How many years have you been interested in open source?

Take our poll and find out how long our writers have been interested in open source.
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111 readers like this
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How long is your open source story? Did it just begin within the last year? Or have you been a member of the community since before it was called "open source"? We asked our writers to share how long they have been interested in open source. Here are eight stories of how they got started.

"Since the days of comp.sources.unix and on Usenet, in the mid-1980s. I learned a lot trying to port various games and utilities from whatever they were written for to Ultrix on our VAX." —Ethan Dicks

"My first memory of exposure to open source is learning how to use GNU Emacs in the late 80s and then quickly the GNU compiler toolchain. My operating systems professor had us modify the Minix process scheduler since it was one of the few source distributions of an operating system that would run on the hardware available to us, the AT&T 3B. It wasn't until I left school and began working that I became interested in Linux. I built a 586 class PC and installed the Yggdrasil distribution and learned how to download, build and install Linux kernels and device drivers. Checking Wikipedia, Yggdrasil hasn't been updated since 1995 :)" —Erik O'Shaughnessy

"1993 with the first release of Slackware Linux." —Sarah Thornton

"Since using NCSA Mosaic in 1994, while not strictly open source, they did distribute source." —Brian J. Atkisson

"Since around 1997, when a colleague introduced me to Linux via Squid. I'd sort of noticed open source before then, but hadn't really grokked it. He did a great job of convincing me to pay more attention, and I started running Linux as my main desktop pretty soon after. It helped that The Evil Empire[tm] was in full swing, and I didn't like what they were up to, so open source felt like home pretty quickly. It was also great to be able to play with kernel changes as they were released and see if they worked on my hardware (which they did—sometimes)." —Mike Bursell

"About 15 years now. I started using it during my teenage years as a way to rebel against the monopoly of closed-source offerings back in the day." —Eric Burgueño

"12 years! Since I discovered Koha." —Nicole Baratta

"I've been interested and involved with open source for around 2 years now." —Andrew Euredjian

We want to hear from you now. How long have you been interested in open source? Take our poll and share your story in the comments.


What to read next
Lauren is the managing editor for When she's not organizing the editorial calendar or digging into the data, she can be found going on adventures with her family and German shepherd rescue dog, Quailford. She is passionate about spreading awareness of how open source technology and principles can be applied to areas outside the tech industry such as education and government.


I discovered Remote CP/M (RCPM) dial-up systems in 1982. I was already a fan and user of source code published in several magazines, but this was a big step up. I first got access to Usenet in 1985, where I found the comp.sources.* tree, which helped me learn to code much better. That led me first to MINIX, and then Linux in 1992. I also watched, and learned, as Bob Stout built his collection of C Snippets and explicitly placed it in the public domain. I have reused more of the code from that library than all of the C++ and Java libraries combined.

If you count early shareware, in the the 1980's using Apple II's in schools. If you only count Linux, I finally got tired of virus infections on Microsoft's Internet Exploder and other products. Knowing nothing about Linux, I bought a copy of Lindows (still have the box) and never looked back. I gradually learned about more options and tried other distros. I'm now a very happy Linux Mint 19.1 user (may they live 10,000 years).

I heard of Linux from my friends. I was interested to find out what is was since I've studied MINIX during my university days . So I bought the book "Linux Secrets" by Naba Barkakati and dive into it. I still have this book and the good memories it brings....burned a few CRT monitors due to misconfigure X11 hsync and vsync, using 2 days to compile KDE packages, experimenting with Alsa audio drivers, compiling and running GNUStep, and many more.

Since around 2000 or 2001, when a printed magazine that I used to buy (Users) started publishing articles about alternative operating systems.

They started with GNU/Linux and Free Software, dedicating them almost a full edition, I was fascinated that people would develop software in the open and started digging more and more.

Gosh, I feel old!


I came across open source while in high school (circa 2000) where I got a free mandrake cd to a local tech fare. Didn’t have the guts to install it back then and I stick to my Windows 98.

4-5 years later, while at university (2005ish) I went full open source and today I am doing a PhD on open source software resilience. I have also been advocating for OSS ever since :)

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