How did you get started with Linux?

Celebrating Penguin Awareness Day with stories about the moment we learned about Linux.
218 readers like this
218 readers like this

The Linux mascot is a penguin named Tux, so we thought it appropriate to celebrate Penguin Awareness Day for the conservation of penguin habitats and talk a little bit (more) about Linux.

A few fun penguin facts: These furry creatures are flightless yet part of the bird family. Some are large, like the Emperor penguin, and some are small, like those found in New Zealand. And, the Gentoo penguin is known to swim up to a speed of 21 miles per hour!

Now, for the Linux bit. I asked our writer community to describe the moment they learned about Linux or the moment they got it up on running on their machine. Here's what they shared.


Simon Pincus, VP of Engineering at Opengear

From my perspective, there was a significant turning point in the market’s acceptance of Linux in 2008. As a development manager, my teams had, naturally, been making use of various distributions for some years as development and test environments. But from a sales and marketing perspective, we had achieved little traction in convincing customers to use Linux with our applications in production. That changed remarkably quickly and, personally, there was a single meeting with a customer that made me realize the winds had shifted.

I was meeting with the CTO of a major telco in Europe. I was presenting technical architecture of an application and had launched into recommended environments. As always I started by recommending Linux and turned immediately to my defense of the stability, security, reliability of the platform for mission-critical applications (a presentation that was generally met with blank stares).

The CTO interrupted me and said "no need to convince me of any of that: we're going to use Linux heavily from this point onwards. Just tell me how soon we can get it." At that moment I knew the battle was over!


Chris Hermansen, Community Moderator, Community Engagement Consultant

In the fall of 2005, I still had a Sun Workstation on my desk at work, but my family was preparing for a year away, and since I was going to continue working, I decided to buy a big, fast laptop for my computing needs. It turned out to be a very nice Toshiba running Windows XP, but even with MinGW installed, I found after a couple of months I wasn't getting the kind of productive environment I needed.

I had tried Linux before, but I always returned to my trusty Sun—mostly because PC hardware wasn't that great back in the 90s. But this time, I wasn't going to have the Sun as an option, so I downloaded a newish distro called Ubuntu and installed it on my laptop. And on that decent hardware, to my surprise, I not only found Linux to be really good, but I also found the ensemble to be way better than my Sun. It was a better GNOME experience, it had a way better and more up-to-date package selection, and was often faster. So, not only did I replace Windows, but I also moved on from Solaris.

When I returned from our year away, I ordered a new Dell desktop for my office and installed Linux on it. I've never looked back.


Jay LaCroix, IT Director

I got started with Linux in 2002 at a community college that was doing a pilot Linux class. I was so infatuated that I read the textbook completely before the first day of class. Each student was given their own hard drive to install Linux on, and we treated the installation as our own and maintained/improved it throughout the class.



Later on, I was asked to activate my copy of Windows XP after I'd reinstalled it too many times, which offended me. It was my computer, and I was basically locked out of the machine and unable to log in until I called Microsoft and verified my installation. Considering my newfound knowledge of Linux from the class I took, I decided to install Red Hat Linux and learn how to use it as my daily OS. I enjoyed having complete freedom on my machine without having to deal with licensing or activation. I've since moved to Fedora, then to Debian, and now to Ubuntu (and several in between).


Maxim Burgerhout, Senior Solution Architect and Part-time Evangelist

I got started with Linux right before the turn of the century when I was in law school and worked part-time in a local computer store. We actually sold boxed Red Hat Linux, which was my first distro. Shortly after, I switched to working part-time for the university as a teaching assistant. This was around 1999 or 2000, I think. I started using Linux full-time on the desktop around that time, switching between every conceivable distribution known to man, just to learn as much of it as possible.



Part of my job as a teaching assistant was to explain what the internet was to other law students (remember, this is almost 20 years ago!). During my classes, I largely regurgitated what I had learned from downloading, installing, configuring and running Linux. Linux was nowhere near as polished as it is today, but it was a great way to get your hands dirty and learn how computers really work. And it still is!


Scott Nesbitt, Community Moderator, Writer of Stuff

While Linux had been on my radar since around 1994, for a handful of reasons I never gave it a try. That all changed in 1999, when my computer running Windows 98 crashed, taking a whole lot of work with it. A couple of days later, I was at a Staples office supply store and saw a boxed copy of Caldera OpenLinux on sale. I decided to lay out $20 and give it a try.

