When did you first use Linux?


That's the question cropping up on various websites at the moment. If, like us, you love to reminisce about the olden days, when you had to recompile your kernel just to use your keyboard and FVWM2 was the most amazingly new tech on the planet, then get commenting below. What was your first distro? What did you think of it at the time? Were you one of the original Oxford Beer Trolls, plying Torvalds with ale in return for his efforts?

Here's how the TuxRadar team got started...

Paul Hudson: "I installed Red Hat 4.2 on my shiny new 133MHz Cyrix in '97, not long before 5.0 came out. I spent most of my time trying to figure out the difference between all the shell options and not really getting anything done."

Mike Saunders: "After finding Red Hat 5.1 on a magazine coverdisc back in '98, I gave it a whirl and fell in love when I got IceWM installed. (AnotherLevel, RH's FVWM setup, was a bit ugly.) I did need to recompile the kernel to get my rubbish sound chip working though."

Graham Morrison: "My Amiga 4000 (with 060!) had lain unloved for too long. In 1998, Red Hat 5.1 brought it back to life, albeit with plenty of expletives and no X Window System."

Andrew Gregory: "I tried to install some version of Mandrake 2005 from the Linux Format coverdisc, but it didn’t recognise the graphics card of my Dell laptop so I had to get Graham to fix xorg.conf for me. I hated the look and feel, but once I’d found Gnome and Ubuntu I was sorted."

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Your comments


back in was it -94 on my 16MHz Macintosh LC

New Life in Old PCs

In 2005 I needed to run a power point presentation continuously in the lobby at work with no budget and a dinosaur PC in the basement. Xubuntu to the rescue.

Success there led me to install Ubuntu on my somewhat dated computer at home a couple of months later and wonder at how fast it suddenly seemed. Pretty soon I was no longer booting it up into Windows because Linux would do everything I wanted to do and do it faster and better.

I got really adventurous a few months ago and decided to build my own home theater PC from scratch by ordering the parts online, assembling it my self, and running Ubuntu only from day 1. The new computer is a speed demon and runs all free software in both meanings of the word.

First Linux?

Slackware from floppies (loads of floppies) in '95.
Still my favourite distro.

2000 - Mandrake 7.1

Installed it the day before 7.2 came out on my *screaming* Athlon T-bird 800Mhz, 20G, 256MB system. Stuck with Mandrake through v8.0. Moved to Debian 3.0 (hooray 2.4 kernel!) shortly after that and then to Ubuntu at v5.04.

RedHat 9

In 2003 RedHat 9 was my first Distro. I bought an retail Version. The Box decorate my Desk until today ;)

Oh so long ago

I started playing with linux in the spring of 1999. I had heard of that new OS that was showing off and I decided to test it. Little did I know: I started with a distro that I bought in the shop and ran from CD. It was Slackware IIRC. I remember lots of whitish windows that sat there idly and I did not know what to do with it :D
After that I bought SuSE 6.0, installed that and trashed my Windows 95 that was previously installed. Oh well. SuSE 6.0 did run well though, well enough to go on with Linux. I bought Linux Answers early 2000, and kept bying Linux Format until I subscribed in 2008. Yes.

I stayed with SuSE until now. I now have OpenSuSE 11.1 with KDE 4.2.2 and all that jazz that comes with it, and I enjoy it a lot. I have no Windows on my HP Pavilion dv2000. No need for that OS that is just.....lacking.

Tuff question :)

Dabbled with it before the first LXF mag or was it PC Answers back then.

It's been a regular OS since 00/01 on my server.

The main OS on my desktop since 04. XP only gets used for gaming now.

Ubuntu 6.10. Yes, I'm a

Ubuntu 6.10. Yes, I'm a newbie. But I'm only 14!

'94 with a copy of

'94 with a copy of slackware. it was before windows 95 came out, so i replaced win 3.1 with it. i remember it coming on 15? 1.44 floppies my programmer-uncle gave me at the time. i was about 12 or 13 at the time. it used to drive me crazy, but not as much as windows :P
the 1st time i really used linux as my main machine was ubuntu 6.04 though. i loved it, and haven't been back to windows since.

Millenium Mandrake Here!

My first real Linux install was Mandrake around the turn of the century (2000'ish). Don't ask me which version. I had tried to install a different distro, which I can't remember the name of and probably doesn't exist anymore with no luck. The book Mandrake came with helped a lot, it was a commercial version I bought for 50 bucks. It took over 8 hours to install start to finish because I had to keep taking my computer apart to find information about the hardware.

You think it would make me appreciate the modern install process, but I guess like everything else, we learn to take things for granted...

