How I learned (?) Linux.

I began using computers in the late 1980s. My first computer was a TRS Color Computer, known as the CoCo 2. I had a lot of fun writing simple programs and saving them on a cassette tape. Later on, my son gave me a used 286 loaded with DOS. I bought ‘DOS for Dummies’ and learned to do a limited number of operations. Then I got a copy of Windows 3.1, which provided me with a lot of fun and study.

In about 1996 I paid $25.00 to a medical library for a used IBM PS2 (286, MCA, 10MHz bus) complete with all peripherals. It was built like a military tank and large enough that I could sit on the floor and study it without much back bending. It had two hard drives, each big and heavy and almost the diameter of a dinner plate. Their capacity was only a few megabytes. In about 1997, I bought a used 486 with Windows 3.1 and a modem and I timidly learned to go online. Then in 1999 I finally got a used Pentium 233 and Windows 98SE. I’ve upgraded my computers several times since then but I still use Windows 98SE (in 2006).

After a little study, I decided to order SuSE 8.2 and Mandrake 9.1 from an Ebay offering. Then I bought some books about Linux including ‘Kiss the Blue Screen of Death Goodby’, ‘Linux for Dummies’ and the ‘Linux for Dummies Quick Reference’. I thought my several years of computer repair experience would help me switch immediately from Windows to Linux. Sorry to say, I didn’t learn a lot from the books.

I decided to dual boot with Win98SE. I had an 80GB hard drive so I prepared the drive and successfully installed the two linux systems to triple boot: Win98SE, SuSE 8.2, and Mandrake 9.1. They all worked fine, sharing the one hard drive. But I suffered a minor setback. While experimenting with the Linux systems, I lost all my data, including Windows, due to my own ignorance. So I bought a 40GB hard drive for my main computer and reinstalled Win98SE and my utilities on it. I installed the 80GB drive into a standby computer and added my Linux distributions to it. Then, I could learn Linux without the danger of losing all my data (again).

Ubuntu Linux is an operating system that anyone, even I, can use.

Page 1. of 2.

From the beginning of my fascination with computers I studied and tinkered until I was able to repair and build them, concentrating mostly on hardware availability and compatibility. I haven’t needed programming and command line usage except as they apply to building, repair, and maintenance. I provide the hardware, and software automatically handles the programming aspect. For millions of home users an inexpensive piece of hardware is a one-time purchase that may last for years. If you need a device, you purchase that device. It’s yours forever. Software is a different proposition altogether.

You purchase a license to use it. It’s not yours. Back in 1997 I bought my first box of software utilities, took it home and started installing it. Then I read the entire EULA. It made me so mad that I wrapped the box and sent it back to the developer for my money back. I would not agree to the mandatory End User License Agreement. I bought it; it should be mine. The EULA said I could only use it if I complied with many restrictions. I did not agree. I soon found that all software for Windows applications has similar restrictions and I have to comply, cheat, or quit.

I’m grateful to the software developers who offer free utilities to non-commercial users. That’s the only way many of us can get them. I, and most of the people in my circle of friends and family still use Win98SE. So long as it works I expect we will continue to use it. Why don’t all of us upgrade to later Windows versions?

One reason is that we don’t have the disposable income to rent the use of someone else’s software. Highly paid executives of wealthy companies don’t realize that even $100.00 is a big chunk out of a working person’s or retired person’s monthly income. Should we buy necessities or buy computer software? I can’t recommend spending several dollars for new software to a person whose income barely covers living expenses.

Another reason I don’t upgrade Windows is that I’m a rather independent person. I stopped asking mamma for permission to play when I grew up. I abhor the idea that I can’t do what I want to my computer any time I want and as often as I want (which is frequently) without having to tell mamma Microsoft that I’ve done it or give up the use of their rented operating system.

So in 2003, I decided to learn Linux and share inexpensive or often, free software, with everyone who wants to use it.

2/01/06. Update 6/19/07.
New update on page2 August 2, 2009
and February, 2010.
Update: June 19, 2007.
In February of 2006 I began learning to use Ubuntu Linux and I am totally pleased with Ubuntu and the world wide community that supports it.  I'm using Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, on one computer and 7.04 on another, both with the Gnome Desktop. In addition to the thousands of available programs, I receive automatic updates two, three or more times every week. Seldom do I need to use the command line but I do intend to learn more about it. I can now do any computing I need with Ubuntu.
Below is the original rant about my unsucessful trials of Linux before Ubuntu: 
Note: On the next page you will read that in 2009, my Linux experience has very much improved.
August 2009: now using Ubuntu 9.04.