Authored Comments

Can't go wrong with Carla Schroder (Linux Cookbook) or V.M. Brasseur (Forge Your Future with Open Source). I also liked Ellen Ullman's Life in Code, and recently read a really fun novel called Laser Writer II, by Tamara Shopsin, that is about working in a famous Mac repair shop in the 90s. :-)

In 1998-99 I was working at a job that was pretty boring and also had a lot of free time, so I spent hours surfing around looking at things that at least felt work-related.

I discovered Linux through a Listserv, or maybe a Usenet group... I don't remember now. I borrowed a Windows 95 machine (a Compaq) from another department and slowly, over a week or two, with a lot of help from DejaNews, got it up and running with Red Hat. It took at least one full day just to get X to work on the Compaq; it seems like there was an issue with a proprietary driver, maybe? But Deja came through. :-) I eventually got it to dual-boot with Windows 95 (Deja again) and discovered a really neat desktop that looked like NeXTSTEP.

Eventually, the department that had lent me the Compaq needed it back, and they asked me to remove my Linux install. Shortly after that I left that job and moved to a new city, and it was a few years before I picked it up again--partially because the department I was working in then built its own distro, but also because my Windows 98 machine at home crashed with a lot of important (to me) photos and videos on it, and I used a Knoppix CD to recover it.

I think of myself OS-agnostic: there are things I like about Linux, but there are also things I like about MacOS and Windows. I like to find old machines at the local electronics auction and garage sales and get them up and running with Linux (usually Lubuntu, at least at first), and my 15-year-old is also good at that. He recently built his first gaming PC from salvaged parts and installed Pop!_OS on it to run Steam.

My favorite thing about using Linux has always been the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes from working through a problem and finding solutions, and I'm glad my kid has inherited that. It has made this past year of distance learning and isolation more bearable for him.