My Journey with Linux

In 1969 I did a university course running programs punched up on cards on an IBM 1130 (el-cheapo) mainframe. I next played with computers in 1976 when I used the Intel 8085 development kit and an Interdata 32 minicomputer running basic from a teletype in a teaching environment.

In the realm of personal computers I started out with a ZX81 and a TV monitor developing text editors in BASIC. I then moved to a Radio Shack TRS-80. After that it was on an amazing Sage box (subsequently known as a Stride) that ran four concurrent users and the amazing UCSD Pascal p-code system. At that time I could have used a genuine IBM PC, an Apple IIE or an Apple Mac. Unfortunately these were generally not affordable in South Africa. Later on the affordable PC look-alike or clone arrived and DOS dominated. IBMs decision to publish the IBM PC specifications is in my opinion one of the milestones in computing in the 3rd world!!

MSDOS worked well. Then MS Windows arrived and did not work. It was followed by NT 3.0 that did work. NT 4.0 did not. At that time or earlier I also used XENIX (very stable) and played with Tanenbaum's Minix - very frustrating. Then I discovered Linux in about 1992. In no time I was using the Slackware distribution and life was great. Windows 95 then arrived and sort of worked with its blue screen of death.

When Windows XP arrived I used it when required to interface to the Office/Word world. I have to admit that XP was stable and not that bad. However it did suffer from DLL Hell (more about this soon). When the SuSE distribution was released I switched to it.

When Novell bought SuSE I switched to openSUSE and am currently using 10.3 on a 64bit box. Unfortunately it to suffers from a form of dll hell which I will call lib hell. Getting multi-media applications to run has not been easy and some still do not work. Luckily I also use VMWare and run XP to do some of the multimedia stuff. Open Office now handles the Office/Word world.

So while it is great to have all these Linux distributions and the accompanying anarchy (which probably helped Linux get to where it is today), I would prefer far fewer distributions that mostly worked out of the box. That would in my opinion mean world domination could be realized.

I will now probably switch to KUbuntu in the hope that it will ease my lib hell blues. In the mean time I will continue to use Emacs for the foreseeable future.

Having said all that I have to conclude by saying that, the Linux journey has been been like a marriage that became a lasting love affair. I could not have asked for more.

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