Tell us about your *nix history

Our past *nix experiences can lead to some intriguing, insightful, and humorous stories that lead us to our current *nix choice. How about sharing yours with us!

For me:

Early on I played with UnixWare and eventually moved to FreeBSD/OpenBSD - I became a fanboi pretty quick. My intro to Linux was via CentOS years ago by my then IT Director. He and I would often verbally assault each other (in a friendly way) over the two. Eventually I was won over and ran Cent on the desktop for a long spell until I found Debian. Sure, like most of us, I dabbled in other distros like Ubuntu (before they introduced Unity). Eventually all that distro hoping gave way to the love affair between Debian and Arch/Labs that has become THE go-to distros for me. Rarely do en ever meander away from these nowadays.


Hmmm, I randomly heard about this Linux distro called Ubuntu (I am pretty sure this was 8.04 or it could have been 7.10, I can’t be quite sure). When I found out that you could check it out without installing it I was blown away.

Booted it up and fell in love. Installed it and used Ubuntu based stuff until I came across Manjaro which was quite early on which led me to finally do a proper Arch install after many years of wanting to, then a guy called Brett Stevens hit me up about a BL based distro and here we are.

Brief but a history nevertheless. :smiley:


My first experience was back in the early '80s with SunOS on the SPARCStations at Liverpool University when my Dad was doing his degrees — I used to type out my English essays on them which my Dad would then typeset with LaTeX and print out on their laser printers (very expensive and extremely rare at the time). That was also where my life-long disdain for Apple started because they had some original Macs in the same room and they were like children’s toys compared to the UNIX workstations.

Once I was in medical school I just used Windows for any essays and suchlike and also for playing Quake II online (which is where my username originates). I didn’t find out about GNU/Linux until about seven years ago when I read about Xubuntu in a HiFi magazine (of all things) and I decided to try out 13.10, which completely hooked me thanks to my fondness for the command line. I got out of Ubuntu as soon as I learnt about Arch & Debian, although I managed to get Arch running about six months before I figured out how to get my wireless card working with Debian.


My first *nix was Red Hat, back in the previous century, but it was a painful experience: nothing really worked. The first Linux I really made use of was Kubuntu 7.04, and later Ubuntu. Both were useful, but taught me nothing. Then in 2016 a friend convinced me to give a try to Manjaro GNOME. Initially I was delighted, but later I found it too stiff, and difficult to customize. I switched to Openbox on Antergos, and later on pure Arch. Now my working environment is sway and Wayfire, with Arch on one and ArchLabs on another laptop. Other distros and WMs I only use for testing purposes.


Well, I learned and used BSD4.4 in my school days. Although Windows and Linux were already pretty popular at that time, the professor insisted using BSD in his OS class. Maybe that’s the reason why I like systems influenced by *BSD, such as Slack, Arch and Void. :smile: Had used FreeBSD and OpenBSD on and off for a couple of years. Because of the lack of hardware support, had to use Linux native drivers from time to time. I eventually moved to Linux.

Started my Linux journey with Redhat (don’t remember the version, maybe 9?), then Suse. Settled with Slack for some years. Wanted an easy package management system, so I moved to Debian. Then Ubuntu came out. I tried its early releases and loved them. It was like fresh air back then. Unfortunately, things went south pretty quickly. Ubuntu has become buggy and bloated. Had to abandon Ubuntu and never looked back any Ubuntu based distros. Moved to Gentoo and Arch eventually. Gentoo is a very nice distribution but maybe it’s not worth the time compiling everything from source now. Currently running Arch, Solus and Void at home, Redhat and customized Gentoo at work.

Unix side, I used Sun Solaris and HP-UX. Used to be a big fan of Sun Sparc Workstations and Sun Solaris.


Also used Antergos. It’s a very nice Arch-based distro.


Antergos is no more. :smiley:

I recently checked a new distro called RebornOS. They claim they are trying to fit Antergos’ shoes but it’s very buggy.

1 Like

I remember their beginnings. Dunno if they made any progress.

1 Like

First linux distro to actually install and use was Slackware 8. Booted to the command line and had no idea what to do after logging in.

Was living in Las Vegas at the time, so took a long lunch the next day and went to COMDEX. The guys at the Slackware booth (in hindsight one of them may have been Patrick Volkerding) gave me the 15 minute short course on “What to do Post Install”. Had Slackware up and running with KDE 1.x that night.

On the way out of COMDEX, the Red Hat team gave me a free CD of Red Hat 7. Tried it as well and liked the package manager so stuck with it. Used Red Hat until they changed over to Fedora. As a learning exercise, compiled Fvwm from source on Red Hat and have used it as a window manager off-and-on ever since.

After Red Hat, went back to Slackware-based and settled on Zenwalk (excellent distro, now based on Slackware current).

Tried Ubuntu when it first came out, but quickly switched to Debian Sid.

When Void first came out, I switched to it because they were the first (I think, maybe Arch) to go with systemd only, no sysvinit shim. it was more than I wanted to deal with at the time, so back to Debian Sid/VSIDO.

Went back to Void when they dropped systemd and adopted runnit. Been using it as daily driver ever since.

A couple years ago (4 now, I guess), @Dobbie03 came out with ArchLabs. Had to give it a try. Now have ArchLabs on one laptop.

Tinkered around with FreeBSD, DragonFlyBSD, #!, BunenLabs, and a bunch of other Linux distros, but never stuck with them.