Around that time, my wife got a new desktop computer so I grabbed her old one, slipped the installation CD into the drive, and within 20 or 30 minutes I had a working desktop. Since then, I haven't looked back. No more worrying about licenses or expensive software. I can focus on getting things done. Over the years, I've upgraded and salvaged a number of desktops and laptops (both my own and those belonging to friends) using Linux.


Bertrand Delacretaz, Principal Scientist at Adobe, Member and Director of the Apache Software Foundation

I started with Unix back in 1985. (I sense the #oldfart hashtag coming.)

My first serious Linux project was in 2004 when we created a Linux-based video player and multimedia kiosk for an exhibition that toured Switzerland for several years. The users manual for the set of players and kiosks was written to explain how to turn the power on in the morning and turn it off in the evening. The operators were not expected to have a clue about Linux or computers, and having to travel to fix these things would have killed our tight budget.

Creating such a robust, turnkey system with large disks for the media (so not really embedded) was a serious challenge at that time. But, it worked beautifully with almost no service calls during the multi-year exhibition tour. Getting high-quality playback of digital video was also challenging back then, but the building blocks approach of Linux meant we could get everything right and create a heavily-customized system that did a great job.

That's when I realized Linux was here to stay.


Steve Morris, Director of Information Technology at Ambrose University

My discovery of Linux happened in the early 90s. I had a shell account with a local ISP and had to research Unix to figure out how to use it. Through a search engine, I learned more about Linux, specifically Slackware. My first install was either via floppy disks or CD-ROM, but I do remember clearly and fondly the moment after saying out loud: "Great! Now what?"


Thomas Hamilton, Technical Support Engineer at Red Hat

I went to college in 2003, which meant I needed a new laptop. It came with Windows XP. These were the early years where some laptops could boot from USB and some could not.

Over the next few years, my CD/DVD drive quit working, so I just got an external one for the times I needed to use it. No biggie. Eventually, though, Windows gave out. There was no optical drive to boot from, and USB isn't a bootable option on this laptop. I tried removing the hard drive, installing it in another computer, installing XP on it from there, and putting it back in the laptop. To no ones surprise who has tinkered with Windows, this didn't work.

I had heard of Linux and had briefly used it in my computer science classes (a pre-enterprise version of Red Hat Linux), and happened to stumble across some live distros that I could download (for free, legally) and try out. These were Knoppix and Puppy, if I remember correctly. These were cool, but they weren't full installs and still didn't let me use my laptop. The breakthrough came with gOS, a variation of Ubuntu 8.04. It was pretty, it ran well, and the live image also let me install it. Remember how Windows can't be installed on one computer and then moved to another? Well, Linux can!

I was able to take the hard drive back out, put it in another computer, install gOS, put it back on my laptop, and it worked. I still dual-booted various Linux distros over the years with different versions of Windows on several other computers for the next few years, but thanks to gOS I saved me a few hundred dollars on a new computer that I otherwise didn't need to spend money on as a broke college student. I knew there were other (better) alternatives to Windows out there, and I have now been Windows-free for nearly 8 years. It just gets better and better.


Jim Hall, Creator of FreeDOS

I was a university student at the time and frequently used the Unix computer labs on campus to run data analysis programs for my physics labs. I used DOS on my home computer, but using those big Unix systems had spoiled me, and I wanted more. I began to look around the discussion groups, and someone mentioned this new thing called "Linux." It was a Unix-like operating system, but it ran on PCs. I could run it on my '386 computer.

I was immediately attracted to a free Unix-like system that I could run at home, without having to dial into the campus computer network all the time.

I installed SoftLanding Systems Linux 1.03 from a stack of floppies! I don't even think there was a CDROM option at the time. SLS 1.03 came with Linux kernel 0.99 alpha patch level 11 and required a whopping 2MB of RAM, or 4MB if you wanted to compile programs, and 8MB to run X Windows. It worked great! After booting Linux for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to find familiar tools: awk and sed to manipulate files, less and cat to examine files, and GNU Emacs for editing. For more advanced work, I had gnuplot to display data, gcc to write my own utilities in C, and f2c to write custom data analysis tools in FORTRAN.

I graduated in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in physics, but using Linux started my career as a Unix systems administrator. I never looked back.


Peter Czanik, Syslog-ng Evangelist

The first time I encountered Linux was when I entered university in 1994. I went to the faculty IT department asking for an email address when not even teachers received one automatically. When I got the email address I was also invited to be part of the student volunteer group at IT. At first, I got user access to a FreeBSD server, but soon I got the task of installing Linux on a spare box. It was Slackware from many floppy disks on an i386 with four megabytes of RAM.

