How did you get started with Linux?

Also in today’s open source roundup: Playing Android games on a Chromebook, and the NES Classic has been hacked to run a custom Linux distro

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How did you get started with Linux?

Linux has been around for quite a long time now, and there are always new folks finding their way to it. One Linux redditor recently asked how his fellow users got into Linux, and some of their answers are quite interesting.

Dabazinga started the thread:

I’m a high school senior trying to aim for an IT career, so I’m trying to get into Linux a little more, it’s definitely going to take some time getting used to.

I’m curious, how did you guys get into Linux?

More at Reddit

His fellow Linux redditors shared stories about how they first discovered Linux:

Toadfury: Back in liike 1993 before Windows95 came out I was kicking around on DOS/Windows 3.1 and being a command line monster I was blown away by COLORED BASH OUTPUT (holy shit!).

For years I would dual boot, or just be regularly reformatting/re-installing to go back and forth from Windows to Linux.

In 1997 I randomly got a job working for a dialup ISP that only used Linux. I went full time on using Linux and its been my primary driver for many years until the last few months. Something that kept me on Linux during this time was theme development for Enlightenment DR16. Mac OSX had not yet come out and Linux was by far the prettiest OS on the block at the time.

So what got me into Linux? Believe it or not, it was eye candy and freedom.

Wee0x1b: Needed a web server, Linux was at hand since I had the floppies already.

Dustractor: My roommate in college. He was a child prodigy. He started building and selling computers ~ age 9 and by age 16 he was not only the network administrator for his high-school but also twelve others in the surrounding area. His "home setup" was a sprawling network where nearly every room including the bathroom had a functioning computer. He could change the music in any room from any other room. Shit like that in the early nineties was unheard of in [small America town] and so there were lots of us who just hung out and watched over his shoulder while he did mundane stuff.

I think the thing that finally got me was when I had a paper saved on a floppy disk that got corrupted in one of the public lab computers and he took the disk over to his house and saved the day with the strings command. probably in retrospect something like cat /dev/fd0 | strings

Daemonpenguin: I got into Linux by putting in my username and password. rimshot

In all seriousness, I was learning Unix in college and was looking for a free/trial copy of Solaris to play with in my spare time in order to improve my skills/grade. This was several years before OpenSolaris was available. Someone recommended I look at Linux and it filled the role nicely.

Comrade Jim: Windows 7 didn’t properly support my graphics. I upgraded my shitty laptop from XP, so I could get window transparency, but it said my graphics card didn’t support transparency and it ran like shit. I couldn’t really put XP back on it so I installed Ubuntu and then realized Linux could handle transparency and even desktop cubes and ran better than windows. Since then I’ve been running Linux. When I use windows it feels like a chore.

AlembicBeatsFbx: I make vfx for movies. Most big studios including the one I recently worked at use Linux. Got to know Linux there, liked it more than Windows and switched on my personal computers as well.

Allevil669: I was unhappy with the hardware support in FreeBSD, so I tried Linux (Slackware at first), on the recommendation of a friend. This would have been 1998–1999 ish.

Dashack: Read few things about it, I thought it is time to learn it. Just downloaded and installed Ubuntu edgy. It seemed different and I liked it. Also, I tried to learn how it is different than windows, in the meantime I learned about operating systems in general. I don’t know if my computer science classes helped to learn linux, or linux helped me learn them. But here I am, using various distributions, desktop environments just for fun. Also, for development, it is very easy to setting things up. I like it.

Gimpy1405: I kept having problems with Windows. It wouldn’t let me into my own files that were effectively marooned on a second drive that I had previously had no problem using. I had not changed anything. Somehow, permissions looked to be messed up. I couldn’t figure out how to my files from within Windows. I remembered that there were rescue discs with their own built in OS so the one could go back into an ailing machine and fix junk without using Windows. Then, I got the notion that maybe I could use a Linux live disc to do same.

The live Linux session allowed me to move those files to my primary disc where they worked fine. I had never touched Linux before. It was a distro in German, but the interface was so obvious that even a non German-reading, non-programmer, me, was able to find a file manager utility and use it. When I moved later, to a new computer, I set up for dual boot, found Linux pretty easy for day-to-day use, and soon deleted the Windows partition.

Thedugong: Got ADSL in 2003. My flatmate used to use my dialup account. No longer could. Had an old P75, so I thought I’d set it up as a router so we could share the internet connection again. Linux came in handy for that. Switched to it as a client OS within 6 months.

More at Reddit

Playing Android games on a Chromebook

Since Google succeeded in letting users run Android apps on Chromebooks, a whole new world is beginning to open up for Chromebook gamers. Now that they have access to Android games, Chromebook users can have tons of fun on their devices.

Robby Payne reports for Chrome Unboxed:

… we are seeing the emergence of a worthy, large-screen platform for Android gaming in Chromebooks. And it is awesome.

The processing power in Chromebooks is more than capable of handling any game made for Android. With a built-in controller in the trackpad/keyboard and the ability to use any bluetooth controller with games that choose to support them, Chromebooks now become a completely viable gaming platform for Android game developers to aim for.

In my testing, most games run just fine on my Acer R11. And for games that support controllers out of the box, those games recognize the controller just like they would when run on a phone or tablet. It would be a fantastic opportunity for developers to grab ahold of and begin targeting Chromebooks as an audience in 2017.

We should see the Play Store in the Stable Channel and out of Beta in the next month, so the real roots of this change will just be beginning at that point.

More at Chrome Unboxed

NES Classic hacked to run a custom Linux distro

Nintendo’s popular new NES Classic lets you run 30 great games from the past. The system runs on Linux, but now a Japanese hacker has figured out a way to install a custom Linux distribution on the NES Classic.

Sam Mackovech reports for Ars Technica:

While a few enterprising hackers have posted about connecting a serial cable to the motherboard and trying to install their own kernels, one Japanese hacker pulled it off—and posted a guide explaining how he did so. (If you really care, he also posted the entire bootlog from his first successful boot.)

The explanation, from a hacker who goes by the handle urandom, is currently written in Japanese, but thanks to Google Translate we can understand it to some extent. Using a serial-to-USB cable, urandom powered the device (in his case, the Japan-only Famicom Mini, which has an identical motherboard) using U-Boot loader software and then extracted necessary files in FEL mode that he needed to attach to his own kernel.

Though his kernel is working, urandom’s Linux boot appears to be incredibly limited at this point. And his efforts do not appear to be aimed at extracting emulator files or adding new game files to the existing NES emulator installed in the system. Considering the hoops he and other hackers are jumping through to access and run a custom OS on a low-cost, low-powered, Android-minded system-on-chip, the appeal appears to hinge largely on the fact that this is a closed Nintendo device.

More at Ars Technica

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