My Experiences with Linux

In February of 2008, I was introduced to Linux through Ubuntu 7.10 and became hooked. Since then, I have tried many other Linux distros, which include:

 Kubuntu  OpenSUSE  Vectorlinux  Dreamlinux  Puppy Linux
 Xubuntu  Fedora  Linux Mint  antiX  TinyMe
 Edubuntu  PCLinuxOS  Peppermint OS  SimplyMEPIS  Lubuntu
 Zorin OS  Debian  Bodhi Linux  SliTaz  wattOS
 ArchBang  MintPPC  Frugalware  Chakra Linux  CentOS
 Bridge Linux  Manjaro  SolydX  SolydK  Tiny Core
 Ubuntu MATE  Linux Lite

Here is a screenshot of Ubuntu 7.10, which is where my experience with Linux began:

Ubuntu 7.10 screenshot

Many things have drawn me to Linux. I am constantly amazed at the large selection of high quality distros available to people for free. Essentially, Ubuntu and other Linux distros offer free operating systems which have stability and security which is on-par or even superior to that of Mac OS X, and can be installed on considerably less expensive computer hardware. While no operating system is totally invulnerable to viruses and other malware, with Linux the overwhelming majority of malware is stopped dead in its tracks. Another appealing aspect of Linux is the variety offered in the many different distros and desktop environments, and closely related to this is the high degree of imagination and innovation found within them. Competition is good, and it has brought out the best in the many Linux distros, not to mention it also brings out the best in Windows and Mac OS X. The world of Linux and open source software is a fertile ground for new ideas to take form because the programming code is available for anyone to review and build upon. Proprietary software, such as Windows and Mac OS X does not allow this because they are kept secret to all but the trusted individuals within the corporations which created them. Many of the greatest inventions in history have come from everyday people and not just from large corporations. Linux, as well as open source software in general, is part of a vast series of collaborations from everyday people from all over the world. It is amazing how far Linux has come since its inception in 1991, and it is exciting to think about the nearly endless possibilities the future may bring!While there are definite differences between Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, there are also surprisingly many similarities. For example, my USB flash drives are compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. I use Firefox and Chromium (the open source basis for Google Chrome) as my main Internet browsers, and surfing the web is basically the same experience whether in Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. I can take a document I originally created using the Windows version of Microsoft Word to work and edit it using MS Word on the iMac, and then bring it back home and edit the same document using Google Docs or LibreOffice in Linux.One important lesson I have learned is that some Linux distros / versions work better than others on any given computer hardware. Also, it has taken some time for me to better understand how to use the Linux terminal (where text commands may be entered) which somewhat resembles the old MS-DOS system. The terminal (a.k.a. console) is also found buried in the Unix-based Mac OS X, which can be considered a distantly related cousin to Linux. Using the Linux terminal has been a continual learning process for me, and by no means am I a master of it. One thing I should say is that the terminal is a very powerful tool in Linux, but it is not necessary for users to do anything with it in the most popular Linux distros because of the advanced graphical interfaces now found on them.
As a result of using Linux, I have become an open source software enthusiast who admires the work of true (beneficial) hackers. Probably to most people, the term “hacker” has negative connotations, which is largely the result of the misuse of this term. A “true” hacker is not someone who tries to break in to other people’s computers and steal things or commit other criminal acts. Instead, true hackers work to do good things with their talents, such as to create and improve open source software, like Linux for example. In short, true hackers build rather than destroy and give rather than steal. Click here to read an excellent article by Eric S. Raymond to learn more about what it takes to become a true hacker [1]. Additionally, Paul Graham has a nice description (click here to read it) of what it means to be a hacker [2].
The Glider from The Game of Life, which is a recognized symbol for true hackers and those who support their cause:
glider
For me, Linux started as a hobby and continues to be such. Click here to see which operating systems I currently use. Personally, I would like to thank the countless individuals from all over the world who have spent much of their time and resources to create and improve the hundreds of Linux distros and other open source software freely available to anyone! Also, I hope those who give Linux a try will find it to be as useful and enjoyable as I do!

A screenshot of a Linux terminal in SolydK:

Konsole screenshot


References:

1.    ^ “How to Become a Hacker.” http://catb.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html.
2.    ^ “The Word “Hacker.”” http://paulgraham.com/gba.html.


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