Soon I had Linux up and running also on my home machine. At the time it was only my secondary OS and I still used Windows as my desktop. I tried a few distributions, installing them both at home and on my university server: Red Hat Linux, Debian, and then Jurix, which you have most likely never heard of.

Jurix was a one-man show, a rolling distro with a strong focus on security. And I really needed that: Foreign students of the university were constantly attacking our servers, but as they were paying students, they could not be punished. Soon, Jurix became the basis of S.u.S.E Linux, and I have been using it as my primary desktop OS ever since, surviving its name changes from SuSE, to SUSE, and now finally to openSUSE.


Rachel Kelly, Cloud and FOSS Enthusiast

Looking back, my relationship with Linux now is obvious. My pops was an early adopter of home computers, and my two brothers have been programmers all their lives. I was very fortunate that it was always around. Until 2010, however, when I began volunteering in the Build program at Free Geek, I had had only limited direct exposure. In Build, I was one of many volunteers taught to build Linux computers for other volunteers who had met hour requirements in the recycling center, and for Free Geek's storefront. To move up from level to level, you, with support, teach the incoming cohort what you have learned. This model of instruction by empowerment is one I hope to take with me always. And, getting to know Ubuntu 10.04 was such a gift, with even a skosh of a command line. 

Several years later, I found myself using these skills during my Introduction to Python class when I returned to university as an adult. A woman in my class told me about PyLadies, the international meetup for women Python programmers. It was there that I studied enough bash to use the command line comfortably, then learned Python in order to develop several projects in service to finding my first job after completing my degree. It was an internship that gave me a serious view into so many levels of a modern tech stack.

Finally, after four years of using a Mac at work, I have made the full-time switch for my work and personal projects to Linux, specifically Kubuntu (though I've enjoyed Unity, Mint, Fedora, and even took a whirl with Kali). I love its accessibility, package availability, and terrific desktop environment. The ethics of freedom in the Linux community, and the people who work so hard to make this a welcoming place are invaluable to me and to us all. I just hope to be able to return the favor.

Open source community shoutouts to PyLadies PDX and SeaGL!


Spencer Hunley, Contracted Support Specialist

My Linux journey started when I was in college, still struggling to maintain a Windows XP system on an older laptop. In one of my basic tech classes the professor booted up Red Hat Linux for us one day, and I was immediately interested. Up until that point I had never heard of any other operating systems, free/open source or otherwise, that didn't come pre-installed on new computers. I visited him in his office after class and he took the time to show me Ubuntu, he even ran it live on my laptop. I couldn't believe something so substantial didn't have a price tag associated with it.

Soon after, I dual-booted my system, but mostly ran in Ubuntu; it felt brand new, with more control than I've ever had. As I discovered more, tried other distros, messed with various parts (sometimes learning from breaking things and having to fix them), I moved entirely to Linux. Locally, I've held a few casual seminars about Linux for those who are curious, looking to refresh their old hardware, or just want an operating system that stays out of their way and adapts to them, not the other way around. Without Linux, I wouldn't be where I am today.


Share your Linux story with us in the comments.

Jen leads a team of community managers for the Digital Communities team at Red Hat. She lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughters, June and Jewel.

22 Comments

Great article. I loved all the stories of how each person came to use Linux and why they continue to.

Ma première expérience Linux à commencé en 2015. J'ai reçu un Lenovo b5070 avec windows 8. Il faut dire que ce premier pc a fortement stimule ma curiosité pour les ordinateurs personnels. J'allais souvent au cybercafé du quartier pour télécharger et essayer de nouveau logiciel. À cette époque, je voyais des pubs sur internet qui parlaient d'ubuntu. Mais je n'y prêtait attention, jusqu'au jour où , piqué par ma curiosité habituelle, je décidai d'en savoir plus. Ce qui m'a particulièrement émerveillé, c'était sa gratuité, la possibilité du dualboot et la possibilité du live boot avec usb. J'ai aussitôt téléchargé Ubuntu et sans trop de préparation, j'ai tenté le dualboot qui a mal tourné, laissant mon disque dur inutilisable. J'ai cherché de l'aide en ligne et je suis tombé sur le blog d'un utilisateur Ubuntu, que j'ai aussitôt Contacté par téléphone. Mais, il n'a pas pu décanter la situation. J'ai dû me résoudre à acheter un autre disque dur, et cette j'ai oublié le dualbooting en allant droit au but. Ce fut le début d'une aventure avec Ubuntu et le monde merveilleux du logiciel libre. Aujourd'hui, j'ai un Lenovo v110 en dualboot fedora29 windows 10, mon vieux Lenovo b5070 avec Linux mint 19.04 et un Desktop HP g280 tournant sous Ubuntu 18.04. en somme, je suis ravi et fière d'avoir tenté l'expérience GNU Linux. Je compte, à présent, créer une salle informatique entièrement dédié à Ubuntu pour initier les élèves de mon collège, afin de les initier au monde merveilleux de GNU Linux.

