This question has come up in social circles and with customers and colleagues alike over the years so I figured I would share a little insight into why I like Linux, use Linux and promote Linux at every opportunity. For me, Linux is not just about getting things done and it is not because I am a cheap bastard (although that definitely contributes). For me, Linux is about Freedom.
Freedom is something that we as a society in the Western Hemisphere take for granted all too often. Sure we role out the red carpet for veterans and we sing National Anthems at sporting events but for the most part, we enjoy the Freedom that others provided for us without really taking a look at the why or the how we got that Freedom. For me it is the same way with computers.
A Brief History of Linux
If we take a look at the “History of Linux“, the 23 year saga of the pet project of Linus Torvalds all started with a famous post on a Usenet newsgroup (I remember those days back in the early 90s when the Internet was all about text) has grown into a movement that has gone from one guy to thousands of contributors around the globe building hundreds of different iterations of the same dream that meet specific design, experience or functional requirements.
Linux today is at the heart of everything from Android Smart Phones and Tablets to the Routers and Firewalls that keep our Internet Running. Web Servers and even your set top box that many use to watch Cable TV can be found with their hearts running one version of Linux or another. It is a fairly safe statement to say that there are well over 1 Billion Linux Powered devices roaming around the world today and most people don’t even know that they are using a Free and Open Source Code to make their calls, change TV Channels or write their next blog post.
Linux for Me
Back in 2003, my family and I were living in Kanata, ON (a suburb of Ottawa) and I was walking through a Zellers store on the hunt for deals when I came across the bargain bin of Software. Looking through this giant tub of generally crappy Windows Games and Productivity software I notices this strange boxed set of Caldera Linux (which I later found out was part of the whole SCO controversy of the 2000’s). I took it home and did my very first install of a Linux OS on my now 6 year old Packard Bell D160. To my amazement the system that I paid just $2 for enabled me to do all the things that I could with my Windows 98 system that was due to be replaced by Windows XP but that was going to cost me $199 and that was not going to fly for me.
It was because of this $2 purchase that I started to look deeper into the world of Linux. I started to search around the Internet (as it had now progressed to being “high speed” and I was grabbing files at a blazing speed with my DSL service through Sympatico and later through Cable Internet with Rogers. My world was changing very, very quickly.
In 2005 we moved from Ottawa to London, ON and I found a job working as a Technical Support Agent at a local call centre. I now had 2 years of Linux usage under my belt and I had found a true passion in late 2004, it was called Ubuntu Linux and it had the simplicity and interesting tag line of “Linux for Human Beings”.
With each release I would send away for my allotment of FREE CDs of all the flavours and I would distribute them out to friends and colleagues. I was acting as a one man marketing department for an Operating System that I was enamoured with:
I am constantly evolving my tastes and have been on a quest to find the “perfect Operating Environment” for me when it comes to how I like to use, build and function with the Bits and Bytes that have become a very important part of my life.
I typically test out 3-4 different versions of Linux each week (one becoming an OS Sunday review) and have found myself fip flopping back to the same OSes over and over again. I truly think that Linux as a concept has helped define who I am as a Geek and the Ubuntu Tatoo above is not the only homage to my geekiness that I have:
There are moments of Clarity and Self Discovery that my quest for the best Operating System have provided for me. I have had the pleasure to meet some very interesting people over the years because of it but more than anything else, Linux had given me Freedom of Choice, a few Grey Hairs and over a decade of interesting times.