I’m going to date myself a bit with this, but this is okay. My first experience with computers was in a local store on an aisle display model. I was a lot younger back then. This high tech marvel for its day was a simple rudimentary computer, but hardly less appealing than the computers it sat nestled up to. You know, the ones carrying the name Macintosh with the pretty rainbow colored Apple logo showing on their monitor screens. It attracted me and, every time I went to this store, they were featuring this latest new thing in home personal computing and I would stand there for what seemed like hours playing with it. It was a Commodore 64, to be exact, and it was too expensive for someone like me, at the time, to be able to afford and actually bring home. This is back in the days of dBase and R:Base data management and Atari games, the early 1980’s. Boy, I sooo loved playing Atari as a young man! Back before the great revolution from cassette players, vinyl records, boxy game cartridges, and floppy disks to the latest and greatest new things – that of laser compact discs and those record size movie LaserDiscs, the latter being the predecessor to today’s DVDs.
It wouldn’t actually be until the early 1990’s that I was finally in a position, job wise, to actually be able to afford to get a computer. Yet, even in the 90’s, I still couldn’t afford owning something as fancy as a Macintosh, so I had to settle for second best. Yes, that is right, I went for their competitor’s more consumer affordable option, the IBM PC featuring Microsoft. With this at home on my table top, thus began my introduction into the world of the internet, and my in-depth indoctrination into the way Microsoft does things. With this at home on my table top, thus also began my next twenty-some years of frustrations with the very device I was so obsessively fascinated with. For years, I would go to it and use it and lose myself in it, and in the budding online internet world of Webrings and social websites filled with pages of links to web sites trying to get a piece of internet user’s attention. This is just during the time of Yahoo‘s and before Google‘s mighty triumphant rise to offer to the online world the advantages of search engine heaven and perfection. Back in the days when everybody who was anybody was on America Online (AOL). Especially, if he or she was Jewish!
Yes, my initial world of introduction to computers is a bit nostalgic, I agree. Back in the days where internet dial-up was all the rage, and one could not yet conceive of the speeds and data sizes of ethernet to telephone line based DSL modems, much less what we have now in the way of optic fiber lines and speeds so fast that most devices can’t keep up or just plain don’t need to. But, what all does this have to do with what I like most about Linux OS? Well, to keep the answer short, Linux has saved my nostalgia, so to speak. And has freed me from the mental binds and constant out-of-pocket expense from my frustratingly unhappy addiction to Microsoft computing. Yes, I was one of them, ever online any chance I got and, every time some little glitch would happen or a program would lock up, I was one of them – cursing to the heavens out loud over the crappiness of this computer experience thing. I’m not proud to admit it, but I’ve tossed a select few devices across the room in my day. Thus, ending unceremoniously my relationship with Microsoft based computers.
What made the change for me was for the first time taking Linux seriously as an OS option, and boy did I have a lot of cheap IBM based computers around to give them a try on. Sure, it would require me to have to relearn some basics in computers, that those of us familiar with the arrival days of Unix driven systems would need to know to properly operate it. But, Linux’s number one selling points to me was that it is completely free, downloadable online, fully open-source in near every way (from OS to applications), could be loaded onto and replace any computer OS via a compact disc or flash drive copy, and that by this time of my introduction to Linux came in varieties and multiple flavors of these varieties that it was a sure bet. I was bound to find something that works just right for me! Too many of them, in fact! Whether you are computer knowledgeable or not, and/or experienced in Linux or not, the Linux Operating System platform it is meant and designed for the User! Yes, I had to reference Tron somewhere in this, and I don’t apologize one bit.
There are two types of computer users in this world – those that like to be controlled, everything neatly put out before you in packages that you have to follow (exactly their way and in no other way, and pay them royally for it), and those that hate to be controlled, want to have a computer device (whether pc, tablet, or phone) than can be altered to do and fit the needs of the one using it (and, preferably, not have to pay a cent for it – outside the cost of internet service). I am the latter, and I want my tablet and phone to work just like and with all the functionality of a pc laptop or desktop. If it is any other way, then I am frustrated! So, for those of us who are this way, Linux is the obvious answer. There are varieties, each catering to the predominate needs of different types of computer users. There is Debian family based Linux OS’s such as Ubuntu and Linux Mint. There is SUSE family based Linux OS’s such as openSUSE and Gecko Linux. There is Fedora family based Linux OS’s such as CentOS and Berry Linux. Linux OS can be found in devices and places you least expect, from servers (openSUSE, centOS, Ubuntu) to desktops (Ubuntu, CentOs, openSUSE) to embedded OS’s (such as Android and Tizen). There is even a Linux Foundation educational arm that is given to educating anyone with an interest in the inner workings and nature of Linux operating systems. Their courses are worth checking out, closely! You can find them on edX.
These days, I no longer curse and swear at the computer. I no longer feel a compulsion to pick up this device and hurl it across the room at a wall. It no longer matters what device it is – Linux based, Apple based, or – even – Microsoft based. Yes, Linux has helped me to even appreciate once again the challenges of Microsoft. I will never go back to corporate proprietary paid for software ever again! I am free! Thanks to Linux, I am free! Free to explore, free to create, free to literally build my own computer (as many of them as I want!) from scratch – both the physical hardware and the software that we load on to it. Have I bothered to mention to you yet about Arch Linux? I’ve built me two of these already, and it’s okay that they are works in progress. And I am now once again happy in my experience of computing. More so, motivated to explore it further and discover what possible things that I could and might just do with it. By stepping into the geek world of Linux, I have opened so many more doors to me! My interests now range from device development, to OS manipulation, to all device friendly free web site design, and even application programming. The virtual online world is mine, for the creating and the doing! I am no longer the User but, rather, now the Creator!
Who knows just where I might take this? IT management of corporate systems? The next new rage and thing in modern computing? A business of my own focused on the spread of sustainable “high tech” technologies? In every aspect of life, computers somehow now have a part, and this will only continue to be more so in the future. With open source software, the options on what to do and how to do it are endless, and it only takes one step. Introduce yourself to the free world of Linux based operating systems, and all the next steps just seem to reveal themselves before you as options to consider. Happy computing!