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How has Linux changed my life?

I recently saw a YouTube live stream video with the theme of “How has Linux changed my life?” and it got me thinking about it. However, before I get into how Linux changed my life, I want to briefly go over my history with Linux.

My relationship with Linux started in the early nineties using Unix and VAX systems for my Computer Science coursework in college. Some time in the late nineties I downloaded Slackware Linux and put it on a bunch of floppy disks.. I installed it on a computer to see what it was like but didn’t really use it. At some point I found a DOS program that sort of emulated the Linux command line by substituting Linux equivalents for DOS commands.

In early 2006, I built myself a Web server out of spare parts which I appropriately named FrankenWeb. I installed Debian 3.1 rt on that and with the help of my son, got it up and running. About a year and a half later, the hardware started getting flaky so I built another server, FrankenWeb Jr., and loaded it with Ubuntu 7.10 Server. That served me well until mid-2010 at which time I moved all of my web content to hosted server. Around that time I was messing around with setting up Linux DNS and NTP servers on my home network.

In the later part of 2009, I bought a refurbished Gateway laptop which I dual booted with Windows XP and Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. In 2014 I wiped the drive and installed Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon on it. Just this year, I pulled it out of mothballs and installed MX Linux 17 on it.

At some point in 2010, I put Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on a desktop machine and have been using Linux on the desktop ever since. In November 2011 I installed 11.04 but didn’t like it so I went back to 10.04. That was probably when they introduced the Unity desktop. About a year later I upgraded to 12.04 and changed from the Unity desktop to Gnome. I’m not sure exactly when I changed over Linux Mint, probably around 2014 and it’s been my go-to distribution ever since. I’ve looked at others but I keep going back to Mint.

How has Linux changed my life? It’s tempting to answer that with a multitude of reasons why I use Linux but that doesn’t answer the question. It has definitely reduced my dependence on Windows and Microsoft software, especially since I haven’t like the direction Microsoft has been taking with Windows 8, 8.1 and 10. I have to deal with Windows 10 in my part-time job and I find myself growing increasingly intolerant of its peculiarities and annoyances.

The further I move away from Windows, I find I’m less stressed out by technology. As Douglas Adams once said, “We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.” Linux works. It does what I tell it to do, not what it thinks I want it to do or what it wants me to do.

Linux and open source fit well in to my life philosophy. I value cooperation, collaboration and adaptability over competitiveness, rigidness, and unquestioning conformity. Well, that’s a reason for using Linux, not how it’s changed my life. But it’s made me a happier computer user.

Using Linux has made me a more discriminating and conscientious computer user. It has reinforced my natural tendency to not follow the crowd and accept whatever is handed to me. It has made me more independent and given me more freedom and greater choices, at least within the technological realm.

As a Linux user, I’ve become a more knowledgeable computer user and I have a greater understanding of what’s going on under the hood. I’m less frustrated by the technology I use when I have greater degree of control over it.

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