My Linux Experience


15th July 2001

I started using Linux in 1994. I bought a Yggdrasil distribution and attempted to install it. I failed completely. It wouldn't recognise the weird, cheap, clone cdrom drive I had. I then bought a Slackware distribution and tried that. Success. I sold the Yggdrasil distribution to a guy at work. I never heard if he had any success with it.

I installed that Slackware distribution of Linux on a separate partition, keeping Dos and Windows 3.1 on the primary partition. I soon deleted it. Linux was too complicated for me at that time. A month later I installed Slackware again and persevered a bit more. Then deleted it again. A few weeks later, I installed it again and persevered some more. This time, I got over the hump and I kept using it. I kept using Slackware for a few years, upgrading several more times. I finally ditched Slackware early in 1998, because of printing issues. Slackware switched from the old plain-vanilla Berkeley lpr system to a new implementation called lprng. This proved to be the right thing for Slackware, but at that time I had a homebrew printing solution wrapped around a proprietary typesetting system that I was using from work. Lpr worked fine with it, but lprng didn't. I need that typesetting solution for work, and I couldn't make lprng work with it. The typesetting system would output raw data from the printer and lprng would refuse to accept it. I could never get the two to successfully work together, so I abandoned Slackware and went to RedHat which still used lpr at the time.

So I went to RedHat in early 1998, and stayed with them till late 2000. I had no problems with RedHat 6.1 and all was well. Then I upgraded to RedHat 6.2 and PPP stopped working and networking stopped working. I suspect that it didn't like my hardware. I persevered and jerry-rigged PPP. I even tried Mandrake and succeeded in installing it at work but not at home. When I went to upgrade to RedHat 7.0, I tried it on all the machines at home, and failed absolutely. It would format the partitions, then tell me it couldn't find a script and I would be left with a totally erased hard disk system. I got wildly irritated with this and went online and ordered Slackware 7.1. What a delight that was. It installed straight away. I had to relearn lots of things and some things were much harder to set up than RedHat or Mandrake. Like sound. But I persevered and succeeded. PPP works. Networking works. It worked so well I was able to continue with my plans for a good home network. I'm still with Slackware in 2004 and I'll probably stay with Slackware. It's robust, it's clean, it's familiar and it's fun.

When I started using Linux for real, I would use it about 5% of the time. Now, I use Linux for almost everything. I go back to Dos/Windows only to play games and use the scanner. Sometime soon I will buy a SCSI or USB scanner that works well with Linux and that will reduce my Windows usage a bit more. I was using Windows 3.1 until late 1998. When Microsoft released Windows 98, I thought that was a good enough excuse to upgrade to Windows 95. It made it easier to play games without all the multiple boot configurations that I needed with the earlier versions. Also, I wanted to play Caesar III and Warlords 3 and I had to have Win 95 for them. So I play games with Windows, and do almost everything else with Linux.