Last Year

Bought an EEE last year and then bought a copy of Linux Format because it had a picture of an EEE on the front - and not looked back since!

It was Ubuntu 6.06LTS

I used Ubuntu 6.06LTS for my first ever Linux experience. I somehow messed up installing it and had to reinstall Windows (I felt more comfortable reinstalling Windows). When 7.04 came out I decided to try it in Virtualbox and I used it for many hours in Virtualbox. I got comfortable with the OS and persisted to use 7.10 in Virtualbox when it came out.

8.04LTS was released and I made the decision to go Linux alone. I finally installed Linux on my PC wiped out Windows and im still using 8.04LTS on my PC. Although an upgrade to 9.04 may be on its way...

Slackware 3.5 in '97

This brings back some memories. Eveyone at work was installing linux. I tried downloading Slackware from ftp.cdrom.com (Old Walnut Creek Ftp server). But ended up buying the 4 disc set from my local Microcenter. It was a pain to get everything up and running but it was fun at the same time. I loved how you could change the console font. t.fnt.gz was the best! Remember the old PPP scripts you needed to create to get your modem to dial out? Wow!!

When I coulding afford a mac

I think it was around 2002. I know it was Red Hat 8 though 9 was around the corner.

I couldn't afford a Mac at the time (which looked a helluva lot nicer than Windows 98 at the time) and especially could not afford replacing all my software with Mac versions.

So a friend told me about Linux and I decided to give it a whirl.

It wasn't all smooth-going but it was a learning experience. Now the only Windows computer in the house is work's laptop (which I'm not allowed to change the OS on).

when i couldn't afford windows server

2000 ... caldera open linux

Old Penguin

I downloaded the four floppy "MCC distribution" off the net (usenet rather than Internet, I believe), and installed it on a mighty 386SX-16 with 8MB of RAM. Eventually I beefed it up to 12MB and a 300MB SCSI disk to replace the RLL drive. It was still running 1.2.13 until Y2k.

Mandrake, Red Hat

I installed Red Hat 5.2 in about 1999-2000, after my 8086 Amstrad had died. It may have been on a PII 233...
I learned everything from scratch, and making huge mistakes (like copying from /dev/fd0 without mounting). After that came Mandrake 7, with GNOME, Englightenment, Blackbox, KDE, IceWM, FVWM, the lot. I fell in love, especially with KDE. Ever since I've been hopping between openSUSE and Ubuntu. I still don't like GNOME, KDE rocks more for me. It's got a lot better now!


My first home built computer ran Mandrake (and BeOS) circa 1998 - 1999. I liked it, however I couldn't play any current games so I kind of left it for several years. I came back around 3 years ago with Ubuntu. I'm using Fedora 10 on my Thinkpad.

I love it, Linux is getting better by leaps and bounds every year.


When I was six, with SuSE (it was then!) 8.4, I think. Got it in a copy of (sorry) Linux Magazine after the Windows install on my dad's laptop broke.

My first linux distro was

My first linux distro was Ubuntu 7.04. From that point I never used Windowz again. Now I have Ubuntu 9.04 beta and everything works as I wanted.

I also tried Mandriva, OpenSuse, Knoppix... but I like the synaptic package manager from Ubuntu and I will stick to Ubuntu

1998 SuSE with KDE1

a friend got me going back in 1998 with KDE1 on top of SuSE6 I think. This was my first non Apple machine. Still have that machine around somewhere. Still a SuSE user now on 11.1.


My first ISP gave me a shell account on his RH3 box :D but my first install was fedora core 3 still using fedora usually the odd numbered releases as i don't bother upgrading every six months just waiting till almost EOL for the next reinstall.

Enjoy the Choice :)

When the Amiga was abandoned ...

I had a subscription to Amiga Format in 2000 when suddenly, without warning, AF was retired and my subscription was replaced with Linux Format with 'Definite Linux 7.0' on the coverdisc. (In fact, I just pulled issue 1 off my shelf - how far we have come!)

Back then I dual booted with Windows 98 on my old P133 with 32mb ram. Didn't know much about networking in those days and so it took me nearly 6 months to get the distro to connect online. I persevered and now am one of 4 in our office of 20+ web designers and developers running a flavour of Linux as a desktop machine.

Summer of '98

After buying my Pentium 166MHz, and I got connected to the Internet, I somehow got to the Debian home page, and got interested.

A friend of mine recommened Slackware, and installed it on my PC. Then I decided I should try installing it for myself, so I scrubbed Slackware, and downloaded Debian 2.0 "hamm"... and I've been using Debian and Debian based distributions ever since (currently Ubuntu).