I first got into Linux way back when quarterback Jeff Garcia and wide receiver/malcontent Terrell Owens both played for the San Francisco 49ers. How that’s my point of reference is because I used to post on an old, pre-malware ridden 49er fan message board, and an asshole Ram fan used to invade it (it’s an old NFL rivalry) who tried to troll our board, to which I did in return mercilessly (to where I made their admin quit lulz) on their message board. He used to brag on our board how he was getting all these MS certifications and how much $$ he was going to make, whenever I posted that I was building my own Win boxes and stuff. I read about Linux back then, and everyone on the 49er board told me how badass it was, so I got into it back then, and it confused Ram fan that I could, so it was a win-win lol.

The first distro I tried was just plain 'ol SuSE, when it was developed or backed by Novell. It was geared more for enterprise back then (had a drunken discussion over it with a few devs from Novell back then when I was doing a Big Tech gig in San Jose). I moved to San Francisco back in 1991-92, and I did all the Big Tech shows over at the Moscone Center, but back then it was still all Unix (this was before the internet as we know it launched). I rarely heard anything about Linux, only on the periphery, never on the trade show floor (where I hooked up SunSparc stations, Macs, and 386/486Win boxes in booths). Hell, the CD-ROM was still in infancy lulz. I remember one booth having all our displays they ordered from us going nuts because they had the first Pentium ever on the Moscone floor, and Moscone is where Big Tech happens first before market. Everything was bleeding edge, it’s insane how fast tech has evolved since 1990. That was the coolest thing about when I lived in SF back then, through the dot com boom and bust, all of that.

But with Linux, you found ISO discs on the sidewalks, because they fell out of the free tech weekly’s that were in newspaper boxes next to the boxes where 50 cents got you street porn lulz.

Not long after Ubuntu launched, I gave it a shot. I had a couple of crappy Dell Inspirions lappy’s that were given to me, so burned a CD of it, and tried to load it on said crappy lappy. I could load stuff like PCLInuxOS on it, but Ubuntu had issues. I read how Ubuntu had this wonderful egalitarian community online, so I registered, and posted my issues with the ISO.

That forum was worse than Ram fans, it was asshole Arch Guy before they even existed. Now as I pointed out, I have been dealing with Big Tech - Big $$$ Tech - years before on the Moscone floor, so Ubuntu Guy was like kitty litter to me - smelly, messy, and pain in the bleeding hole to bag up before going into the garbage - and after a few back and forths, I got banned for posting this:

“Fuck this, I am going back to a real OS”.


Not only BANNED, but PERMA BANNED lulz. Good times.

Since, it was mostly anything Debian based, a foray with Mint for a bit (because it worked, but then Cinnamon, which I hate), then I found Crunchbang, and the rest they say is history.


I discovered Linux back in 1997 when I saw a boxed set of S.u.S.E. Linux 5.2 at a Border’s bookstore. I tried it and had a horrible time getting anything to work. A couple years later, I found Caldera OpenLinux 2.4 in the same bookstore and tried that. It worked beautifully! I have been distro hopping ever since 2000. Spent time with Red Hat 7.3 and then on to Mepis in 2003. Went to Mandriva in 2005 and then Kubuntu in 2006. I spent almost eleven years in the Ubuntu camp and finally switched to Debian Stretch and now fluctuate between Debian and Arch. My hopping days are over, but I do bounce from time to time. :laughing:


Agreed - that’s how I feel too. One massively common thread (especially for us that have been at it a number of years) we all had miserable first and second attempts with initial installs. That’s both a good and bad thing I guess. The good, we almost certainly have gained a better understanding than some of the newer converts to Linux nowadays where they might not have “enjoyed” the learning experience we had - the bad, well - that we can leave open for debate :slight_smile:

1 Like

Mine are too, to an extent. It would take something absolutely catastrophic to move me from Arch, if it’s not Arch based I’m not sure I am bothered.

1 Like

Not so much with Arch or AL. But Ubuntu, Mint and Manjaro, fuck me I had problems with those distros.

1 Like

I loved those SunSPARC stations when I worked in SF, I wish I would had gotten into tech more during that time, but my head was into more of the music thing, and living in the city for the first time (I grew up near Palm Springs, CA, mostly golf courses and retirees, still is). I think they were the faster machine compared to Apple and Win boxes back then, and very expensive. I wasn’t into computers growing up, although I was into electronics big time (I bought my first soldering iron at age 7 lulz). We had one in the house my sister used when she signed up for a data entry class, but I was busy playing drums and racing dirt bikes. Plus, I hated math, I didn’t have a problem learning anything as I was in advanced classes since first grade (until I discovered weed in high school lulz, and I hated high school and math, so I quit when I was 16 and finished at the local community college), and computers to me back then was math lol.


I don’t consider it hopping if I maintain multiple installs on hardware and swap hard drives. Is that just a rationalization? :crazy_face:


All the distros I try out wind up like Crunchbang lulz. AL, BL, Sparky, AntiX, Fedora, Nix, Anarchy, ArchBang, etc., they all wind up with Openbox config’d like Crunchbang as far as the desktop. I don’t use the Conky though. I could be using Void, Gentoo, whatever, they would wind up like Crunchbang lol.

Let’s say, yes :slight_smile:

1 Like

Every linux user should install Arch and Gentoo at least once. :monkey_face: