Why did you start using Linux?

In today's open source roundup: What got you started with Linux? Plus: IBM's Linux only Mainframe. And why you should skip Windows 10 and go with Linux


Why did you start using Linux?

Linux has become quite popular over the years, with many users defecting to it from OS X or Windows. But have you ever wondered what got people started with Linux? A redditor asked that question and got some very interesting answers.

SilverKnight asked his question on the Linux subreddit:

I know this has been asked before, but I wanted to hear more from the younger generation why it is that they started using linux and what keeps them here.

I dont want to discourage others from giving their linux origin stories, because those are usually pretty good, but I was mostly curious about our younger population since there isn't much out there from them yet.

I myself am 27 and am a linux dabbler. I have installed quite a few different distros over the years but I haven't made the plunge to full time linux. I guess I am looking for some more reasons/inspiration to jump on the bandwagon.

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Fellow redditors in the Linux subreddit responded with their thoughts:

DoublePlusGood: "I started using Backtrack Linux (now Kali) at 12 because I wanted to be a "1337 haxor". I've stayed with Linux (Archlinux currently) because it lets me have the endless freedom to make my computer do what I want."

Zack: "I'm a Linux user since, I think, the age of 12 or 13, I'm 15 now.

It started when I got tired with Windows XP at 11 and the waiting, dammit am I impatient sometimes, but waiting for a basic task such as shutting down just made me tired of Windows all together.

A few months previously I had started participating in discussions in a channel on the freenode IRC network which was about a game, and as freenode usually goes, it was open source and most of the users used Linux.

I kept on hearing about this Linux but wasn't that interested in it at the time. However, because the channel (and most of freenode) involved quite a bit of programming I started learning Python.

A year passed and I was attempting to install GNU/Linux (specifically Ubuntu) on my new (technically old, but I had just got it for my birthday) PC, unfortunately it continually froze, for reasons unknown (probably a bad hard drive, or a lot of dust or something else...).

Back then I was the type to give up on things, so I just continually nagged my dad to try and install Ubuntu, he couldn't do it for the same reasons.

After wanting Linux for a while I became determined to get Linux and ditch windows for good. So instead of Ubuntu I tried Linux Mint, being a derivative of Ubuntu(?) I didn't have high hopes, but it worked!

I continued using it for another 6 months.

During that time a friend on IRC gave me a virtual machine (which ran Ubuntu) on their server, I kept it for a year a bit until my dad got me my own server.

After the 6 months I got a new PC (which I still use!) I wanted to try something different.

I decided to install openSUSE.

I liked it a lot, and on the same Christmas I obtained a Raspberry Pi, and stuck with Debian on it for a while due to the lack of support other distros had for it."

Cqz: "Was about 9 when the Windows 98 machine handed down to me stopped working for reasons unknown. We had no Windows install disk, but Dad had one of those magazines that comes with demo programs and stuff on CDs. This one happened to have install media for Mandrake Linux, and so suddenly I was a Linux user. Had no idea what I was doing but had a lot of fun doing it, and although in following years I often dual booted with various Windows versions, the FLOSS world always felt like home. Currently only have one Windows installation, which is a virtual machine for games."

Tosmarcel: "I was 15 and was really curious about this new concept called 'programming' and then I stumbled upon this Harvard course, CS50. They told users to install a Linux vm to use the command line. But then I asked myself: "Why doesn't windows have this command line?!". I googled 'linux' and Ubuntu was the top result -> Ended up installing Ubuntu and deleted the windows partition accidentally... It was really hard to adapt because I knew nothing about linux. Now I'm 16 and running arch linux, never looked back and I love it!"

Micioonthet: "First heard about Linux in the 5th grade when I went over to a friend's house and his laptop was running MEPIS (an old fork of Debian) instead of Windows XP.

Turns out his dad was a socialist (in America) and their family didn't trust Microsoft. This was completely foreign to me, and I was confused as to why he would bother using an operating system that didn't support the majority of software that I knew.

Fast forward to when I was 13 and without a laptop. Another friend of mine was complaining about how slow his laptop was, so I offered to buy it off of him so I could fix it up and use it for myself. I paid $20 and got a virus filled, unusable HP Pavilion with Windows Vista. Instead of trying to clean up the disgusting Windows install, I remembered that Linux was a thing and that it was free. I burned an Ubuntu 12.04 disc and installed it right away, and was absolutely astonished by the performance.

Minecraft (one of the few early Linux games because it ran on Java), which could barely run at 5 FPS on Vista, ran at an entirely playable 25 FPS on a clean install of Ubuntu.

I actually still have that old laptop and use it occasionally, because why not? Linux doesn't care how old your hardware is.

I since converted my dad to Linux and we buy old computers at lawn sales and thrift stores for pennies and throw Linux Mint or some other lightweight distros on them."

Webtm: "My dad had every computer in the house with some distribution on it, I think a couple with OpenSUSE and Debian, and his personal computer had Slackware on it. So I remember being little and playing around with Debian and not really getting into it much. So I had a Windows laptop for a few years and my dad asked me if I wanted to try out Debian. It was a fun experience and ever since then I've been using Debian and trying out distributions. I currently moved away from Linux and have been using FreeBSD for around 5 months now, and I am absolutely happy with it.

The control over your system is fantastic. There are a lot of cool open source projects. I guess a lot of the fun was figuring out how to do the things I want by myself and tweaking those things in ways to make them do something else. Stability and performance is also a HUGE plus. Not to mention the level of privacy when switching."

Wyronaut: "I'm currently 18, but I first started using Linux when I was 13. Back then my first distro was Ubuntu. The reason why I wanted to check out Linux, was because I was hosting little Minecraft game servers for myself and a couple of friends, back then Minecraft was pretty new-ish. I read that the defacto operating system for hosting servers was Linux.

I was a big newbie when it came to command line work, so Linux scared me a little, because I had to take care of a lot of things myself. But thanks to google and a few wiki pages I managed to get up a couple of simple servers running on a few older PC's I had lying around. Great use for all that older hardware no one in the house ever uses.

After running a few game servers I started running a few web servers as well. Experimenting with HTML, CSS and PHP. I worked with those for a year or two. Afterwards, took a look at Java. I made the terrible mistake of watching TheNewBoston video's.

So after like a week I gave up on Java and went to pick up a book on Python instead. That book was Learn Python The Hard Way by Zed A. Shaw. After I finished that at the fast pace of two weeks, I picked up the book C++ Primer, because at the time I wanted to become a game developer. Went trough about half of the book (~500 pages) and burned out on learning. At that point I was spending a sickening amount of time behind my computer.

After taking a bit of a break, I decided to pick up JavaScript. Read like 2 books, made like 4 different platformers and called it a day.

Now we're arriving at the present. I had to go through the horrendous process of finding a school and deciding what job I wanted to strive for when I graduated. I ruled out anything in the gaming sector as I didn't want anything to do with graphics programming anymore, I also got completely sick of drawing and modelling. And I found this bachelor that had something to do with netsec and I instantly fell in love. I picked up a couple books on C to shred this vacation period and brushed up on some maths and I'm now waiting for the new school year to commence.

Right now, I am having loads of fun with Arch Linux, made couple of different arrangements on different PC's and it's going great!

In a sense Linux is what also got me into programming and ultimately into what I'm going to study in college starting this september. I probably have my future life to thank for it."

Linuxllc: "You also can learn from old farts like me.

The crutch, The crutch, The crutch. Getting rid of the crutch will inspired you and have good reason to stick with Linux.

I got rid of my crutch(Windows XP) back in 2003. Took me only 5 days to get all my computer task back and running at a 100% workflow. Including all my peripheral devices. Minus any Windows games. I just play native Linux games."

Highclass: "Hey I'm 28 not sure if this is the age group you are looking for.

To be honest, I was always interested in computers and the thought of a free operating system was intriguing even though at the time I didn't fully grasp the free software philosophy, to me it was free as in no cost. I also did not find the CLI too intimidating as from an early age I had exposure to DOS.

I believe my first distro was Mandrake, I was 11 or 12, I messed up the family computer on several occasions.... I ended up sticking with it always trying to push myself to the next level. Now I work in the industry with Linux everyday.


Matto: "My computer couldn't run fast enough for XP (got it at a garage sale), so I started looking for alternatives. Ubuntu came up in Google. I was maybe 15 or 16 at the time. Now I'm 23 and have a job working on a product that uses Linux internally."

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