Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A dull world without Linux


As a kid in the early 80s I remember walking through Eason & Sons and seeing all the new computers, the BBC, Acorn, Amstrad, Atari, C64, ZX81 and of course the unforgettable Speccy. There was so much variety, so much excitement and countless debates over which one was better and why. Each one had a personality of its own, a character that you were drawn towards when deciding which one you'd nag your parents to get. The choice was incredible.

Then the 90s hit and things started to get whittled down. Apple were giants but very expensive and still not really for regular family use and IBM compatibles were for business not fun. On the home front we still had the C64, C128, the Speccy was on its last legs but still clinging onto life. The real debate though in my latter years of secondary school was Atari vs Amiga. Then the mid 90s hit and it all ended, Win 95 was released. To most home users it was exciting, new, fresh and promised a future of entertainment, a gamers dream. A lot of us jumped on the band wagon and it was fun for awhile. 

A few years past as did the giants, Atari and Amiga seemed like they were from a different age. Most home computers were the same now, we had achieved uniformity on the desktop. Everything was now compatible, didn't matter if you bought a Dell, Gateway or Compaq, they were all the same, all ran Windows.

By the mid 2000s I hadn't felt excited about my desktop environment for years, it was just this thing that I used to work and play games. I was excited about hardware, graphics cards and so on but the DE was dead. We had lost that magic the 70s and 80s had created, the feeling of awe was gone.

Then in 2008 a friend of mine in Chicago asked me if I'd ever tried Linux, in fact he said "You should try Linux, I think it would suit your political views." He recommended Ubuntu but I was quickly turned off by the color brown, I'm very visual and color has a big effect on me. The brown as Ubuntu was themed at the time turned me off. After that I found Opensuse and the dark green just leaped off the screen at me, I loved it. I had finally discovered Linux and the world of my childhood was once again in front of me. I had choice again, it was like discovering magic, multiple different desktop environments, countless debates over which one was better. I hadn't felt that excitement about computers since that first walk through Eason & Sons all those years earlier. No going back now, the Linux world has become a passion.

Thank you to everyone involved in the Linux world for all you have done over the past 24 years. Long may it continue.