nurtured me with stability for quite some time.
On old hardware the likes of Bodhi, PeppermintOS, Linux Lite, Puppy and AntiX made things fresh again.
Then I found my most reliable and comfortable distro, and I’m writing this, in Emacs, using Org-mode, publishing to my blog on my trusty MX Linux. All the functionality and the speed.
My interest in Linux has blossomed over the years into a real passion, more than just the technical side to it, a passion for taking control of my own computing. Understanding, building, configuring the tools to enable me to ENJOY my computing again.
The more you explore, the deeper and more interesting the caverns become.
You find other explorers out there, who are also willing to share their knowledge and they light the darkest most mysterious caverns for you.
From a simple mispriced purchase, all those years ago, to a changed life. This is Linux.