2004 Ubuntu

installed Ubuntu Breezy badger, as Firefox and Oo had whetted my appetite for free software and my younger brother was running Fedora, felt I wasn't up to Fedora so tried Ubuntu to start with until i felt confident, I never looked back and my brother dumped Fedora over wireless issues, must hold my hand up and point out I technically dual boot with XP, but haven't actually booted XP yet this year

Slackware '96

And I still have the disc! It came as a freebie along with 'Red Hat Linux: The leading Linux operating system' (featuring a modular 2.0.18 kernel, no less) and 'Caldera Open Linux Lite'. I bought the book to go along with the systems programming module I was doing at university at the time. Beat fighting for limited time on the few lab PCs around. I recall Slackware running really well on my home built 486 at the time.

The book is 'Using Linux: Special Edition' (ISBN 0-7897-1132-X, just in case you're interested) :p


Mandrake 7.0

Then tried a few other distros in the next few years, before finally becoming an Ubuntu convert with 7.04

Linux newbie

I just discovered the world of Linux in Feb of this year. I tried Kubuntu and Ubuntu, and stuck with Ubuntu 8.10. I just installed Xubuntu on my parents old Dell laptop after malware had borked their Windows XP install. It took me most of Easter Weekend to get their Linksys notebook adapter to see wireless networks, but it worked! This was in part thanks to LXF 117's cover article, "Fix Linux" using the Networking guide. Thanks!

red hat 7 back in 1999 or 2000

had difficulty to detect my monitor and display card..damn..

Started with Debian Sarge

Started with Debian Sarge (3.1) in June 2005. Played merry hob getting everything to work. I tried all sorts of other distros, but always came back to Debian. Then I discovered the testing branch and never looked back. I've been M$-free for almost 4 years now.

Began With Ubuntu 6.04

I installed Ubuntu 6.04 I asked a friend what he was playing with. A few days later he popped into my dorm room and gave me the live CD. I was hooked ever since!

when XP starts to freak me out with WGV ..

When XP starts to freak me out with WGV ...

Slackware around '95

I am not sure about the year. I should check back my CD collection because I think I still have it... It was a "Chip Magazin" CD addition. That time the magazin CD addition was also rare.
It was installed in my very first own computer on a Amd486DX-120 with 4MB RAM (later expanded to 8M and then to 16M) a Quantum 850MB HDD, a 3x speed Sony CD-ROM!, Trident 9440 vga card a 14" color svga monitor (still analog and had to adjust any resolution changes manually). Later I have added a Gravis Ultra Sound soundcard and a network card (ethernet but with coaxial cables! - in the campus had that type of net)
I do remember that I had to update to the latest X11 because the supplied Slackware version did not supported my video card. I think my first kernel re-compile was also because of one of the hardware element (I am not sure was it the sound or the net card)
I also recall that it was not easy for me start with linux because I did not speak English :-(

RH 5.1 ~'98?

Got it off the front cover of PCPlus, and had to re-compile the kernel to make my sound card work - which makes me strikingly similar to Mike actually!

Been through most distro's since then, although I've never Gentoo'ed (I interact with humans from time to time, and binary is not my first language).

Love, Light and Peace, Crispibits

About 10 years ago, some

About 10 years ago, some really really old RedHat, which for some reasons was unable to install LILO on my hard drive. :)

Well, that was the first time I saw Linux, but the first "real" one, the first I tinkered with, was the Slackware that came with "LINUX Configuration and Installation" book.

Then I saw Debian 2.2 in a local software store and that was it. =)


not so long its 2002

Yggdrasil - Fall `93

Installed Yggdrasil on a 486 Sx-25 with 4 MB RAM in `93, it has a v0.98 Kernel, X and a few other things besides - PCNFS daemon (!!!) .. and I still have this server up and running - although it was upgrade to the `94 version of Yggdrasil with a 0.99 Kernel and its still running well ! (Its all SCSI due to some hardware compatibility issues at the time !)

Over the years, its been a bit of everything, Slackware (v 1.x kernel) and then onto Redhat 5, SuSE 6.2 Redhat7, 8,9, Centos 3, Debina, SuSE 10.0, XUbuntu and Damn Small Linux....

Favorite so far for "Desktop Use" is OpenSuSE, although EEEUbuntu is a close second on an ASUS Eee 900.

Enjoyed "Cacko" on distribution on the Sharp Zaurus as well !


My first linux distro was SuSE 6.0 on a Pentium MMX because you didn't have to recompile the kernel to get support for greek characters and because it was a european distro. I bought every single SuSE version up until version 9.3. I turned my back to SuSE when version 10 came out and been using ubuntu variants ever since.