What no-one seems to mention here is the hell that Microsoft unleashed with MSDOS/WIndows and the associated segmentation problems with coding on them. A work colleague told me about it in early 93 and I gave him a hard drive and he used 32 (IIRC) floppies to install Yggdrasil on it with a .95 kernel on it. My 50Mhz 486 suddenly became a computer I could write code on that would not mysteriously misbehave and the X window meant my monitor was 4 times larger. I worked out how to install it on a 16Mhz 386 machine that I set to self test and forgot about for over 6 months until one day I found it still running in the depths of my attic, On turning the monitor I was amazed to discover there were no faults!
I had been a Windows NT beta tester but I dropped MS soon after.

What no-one seems to mention here is the hell that Microsoft unleashed with MSDOS/WIndows

It's not stated directly, but the implication underpinning of many stories in this article (including my own) is that we switched to Linux to escape that hell you talked about.

In reply to by madtom1999

> I worked out how to install it on a 16Mhz 386 machine that I set to self test and forgot about for over 6 months until one day I found it still running in the depths of my attic, On turning the monitor I was amazed to discover there were no faults!

That's terrific! The stability and the ability to render ancient hardware usable were big draws for me.

In reply to by madtom1999

Hi. I first tried GNU/Linux in early 2007 - a Knoppix live CD. In Feb-2008, I installed Ubuntu 7.10 and dual booted with Windows XP. Before the years end, I wiped XP and had only Ubuntu on my HDD. I loved Gnome2. I switched to Linux Mint a few years later and in Oct-2016, I jumped to Debian 8 Jessie with the MATE desktop environment. I am very happy with Debian Stable + backports + flatpaks.

My entry into the world of Linux came in November of 1991 thanks to Erik "Erat" Ratcliffe. He gave me a copy of HJ Lu's boot/root floppies (5.25" floppy floppies). From there I went through MCC Interim, TAMU 2A, Yggdrasil, SLS, Slackware, Red Hat, then Fedora.

Ah, memories.

I earned two Associate Degrees in Computer Science at a local community college, and in the 3 years that took, never once was Linux mentioned. I did get a copy of Wordperfect Linux, and was able to install it, but at the time it was beyond all but a programming Guru to get printers or Internet access working in that version. Still, I never forgot Linux.
A few years later, a friend and I decided to try Linux again. We found that installation and desktop managers in Linux had improved greatly. So had installing printer drivers, and networking. We both ended up with dual boot systems with Kanotix and Windows eventually. From looking at file creation dates, this was early 2007. I was impressed with the amount and quality of the free software available for Linux, and the repository system Debian based distributions used. After using several Linux distributions, I now use KDE Neon. I have tried Gnome (several versions and forks) and other Desktop Environments, but KDE has remained head and shoulders above the rest for its configuration options.
I dual booted with XP Pro, and later with Win 7 Pro until a few years ago. Since then, I have been Windows Free and haven't looked back!

I love articles like this. It allows people to see some commonality, and also appreciation for those that have come before us. I dabbled with Ubuntu when it was 9 point (something) (2007-ish). I liked the idea. I liked it a lot! However, I just couldn't get it to work the way I wanted. It wasn't until later (2015) that I stopped dual-booting Linux and Windows and went full Linux. I've distro-hopped, and I'm glad I have. I like making things mine, and I also like a system that understands my needs and equipment out of the gate. After spending a lot of time on Antergos, I switched to Manjaro with the Xfce Desktop Environment. I'm into writing, graphics and podcasting. This particular Distro/DE combination is perfect for my needs and my equipment. And, it still allows me enough "tinkering" room to understand Linux more. This is such a liberating experience since I'm totally opposed to the Customer As The Product paradigm. I use a combination of FOSS and proprietary software. I simply love how things just work! Again, great article, Jen! Thanks for the time you put into this.

