My Linux Timeline
Let me disclose my interests and background as regards Linux straight off the bat here so that you where I'm coming from.
I've used Linux on and off for while now. The distributions I've installed & used in reverse-chronological order are:
- Debian Woody 3.0.
- Mandrake 7.2 GPL
- Mandrake 7.1 GPL
- Red Hat 6.2 GPL
- Mandrake 7.0 GPL
- Mandrake 6.0 GPL
- Red Hat 5.2 with bleeding-edge updates GPL
- Mandrake 5.1 GPL
- Red Hat 4.1 Official box set
- Used the Info Magic 4 CD sets for that came out roughly quarterly for yonks
- Yggdrasil (back in the days of the 0.99 & lower kernels)
Originally, I was interested in Linux because:
- I'm generally interested in all kinds of software, but especially new and interesting stuff.
- I was at that time studying computer science in a university, and as you might expect almost all their computers ran some flavour of UNIX. I wanted to avoid all of the bookings, limited hours & general hassle involved in using an institution's facilities, and replicate the software environment at home so that I could get my class work done as & when I wanted, on my own time & hardware.
I like Linux and open source in general, and I'm very glad that they exist. However, I'm not religious about Linux in the way that some people are. The fundamental reason for this is because of a dichotomy: My computer science background has taught me to appreciate and value elegant, open and robust software – but my experiences supporting software and beliefs about ease-of-use make me passionate about intuitive design and interfaces that a 7 year-old could use.
I find myself using both windows & Linux - windows more for office work (email, word processing, customer databases), and Linux more for the server-side work (web, database, mail & DNS servers) - this plays to the core competencies of these two products, so it seems an obvious way to work.
My preferred distribution is Mandrake Linux – for the simple reason that I believe it's the most advanced distribution in addressing what I consider a core Linux problem – namely ease-of-use. Updated: I've switched to Debian, after Mandrake had financial problems and the supported lifecycle of their products seemed to decrease to around 12 months, which is way too short for me. Debian is a community project, so it is basically devoid of the financial imperatives placed on a commercial company, plus their lifecycle seems to be running >= 2 years support for stable releases, with easy remote upgrades to new releases. The only downside is that their installer is pretty gross, but for an install-once server, they're great.