On my home machine... Ubuntu 7.04.
I got fed up of Win XP and having to look for warez to do everything and anything on my PC... Malware and virii were a pain, and Vista looked awful!
So 2 years ago I installed Ubuntu 7.04 (still in a dual boot mode with XP). When I realized that after 1 year I had only booted into XP 5 or 6 times (and half of those times by mistake) the WinXP partition got killed in a very unmerciful way (I played around with it in a hex editor to maim it and see it suffer from the inside) and was added to my Linux partition...

Never looked back, never will...

At school (Early nineties) we used to have an IBM AS400 Mainframe with UNIX and a Novel Netware Network. So I wasn't completely lost when I made the OS switch. Some things came back really fast :-)

It was nice to be able to switch now... Linux has matured, and I haven't really had to deal with the growing pains.

I'm constantly switching Linux/Alternative OS on my Portable and netbook to test/check them out or play around with to learn things without messing up my main machine (So far we've had : Debian, LinuxMint, Puppy, All Ubuntu flavors, Knoppix, RedHat, Mandriva, Haiku, and a whole slew of others).

Lovin' it. The last 2 years I feel like -I- have been controlling my machine, and not the other way around!

Eat your heart out MS!

I used my first linux on

I used my first linux on 300mhz 128m machine! It was damn small linux. Then I found that it is the best os ever and I installed it to my main machine.

2002 - Red Hat server running about 200 live websites

Probably just to change the permissions or something, but at the time it scared the hell out of me as I'd had the warning that you could delete the entire server with a single line of code and looking at a black window with white text is always quite fear inducing (I got to try that single line 2 years later when the server got decommisioned. It was quite nice just watching it go offline the other side of the country after an "rm -r /").

First Linux.....

I actually was running Minux on my original IBM PC....Dual floppies because no hard drives for PC were available then!

After playing around with that, I found RedHat 5 and I have been using RedHat since then. I have tried various other distros including Ubunti, but I always seem to prefer RedHat distros. I'm currently runing Fedora 10 on both systems, a tower and laptop.

1st Linux

Fist Linux OS I installed was Slackware 9.1 on a Pentium 3 Dell Dimension replacing Windows ME,that was the best thing I ever did,then on my main PC I tried to dual boot XP with Slackware 10.1 from LXF66 and succeeded on the 1st attempt. :) From there I have used Debian,SUSE,Mandriva,Fedora and currently I'm using Ubuntu(main PC and the old Dell) & Linux Mint on a IBM T21 Laptop.

I just sent M Saunders the

I just sent M Saunders the disks of Slackware3 and Redhat3 that I attempted to install on my 486SX in 1996/7 but it wasn't until a SWLUG meeting that I finally got a Debian installation on my computer, thanks Gareth

First linux: Ubuntu 6.10

After a few test with suse linux i found that ubuntu 6.10 was the best distribution for my needs. With Vista been a real nightmare, i turn my attention to linux. Ubuntu was easy to install and migration from Windows was for me very easy. I also would like to thank all the peoply from the forums, and Linux Format, for helping me. I now only using ubuntu on my desktop and portable and i also running ubuntu on a server.


I started using Linux - Slackware Linux, can't remember the version - while I was learning Sys-Adm's stuff at a company of a friend of mine back in 2000, but I started using it as Desktop in 2002 - I think.

Ubuntu 6.10 was my first.

Ubuntu 6.10 was my first. Around December 2006 as we were being flooded with the early Windows Vista marketing campaign, I really wasn't looking forward to paying for legal upgrades for even a few of the 8 or 10 computers I had accumulated over the years.

I had a bright idea to search eBay for cheap XP licenses, thinking at the time XP would de-value in light of the next M$ coming on. (how wrong that turned out to be!) Anyway, all over eBay were people selling OSs for $2, $3, $6 and so on. They were mostly Linspire distros and a few others I forget now.

Some quick research (comparing the number of Google hits for "Ubuntu", "Fedora", and "SuSE") indicated Ubuntu was reasonably popular.

I downloaded 6.10 and spent several days trying to get it installed on some really quirky hardware.

Haven't looked back.

Red Hat 1999

I too got my introduction with the Red Hat 5.1 distro on APC's Linux Pocketbook. Had lots of fun and games trying to configure X for my monitor!!!

Red Hat Biltmore

My first was RH4.2 biltmore in 1998
Now I'm a senior linux expert running more linux servers then I can count
(it was my first year in IT and my first year of connecting to internet)
(after running dos for a year on my 486 without internet)

Before I was repairing cars so you cant blame I started earlier

I got a redhat

It was redhat 9 in 2002-'03

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