Great article, my first ever taste of Linux was back in 2009 (during elementary school) with Ubuntu 9.10 and VirtualBox. After that, I read a post about another venerable distro known as Fedora and installed it (version 12)

First real Linux experience, that was in 2012 (during junior high school years) with Ubuntu 12.04 in my old laptop. During this period I've distro-hopped with Debian, Fedora, Bodhi, Sabayon, OpenSUSE, and finally settled with Manjaro Linux in 2013.

Using Manjaro was a huge step in my Linux experience beyond the realm of APT and Yum. Pacman is the beast and you can add the AUR for even more great software. I love rolling-release which is always up-to-date.

In 2017 I'm moved to mainline Arch Linux, still running solid now.

when I readed "I started with Unix back in 1985. .....",
then "oh my god...."
LOL

I started with Linux (Red Hat 5) in 1993. Since then I have been using Fedora since Fedora 1. Prior to Linux I used IBM OS2. I've always worked with Mainframe since 1977 and started with Unix in 1988 (AIX). At work I work on Red Hat Enterprise and SUSE.

My dad was a mainframer from the days of keypunch machines and 1403 printers spewing green-bar, up through 3270 emulation on his desktop PC (and an APL character set ROM! :) ). I lit up my old work laptop with Hercules running under linux, IPL'ed MVT, and handed it to him with an x3270 window showing anTSO READY prompt, and blew his mind. He couldn't build a linux box fast enough after that! :D

In reply to by Chris Liebenberg (not verified)

It was about 8 years ago, I was 68 years old, new to computers, running on Windows XP, wanted a good typing program and could not afford Ms. Office. So a relative told me to try Open Office.

I Googled around, found what I thought I was looking for and then unwittingly wiped my Windows system and installed a Linux OS.

In the process I obviously lost some stuff but I survived and have never looked back. Am currently running on Ubuntu 16.04 Unity and loving it!

Back in 1993 I was tasked with setting up a DNS server for my department at UF. No WAY was I gonna do that on a DOS machine, and we didn't have the cash for a Sun workstation. I'd bumped into minix in class, and from there found linux. I built that nameserver on a spare Dell 486 machine and SLS (which I think *really* stood for "Stacks-of-floppies Loading Slowly") with a 0.99.8 kernel. That DNS box ran pretty much unmolested except for periodic kernel updates for over a DECADE.

I started using linux as my desktop OS in the fall of 96. I'd gotten a new job and one of the "come work for us!" perqs was a shiny new PPro200 box with NT 4.0 on it. I also had a cobbled together 486 running linux (Redhat 4.something). I was rebooting the NT box at least once a week, sometimes much more frequently depending on what I was doing, but the linux box hardly ever got a reboot. Finally I up and swapped things around - the NT build went on the crummy 486 in case I needed it, and linux moved to the big PPro. Ever since I've run linux at work and at home. I went from RH to Mandrake to Slackware to Ubuntu to now Xubuntu (for work) and Ubuntu Studio (for home). My only uses for Windows (always in a VM on a linux box, never on bare hardware) are TurboTax at home, and the AD Users and Groups admin tools and Cisco VPN client testing for troubleshooting end user issues. The Penguin reigns supreme for everything else.

Iǘe tried Linux before 2000 with little success, but in 1999 I took a course of php, which was based on Linux. Soon after, we implemented at the office a small LAMP server, using a finnish distro Best Linux which was the only one with video drivers from Cirrus

I got my first computer (IBM PS/1) in late fall 1994 loaded with Windows 3.1 and a CDROM Drive. What an amazing thing to see!
I needed to see more of what was out there but was a Windows fan and supporter at that time.
A year or two later I got a copy of IBM OS2 and played with that but never got too serious with it. Then came Linux on floppy disk (a couple of variations). When I got Redhat on CD I thought maybe I've found something. But NO, not yet. Command line stuff was too much at that time.
Sometime later I found Ubuntu 10.04 dual booting with Windows. But still not a permanent switch. Ubuntu 1604 dual booting with Win7 started to reveal something different. When Win10 came home, it took about 3 months to decide to try running Ubuntu 16.04 as my primary system. There have been some trying moments but I am pretty much done with Windows. I run Win7 in VirtualBox to accomodate one particular app but other than that it is Ubuntu day to day.
Thanks for the opportunity to comment on what I have found to be an amazing product.
Gord K

