Linux. Where it all began.

Hey there reader :) I ended my previous post by saying I might continue with the experience of actually building the computer. However, I have decided to go back through time and talk about what brought about this interest in Computer Science that has today grown into a career choice.

Just like every other millennium born, as a kid I was fascinated by computers and remember waiting for and enjoying every new release of Windows — starting with the venerable XP, progressing through the weird Apple inspired Vista UI to the further refined Aero UI of Windows 7, Windows 8 with its’s Metro UI, the pathbreaking experiment that eventually failed and evolved into what we know and use today — Windows 10 and fluent design.

However, they all had the same basic idea — a desktop with icons, a taskbar with a start icon. This paradigm hadn’t changed from before when I’d been an infant. And that’s how, when I chanced upon the then brand new Unity UI from the folks over at Ubuntu. I’d never heard of Ubuntu or Canonical Inc. or Unity, but the dotted lock screen and the minimal, clean aesthetic had my attention from the get go.

And that’s when the laptop torture began. I formatted an entire hard drive once and spent hours installing Ubuntu 14.04 over and over until I finally got it right! Partitions, boot options, improper locale settings, there were lots of traps waiting. Imagine finishing installing successfully for the first time ever just to realise the locale settings is set to IN and the language is Hindi whereas your password is in English.

However, that was how the interest started. All this while, I never realised something called a virtual machine existed. Ah! The amount of data I lost doing all this, could’ve been saved had I spent some time Googling and reading about trying out Linux for the first time!

It was different, unique. It had a gravity, I was pulled to it. I realised that several other Ubuntu derivatives existed, all with different desktops. And that, is how I discovered the joys of distro hopping — trying out different Linux distributions. The different desktops and themes offered hours of experimentation and getting things right, before I ripped everything out and started from scratch again.

As time went on, I realised there existed other realms of Linux distributions, using .rpm packages, and yet others using .tar.xz package formats. Jumped from the Ubuntu ship to the Fedora/OpenSUSE ship. That was a noticeably better experience. There were lesser software packages but these installs were much more stable.

But then, there was the forbidden fruit of the Linux world. People talked about it in hush tones, and it’s users were, and still are, seen as the ultimate linux nerds — Arch. The name itself had some grandeur to it, and the installer scared me. Frustrated by the instability of Ubuntu and irritated to no end by the lack of software in Fedora/OpenSUSE and derivatives, I decided to take a brave plunge into the freezing waters of the Arch world.

And I never had to look back. Once I lost more data and understood how to do the install, Arch has been a breeze to install, customize and maintain. It has a huge software repository and AUR (Arch User Repository), the largest repository of Linux compatible software, make the job of finding software for Arch a breeze and the consistent rolling updates mean there is no version upgrade troubles.

I could no longer wait for improvements that came along with specific versions, and in exchange I had the improvements immediately, much earlier than the non Arch Linux world. Distributions like Manjaro and easier installers have made it possible for anyone to use and appreciate Arch Linux.

And that is how, my interest in computers became an obsession and eventually a choice of career. To this day, I regularly update and reinstall my desktop operating systems, and this also spawned weirder interests like Hackintoshes and OpenCore, which have been highly educational.

With Microsoft themselves bringing support for Linux through WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux), knowing how to use the operating system can go a long way in futureproofing ourselves. Anyone that is reading this post and hasn’t tried Linux, this is the right time to begin! Read up a little, head to the website of your favorite Linux distribution, test it on a virtual machine and install!

Welcome to the wonderful world of Linux : )

*All images used have a Creative Commons license.

Budding computer science engineer with a passion for good food and words.