I think my first contact with Linux was in 2007. I was 15 at the moment. I had set up a lab in my garage where me and my friends were playing and experimenting with computers and hardware (i was not allowed to blow up or break stuff in the house). One day, a friend came by and brought me a cd of Ubuntu. The CD unfortunately did not work, but i started to read of Linux on the net a lot. I was fascinated, but not enough to install it. But i finally was hooked on 2008, when the same friend brought me a DVD of Backtrack 3. He said: i don't know how to even log in, don't tell anyone about this OS and i heard you can hack computers with it. He had gotten it from a friend. A while later i enjoyed my free wifi thanks to BT 3 and now i am everyday user of Linux. I used to dual-boot to Windows when i had Nvidia graphics, but now i'm all about the penguins. :)

I first ran into Linux way back in 2002 / '03. I had a Windows XP computer that held all of my data (including pics of my recently born son!) After about the 6th BSOD within a week It just "died". me not being a full blown techie I didn't know you could boot from a live CD and access your files. I had a friend show me how to do it. Once he showed me how?..I instantly copied all of my data from the PC's hard drive and installed Fedora Linux. I have been using it since then, and that computer is STILL in use!..(a Dell Optiplex, putty colored!...LoL) Since then?...I have installed and tested/sampled quite a few Linux distros:
Calculate
Funtoo
Fuduntu (I miss that one!)
SlackWare
Arch
Gentoo
Ubuntu
Linux Mint
Solus
Slax
PinGuy
TrisQuel
Emmabuntus
Xubuntu/Lubuntu
PeppermintOS
Scientific/CEntOS/Red Hat
Mageia
ROSA
PC Linux OS
GhostBSD
FreeBSD
openSuSE
ZorinOS
Debian
Manjaro
AntiX
Lite
Luninux
etc.

While I have enjoyed them all?..I keep coming "home" to Fedora. I just cannot fathom how someone would go BACK to Windows (or Apple for that matter) once they've experienced Linux in all its glory! Kudos to the developers and kernel maintainers for keeping this awesome operating system going throughout the decades!

Thanks for the article and the walk down "Memory Lane"!

My start was initiated by the wish to learn a bit of UNIX. I had the luck to have have a competent book store who had the DLD 1.5 distro (a kernel version < 1) and an accompanying book ...
The package contained a CD with floppy images and a boot floppy. This enabled me to install Linux as a parallel installation on my 486dx notebook by using about 40 floppy disks as installation media. Worked ...
So i went a while sticking to DLD until they joined RedHat. Distro fee was like 50-150 Deutsch-Mark these times. Tried SUSE, Centos and Debian and finally went with Fedora.
My first Raspberry OSes were Fedora too but this distro went to unsupportet, so i started to adapt Fedora but finally went with Raspbian mostly and a little Bananian to run BPI hardware.
Default boot on my main machine is Fedora 28 today ... which does sum it up.
So thanks a lot to Linus, DLD, RedHat and all the other maintainer out there to gift us this great OS!
All the best!

Great article, my first ever taste of Linux was back in 2009 (during elementary school) with Ubuntu 9.10 and VirtualBox. After that, I read a post about another venerable distro known as Fedora and installed it (version 12)
First real Linux experience, that was in 2012 (during junior high school years) with Ubuntu 12.04 in my old laptop. During this period I've distro-hopped with Debian, Fedora, Bodhi, Sabayon, OpenSUSE, and finally settled with Manjaro Linux in 2013. https://www.vidmate.software/

Using Manjaro was a huge step in my Linux experience beyond the realm of APT and Yum. Pacman is the beast and you can add the AUR for even more great software. I love rolling-release which is always up-to-date.

Well, I started using a distro called WinLinux2000. This distro was installed in a FAT32 partition and create an icon in the Windows desktop. With a double click the computer restarts and loade Linux. This distro uses the kernel 2.2.13 and was based in Slackware 7 with KDE 2. My computer at this time was an Cyrix 233MHz with 32MB RAM and a 2.1GB hard disk.
After, I used Mandrake 8/8.1/8.2/9.0/9.1/9.2, Conectiva 7.0/8.0, Red Hat 9.0, OpenSuSE 9.0/10.0/13.1/13.2, Ubuntu 8.04 to 14.10, Mint 17.1 but actually I use Salix 14.2 with XFCE in my pesonal notebook.
After all, I return to Slackware because Salix is based in Slackware 14.2.

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